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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