End of an era for me. Necropsy findings.

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I actually was doing okay with the grief thing around 3-6 days, the one week mark on Friday was a set back. I learned in a grief class when my husband died that the reason it comes in waves…your brain cannot take the enormity of it all at once or we’d just curl up and die. So, we grieve, then we go on autopilot so our mind can “rest” a bit. Then we relapse because our brain knows that it can again handle it after a break and it needs to get that out and go through it. Normal. But it sucks.

Saturday was my last trip to the vet for Raven. His ashes were there to pick up. Now it’s official, his velvety ears don’t exist in this world any longer. I sobbed and sobbed. Cowboy, Raven’s best cat friend, has been grieving too. Matter of fact he’s got a vet appointment tomorrow because he’s just not doing well at all. But I put the urn down when I walked in the house and Cowboy was all over it. Rubbing and even licking it (he used to groom Raven and vice versa). It broke my heart even more.

What happened on Raven’s last day: He wanted to go for a car ride to town on errands. He was a bit weak in the hind end and needed a boost into my truck. But it was like powerlifting 109# of dead weight, quite a struggle. In town, he was his happy self, barking at dogs in other vehicles, wagging at friends’, face in the wind. When we got home, he couldn’t even get up so that I could help him out. He belly scooted to the edge of the seat and I tried to help, but he pretty much tumbled out on top of me and we both landed in a heap, me breaking his fall. He happily peed on a bush in the driveway and promptly laid down. I had to get his harness and support him to hop the house, he laid down just inside the door, never to get up again. He ate his lunch laying there. He was never in any pain. We wagged and flopped excitedly around when my friend came by, his “Auntie Laura” and licked her face. He did the same for the vet when he arrived. Tom said it was similar to Fibrocartilaginous Embolism. The liver was such a mess (confirmed in the necropsy), that is was falling apart. He feels a piece actually got swept into the large major artery that passes through the liver and got stuck near the spinal column. This causes partial or full paralysis in the hindquarters, has a sudden onset, and is completely painless (as opposed to spinal mets). I believe it happened in the struggle of boosting him into the truck.

I prayed for months that his end would be quick and he would not suffer. That was a big request to God, considering that I also refused to put him down as long as he was feeling good. But God answered my prayer and I am so thankful for that.

Raven’s cancer was full of confusing turns. I wanted answers so my vet Tom took samples post-mortem so that maybe we could get to the bottom of what happened to him.

The lung mets and the liver both came back “metastatic malignant osteosarcoma”. OS??? This was a shock, as he was never diagnosed with OS. He started limping in April, the xray LOOKED like classic OS, but we biopsied it and it came back benign. In retrospect, I should have amputated then anyway. It was diagnosed as a benign bone lesion and to re-xray every 2 months. The limp never went away, the lesion never worsened. Until it did suddenly become neoplastic in October and we amputated then. The biopsy then came back Chondrosarcoma. Which was again odd as that is a cartliage cancer and it was deep in the center of the humerus.

What we believe happened: The lesion probably quickly became malignant early on in the summer and metastasized to the liver. When we discovered the liver disease a month after his amputation, the vets felt it had been there for a long while. We were doing leg and chest xrays all summer, never the abdomen.

And we believe that the chondrosarcoma biopsy result was quite possibly “Chondroblastic osteosarcoma” and was mistaken.

The good thing is that this knowledge doesn’t change anything or cause me to second guess any of it. If he indeed had OS from the begining, he did DARN well living with it for 9 months, 6 months before amputation and no chemo. Even if I’d amputated in April, I couldn’t have asked for a whole lot better, he was a 9 year old Rottie after all and had a relatively long life (for them).

This is the end of an era for me. 20 years of 3 generations of rotties. Almost half my life. And the entire time since Joe died. People that know me, know Raven. It is so sad that people I meet from now on will never have known him/them/or how much they were to me. They will only hear stories. I always would say, “I had his father before him and his Grandma before that.” They were all the same, strong kind genes. Raven was bred AI from his father Conner and I would always say, “I made him myself.” My little Petri Dish Puppy.


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Raven has gone back to heaven, where he came from.

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I just ran across this in my bible the other day:

“For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven,
And do not return there without watering the earth,
And making it bear and sprout,
And furnishing seed to the sower and bread to the eater;
So shall My word be which goes forth from My mouth;
It shall not return to Me empty,
Without accomplishing what I desire,
And without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it.”

Isaiah 55:9-11

I think of this as Raven is His gift to me. Sent from heaven to enrich my life before he ascends back up to God, having accomplished his purpose.

As many of you know, I first thought Raven had bone cancer last April, but it came back negative in the biopsy. But turned up again in October. Here is a post with lots of pics and videos of a wonderful farewell trip to the ocean we made in April, such fond memories:


And these pics were taken that day.


I will update details later, but my vet feels that he had a spinal clot. This is like a stroke in the back end and has a sudden onset with poor prognosis, but is relatively pain free. I couldn’t have asked for it to be any better of an end for Raven. He was always strong for me through his entire illness and life, and I needed to be strong for him tonight. Fair trade.

RIP my bestest boy.

Power Mushrooms and a visit with his bobcat buddy

A big THANK YOU to Maximutt’s pawrents for sending Raven some Power Mushrooms! Also to Jake’s Mom for attempting to do the same through Angel Exchange, but the P.O. lost them. 🙁 So, he finally got on them yesterday and this morning he felt strong enough to hop to the upper pasture and ask to go in to the big cat enclosure. 🙂 He hasn’t hopped much further than the yard around the house in quite a while.

The sun is shining this morning and Raven really enjoyed peeing on everying in the bobcat’s big yard. Then he hopped to the chute that opens to the large enclosure and goes about 80′ to the cages where the cat is fed. Ahhh, that’s why…he went to scavenge for scraps and bones. He has an appetite *and* energy! It’s a good day.




3 Month Ampuversary!

Three months today! 🙂

Last night, Raven felt pretty back to himself, a good night. I’ve had to resort to feeding him a commercial zoo carnivore diet I have on hand for the big cats. It’s a balanced raw meat. I mix it with rice and some kibble to not upset his system too much. I’ve actually decided I may just want to always feed this to all my dogs in the future. With all the dog food scares, I can’t trust any of the fillers (wheat gluten, preservatives, etc) in even the high end ones. I fed Raven Nutro Max his whole life. I was finally overwhelmed by the amount of recalls and lawsuits they have had and switched to a high end, no grain, Taste Of The Wild for twice the cost. Well, I googled it and they are made by Diamond, the company that was involved in a ton more lawsuits with the China recalls a few years ago. I sometimes wonder if this is why our dogs get cancer…

Anyway, last night he ate his meal with more gusto, drank well, and slept pretty comfortably. He’s been picky with food, getting dehydrated because he won’t go to the water bowl, so I have to put it in front of him all the time, and I think he has boughts with fevers in the early evening and that’s why the restless panting. He’s cooler to the touch around 4am when he finally sleeps soundly.


Last night with his kitty, Cowboy.


I was thinking about the fact that it was his 3 month ampuversary today and reread the begining of his blog. I saw that I thought he was bloating in the first week. It was actually the same condition as the day I took him to the ER 3 weeks later and discovered this liver mass. I suspect it was there before the surgery and amazes me that he endured all that and the meds (filtered by a diseased liver) in that condition. If I had to do it over, I would xray the abdomen prior to surgery, not just the chest. BUT on the other hand, they said his leg would have broken within a month if not removed, so that would have been 2 months ago. By amputating, he’s had 3 months pain free pretty much, so I do not regret it for a second.

However, this morning I think he’s bleeding out again. He does this off an on a lot I guess by the change in attitude and pale color. He was rolling happily in the bed this morning, went out to pee and looked stronger than the last few days. Then laid down out there in the yard. I called him to come eat and he wouldn’t come. I brought his food to him and he turned his nose up at it. Even the raw meat (with pills). I force fed him his Baytril and metoclopramide at least, and he picked through the yolk of a hard boiled egg. So that’s all that is in his stomach and I can’t get any more. He’s very pale, almost greyish. Yet, his spirit is willing. He wanted to come out on chores with me and then came back for his morning bone chew. Confusing! He ate up the Busy Bone I offered him and enjoyed chewing and *eating* it.

Well, it’s all about him, so I’m glad his spirit is willing and happy. I will let him rest and see if he recovers from the bleeding. At least they say that is painless. Not the ampuversary day I was hoping for. We are going for a car ride on errands later, we’ll see how interested he is in that. He is comfortable and I am with him for one more day. I am grateful every moment I glance down, as now, and he’s looking back up at me. 🙂

Another rainy day, baked cookies, hanging out.

Raven had another restless night. Odd, I wish I knew what it was. He fusses and flips sides back and forth and pants now and then. Finally, around 4-5am, he sleeps soundly. I don’t get it. I may try a Tramadol tonight at bedtime and see what that does.

For the first time, Raven hopped to his food bowl this morning, but turned his nose up at it and just looked at me. 🙁 I suspect tummy upset, but he’s not vomitting or even air licking. I needed to dress up the food with more blood from the meat, raw elk steak pieces, and hid his pills in a hard boiled egg. He still gobbled the egg, and ate out the meat and licked the juice, but left the cottage cheese/rice/raw egg/kibble in the bowl. He didn’t want to eat standing up, so he got to eat on the floor. His cat joined him to show him if he didn’t, Cowboy would eat it all for him…



A bit later, I gave him a Metoclopramide (a motily drug that helps nausea). He perked up a bit and hopped around begging to lick the bowl with cookie dough batter. 🙂 As he’d push it away by licking, he’d bite it and pull it back to him. Smart doggy!

Now, he’s just resting in front of the fire. You can see his distended belly (shaved from ultrasounds), and even his ribcage pops up when he lays on his side. But this is not bad, it’s actually pretty okay right now, when off the anti-inflam and antibiotics, it was much worse. Which is why he went to the ER with me thinking it was bloat back on Dec. 6.


So, I’m getting some bookkeeping done, I’m off work today, and just staying ever-so-grateful that he’s not hurting and is just resting and comfortable *right now*. 🙂

We had a good night

Raven’s a bed hog. Always has been. Normally, when he starts to crowd me off the bed, I give him a nudge and he scoots over. But the last few weeks, it’s harder for him so I just sleep like a contortionist with my legs hanging over the side and a crook in my neck. 🙂

He also sometimes breathes shallow little breaths at night. I don’t think it’s a permanent lung issue, because other times he breathes normal slow deep breaths. But this restlessness worries me and I don’t sleep so well any more. But last night, he spooned along side me *all night* and slept soundly. Ahhhhh. Then of course I woke up several times thinking he was dead! But I’d feel his warm breath and thank my lucky stars and I slept soundly too.

Last night he was bouncing as I walked in the door, but it was the first meal that he did not finish. He ate it with vigor, but had to lay down I think, more than just not having an appetite. He left some kibbles in the bowl. I put the bowl on the floor (it’s elevated) and he finished. I want him to eat healthy. He gets a raw diet that is for zoo carnivores (I have it for the bobcat), a complete diet of raw meat/organs/bones/vitamins. He’s eating about 30% of that, 40% of kibble, and 30% of rice/cottagecheese/yogurt/raw egg. I am Greek/Turk and making a greek yogurt every few days to always have some for him. I read once that inoperable cancer tumors can be slowed down if you feed them the fuel that they need, so that they don’t consume the hosts body as quickly… Who knows?

Here he is in his usual place this morning after his chew treat. Under the table beside the computer where I browse.




My “Moany Groany” man

The roller coaster continues. I spent the day worrying about everything being our “lasts”. I came home from work like usual, expecting that for the first time (since he was lethargic and weak all day) that he wouldn’t be bouncing at the door. It was dark, and indeed as I opened the door, I heard him crowding the door and bouncing. I burst into tears, dropped to my knees, and sobbed into his fur as he licked the tears from my face. It was good to get it out.

So, this morning, we woke up and he did his stretch in bed and then was his usual Moany Groany self. This is his Use The Bedding As A Face Rag time that I’ve videoed before. Oh, and yes, he barks if you get near his toenails… I had the cell phone handy and got this today:


Then he happily chewed his morning bone and went out with me for chores and bounced for his hard boiled egg (video in a past blog) and then even became Mr. Warrior at the sight of a dog near his perimeter in the distance off the pasture. Here’s his tough dog stance:


Although, he can’t go far without laying down. And he’s coughing a lot and does a gag reflex now and then. Sort of like he’s got a cold. But he loves his food and eats fine, pees, poops, isn’t in any pain. I just started him on Metacam yesterday since he hasn’t been on any anti-inflamatory meds since weaning off the corticosteroid a while ago. So, if he’s got some discomfort I’m not aware of, that should help. The tummy distention seems to be back under control with the Baytril.

So, today is not the day. One day at a time, loving him every moment. 🙂

*Thank you* to everyone for being there and all of your input…

Raven is coughing sometimes

Part of me doesn’t like sharing the not-so-good news, but I feel the need to document it and also just vent my fears.

In the last day or so, Raven has gagged and coughed now and then. He did a reverse sneeze last night. And he foams at the mouth/nose when he gets excited like barking or panting. I think the foam is fluid coming up from his lungs. These are the first outward signs of these lung mets I’ve witnessed.

Also, he’s lethargic and a very quiet now. He’ll get up to go potty and come back for a treat, he got happy and bouncy for his morning chew bone. But sleeps most of the time. And doesn’t get up for anything unless it’s important to him (food, potty, car ride). His tummy is distended again, dang mass in there flaring up again I suppose. I did switch to ciprofloxin since it’s only $10 and Baytril is $200 for the same 10 day supply (rediculous difference in same drug family). But Cipro is again not available and I will probably have to switch back. He’s only been on it for 5 days, but this is the same result as when I went off Baytril a while ago. I think he responds better to Baytril and goes downhill without it. So, I just went ahead and switched back today. $20 a day for 3 pills.

And to what end? With the lung mets advancing, I honestly question why I prolong this… I am not strong enough to say “it’s time” when he’s doing okay and not really suffering or in pain. But the downside to that is: So, I want to wait until he’s suffering??? That is not right. Sometimes I beat myself up for not calling the vet today to spare him the pain. Raven would do it for me. But he’s a better person that I am…

Living alone and having him and his father before him for the last 20 years, I cannot bear the thought.


Bouncy boy this morning

I just wanted to share…this is from this morning. I give a hard boiled egg as a treat to the dogs sometimes. Here are he and Betty begging for their egg treats. He’s sure not acting sick! 🙂


And here he is *after* his roll on the rug, I didn’t get the camera in time. But this is where he ended up, half under the bed. He loves to do it in the morning when I’m getting dressed and toss my pj’s at him. 🙂


Riddled with mets, but he doesn’t know it

On our way to the doctor with Betty.

The chest xrays were downright scary.

A week or so after his amputation his lungs looked clear, with one questionable met. His trip to the ER five weeks later showed about 6 or 7 tumors in his lungs, these were debated among Auburn Univ. ocologist, my vet, and the ER vets. But after reviewing the films with the new vet last week, she confirmed they were. So, to see their progress (and if no progress, to address possibly biopsying and addressing his liver issue) we xrayed yesterday and saw DOZENS. They can’t even be counted. With some very large ones. His lungs are still working, and he was bouncy and wagging and doing his Boomy Bark at the vet’s office, you would never know it by looking at him. Let alone that his liver is riddled with tumors and nodules on every lobe too. He is truly a miracle.

Nov. 10, 2009
Mets look like little grey circular spots. There is probably one in the bottom of the black area of the film just to the right of the heart.

Dec. 7, 2009
There are 6 or 7 now, varying sizes. This film is reversed from the previous one. Some look like they are on the rib bones, but the rib is just overlapping it on the film.

Jan. 16, 2009
They are now everywhere. The one that looked like it was on the rib bone is now huge (there is actually two there, one on each side of him, overlapping each other). Along with another very large one below the windpipe and in front of the heart. If you could blow this up and lighten it, they are *everywhere*.

So, this is what I feared. Nothing can be done about this, and there’s no point in putting Raven through further treatments to figure out his liver/spleen masses. However, we still need to show these films to the new vet that specializes in oncology and I have questions for her on meds as a form of chemo and keeping him comfy. Which he certainly still is! He has never coughed or bled, although I am sure that will come. He sleeps soundly and loves to run and wag for people. He bounces for his food, or even at the hope of it. 🙂 And my alltime favorite, he loves to use the bed or the floor as his Face Rag and makes his Happy Groany Sounds when he rolls. He is so strong, such a warrier and a Baby Huey all in one, my sweet boy, my inspiration.