Abby’s “big” brother Quinn wanted to say hello so he is modeling his new Tripawds gear. Quinn has found one major benefit to Abby’s missing leg. He now has an escape route on the left side when their wrestling gets too intense. He is eight years old and would really prefer to nap all day, but doesn’t want to give up his alpha title. Such a dilemma…
Abby is four weeks post-amputation and healing beautifully. She can run and jump and play and do so many things that she wasn’t allowed to do all summer while we were trying to figure out what was wrong with her leg. We’ve taken her to the dog park a few times and it’s great to see her just be a puppy all over again. At first, she was submissive and crouched whenever an exuberant dog came near, but she has her 3 puppy legs solidly on the ground now and is ready to play with anyone.
That being said, there are also a ton of challenges. She had just turned one when all this started and then she spent the last few months just chilling (with the help of medication). The good news is that she’s nearly off all of her medication; the bad news is that she still has her old puppy ways and probably some new bad habits she picked up along the way. In particular, she needs to relearn how to walk on a leash – and I need to learn how to manage it without ruining her balance when I correct her. Since her surgery, I’ve been using the retractable leash which I know isn’t good for training, but it gave her a little leeway to explore–until she chomped off the leash in one solid bite when we were out today. Back to rottweiler-proof leashes. Speaking of rottweiler-proof, we did just get an awesome new orthopedic crate pad from K9Ballistics. Four days and she still hasn’t destroyed it!
She also now knows that we actually can carry her up the stairs so she no longer wants to walk up them–ever. I was going to post an awesome video of her running up all 4 flights, but the file is too big for this site. It is also a rare event. Just because she can do stairs doesn’t mean that she will do them.
In short, every day has high highs and low lows. There are moments when she amazes me with her adaptability and then there are moments when this journey seems very, very hard. But how can you not love that face and those puppy kisses?
So… the title shares our bad news, but I’ll start with the good news.
- We are back HOME! Our vet cleared Abby for stairs and she bounded up all 32 stairs no problem. Yeah! She was far more concerned about the 3 pumpkins that had appeared in her absence than the fact that she has one less leg.
- The vet cleared us for a gradual return to her normal activity!! This is huge news for a pup who hasn’t even been on a walk since July. We didn’t try anything crazy since getting to the vet was a big step up in activity already, but we’re excited to have the possibility.
- She got her stitches out!
I never gave up hope, but as we had been warned would be likely, it was in fact osteosarcoma. Her biopsy 8 weeks ago was negative, but we’ve learned that is by no means foolproof. Even worse, the lymph node behind her knee tested positive as well. As I understand it, this is quite rare and not good news. It does confirm what the oncologist told us two weeks ago–that puppy cancer is usually very aggressive.
Abby had her first dose of chemo today immediately after having her stitches out. I was glad I had learned so much from the Tripawds site that we felt comfortable just moving forward. The goal is 5 rounds. We may also try something called tyrosine kinase, but that would be down the road and I don’t know much about it yet.
Our goal is to get her back to enjoying life. We don’t get to dictate how long she’ll be with us, but we want to give her every chance at a happy and pain-free life with our family.
I feel blessed that Abby has come this far with no complications from her surgery. If you’ve followed along, you know how jealous I am that so many other tripawds happily recuperate in T-shirts and boxers instead of cones, but have come to accept that just isn’t going to be Abby.
On Day 8, I was feeling so good about her recovery that I called the vet to ask about the best way to wean her off her meds. We decided to one by one cut her doses in half and see how she did. We were going to start with carprofen then work our way to codeine and gabapentin. I had only taken out two half-pills of carprofen when we moved into Day 9 and 10 which were definitely setback days for us.
She panted more and was more uncomfortable, more needy, more whiny. I not only returned to the higher dose of carprofen, but moved her to a higher dose of the other two as well (still within the range we were given). For some reason, when she’s uncomfortable, she seems happiest in this position with her head hanging over the couch. I know it looks like the doggie blues, but I think its really just comfort.
It’s just a reminder that she had major surgery and there will be up days and down days. The last two have been good – although not exhausted-from-playing-so-hard good days. Hoping to see those in our future.
I don’t think anyone plans to lose a leg, but we definitely did not have this in the works this year. We are in the midst of a whole house remodel of a 1956 home. This is what Abby’s home looks like today. Not exactly a comfy place to recuperate.
Clearly, the remodel was ill-planned too because looking for a 6 month lease for an apartment with 2 dogs (one of whom is a Rottweiler) is next to impossible. We ended up with a 3rd floor apartment about 15 miles from home and were grateful to find someone who would actually rent to us after dozens turned us down.
Moving to an apartment with a 1 year old Rottweiler was a stretch, but I rationalized that I would take her to the dog park every day and send her to daycare once a week.
Then Abby was put on rest. For two months. Then she lost her leg. Forever.
We are gratefully staying at my parents’ house right now because this is what Abby faces at our temporary home. 32 steps spread out over five flights of stairs. A little daunting right now.