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.


Hiking Hounds said...

I'm so sorry that you have been feeling down. I know it's hard but, try not to blame yourself. It's so hard to know what is best, and hindsight is 20/20. Amber wouldn't want you to blame yourself. And, I'm sure Amber would want you to feel proud of the MACH that the two of you earned. She loves agility and you.

I'm glad your trying chemo. To treat Zephyr's encephalitis he had four aggressive treatments of chemo (lomustine) and then five months of a milder daily chemo. Dogs really do tolerate it well. Our only problem was a week after his first treatment when his WBC count dropped too low and he got a fever. I think that happened because he was only one week out from his emergency and still very weak, but we lowered the next dose a little. Otherwise he was just a little tired one week after treatment for a day or two.

You and Amber look great in Rally. I think I saw her tail wagging a few times. She and Rye look really happy in the field, what a great time. Amber looks great and very happy. I'll be sending you and Amber lots of positive healing thoughts. :-)

Claire Krigbaum said...

Thank you for writing about your experience with chemo! It's always nice to read positive comments about it, there are a lot of negative ones. I've read that most dogs do have a very low wbc count after the first round but that it usually goes right back to normal.
I sure hope I'm not making a mistake.

thistlethorn said...

I don't think you 'bummer my trip' with this story! We all go through these moments!

Claire Krigbaum said...

Hey thanks, thistle!

UrbanBodi said...

Congratulations on your first Rally Q on your first attempt at an outdoor trial, no less. That was a lovely Rally run! As it was her first Rally trial, Amber may have been a little out of sorts due to the absence of agility equipment.

As scary as it is, it's worth giving chemo a try. Fingers crossed that the positive benefits will outweigh the potential negatives. ~ Corrine