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Wednesday, June 26th, 2013

Ladies and Germs…Four Months!

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Four months! Time has absolutely FLOWN by. I had to double check the calendar. Really, not much new to report–he continues to do well. We’re trying to cut down his meds, and moved to 5 mg of pred daily, and then every other day…he was fine with the 5/daily; 5 every other…he seems to have a decreasing appetite. So it may be we DO need the pred, even with the acupuncture.

We continue to go weekly to visit Sam’s girlfriend #456, Dr. Albright, for acupuncture. She is wonderful, and Sam seems to enjoy their sessions (she says he’s her easiest patient!). And even though we are not doing formal PT now, John and Siera (the PT team) try and stop in when we are there, just to say hi.

We didn’t win the Senior Dog contest on FB we were in…but we did get second (thank you, all!)–and I got an e-mail from the people at Sidewalk Dog–they loved Sam and his story so much, they wanted to give him a special “shout out” on their FB page. So he got a mad props post day, just b/c :-)

He continues to be the odd duck he always has been–and continues to win people over along the way. As we all know, things can change in an instant, but for right now, he is as upbeat and “frisky” (<–always a relative term with the Philodendron With Fur) as he has been in 18+ months. So yay for four months!

 


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Friday, June 14th, 2013

Some Sam-bern-a-dino on a (finally) sunny day!

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Yesterday, we hit 14 weeks. It was also the first sunny day we’ve really had. We celebrated that by going to the park to try some off-lead walking and some “swimming.” Granted, it took longer to get from the park entrance to a parking spot than Sam actually WALKS, but you know…it’s the outing that matters. :-)

Compared to the halcyon days of his youth, he’s less big and more bald…but he’s still beautiful. <3

And, really, despite it all, he’s a pretty happy crotchety old man. (<–you’d THINK that was a contradiction in terms, until you’ve had the pleasure of meeting Sampson :D )

Watch out, Kate Upton…I think we have our next SI Swim Suit Edition cover model!

Pondering the shoreline…

Swimming: Here’s the link, in case the embed doesn’t work:

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=10151488227671262&l=8477136500618298460

Here’s a short video of us hopping down the trail after our waterside adventures:

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=10151488035266262&l=5066907246434414123

 

And some stills from the afternoon’s hike (or, whatever you call 400 meters :p):

 

Thursday, May 30th, 2013

The Pig Dog hits the three-month mark

Ah, yesterday made 12 weeks to the day Sam-bern-a-dino got his OSA diagnosis…and today is our three-month anniversary of our amputation.

In many respects, things are pretty much back to normal–sure, we still stress about some things, but in general, Sampson is just Sampson. We don’t forget to celebrate the milestones, but we don’t babypants him and have no hesitation yelling at him when he’s a douchecanoe. :D (For example, last night, Sadie had what appeared to be a, er, some part of a deer (??). Now, SHE gave it right up when told to do so. Sam, OTOH, ran (well, I use that term lightly) up, snatched it and horked it down as fast as he could. I managed to grab a couple of splinters from him, but other than that… :eyeroll:. I am sure he’s got femur pieces working their way through his gullet now. BAD DOG :p)

We graduated from PT this past week, and it was a mixed event. Up through six weeks, he was doing great on the treadmill. We were up to almost 20 minutes, and he was even doing it unassisted. Then, week 7, he just flat out refused. Thrashed, cried, struggled, and stood with his feet on the edges. Even with John supporting him, we didn’t make it very far. Same thing again in week 8. So that was frustrating, since we can’t figure out WHY he would suddenly hate it.The only thing we could think of was that in week 7, we started coming in the AM instead of the PM for our sessions, and maybe that timing had something to do with it. We’ve also developed super tight, sore quads, in addition to all the trigger points…so that doesn’t help, either.

He’s been struggling a bit at the end of his walks–the quads sort of give out on him and he’ll take a tumble or two, so we spend a lot of time on return trips standing and waiting to move again. :p I think a lot of this may be due to the prednisone destroying his muscles and his stamina…but it’s a double edged sword, I guess.

OTOH, that last PT was also a victory, as John said that he was absolutely the most lively and happy he’s seen him in two months of PT. Sam always manages to get two out of the three A’s…Attitude, Appetite, and Activity…but never three :D .

We continue with acupuncture, which seems to help, and he tolerates well. I’d like to come down off the pred, but I think we need a couple more sessions of this at least before we try it.

On the whole, though, we are doing well. (“As good as some old ladies, and better than most” as my grandma always said when you’d ask how she was doing) He really is as perky and alert and happy as he’s been in…a couple years, probably. Physically, sure, we’re slower–most of the time outside he sits, more than explores, and I know his legs probably bug him–esp. on “endurance” type stuff, but for just getting around the house, ambling in the woods, and the occasional burst of speed through the acre yard, he’s fine.

Honestly? Sam doesn’t have cancer. He has OLD. :p The amp sort of exacerbated the old, but that’s it–and we’re dealing. The having cancer is a funny thing–on one hand, this whole experience has really made me cognizant of how much time we spend worrying about things we really shouldn’t, and how living in the now can bring so much more joy and presence to our daily life. On the other hand, it will, eventually take Sam’s life. But truth be told, I’m not angry at cancer. I’m sad he’s getting old. I’m sad that that is complicated by cancer. I’m sad that I can’t do more to alleviate the difficulties that come with both of those things, but I’m not angry.

In a very strange way, it’s been something of a gift. At his age, we knew we didn’t have 10, 5, heck, probably even 2, years in front of us. We KNEW he was here for a finite time. But that was always so speculative. It’s easy to live in denial, to take every day for granted, to just let them meander by in a same-ol same ol pattern when the end never seems like it’s going to happen.

Somehow, his diagnosis made that end…real. As in, it’s not a maybe, someday, sort of thing. It’s a “this will happen.” But after the initial shock, what I was left with emotionally wasn’t what I THOUGHT I’d be left with. Instead of causing us to spend these last few months worrying, crying, contemplating an end that hasn’t happened…it’s taught us how to absolutely live for today. Make life about the quality of the moments, not the quantity. Revel in all the little things that makes Sampson who he is–both good AND bad.

So, here we are (in a meandering post suddenly turned somewhat maudlin, and probably borderline saccharine….), at three months. :-) It has been interesting, and challenging, and I’m sure that will continue. But Sam has adjusted, and we have adjusted…and for the most part life goes on as it always has. Sitting in the yard, chasing squirrels, humping Sadie, eating random dead things (and/or helping make random live things BECOME random dead things), knocking down the barricades and eating cat crap out of the litter boxes, getting attention from his girlfriends at the vet=GOOD. The small handful of pills, a new goofy walking style, and some tired legs…LESS GOOD, but still a worthy price to pay :-)

And for reading this far, and in celebration of the successes of the last three months (and because Sally and Happy Hannah love pictures :-) ), I now present you with Portraits of Sampson as a Young (and Furry) Man:

Sam in a hat (age 2)

 

The OGs…Sam and baby Maxxie

Sam (Age 4) tries to blend in with some kitties

 

Sam and Frank sleep off a New Year’s hangover:

 

Probably my favorite picture ever:

 

Friday, May 24th, 2013

The Kindness of Strangers

We have been doing PT for eight weeks now at the Animal Emergency and Referral Center; last week, we also started acupuncture there.

Most of the time, the client before ours was a big, fluffy, senior Malamute lady named Gizmo, who, like Sampson, was in for pain relief and mobility sessions (although she was four-legged). We didn’t know her well, but Sam would get excited every time she came shuffling out through the lobby, always wanting to run (hop?) over and greet her. PT John and I always joked that Sam had fur envy over that beautiful, thick coat. :-)

Yesterday, after our acupuncture session, Dr. Albright (who does the acp.) told us there would be no charge for the day’s services. She explained that Gizmo had passed away the day before, and her family wanted to donate her remaining sessions to other elderly/hospice patients who were also in acp./PT for pain management and quality of life care.

I was so sad to hear of her passing, yet deeply touched that her family would be that generous and remember others when they were going through such a hard time themselves. I’m sure a refund for their unused sessions would have been a boon–no matter what your financial situation, these things add up after awhile–so to give back is a true mark of thoughtfulness. I will most certainly remember that, and pay it forward in the future.

So, thank you, Gizmo’s family. Safe travels for your pupper over the Bridge.

Sunday, May 5th, 2013

Some things we can choose, others we cannot.

We don’t have a choice about dying. It happens to everyone and everything. We DO, however, have a choice to make about living and how we focus our energies between now and then–whenever “then” might be. This entry was part of a forum post, and an earlier blog post, but I’ve made it a separate entry (and totally cribbed it out of jerry/rene’s blog :p)

CUE JERRY’S BLOG (italics are Jerry/Rene’s; roman text is mine):

Wise Words About Death and Dying from Sampson’s Mom

Posted by  on Friday, May 3rd 2013

Facing the inevitable is so hard. Everyone has a difficult time talking about death and dying, especially when faced with terminal cancer.

The urge to fight The End it is good and healthy, but at the same time so is accepting that it’s also a natural part of life. Striking a balance between the two is one of the toughest things anyone can do, but wise words like these from Sampson‘s Mom Megan help to make living life to the fullest in the face of cancer so much easier. We thought you’d want to read her eloquent thoughts in case you missed a discussion she had in this forum post.

May these words bring you comfort as you come to terms with the struggles of your dog or cat’s end of life decisions.

“I think one of the things we all struggle with (for people and for pets; for others and for ourselves), is the idea that somehow being accepting of death is tantamount to wanting it, giving it access, or asking for it. But accepting the idea of death as a part of life doesn’t mean we are giving up. It doesn’t mean that saying “he is dying,” means I WANT it to happen, or will somehow make it happen when it normally would not have.

We don’t want to die. We don’t want our loved ones to die. Of course not–but ignoring the fact that it will happen to us all, locking the notion away…that won’t change the inevitability of it. All it will do is make the lives we are living a bit less genuine, less present.

Animals aren’t people, they have a different way of viewing the world, and a different type of intelligence. But I do believe they have a sense of mortality, and that they know what death is, and understand it means a leaving of sorts. It’s part and parcel of a survival instinct, for one; and it explains the grieving reaction people observe in pets when another pet dies, as well. But the blessed thing about our animals, about “being more dog,” is that while they acknowledge on some level the possibility of dying exists, and they simply don’t worry about what will be…they only worry about what is right now.

What I want for Sam is for his “what is” to be as normal and as happy and as wonderfilled as possible. It doesn’t have to be big or impressive or heroic. We don’t need to go to Disneyland to “romance” The Lady (or The Tramp, for that matter), or take an African safari to chase wildebeasts instead of garden variety squirrels. It can be as simple as an endless supply of cardboard paper towel tubes to gnaw on and a parade of cheap toys to de-stuff and then thrust their slimy carcasses at us to play tug with. It can be fighting with his canine sister, and sharing his bed with a couple, three, four of the feline siblings. And yeah, okay, it can be hamburger for dinner instead of kibble if that’s what he wants.

I don’t want Sampson the Wonderdog, Sammy Psoriasis, Sammer, Sam-Dog, Big Dog-Pig Dog, Piggers, WoodgeBoodge, Budders, DamnitSammyKnockThatShitOff, Sam-Bernadino…Sammy, to die. I don’t want him dying. I want him to live.

But while I can’t change his dying…I CAN help him live. I can put that icing on the cake for him, and then get my own fat, pinky fingers out of it. I can let him dive in, and eat his cake with abandon, and not smear the frosting with my worries of what will be some day…and instead just enjoy what is right now.”

Friday, May 3rd, 2013

We have achieved two months!

Ah, the moments and days seem long, but the weeks and months are so, so short. Yesterday marked Sam’s two-month post-op mark, and I can’t believe how quickly the time has gone.

Every once in awhile yesterday, I caught myself thinking “two months gone already. God, the odds say we probably don’t even have that much left in front of us. I’m not ready for that…it’s too soon.”

And then, of course, I have to stop, and say “Buck up, camper. Two weeks, eight weeks, 24 weeks. Whatever. Stop smearing the frosting, yo.” (A reference to an older blog post–which jerry so wonderfully shared yesterday, in a very unintentional, but well-timed moment–where we quoted a line from Doug and the B Boys… “I hope [you] recognize the days ahead are the icing on the cake of my life. Try not to smear the frosting.”)

As I’ve said before…Sam’s a dog, and dogs are notoriously shitty at math, so he doesn’t care about odds. ;-)

Where are we now…well, the S.A. is definitely getting worse (and the vet suspects he may also be Addisonian, as well), so his hair loss is getting worse and worse. (Except for the one wee patch that grew back on a section of his stump, and his face and legs) Trying to fight cancer makes fighting the other stuff all the harder, I guess. But the hair is cosmetic, and really not that much different. In fact, he probably would have lost it anyway–each time we blow our “coat”, more goes away and never comes back. John, our PT, calls him the world’s largest Chinese Crested :p

We are finally eating now, after switching to Prednisone over Piroxicam. We’ve lost the anti-tumour benefits of pirox., but if he’s not eating, he’s not living…so Pred. it is.

He continues to lose weight, however. Dropped to 70 lbs. post amp, then 10 days ago we were at 68. Two days ago, we were down to 63.5. BUT his bloodwork looks fine, so it is what it is, I suppose.

We do some PT every day…mostly walks, which he likes, and some modified weave poles and a couple other things, which he doesn’t. And, we go to therapy once a week. Again, not big on the “work” portion…but he does love the massage part, and getting attention from John and Sierra.

Here we are at PT…

on the wobbleboard

 

 

in the TM

 

 

And here is a video, should you want to see him in action:

https://www.dropbox.com/s/194erav9cy5usa9/2013-04-25%2017.24.57.mp4

And here he is being very unimpressed by our Annual Wii Bowling/Costume Extravaganza Trophy: The Sloth of Awesome (Yes, it’s a vegetable peeler. Yes, it’s actually an orangutang, and yes, Pat and I lead very, very exciting lives. :p And no…I didn’t win. blush)

 

 

We keep getting stopped by people who always ask A) did you rescue him? (Er, well, when he was a baby, I guess?) and B) is he a puppy? (Ahahahahahahahahahahaharasberryrasberry. Yes, he is the world’s most crotchety 13-year-old puppy :p)). I think that the fact that he has no grey on his face, and the fact that he has lost so much weight his eyes stand out like a Keane painting gives him the appearance of puppyhood. Dorian Gray, eat your heart out.People also ask how long ago he lost his leg, and when I say eight weeks, they are like “OMG! He’s doing so well, so soon!!” And I am always surprised, b/c it’s like…Dude, he came HOME like this. Again, people are so much slower to react to changes like this than dogs are. For dogs…it is what it is.

All in all, I’d say we’re doing just fine. There have been some very trying moments–the not eating, and the dealing with all of this in really crappy weather (STILL SNOWING HERE, btw, in case anyone cares mad), are probably the worst. And just the disruption to routine, as well, I suppose (weekly PT trips, having to go on regular walks, all the meds, etc.). But there have been some funny ones too… watching him learn to pee, the tripe sushi, some of his faceplants (okay, let’s admit it…while there are some “OH NOES!” moments when he takes a digger, for sure; there are also some really funny inadvertent pratfalls that make me giggle. When we went to chase a rabbit that like totally ran right in front of him yesterday, for one. I mean, it’s pure 3 stooges comedy gold, right there.)

But mostly, he is still Sampson. The same Sampson he has been in the almost 13 years we have been together, with all of his habits–good and bad, and with all of his personality quirks and peccidillos. The same Sampson who on some days is the most awesome dog since sliced bread and the one who everyone at therapy/the vet/work/the park thinks is something extra special…and who on other days you want to strangle the living shit out of. :D

Yes, it is hard watching him grow old, be sick. But he was always a remarkably easy dog, and for the most part, he has done his best to stay that way–he is, by and large, a remarkably easy hospice patient.

So, on we shall go…and we will continue to bemoan (then put aside) the frustrations, celebrate the successes, and live the everyday moments, because normal is as normal does, and what is, is…so get your fingers out of the frosting, and be more dog!

Friday, May 3rd, 2013

Hopefully our food frenzy (or lack of) is resolved for a while

Most recent update re: food and meds:

Still losing weight…but bloodwork appears normal and appetite is out-standing. So much so, I’ve even been able to start sneaking the K9 Immunity + back into his food. Don’t tell him.

We reduced the pred to 10 mg/daily. Still on tramadol.

Vet thinks that despite relatively normalish bloodwork, he may have Addison’s Disease. He’s not what you’d call a typical case (if you can have one of those), but the symptoms line up, and he’s already got one autoimmune disorder (SA), and akitas and other pacific rim type dogs tend to test wonky in some things, so…

Not a huge deal, in the scheme of things, b/c the treatment for Addisons is…prednisone. The only real thing it would change would be we couldn’t go back to the piroxicam

We are going to try and titer down gradually on the pred. and find the magic dose for him.

Monday, April 29th, 2013

Oui! Oui! I eat! Idance! I make merry! April 29

Update #356 on our food saga:

Started Sam on the Prednisone on Thursday AM. He came to work with me and hung out all day in my office. We had a nice walk at lunch (about 10-12 minutes), and I worried all the excitement (er, relatively speaking) and the walk would be a lot since we had PT that afternoon…but he was great.

FWIW, here is a link a video of Sam using the underwater treadmill at PT! 

I left him in the capable hands of Jacqie (our housesitter, and also our vet tech) while we were gone over the weekend. In the note she left us, she said he ate “like a champ.” I saw that first hand–last night and today, he ate and ate some more. We had 1/3 cup brown rice, a 1/2 to 3/4 cup of kibble (mix of Taste of the Wild, Chef Michaels, and crappy cat kibble), a hot dog, and some PerkiLac. Then he looked like he wanted MORE…so I gave him cottage cheese and kibble, which he also ate. This AM, after finishing that concoction, he also put down 1/4 cup more kibble and an egg.He’s also been quite perky (again with the relatively speaking)–and walks up to 15-20 minutes (well, there is a lot of sniffing and peeing there, too. He likes to greet each blade of grass individually). He walks faster than I do, for sure, and has been engaging his rear legs separately a bit more (as opposed to a bunny hop, which has been his standard gait).

There are up days and down days, but the last two have been up (well, the last 4, I guess, if you count the two we were gone)…so here’s to keeping on keeping on :-)

We finish the pred. on Wednesday, not sure what we will do then. We’ll see what the vet thinks. Also: I was waiting for him to turn into a firehose, but our pee output has been normal. Well, he does have a lot of it, but our frequency and urgency (or lack there of) are the same.

Wednesday, April 24th, 2013

Frenchy La Foodie Update for April 24

Sorry for all of these, but…

The vet visit revealed that we have lost weight–we’re down to about 65 lbs. We were 95 lbs in our prime, dropped to 78-80 in our dotage, then down to 75 as we got ill, and down to 70 post-amp. But a six lb loss in 6 weeks isn’t awesome. Part of it is due to muscle loss in the chestr/shoulder area (muscles are there…they just don’t connect anymore), but…

Anyway, a full panel revealed that all Sam’s levels are normal/same as they were pre-surgery. BUT his sodium is low. Which is odd, since all he’s been eating (when he eats) is basically hot dogs, lunch meats, etc…IOW, very high sodium foods for a person, let alone a dog.

So we are stopping the piroxicam for now, and will start a week long course of steroids to see if it helps. Piroxicam is the better anti-cancer choice, but…eating is paramount. There is a mild concern about Addison’s disease at this point. It would be unusual–but again, Sam’s presentation with EVERYTHING has been unusual. And he DOES already have an autoimmune disorder, so…???

At any rate, we will see what the steroids do.

On the eating front: A friend gave me a can of Tripett Green Tripe, saying her dogs lovelovelovelove it. Sam took a couple bites, then wandered away. I tried hand feeding, and he ate a couple MORE bites. And wandered away. Yet, when I threw a slice of Buddig lunch meat on it, he ate that. So, being the try anything sort that I am, I made a giant pile of sushi rolls–green tripe rolled in buddig-and hand fed them. He at the whole can.

(Of course, one of my cats ate the droppings, and just vomited on my shoes. AWESOME)

Monday, April 22nd, 2013

Update, April 22: The French Like Processed Meat Products

Update:

Talked with the vet. We have discontinued Prilosec, as that in and of itself, can cause nausea/tummy distress. We’re scheduled for bloodwork on Wednesday to rule out renal or liver failure or other complications. He doesn’t think Meloxicam will help, as it’s also known to cause GI distress, and he doesn’t feel it’s as effective in anti-tumour properties as Piroxicam. We will also look at his mushroom supplement, which is a syrnige, so maybe will work better than the Immunity Plus.

Saturday night, we ate a hot dog and 1/3rd cup of chicken breast with a bit of PerkiLac sprinkled on them. We ate a couple nuggets of kibble that happened to be stuck to it, as well :P

Sunday AM was two hot dogs. Snubbed everything else. Sunday PM, see Saturday…but with one or two more kibbles, a green bean or two, and some gravy from KFC.

This AM, was a single hot dog, with some chicken (regular and KFC leftovers), and maybe 1/2 cup kibble. He desn’t WANT the kibble, but if I bury the other stuff, he will eat around it.

We no longer will eat Fancy Feast. Nor any other type of wet food, no matter how crappy. I even tried two different kinds of liver treats…denied. Cat food (both the renal failure and premium kinds, as well as the cheapest friskies I could find)=rejected.

And, of course, if any of the foods on the Do Not Fly list even REMOTELY come in contact with the other stuff…no dice.

Right now, the list of things we’ll eat fairly consistently, even a little of, is:

Hot dogs

Chicken (plain…except he also will happily eat KFC. Begged for it, in fact)

Crappy dry dog biscuits

ice cream

Deli Ham

Some other stuff is hit or miss. Every day is an adventure :-)

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