The foster baby

August 24, 2014 grand dogs 5 Comments

Grandma Karen and Opal   

Our daughter Megan and her husband is fostering a nine-week old pit bull puppy named Opal. Talk about sweet. That little baby was so good for the heart today.

Love, laughter and loss

August 22, 2014 Crystal 8 Comments

Crystal   

I’m so sorry, another repost from my other blog.

When I wake up in the morning, I know that decisions will have to be made during the day. Some major, some minor. At the end of the day, I want to fall asleep never having regretted any of my decisions.

Our hearts are shattered into in a million pieces tonight. Our sweet little pocket rocket Crystal is gone. Just when I think I am out of tears, they fill-up and flow again.

I will never regret the day we had our friend spring her from a Craigslist ad. I will never regret the amount of love and laughter that she poured into our hearts. The hole is huge and empty and painful tonight, but I know how this works. We will love again and again, that is what Karen and I are made of. And I certainly will never regret our decision to amputate her leg 10 days ago. We had a chance, we took it. We were dealt the osteosarcoma card again. Someday we will win. I know we will.

To all of the cyber hugs and good wishes that were sent our direction these last two weeks, we thank you. Who would have guessed how much a hug through cyber space and a thumbs-up would have such an impact, but it does.

To our vet clinic, our vet, our vet techs and staff, thank you for loving our girl just like she were your own. Every minute that she was in your care I was confident that it was the best and most loving that she could get. I know that she broke a piece of your hearts off too, she loved you all.

Crystal, many would say that the skies will have a bright shiny star tonight. You and I know better. You are a comet racing across the sky leaving behind you a trail of love, laughter and joy.

We will miss you so much girlfriend.

Crystal aka Rebel Crystal • May 23, 2003 to August 22, 2014

Saddle-up girlfriend, looks like we’re gonna ride

August 21, 2014 Crystal 4 Comments

Crystal   

Well, except for the buckets and buckets of puss that continue to drain, Crystal is doing really well. She motors around on her three wheels as if she never needed the four leg after all.

I was most encouraged when I got a message yesterday about a greyhound that is 27+ months post amp and chemo. And, that there was a study about infections and cancer, dogs that got infections actually did better because the cancer got caught in the cross fire.

Tomorrow she will go in under anesthesia and they will flush out the area and place a drain.

Then, when all is well, we will go forth with chemo. We will keep a very close eye on her quality of life. That will always be first and foremost in our minds.

A good news, bad news kinda day

August 19, 2014 Crystal 4 Comments

Crystal   

Crystal was still pretty punk this morning. The fever was gone, but she didn’t want to eat, she didn’t want to walk and she certainly didn’t want to go back to the vet clinic for another day on IV antibiotics.

They x-rayed the stump and found a few pockets of gas, most likely from the bacteria. She still has quite a bit of drainage. She’s been on antibiotics since the surgery, but boosting her IV antibiotics really seemed to help.

We are still watching her, but there is a chance she might have to go in for more surgery to remove some of the tissue. We are hoping not.

When we got there this evening, she was very excited to see us. She sat right up. Gave Karen a million kisses and even gave me an eargasm when I rubbed her ears. All of those were so good to see especially after she has been so down.

One of the drugs we added to her cocktail is SamE. It’s an over-the-counter natural remedy that is supposed to help with pain and depression. She was definitely happier tonight. It was start of the quality of life we promised her when we decided to amputate the leg.

As feared however, the biopsy came back. Yes, once again osteosarcoma has reared it’s ugly head in our lives and in one of our dogs. I hate that disease. It’s evil and it’s ultimately deadly.

This time is different. We have already amputated the leg and it has been our experience that we say good bye anywhere from three to six weeks mostly because of the pain. We honestly don’t know what to expect. We will talk to our vet about chemo after we get the infection problem cleared up.

One day at a time girlfriend, one day at a time.

Two steps forward, one step back

August 18, 2014 Crystal 3 Comments

Crystal   

Well, today did not go according to plan. Poor little Crystal developed some blood blisters during the night in the tissue where the blood was pooling. Karen noticed them at 3:30 this morning when she got up to check her. She was definitely feeling punk this morning and since Karen had the day off, she whisked Crystal off to the vet clinic. She had a temp of 104° and the blisters were beginning to drain.

She was on IV antibiotics and fluids all day. By noon her temp had dropped to the high normal range. She was a bit more perky but her new best friend Stumpy wasn’t being so friendly. It is hurting her.

The Doc is going to give her two days to see what happens with the draining and depending how she looks then, she may be going in for more surgery.

She’s home with us tonight. She ate, she’s been out to pee, but I really think it hurts the stump to walk.

It will be back to the clinic for more IV antibiotics in the morning. Poor little punky. I’m so sorry Crystal.

Another update from the gardens

August 17, 2014 Crystal, Flo, Jori 6 Comments

Jori   

We said good bye to our lovely little senior lady today. Sheesh, this just isn’t getting any easier. Jori was 14.5 years old which is pretty darn good for a greyhound. Age had taken most of it’s toll on her legs, they just couldn’t hold her up like they once did.

It was beautiful though. Our vet came to the house and underneath the plum tree, resting so peacefully, she let out one big sigh of relief and raced toward the rainbow bridge to see all of her friends.

Jori is the one dog that knew everyone, she was one of our first greyhounds, a foster failure.

Here’s the link from my other blog, both of our daughters came down. Jori was part of their growing up too. Celebrating Jori

Crystal   

Crystal is doing a little better each day. She’s eating with gusto although she has turned her nose up on the Darwin’s raw and has decided she wants kibble. That’s fine, except that on kibble she was incontinent and she had protein in her urine. Arghh, hoping this is just a blip.

She is walking pretty well on three legs, but definitely tires quickly. We watch her pretty closely. Karen will be home with her tomorrow and I will stay home with her the rest of the week.

Flo   

And Flo, the cardiac kid. She had another EKG last week amongst the rest of the chaos. Her heart rate is still too fast, so we shall add another pill to her already out-of-control cocktail. She is not the easiest dog to get pills into. She is wise to all of the tried and true tricks of the trade which leaves us no choice but to risk the ends of our fingers when we shove them down her gullet. It is also not a bonding moment for us.

She remains happy and full of zest for life however.

I think that brings us up-to-speed with the gardens.

Onward and upward, one day at a time.

There’s no place like home

August 15, 2014 Crystal 5 Comments

Crystal so happy to be home

I promise to quite reposting from one blog to the next, but holy smokes, this has been a week, a month, a year.

Wow, what a week this has been. Nearly every waking moment has been consumed with taking care of Crystal. Researching and purchasing harnesses, transporting her, finding just the right beds… anything and everything to make her as comfortable as possible.

The thing she wanted the most was to come home, to lay behind my desk and to be with her friends.

Our hearts skipped a few beats as she actually walked out of the clinic last night to our car. When we go home, she stood up in the car and walked from the car to the back yard, her beloved acre where she has always raced with the wind chasing the careless squirrels that would get just close enough to tease her and not get caught.

Her ability to figure out the balance on one leg is amazing. We have a harness on her, but once we reached the grass we let her walk by herself. We stood close by ready to grab the handle if needed, but we held our breath as she tried out her third wheel all by herself.

She had some dependent edema in the remaining hind leg and this morning it is nearly gone. Karen set her alarm so that she could take her out during the night, but Crystal was sleeping so soundly and comfortably that Karen just let her sleep. When we got up this morning, we took her out and she took care of business. I’m so glad we are off for the next three days and prepared to be housebound. We are here to wait on Crystal hand and paw.

Today I don’t regret for a minute doing the amputation. It wasn’t a decision we took lightly as we looked into our crystal ball to assure that she would have quality of life. We are pretty certain that once we get through the learning curve of three wheels instead of four, our little girlfriend will be as good as new.

Now we wait for the biopsy results.

I will never be able to thank all of support that Karen and I have received from our daughters, Megan and Holly, our vet clinic staff (I still say they are the best of the best) and our cyber friends. A few words of encouragement go a long way to keep Karen and I focused and putting one foot in front of the other.

One day at a time.

Crystal, day 2

August 14, 2014 Crystal 4 Comments

Crystal   

Just one more repost from my other blog.

When we walked into the vet clinic, Crystal’s vet tech looked at us and said, “She is amazing!” Tears of joy in both of our eyes blinded us temporarily as Janene told us that she was walking with support, she had figured out how to balance on her back leg and she was able to lay down by herself.

Karen and I agonized over our decision on Monday. I don’t know that we will ever stop second guessing whether or not we did the right thing. It is so hard loving our dogs so much and wanting to do the right thing. We still have no idea what is ahead for us, but we’re ready and Crystal is ready. Karen and I both have Friday, Saturday and Sunday off to help her adjust and I will probably stay with her next week.

I have to insert here that all of this wouldn’t happen without our incredible vet clinic staff and techs. Time and time again I have watched them take our pets into their care as their very own. They are simply the best.

We’re planning on bringing Crystal home tonight. When we left her at the e-vet clinic last night for observation, she gave us a look of really? Are you really leaving me here again? She’s ready.

I raced around yesterday morning picking up a few more items, a big orthopedic bed, a harness and a soft bucket just in case she wants to pick at her stitches. The harness doesn’t fit her correctly, so I’ll be heading to a sporting goods store to pick up a different one to try this morning.

Thank you for all of the words of encouragement and hope. We are platinum card carrying members to the club “One Day at a Time.”

Crystal is doing good

August 13, 2014 Crystal 4 Comments

Just a quick caution. My dog blog is our daily journey that helps me remember the good, the bad, the happy and the sad. Yesterday when we went to see Crystal after her surgery, I snapped a few photos with my phone. We thought the incision area looked really good, but I also recognize that many people are not crazy about pictures of incisions and bruising.

So, if you don’t want to look any further, just let me tell you that she stood up with support, she ate some dinner and drank some water. Karen and I were so encouraged.

You go girlfriend! As soon as the stores open, I’ll be off to by some comfort items for her.

Crystal resting peacefully   

We got to the vet clinic about 4.5 hours after the surgery. I have to start by saying that I love, love, love our vet clinic, our vet techs and our doc. I don’t know what we would do without them.

Crystal was as happy to see us as anyone could be on lots of happy drugs.

The First Stand  

With a little support and a lot of help getting up, she was able to stand. She has her head buried in between Karen’s legs.

A snack   

One of the things that we evaluated before we decided to do the surgery was her appetite. This tiny little girl eats like a line backer all of the time. She was ready for dinner.

A little drink   

And of course, she needed a little water to wash the small can of dog food down.

There considered an entire list of things before we said yes to the surgery. Crystal was a solid 10 in all areas. She has a high spirit, she’s happy, she’s spunky, she eats like a horse and she’s very pick-up-able.

Karen visited her at about 3:30 this morning and she had done pretty well during the night. She ate a little more, she got up.

We are not out of the woods yet and we know that. Bad things can still happen, but we are feeling pretty encouraged right now.

Do you duck or catch life’s curve ball?

August 12, 2014 Crystal, Zip 6 Comments

Crystal and Zip   

This is a re-post from my other blog.

Here’s the abridged version, more details in the next few paragraphs.

Crystal broke her leg at about 5 am Monday morning on her first run out of the day. We didn’t see it happen, but we think that when she and the other greyhounds ran to cedar trees to look for squirrels, somebody ran into Crystal and clipped her just right causing a spiral compound fracture of the right rear leg.

After looking at the xrays, our vet was nearly 90% certain that it was osteosarcoma that caused the weakening of the leg, radiology couldn’t confirm it, biopsy is really the only way.

We spent the day agonizing over two options. Do we amputate or say good bye to our very sweet little girl, a girl we fostered at 18 months, adopted out and then retrieved from Craigslist in 2008.

By the end of the day, we really didn’t know any more except that her lung xrays were clear. Neither of us had any tears left, but our hearts were broken. We were emotionally exhausted, but we had a plan.

Today, we will have Crystal’s leg amputated and go from there.

The unabridged version.

Crystal is 11 years old. She’s spunky, high-spirited and tiny for a greyhound. She’d rather not spend quality time at the vet clinic, but she is not petrified to be there. She’s not needy, but she loves to be loved. She’s a chow hound and would eat everything that crosses in front of her. She never raced, never even went to training. She went straight into the adoption program as a young dog.

I’ve mentioned before that we live on a fenced acre and we have a grove of six or seven 100 ft. cedar trees right in the middle of the property. Every run, Pete and Crystal make a mad dash for the trees in hopes I am sure of catching a squirrel off guard. Yesterday morning at 5 am they made a run for it and Karen heard a cry that wasn’t a normal “ouch, that hurt” yelp.

Crystal stood on the other side of the trees, still as a statue with her leg hanging. We carried her in the house and laid her down. 5 am is tough time to make an emergency vet call. Do we race her over or wait until 7:30 am when the doors to our vet clinic opens? She wasn’t crying out in pain, so we waited. At 7:30 am I made a quick post on Facebook. “Not a great way to start the week. We need a gurney.”

Our beloved vet saw us the minute we walked in the door, have I mentioned how much I love them? He assessed her quickly and ordered x rays and morphine. In the digital age, our fears were confirmed almost immediately as we saw the ugly compound fracture of her right femur on the computer monitor. The vet said he had seen breaks like that in a dog hit by a car, not by dog running in the back yard and he immediately suspected osteosarcoma.

We are not strangers to that evil monster we refer to as osteo. In fact, osteo has taken more good dogs from us than any other disease. It’s aggressive, it’s painful and it never shows any mercy.

Dr. Mills immediately sent the xrays off to be read by radiologists hoping to get more info and we left Crystal at the vets in tears, not knowing what our next move would be.

Before going into the office, I made a quick plea to our Facebook community asking for advice and experience on amputation and possibly chemo and radiation. To everyone that took a minute to share their experience and send cyber hugs, thank you from the bottom of our hearts. Checking the updates helped us put one foot in front of the other all day long.

I finished what absolutely had to be done at the office and Karen and I headed back over to the vet clinic just to sit with Crystal. We still didn’t know what we were going to do and we called our dear friend Nancy, someone we have adopted many of our greyhounds from and someone who like us, believes that quality over quantity is the most important.

Without hesitation and knowing that Karen and I love our dogs, would do what ever we had to do for them but always keep their best interest in mind said “Go for it.”

If osteo is going to metastasize, it is usually going to start in the lungs, so we had a chest x ray done to make sure they were clear. They looked really good, but we sent that batch off to the radiologists to be absolutely certain.

At the end of the day we loaded her up into our car and headed over to the emergency vet clinic so that we could keep the pain meds at a constant flow. We took the x rays with us to get a second opinion from our other vet, Dr. Rowley over there.

I will pick her up at 7:30 am this morning and transport her back to our vet. The plan is to do a high amputation of her right rear leg. It wasn’t a decision we took lightly. Crystal has the spirit and strength to do well.

We might have a week, a month or a year. We don’t know. We do know quality of life and we will monitor that very closely.

One day at a time.

Just a side note on the photo. Every evening Karen and I sit at the kitchen table and have a cup of coffee. Timber lays at our feet and Crystal stands on the other side of the baby gate demanding crumpets (or Stella and Chewy’s).

At one time, that gate was beautiful and wooden. Crystal has been knawing on it for some time. If Karen looks like she might get up and get a treat, Crystal’s ears go straight up in anticipation. Zip is normally laying down, but the minute he hears the bag rustle, he is right there too. These guys make me smile. On Sunday night I told Karen to wait a minute. I grabbed my camera, put up a light stand and grabbed a few photos of a memory that always makes me smile. Little did I know that in less that 12 hours, that memory might be gone.

So I leave you with this last thought. Grab your cell phone, your point and shoot or whatever camera you have. Photos are the one thing that you always, always have and please back them up. The ten minutes I took to make a quick grab will always be the most precious to us.

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