Saturday, August 29, 2009
Adam's better at this video thing.
I think Dixie is feeling pretty good today. We took a walk down to the end of the block (4 houses down!) and back. She wanted to go further, but I didn't have a leash with me. Those bunnies – I just know she'll go after one if she sees one. Last thing I want to see is a major face plant!
Dixie's been laying on her left side where her leg used to be. I think that's a good sign. It is the most bruised today though. It's weird. The top part of the incision doesn't have bruising; all the bruising is on the bottom. I guess gravity is the cause. It's redish-purple. I think it will be gone by next week. I'm only giving her a Tramadol and Rimadyl in the AM and PM now. No point in giving her more drugs than she needs. She's also still taking her Cepha antibiotic and will finish that whole bottle in a couple weeks.
I ordered some medicines from 1-800-PetMeds yesterday. No shipping, no tax and $5 coupon code! Sweet. I ordered a big bottle of Super Joint Enhancer Chewable Tablets and Super VitaChews (both on sale!). As soon as they show up, Dixie will start taking those too. They are chewable—no more shoving my finger down her throat! Except for her fish oil pills, but wrap it up with a little lunch meat or bread, and it goes down like… like lunch meat or bread. Ha.
We are hoping to get back into our house today. Although it's not off to a very good start—the A/C guy forgot to set his alarm and was 2 hours late this morning… *sigh*
Friday, August 28, 2009
Dixie on the way to the vet, laying in a very awkward position. It was funny.
Dixie had a check up this morning. She has been given a clean bill of health and doesn't need to see the vet again until Tuesday, September 8 to get her stitches out. Dr. Stephanie said she looks great. She pressed on Dixie's chest around the incision and Dixie didn't even flinch. There is a little more bruising today than before, but I think that is normal. We also think Dixie's muscles and joints are more sore today, so the doc recommended giving her a Rimadyl. It's an anti-inflammatory and should help. For some reason, I thought it was another pain killer. Dr. Higgins gave her a 24-hr shot of it on Wednesday, so she just went one day without it.
We visited our friend Clint today for a bagel breakfast. Dixie got to meet his and Melissa's two little dogs Willie and Mason. Dixie seemed to really like the two boys, and even ran-hopped around with them. She's also getting good at hopping over things. She totally jumped over a foot-tall wall and didn't face-plant.
Even though we've been travelling a lot lately, we kind of feel like skipping town again. Wish we knew someone up in Payson or up north somewhere. Dixie can't hike right now, but just laying a blanket out in the woods for a picnic sounds delightful. For now, we are held up at the Hattaway's until tomorrow (fingers crossed).
Thursday, August 27, 2009
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
For example, it's Dixie's first day home and all she really needs or wants is sleep. We have her old dog bed covered in an old blanket. Zero dollars. It's too hot in the house (A/C still out). She is just laying on the tile anyway. She got her bandage off so we put an old t-shirt on to catch any fluid. Zero dollars. I was going to buy or ikea-hack an elevated dog dish contraption. Turns out, a box I already had turned upside-down with it's lid upside-down on the top works just as well. Zero dollars.
I know we will get some use of her Ruff Wear harness after her pain is gone. But, I'm not sure about the Comfy Cone though. With her elbow, there were few ways to cover it up, so she was always getting at it, licking. Her chest on the other hand, we can easily cover up with a t-shirt. Also, we didn't need any anti-skid stuff on the floors either. So far she's sticking to walking on the tile and hasn't fallen too hard yet. Guess we don't need that $5 giant rug from the resale shop after-all. Goin' in the next garage sale.
If you know my mom, you know that it's in my nature to shop. It's just something we do, and I'm pretty good at it. I know how to find the deals and am proud of it. But instead of shopping, maybe I should have been meditating…
My advice: don't go overboard too early. Cross bridges as they come and you might save yourself a buck.
I can't stop with the !!! We are ecstatic about how well Dixie is doing today. When we got to the hospital, they let us visit with her. I couldn't believe my eyes. She was standing in her kennel! When we opened the door, she tried to escape. She's like, "Let's bounce!" She was still vocalizing a lot, but probably just because she was happy to see us. The doctor show us how she can walk and go potty. It's really amazing.
The vet is pretty convinced that all her vocalizing and crying was due to dysphoria from the morphin-type of drugs she had been getting intravenously. Dysphoria is an extreme mood change such due to trauma that can bring on sadness, anxiety, depression, irritability or restlessness. The vet believes she doesn't react well with such intense drugs and she was totally confused and freaked out. They don't believe her crying necessarily had to do with pain. She was basically have a really bad trip.
Then we took her from the ER to our vet, with a little McDonald's on the way. She liked that. I did too. They removed the bandage and say it's all healing nicely. There is minimal bruising. They gave her a shot of Rimadyl before we left and ordered us back on Friday to check her drain, or remove it. (On a side note, the doctor at the hospital and our regular vet went to veterinary school together in Fort Collins, CO. That was pretty cool.)
Right now she's passed out in an old Land Rover shirt of Adam's. She can get in and out of the car, walk, pee, lay down. It's amazing. Outside she saw a lizard and tried to take off to chase it, but she was on the leash. In time, I'm sure she'll be after bunnies and lizards like before.
Today has brought on a huge sigh of relief. Dixie is such a strong-willed dog. She's going to kick butt as a tripawd! I'm so happy to share this experience with everyone. We love you all, and Dixie loves you too. Come by this weekend and visit with us!
PS: Our stupid A/C still isn't working! It's 88 in here right now. We have all the fans going at full speed. Adam broke down and called the repair guy. We hope it isn't too pricey. We've spent a lot of $$$ in the past 24 hours!
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
In the car on the way home
Man. This is pretty awful. Dixie is very whiny. The doctor thinks it's from the pain killers — that she is disoriented from them (dysphoria). The girls at the vet carried her into the car. I love the heart they put on her.
I think this is going to be a long night.
Listening to Dixie cry.
We decided to take Dixie to the emergency animal hospital. After a half hour home, we thought she was crying and breathing too hard/fast. Dixie yelped SO loud when we tried to pick her up to put her in the car. It was so awful! We figured out a better way to carry her, and covered her eyes. She didn't make a sound.
This is all frustrating because the plan all along was to have her come home the same day of the surgery. Our vet didn't expect anything else. (They preferred her to be home where she would be supervised. They don't have anyone tending to the animals over night. We were unaware of that until today.) Her pain was pretty bad. They had her on a drip to maintain it. They sent her home with us around 5:45pm. They said they wanted her back at 7:45am the next morning to continue IV pain killers.
I feel all this regret. What have we done? Should we have found a different vet or surgeon to do the amputation? I feel responsible for her pain… (I know it's not my fault. Adam keeps reminding me. It's just more intense than I expected.)
At the emergency vet, they said we made the right decision to bring her in. That made us feel much better. We thought maybe we were just overreacting. They decided that she needs to continue pain management through shots or IV. I felt much, much better having her there, being monitored. However, bringing her home, seeing how upset she was, then bringing her to a new hospital — this was SO upsetting to us. They seemed confident that she would be okay with the appropriate amount of pain killers. Then they had us sign a do or do not resuscitate order. THAT blew us away. They said they don't anticipate anything to go wrong, but you never know. So we signed to resuscitate.
We got to say bye to her before we left. She looked pretty scared—had total crazy eyes—and was still whining. Tonight is gonna be a long one. I don't know how much sleep we are going to get worrying about her. All I want is to NOT get a phone call from the hospital. We will probably call at least once to check up on her.
We are planning on showing up at their door at 7am tomorrow, before the night vet goes home. They are going to give our vet a call and see what they think about the situation. I hope our vet don't insist on seeing her. I feel better keeping her at one place until it's okay she can come home to us. Plus, I feel safe having her at the hospital. I think they just got a new client?! We will see…
PS: On a side note, I don't know how we would have been able to give her pain meds ourselves tonight, seeing as they are pills. She wouldn't even lick an ice cube—how were we going to get her to swallow a pill? Grrrr.
Well Adam is passed out on the couch. We watched a DVD of Friends episodes—made me giggle and feel a little better. At 10:30pm, I made Adam call the hospital to check on the D. They said they started an IV and her whimpering is quieter. She's also clearly out-of-it, which they said is a good thing. Hopefully she can get some sleep tonight.
I'm reluctant to sleep. I feel like as long as I'm awake, everything is going to be okay. I always considered myself a strong person, but man, I'm a wreck when it comes to the ones I love. I asked Adam, What am I going to do when we have kids and something goes wrong? I'll be a complete disaster! Seriously.
I'm going to post this tomorrow. Need to get through the night, but felt like writing first. I've also been browsing Tripawds.com. Everyone is so wonderful on that site. I posted about our trip the the ER and Mary from the Bay Area wrote me back:
Oh, Emily, that's so scary. But, as you said, they seemed confident that she would be okay with the appropriate amount of pain killers. Once they have that adjusted, she'll get some rest. The other thing is probably standard procedure.
There are lots of stories here about how our dogs get weirded out with their medications right after surgery. I'm hoping, with you, that that's all it is.
Give yourself a couple drops of Rescue Remedy and try to rest. Dixie will need you to be strong tomorrow.
Hugs and prayers and good thoughts
I wanted to ask if Rescue Remedy is a shot of tequila. jk jk. Countless people on that site have gone through what we are, and what we are about to. It's incredibly comforting to hear their stories and advice.
I broke down and called the hospital again. The vet tech said they moved her to a kennel where they could turn off the lights, and that seemed to help her relax. And, she's sleeping—has been for about 45 mins! Phew, I'm so glad. Maybe now I can sleep too… if only our A/C would kick on. It's just blowing tepid air. It's not even hot out right now! C'mon!
Dixie had a chest xray and they didn't see any cancer. So we are pretty sure it hasn't spread.
I've been researching canine amputations. My favorite site is Tripawds.com. I'm also reading Without Regret by Suan Neal.
We bought Dixie a Ruff Wear Palisades Pack with the Web Master harness and she doesn't mind wearing it at all. I'm looking forward to helping her get up and down stairs, in and out of the car with it. (A shout-out to Travel Hounds for the pack and the sample food and treats. You just acquired a new loyal customer!)
I also bought her a new Elizabethan collar. Dixie would always run into walls and furniture with her traditional plastic one. She'd also almost take your legs out with it when greeting you at the door! I think the Comfy Cone will be a better solution. I bought it at a cute little shop called Noble Beasts in Phoenix.
We have some towels in case Dixie drains again, like her elbow did. We also have some bath mats and non-skid things to put under towels so she doesn't slide around on the wood and tile.
We have some yummy treats to use as encouragement as needed.
Now we just have to find some vitamins and glucosamine, etc to start her on. This dog is going to get star treatment from now on!
Adam and I got up early today and made a trip to the gym. These days, since it's so hot out, we can't run with Dixie. Plus we are in terrible shape! She knows running shoes means running. So we have to walk out in flip flops with our running shoes in hand. That way she doesn't get all upset. The first time we made a trip to the gym, she tried to dig out of the backyard and knocked over her water bowl. Dixie does not like being left at home when she thinks we are out having fun.
We did a light workout on the stationary bikes as I read Adam excerpts of Without Regret by Suan Neal. That book is awesome. It covers practically everything you need to know about canine amputation. I highly recommend it.
Got home, showered and prepared for a day at the Hattaways (where we are working from today, waiting for a call to pick her up). At home I moved the furniture around so we can get Dixie out the door easier for bathroom time. Dixie was a little anxious, probably because we were packing bags. She also knows bags mean a trip. Lucky for her, we aren't going anywhere for a while. We piled in the car and listened to In the Heights soundtrack and some Amos Lee—a few of my faves these days—on the 15 min drive to the vet.
At the vet, Dixie was a little nervous and shy. Every time she's there, she gets poked and prodded! But we signed the papes and she went off with Dr. Beth. They are amputating below the shoulder, so they are leaving the shoulder blade.
We will keep you updated. For now, we are waiting and relaxing (and working).
Monday, August 24, 2009
Tomorrow, Tuesday, August 25 is Dixie's amputation surgery. Dr. Beth Hareski at the Horizon Animal Hospital will be performing the surgery.
Dixie is getting over an ear infection, so I hope that doesn't affect the anything. We've also noticed that she is becoming hard of hearing. We're going to have the vet look into that.
Adam and I will be updating this blog as we go through this process together, the 3 of us. Keep Dixie in your minds tomorrow!
July 9, 2009
Dixie went in for surgery to remove the leg tumor and a small growth under her tail. We opted to not have a biopsy of either tumor, since we knew we couldn't afford chemo or radiation if they were cancer. Halfway through the surgery, I received a call from the vet's office. Dixie was doing well, but they wanted to let me know the surgery was taking longer than expected. I knew this was not good.
After the surgery was over, I received a call from the doctor herself. She said the tumor was embedded among the tendons and veins more than expected. She did her best, but could not remove all of it. She highly recommended we biopsy the tumor. I agreed.
Finally at 5pm, I was allowed to take Dixie home. She was not well. Confused and crying. Pretty much until bedtime, she was whiny and wouldn't let me leave her side. This was unusual since Dixie had always recovered easily and quickly from surgeries.
The next few weeks were interesting. Thankfully, Dixie was her normal self the next day. I counted about 34 stitches on her leg. The leg had a lot of fluid and drainage. (see below) After many visits to the vet for draining, cut up socks to cover the wound/catch the fluid and lots of touch up cleaning on the carpet, she was finally cleared to get her stitches out.
We found out about 3 days after the surgery that the big leg tumor was indeed cancer—a grade I soft-tissue sarcoma (only 5-10% chance of metastisizing). I don't know why, but from the moment I dropped her off for surgery, I had amputation in mind. Of course I didn't even know she had cancer. I guess it was like a premonition of what was to come.
The vet recommended we amputate the leg to “increase her chances of a disease-free life;” and the sooner the better. Either that, or let it be. It would grow back, and no-one knows how fast. I expect it would quickly, since it grew fast the first time. When she starts having pain, we would maintain it with meds. I just couldn't imagine that. She's an active dog. Dixie LOVES running, hiking, camping—being in the wilderness. I would hate to cut that short by having her all doped up on drugs.
hiking in Fossil Spring Wilderness Area
But I also wondered, If we amputate, are we being too aggressive? Besides a barely noticeable limp, Dixie was getting around great, running and jumping. I never noticed a change her in behavior. The cancer has such a low chance of spreading. Since Dixie uses her left leg with no problem, I'm concerned she'll have a harder time recovering.
After some debate, Adam and I have decided to amputate. Through all this, I'm proud of myself and Adam for not being super emotional or worrying about her being "handicapped." My biggest fear, personally though, is her recovery. I know she's strong, both in will and physically. I just don't want her to get frustrated. I want her to be happy.
Next came surgery to remove a tumor on her shoulder (I think? hard to remember…). Then surgery to remove a tumor inside her mouth by her molars.
On her first camping trip, she punctured her chest on a stick or something. We didn't even notice it until we were giving her a bath and I felt something fleshy on her chest. Turns out she had a hole there! We whisked her off to the VCA Animal Hospital because our vet, Horizon Animal Hospital, wasn't open—curse of a holiday weekend.
Her trips to the vet after that were few and far between. Except that one day her left eye was draining and just did not look good. She had punctured her eyeball with what we guess is a thorn from our lemon tree. (see below)
Come March, I knew we had to make another trip to the vet soon, regarding the large tumor she was growing on her front left leg. What I didn't know was that tumor was going to change Dixie's and our lives forever.
The first Monday Dixie was with us, she came to work with me at Hattway Creative, where I freelance as a graphic designer. She was pretty shy, but sweet, towards the Hattaways. There were beautiful cactus flowers blossoming in the backyard so I took a few pictures of Dixie next to them. Looking back, I can't believe how skinny she was! She only weighed 45lbs when I adopted her. Now she's a health 55 - 60lbs (depending on the season)!
Dixie in her "den" under my desk at Hattaway Creative.
Dixie has also blossomed into a wonderful studio dog. Hattaway #1 practices commands with her using Dixie's favorite Buddy Biscuits from Trader Joe's. Hattaway #2 loves how Dixie smacks her lips together when she's relaxed and happy. And Hattaway #3 - Jambi the cat - enjoys Dixie's company and likes to flirt with her.
Dixie in her "home den #2" in the closet at Two Birds Creative.
Dixie also is our resident studio dog at Two Birds Creative. After being laid off in January, Adam and I started up our own graphic design company. Dixie's snores and sleep barks keep us entertained in our little home office.
The Payson Humane Society saw my "Happy Tails" story on Petfinder.com and contacted me to find out more about Dixie's new life. They wanted to feature us in their newsletter. This is what they said:
Good morning Emily!
Petfinder forwarded the entry remark you made about Dixie and we were thrilled to read them. Love It! Would you happen to have a recent picture of her so we may add your story to our newsletter? With such happy endings, It helps to encourage people to adopt. I'd be more interested in hearing the signature honking noise but hey, I'll take what I can get! Thanks so much and thank you for the happy ending.
Payson Humane Society
"The Little Shelter That Could"
PS, did you keep her name Dixie?
This is what I wrote back:
I apologize in advance for the super long email! I just love my dog and love telling her story! :)
Early the next morning, I got a call from a lady who thought she had my dog! Ironically, she was a dog groomer. She said Dixie was great all night, got along with the kids and other dogs she had. I was so happy to have my dog back and start our life together.
I want to thank you so much for everything you do for the animals in Payson.
photo via Payson Humane Society
I found Dixie on Petfinder.com about three months before I actually got up the courage to go meet her at the Payson Humane Society. When I first met Dixie, she was very reserved and quiet, which made me a little nervous. She didn't really seem interested me. I was about to leave without her when she looked up with these big sad eyes and it almost brought me to tears. Man did she know how to pull at your heart strings with those eyes. As soon as I said I would take her, it was as if she knew she was going home with me. She was so excited, jumping around and making her signature honking noise. Since then, Dixie has become my best friend and constant companion. She has blossomed into a wonderful dog - gentle and sweet - always giving kisses. I am often complimented by strangers on her obedient behavior and calm disposition. I feel so lucky that we found each other; that I get the honor to have her as my dog.