Friday, May 18, 2012

One down

Five chemotherapy treatments left to go, if all goes well. Amber had the first treatment yesterday morning and did seem a little quiet most of the day. When we got home I gave her a bully stick to chew and she ate half of it and then buried the rest in the couch for later. She ate her dinner and brought me her stuffed soccer ball to play a few times but other than that was in her kennel curled up all day. They gave her a drug called Mitoxantrone, a quick injection. The next one will be a different drug given IV for 20 minutes.
I brought them this picture of her from her last show. My little athlete. Photo by Randy Gaines
By the way, it's just KILLING me that she is so perfect in every other way still, just that one body part....

They told me I didn't have to do anything differently, just to let her tell me when she was ready for normal activity. This morning she was fairly normal again. Every morning I listen for the sound of her rolling on the couch, she makes these noises that sound like a bear scratching its back on a tree. This morning was no exception, I was happy to hear her. She seemed to want to do something so we went for a short hike, she did just fine!
We took them for another run tonight. Eagle Island again, our favorite place.
The sun was just setting and it was perfect light for photos. Lots of bugs though!
See all the insects?

 I have lots of very similar shots but can't decide which ones I like best so I'm posting them all.

Upon coming home I am almost convinced that the chemo has made her feel BETTER. For the past few months she has not seemed very excited about her food, she still ate it but just didn't act like she used to. She used to sit in the kitchen and watch me make it, drooling, and lately she has been waiting on her bed til she hears me put Rye's dish down to get up and eat. Tonight she watched me make her dinner.

You should see her drug basket. Mixed in with her food she gets one Omeprazole (prilosec) twice a day, to help protect her stomach from the effects of the Deramaxx which she gets once a day. Now she has Metochlopramide, twice a day to help prevent upset stomach from the chemo. I give her a total of 3 fish oil capsules a day, good for lots of stuff, she gets cranberry juice capsules twice daily to help keep her urine acidic, a vitamin E once a day, and I've been making a mix based on something called the "Budwig diet". It sounds silly but I don't think it can hurt her. It was recommended on a dog cancer forum. It is about 3 tablespoons flax seed oil and 6 tablespoons cottage cheese, blended using my handy dandy hand mixer, until it is very smooth and creamy. Something about the blending of the two is what's important.

Goodnight and thanks for reading!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

We are still here!

Hello, World! Though we have been pretty depressed around here, we have been trying to take the dogs on as many of our favorite walks as possible.
Amber seems to be trying to pee a little more often, with less and less actually coming out, which is how it goes. I watch her every day to see that she can still pee. I'm sorry for the tmi. At home she can lie (I almost wrote "lay", Morris) around on the couch or in the grass for long periods of time without having to pee but on a hike I think the running motion makes her feel like she has to go more often. It is painful for me to watch but doesn't seem to bother her at all.
After taking her to a specialist last week and after way too much deliberation and backing and forthing on the subject we have decided to take her for chemotherapy treatments starting next week. I have always said that I would not give a pet chemo. I didn't really have a reason, I guess I thought it was prolonging their life just for the sake of their owner, not for the good of the dog. It sounds like dogs handle it much better than humans, so we are really hoping it doesn't have any ill side affects  for her. If it does I would not continue with the treatments. It may shrink the tumor and it may slow it down, so we will hope for that. It feels good to have decided.
I have no good excuse for why it has taken this long to get a diagnosis and start her treatment. I have been feeling VERY guilty. When the biopsy forceps first broke, during the first biopsy, I should have taken her right away to another clinic to get it done. I talked with my vet about doing that and he said we should try one more test, that bladder tumor antigen test, and if it came back positive then he would recommend getting the biopsy done as soon as possible, if it came back negative then he said I could relax for a little and get the biopsy done at a later date. The test was new to my vet, he hadn't used it before but felt confident in the results. Then it came back negative! I have to admit I didn't ACTUALLY think it would turn out to be cancer, not MY dog! So when we got the negative antigen test I DID relax.
I feel like crawling in a hole and never coming out again when I think of the last few months. I can't believe she got that MACH title only two months ago. I wish the agility gods would take back their stupid title and give me back my healthy dog. It's very hard to feel proud of it.
I don't mean to be such a bummer but I felt the need to write this down.
Today I took Amber to a Rally trial that I had entered a while back. I haven't worked that hard on intermittent rewards with her and it turned out to be a lot harder than I thought doing a whole course with no treats! You'd think all that agility would transfer over to Rally in her mind but it didn't seem to. With treats she can do everything pretty well! Even right before going in to the ring this morning she was very attentive since I had cheese and salmon treats. In the ring she was a little slow and didn't seem to love it all that much. Still, she came away with a score of 94 and a 1st place. The judge said she lost points for lagging behind and a few slow responses. It was our first ever attempt at Rally-O. 
 They had two trials, back to back in one day and we were entered for the second one but after doing the first one I decided it was such a nice day and that Amber would much rather be running in fields of green instead. So we went home, got Rye and took them to a magical doggy paradise called Eagle Island State Park. Here is a little video of them from today doing what they do out there.
and just for fun, helicopter tail!
Thanks for listening.