Do you duck or catch life’s curve ball?

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.

6 Replies to “Do you duck or catch life’s curve ball?”

  1. We lost a rottie to osteo at 6. Given Crystal’s spirit and spunk, I fully support your decision. It seems like the best possible plan. I agree – 6 months, a year, enjoy each day. Sending super strong rottie Power of the Paw – to Crystal and to you and Karen!

  2. I was so sorry to read about Crystal on FB and now to get more info from your blog.

    Polly and I are sending positive healing thoughts and gentle hugs (((Crystal))). I hope all goes well with the amputation and she is soon back to her old self.

  3. It’s bad enough when we see any of the pups limping, but when it’s a broken leg, we fear the worst, and it usually is. Hope she recovers quickly. All paws crossed and sending good vibes.

  4. Sending light, love, and wishes for all things positive to your home and hearts from ours this evening. Hugs from Mia and her peoples.

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