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Rotti Raven

rottweiler amputee

Rotti Raven

Raven is better!!

December 9th, 2009 · 16 Comments · Uncategorized

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Last night I got home late, and I walked in and he was up and *bouncing*! Bouncing, bouncing! Ate dinner in his normal wolfing fashion, hopped out to pee with no help. Alert and up with Betty and I to beg for my dinner plate to lick. He woke me up for breakfast and went out with me like chore duty and had a poo! And his tight, distended tummy (which I took him to the ER thinking was bloat, they discovered the mass tumor and said it is because of that), well, it’s gone. Normal tummy this morning.

My vet Tom discussed with the oncologist at Auburn Univ. She feels this is unrelated to the chonrdro. The bloodwork and scenario indicate possible (unrelated) pancreatitis with a sudden onset from something he may have ate on Saturday. Then we found the mass by accident in the ER. The ER staff felt that the mass itself was infected and he was septic and that is why he went into shock. Either is possible. Oncologist recommends removal. She said that there’s a good chance it’s benign and infected. He is completely healed from the amputation, he should handle the surgery fine. It may not even be attached to the spleen or liver, they just can’t tell for sure. And if attached to the liver, we need at least 20% healthy liver for it to regenerate. So, I’ve arranged to have a Board Certified Radiologist do a better ultrasound, appt tomorrow. This will give us a clearer picture to see if surgery is an option.

So, either the gastro is doing well on new meds, and they are right about pancreatitis? Or the oral antibiotics just took a bit to kick in on the mass… But I am relieved I didn’t put him down. I’d say he’s suddenly 90% normal. 🙂

I must say, this is a lesson to get 2nd and 3rd opinions! The ER staff felt that he had lung mets and a malignant spleen tumor, likely hemangiosarcoma, with a grim prognosis of a few days to a few weeks at most. And they still stand behind their GP Vets and their Radiologist saying he has lung mets, but both my vet and Auburn’s oncologist disagree and feel they are age related calcified spots on the lungs. They know this because they have been watching Raven’s xrays for 8 months and they are always there, unchanged. So, if you have a vet that sees mets in an OLD dog, but don’t have baseline xrays from before the cancer, they may not be mets!

How ironic that this looks like it may not even be related to the chondrosarcoma. And not likely even hemangiosarcoma. My heart soars for the moment, I’ll take that. I know all our days are numbered, but I’m just so happy that he feels to good right now. 🙂 🙂 🙂

Happy boy with his cat:
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Waiting for bloodwork – Reflecting on puppy pics

December 8th, 2009 · 10 Comments · Uncategorized

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Raven slept hard last night. He’s usually a guardian-type personality and light sleeper, but he sleeps so soundly now. I love to watch him dream, he lopes his 3 legs as he’s chasing cows in his dreams I’m sure. But in the dream I bet he has four legs and is thundering across the pasture like a warrior the way he used to. I could actually feel the vibration in the ground as he would wiz by bellering his booming bark heading to the fenceline to chase a neighbor wheeling a garbage can to the end of the rural road. Don’t know why, but all his life, he gets riled up by one thing, garbage cans on the move. 🙂

This morning, he perks up if asked, but is very weak. His normal routine, even yesterday, is to anticipate supervised bone chew time after my farm chores. This time, he slept through the chores and didn’t even get up for the chew. He chewed it laying down without running to the Happy Cupboard Where The Bones Live to remind me. But he did have a nice chew and went back to sleep.

I think he is ready to “leave”, my one reservation/hope right now is that Auburn Univ’s oncologist hasn’t talked to my vet yet. And we haven’t gotten the new bloodpanel from yesterday’s draw. These things may tell me if he’s septic from an infection that can be cured. So, I am waiting… Raven’s sleeping and peaceful.

Here’s some baby pics. 🙂

2 days old. Raven was the giant in the litter, he is laying in the back beside a puppy half his size, notice the size difference!
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11 days old. Of course he’s in front, has been laying upside down since he was born!
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3 weeks old.
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Starting to walk.
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Fat butt boy.
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With his brother Duncan:
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In the same yard as his tripawd videos:
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2 months.
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10 weeks. Looks like my Raven now. 🙂
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11 weeks. In “his” truck that he still rides in. Such a stoic boy, every time I look his way, he is looking at me. 🙂
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Vet visit – just more questions

December 7th, 2009 · 7 Comments · Uncategorized

Auburn University oncology didn’t see anything wrong with the spleen in the ER xrays and also didn’t see mets in the lungs! They said that there are small calcified dots that are age related and he’s had the same one in all his past xrays. So, Raven and I went to the vet this morning to have Tom review what the ER said and did. By the way, I am 2000 miles away from Auburn Univ, but email info to them because I have a friend that is a pathologist there.

Tom did an ultrasound and unfortunately did see a very large mass. He got another vet in his office to confirm. But they both feel it is not related to the spleen, but the liver. The liver is rarely a primary cancer source, but often a metastatic cancer location.

His blood levels were high for white blood cells, low on platelets. Which would indicate infection and bleedout. But there was never any sign of bleeding in the xrays even at the ER during his “episode” Saturday.

We simply don’t know what happened on Saturday. He definitely is weak, but energetic when he wants to be. He chased the cows this afternoon, ran across the yard for a hard boiled egg, bounced for the vet. But then he is exhausted. He has always had a great appetite, puts weight on easily, and never vomited or acted nauseous (which doesn’t fit for latent cancer symptoms). So, I keep postponing euthanasia because I worry that this is something fixable and not latter stage cancer.

The mass… To really know what we are dealing with, it needs a biopsy and I didn’t want to do that with the low platelet level (difficulty clotting), let alone just don’t want to put him through more prodding right now. If we knew what it is, options are removal and/or chemo. Some cancers really shrink fast with chemo and have a good prognosis. We drew blood for a new CBC, and also Tom will be talking to the oncologist in the morning.

My head is spinning. I feel badly as I took work off today (Fedex and BUSY) thinking he’d be put down, or at least for the extensive vet appt’s. I took off 3 days when his leg was amputated 6 weeks ago. And I know that the day I lose him I will miss work. They are mostly animal lovers and understand for the amputation or euthanasia, but I can’t just keep taking days off, so must go to work tomorrow and I have no idea what tomorrow holds for Raven.

I am emotionally exhausted. Raven, on the other hand, bless his heart, is happy to put aside his difficulties and perk right up at the sign of a stuffy or an egg. And then crash and sleep hard like a Played Out Puppy when the opportunity arises to rest. Wish I could. He is an inspiration to me. I truly think that God gave us dogs to teach us how we should be…

Here is a GREAT song and little video that says it all for me, especially the last line, “I can’t match their love for me.”

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Raven’s comfortable and has fresh snow!

December 7th, 2009 · 8 Comments · Uncategorized

He’s very weak. Layed in the same spot all afternoon by the door. He wanted to get up to pee and asked for my help by staring hard at me and letting out a low growl like “hey you, help here please?”

With his harness, we can get around together. Took him outside to pee and came right back in and collapsed in the same spot. Drank, ate well, pretty much normal attitude, just weak.

The bed is only about 6′ away, so at midnight, he was moving around and I woke up. Took him out to pee again and then he came back and asked to get into bed with me, which for 9 years is where he sleeps. I boosted him up, which was a struggle for him, but then he seemed so content and his cat brother Cowboy scooted in beside him, like all the nights we’ve shared. He slept soundly and quietly all night.

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He woke up at normal breakfast time and ate laying on the bed. In the struggle to reposition himself and excited about eating, he had some incontenance and peed a bit. I can’t blame him, he had tons of fluids for 24 hours. I have a waterproof cover on the mattress, so no biggee, I’ll change the bedding.

He rested a bit, then asked for help out of bed to go outside. To his surprise, there is about 7″ of new snow on the ground. Only the 2nd time in his life, it’s very unusual here. Here’s a video of him going out. He made it out on his own. 🙂 But had to lay down soon.

Normally he’d accompany on farm chores, but he layed there and watched me. When I came back, he had gotten up and gone quite a ways off and was laying in the pasture where he normally does his rounds. I was impressed. I left him there to rest for a bit.

He got to eat snow for the first time, he was doing it when I went out to him. Here’s a video of him and Mom’s puppy, a first for both!

When I came out to feed the bobcat, Billy Bob, I often toss a hardboiled egg or two to the dogs. Raven saw me coming and jumped up and wagged his stubby, ears up, begging for his egg. 🙂 Here’s a video:

So, he’s certainly out of the woods, he would have died without the ER on Saturday. And did fine off the fluids at home and has apparently recovered from whatever episode he had. Tom wants us to come in this morning at 9:30 (30 minutes) for an ultrasound so *he* can figure out what is going on.

Now, here I am…laboring with the decision. It could be an infection (the records from the ER actually said infection in the mass was suspected) and be removed/clear up. That may make him feel better and he could live for quite a while like his old self with the lung mets. They are brand new and he’s never coughed. Or, do I end it now and not put him through this. I’d only be buying time and he is so tired. But so normal and alert and happy too.

Since his 9th Birthday Pawty with the tripawds and friends next weekend will undoubtedly be canceled, Mom came and gave him his present this morning. It’s a little stuffy Rottie that squeaks. He politely took it, nuzzles it and cuddles with it. 🙂 I gave him a bone that is edible, which he bounced around for as he saw me getting it, very happy. And settled down for a good chew like any other day.

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He snoozed with his stuffy for a while, then got up and hopped to his dog bed by himself. 🙂 He is sleeping soundly now.

Instead of one day at a time now, I really am trying to focus on each moment, for which I am so grateful and will soon only be memories.

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Raven’s stable and HOME. :)

December 6th, 2009 · 11 Comments · Uncategorized

Not out of the woods, but so much nicer to have him under my care here. Is there something goofy about just being euphoric to sit and stare at my dog as he sleeps???

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I have all of his films and records from the hospital stay. There are unanswered questions as to if there was infection/necrotic mass or a malignant tumor and if it’s on the liver or the spleen. There are lots of details in their notes and reports that were not discussed with me.

I’ve gone over it all with my vet Tom. The plan is to bring him in at 9:30am for an ultrasound to see for himself. And by then will hopefully hear back from my friends at Auburn University as to what they think. Then we will decide a course of action.

He is stable, but definitely not himself 100%. He is weak and doesn’t want to get up. Actually, he does *want* to get up, but just changes his mind as if it is too difficult to bother. The spirit is willing, the flesh is weak? He doesn’t appear to be in pain. He ate his dinner, wags his tail, watches me and the other pets walk around, he’s alert and comfortable.

He’s resting with his “cat brother” Cowboy watching over him. They are the same age and grew up together.

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Here are some pics from happier times.

Eating out of the same bowl:
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Nice to have my family whole again after such an empty night last night. 🙂

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Lung mets, spleen tumor, hemangiosarcoma – I’m numb.

December 6th, 2009 · 9 Comments · Uncategorized

How could I go from happily planning his birthday party next weekend and getting ready to post some more very cute videos of how well Raven is doing… to basically trying to decide how/when I need to say goodbye – in the span of a few hours.

This morning he wolfed his food (I just ordered him a “bloat bowl” he has such a great appetite), bounced happily around. He really has felt about the best he ever has in a very long time. I had to leave for a few hours and when I returned at 11am, he wouldn’t get off the couch. Just lethargic, “aint’ doing right” look.

I had a Xmas party to go to, so I figured I’d have my Mom next door keep an eye on him, maybe he just overdid it and needed to rest. But when I got the car keys, he jumped up and wanted to go, I couldn’t say no to my boy, so he came to the party with me. 🙂

He was quiet and not feeling well, but is always happier to be with me. He was born at my house 9 years ago, I was the first voice he heard and the first person he saw when his eyes opened as a teeny puppy.

But upon arrival home, he was weak getting to the house and couldn’t have without his harness. He wouldn’t eat. He laid down and looked bloated. I rushed him to the ER a few hours ago thinking it was bloat as he’d gulped a ton of water.

He went into shock, was pale grey, cold. They stabilized him and gave him fluids. He has a temp of 104, is weak, but pink again and lifted his head to see me. The xrays and ultrasound were the worst news.

Not only has he developed 5-6 lung mets within the last 3-4 weeks. He has an enlarged spleen with a gigantic tumor that apparently bled out possibly (a radiologist can’t confirm until Monday). They suspect hemangiosarcoma, a very aggressive soft tissue cancer, everything about it’s symptoms fits.

Until now, I thought we’d beat the cancer and yet it’s full fledged. I am faced now with his quality of life. Either I euthanize while he’s okay still (assuming he’ll recover and be his old self tomorrow, blissfully unaware of this knowledge) and acting normal, or I wait until he could rupture this spleen tumor and die suddenly/tragically at home (I have no idea of what would happen in that event?). I don’t know what I can live with. Thankfully, the vet said he isnt feeling pain per se, just lethargy and not feeling well, but could be fine tomorrow. I don’t know what to do. This is incurable. Although a spleenectomy could remove with with a 2-3 month prognosis, I don’t see the point of putting him through that only 5 weeks after amputation.

Should I let him live out his life and die alone accidentally while I’m at work when he jumps off the couch and bleeds out? Or with me home, sobbing because there’s nothing I can do and I can’t move him or reach a vet at home? Or nip those scenarios in the bud and euthanize when I’m prepared and he’s feeling well? 🙁

I’m so unprepared for this sudden turn of events, I am numb. He won’t be sleeping with me for the first night in 9 years. I guess I will just try to go along on autopilot and focus on picking him up tomorrow and going to my own vet (whom I spoke with length on the phone tonight at his house) on Monday and decide his end days then. I just need to prepare myself and be thankful that I still have him tomorrow, God willing.

Here are the two new videos that were planned for this blog today. *sigh*

Here he is having learned to carefully turn his bone around to position it in a way to chew it propped on his one foot. I swear he’s as smart as an ape using tools…although I may be partial. 🙂

And here he was just 48 hours ago at a follow up visit to our vets, he just loves the vet and so we dropped in to say hi. He sounds off and starts barking in the lobby with his Big Boomy Bark when he hears Tom’s voice in the back. I tell him he scares people, but he can’t control himself.

Can I make a prayer request for those inclined? I just need to get through the night and hope I make the best decisions for Raven tomorrow…

Thank you.

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Raven has his new “Dogleggs”, no more tshirt!

November 30th, 2009 · 5 Comments · Uncategorized

Finally, his custom Dogleggs for Amputees came. It has neoprene inserts in the sleeve to protect that elbow that is prone to pressure ulcer. Stylin’ now!
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Raven always loves laying upside down, I call it his Dead Spider. Pre-op:
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And now, back to his old self:
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Here’s a video of him sleeping upside down, oops, woke him up.

Here’s a video of him hopping around the yard, 4 weeks post-amp. It’s not easy for him, but he’s getting around just great. At the end of the video, he’s such a poser.

Raven and I are planning on going to a Tripawds Pawty near Reno in two weeks. It’s his 9th birthday a few days after that, so we are planning to celebrate that day. I’m shopping for an affordable cake/decorated treats if anyone has suggestions! 🙂

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Our camping trip didn’t go as planned…

November 25th, 2009 · 7 Comments · Uncategorized

Life’s an adventure. I keep my plans flexible because things can change so suddenly…

Raven has trouble balancing on the truck’s bench seat with one front leg, so I stuffed pillows on the floor so he has more room, like an SUV. He *loved* this. However, there would be no room for another human… 🙁
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We drove the 120 miles to Jack London State Park in Napa Valley. I spent most of the day exploring, it was fantastic. And dog friendly. 🙂 But, as the park was closing at 5pm and I needed to leave (no camping there), I came towards the truck in the parking lot and my brake lights were on… Hmmmm, not good. Turns out, my brake pedal had sunk halfway to the floor after I parked it. Something was not right, not safe to drive all the way home with a trailer. I was able to get it outside the park to a spot on the side of the road in a sleepy little historical town of Glen Ellen and we camped there. Nice to have a Rottie when you are a single gal traveling, I felt safe. I made pasta and halibut, baked cookies, ran the heater and watched a DVD. If you’re going to break down, do it with an RV. 🙂 Raven and his cat Cowboy didn’t know things were going south, they are always happy campers.
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The high point of the trip was that Mary and tripawd Cemil came up to meet us the next morning and brought a bottle of wine. The dogs played, we became friends, it was all GOOD.

Thank you for coming Mary!! And playing videographer of Raven and me. I wanted to show how quick he is on three legs:

Thankfully, after several hours of emailing and phone calls on my BBerry, I rounded up a friend from home with a truck hauler to tow my truck. And a cousin with a pickup to come haul my trailer. So, it ended up not costing me a fortune. The next day my mechanic told me that it was a part under warranty that he’d recently replaced, so that was also good news. 🙂
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I have much to be thankful for on Thanksgiving. 🙂

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Raven “smiling”, reunited with his buddy the bobcat, and packed to go camping tomorrow.

November 20th, 2009 · 5 Comments · Uncategorized

11-17-09

Raven’s incision is very scabby and looked a bit inflamed. I put him back on antibiotics (TMS) and Rimadyl and “buttered” it with a Triple Antibiotic ointment (over the counter like Neosporin) to soften it. It was better by last night. And this morning, when applying the ointment, the scabbiness is crumbling and coming off, giving it a chance to heal and close. This is only in the section at the bottom where the seroma kept it from healing for so long.

Here’s a video of the funny “smile” he makes when I rub it, because it’s so itchy.

Raven loves car rides and camping. No time like the present. I made a last minute decision to take the little RV (vintage ’86 Bigfoot trailer called Bessie The Traveling Egg) a few hours away this weekend to Jack London State Park and stay over at Sugarloaf Ridge. Quality time with me and his brother (same age, love each other) Cowboy, the evil cat. We are packed and hoping to leave in the morning. 🙂

Raven and Cowboy in Bessie The Traveling Egg

Raven and Cowboy in Bessie The Traveling Egg

And lastly, a video of Raven and his buddy the bobcat Billy-Bob here at Wild About Cats (www.wildaboutcats.org). Backstory: Raven’s dad Conner was raised with Billy and they were buddies. The cat would attack any other dog. When Conner died of cancer at 8 years old, we were all saddened that Billy would lose his only playmate. But Raven was born a month later, and as soon as he was old enough, met Billy through the fence and Billy immediately greeted the puppy with happy sounds and head butts. So, Billy knows Raven is his father’s son and they’ve now been buddies for 9 years. They couldn’t play for the last 3-1/2 weeks due to his surgery, and I wondered how the predator would treat him post-amp. Here’s the video from yesterday:

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Stitches out and *hopefully* last vet visit in a long time.

November 19th, 2009 · 5 Comments · Uncategorized

Raven got his Ruffwear Harness, kindly donated by Mac’s Mom to Emily’s Mom to Raven’s Mom. I put videos on the Hopping Around Forum. Unfortunately, their measurements are dead-on. It said Medium was up to 36″ girth, Raven is 37″ and I was hoping I just didn’t measure well. But it’s a bit snug, probably by about 1″… So, we will be getting a brand spanky new one for him through Tripawds. In the meantime, Emily’s and Mac’s is working for now and is Very Helpful for him getting around…

…like in and out of the truck to go to the vet today! It was a very good visit. He got all his stitches out, still very scabby, but certainly can stay closed on it’s own. And no draining, yay. My only concern was a lump underneath the very bottom of the incision. Worrywart for mets, my vet Tom said he feels it is internal stitches that were of catgut for suturing sheet muscles. They use catgut for specific things as it creates scar tissue to make it stronger. He said it should dissipate in 90 days, so I will watch it. Probably daily!

I gave Tom a Tripawds Business Card and he was very thankful. He said he just today had to break the bad news to a Standard Poodle Daddy that their dog had OSA in his wrist. They are deciding what to do and he will tell them to check this site.

The vet said that we will recheck for lung mets each 2 months. If it was osteosarcoma, I probably wouldn’t bother, I don’t think I would want to know. But, with slower progressing Chondrosarcoma, Tom said that if we see a nodule, and Raven is doing really well, chemo would be a good option to keep his longetivity going. He will be nine December 15 after all, so we just want to keep him healthy as possible as we go along. Overall, about the best news I could hope for, and honestly didn’t dare to dream for 3 weeks ago.

And look who was out in the parking lot on the way in. A Jake lookalike. 🙂

Jake Lookalike at the vet's

Happy me, happy Raven.
Snuggle boy

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