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Monday, October 14th, 2013

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I wanted to thank everyone for the kind words and expressions of sympathy during this difficult time.  It’s been a week since we lost our sweet girl.  And imagine my surprise when I received a card in the US mail from the moderators of this site!!  AMAZING!  I’m deeply touched by the actions of this community and will continue to check in, offer any thoughts and support this great cause…even though I didn’t know it existed until a short time ago.


Gayle, Dan, Tyler, Gwyneth, Mickey (the cat) and now spirit Toto


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Long road has ended.

Monday, October 7th, 2013

Tripawds is a user-supported community. Thank you for your support!

Once again, I’ve neglected this awesome tripawds community.  It’s been a rough few weeks of a roller coaster ride…ups and downs, twists and turns.  After Toto’s last surgery she bounced back really well!  She had some really great and happy days of long car rides and tail wags.  Until one day two weeks ago when she woke up and couldn’t get up off of her bed.  The vet treated her for an injury to her left rear leg just treating the pain with tramadol.  Next day, it’s like the incident never happened!  She had about 5 more great days!  Then last week, both rear legs kind of buckled under her and she couldn’t and wouldn’t even try to get up.  Vet gave her prednisone and we continued the tramadol and told us the cancer was most likely hitting her spine.  Guess what though?  Nearly a week of great days.  She also had “the cough” so we knew the cancer was now in her lungs as well.

Saturday night was bad…Sunday was worse.  I’m sorry to inform this community that Toto has lost her battle with histiocytic sarcoma.  She fought hard and I’m certain she had far many more pain free days than not.

I still intend to keep her blog running…with memories and pictures.  She was a dog with many little funny quirks to share.  And I fully intend on continuing to support this fine cause.

Thank you for the support over the past 3 months…I honestly don’t know how I’d have fared through it all without this community.



Back under the knife…

Wednesday, September 18th, 2013

I feel badly that I’ve been away from tripawds for a while.  When I work my “long week” at work I feel I lose touch with some things.  And then we had a bit of a trying week last week.  I took Toto in for her routine blood work to make sure she was doing fine and could receive her second dose of CCNU which was due last Tuesday.  If I haven’t mentioned it, she had some cancerous (histiocytic) lesions under her skin and on top of her skin.  Anyway, those lesions had started to ulcerate.  So when I took her in, though not scheduled to see the vet, the technician asked me if I could leave Toto there so he could make sure our vet gave her a thorough exam and looked at those lesions.  One was clearly getting infected.  A few hours later that wonderful technician called me and said our vet wanted to do surgery right away to remove those lesions and the tumor underneath her skin in the same area.  He said the vet thought it was very urgent and that they were scrambling to see if people could stay and/or come in so that they could do the surgery that very evening.  Uh…SCARY!  So…they did it!  They removed a great deal of skin and the underlying tumor and lymph node.  You can’t even really tell there was anything there!  Except for the fact that she now has an incision nearly the same length of the horrendous amputation incision but going the other way…she now is marked permanently with an “L” on her right side.  🙂  Stitches still in for another week, but she is doing well.  I’m pretty bummed though because she’s back to being lethargic and not really interested in eating much whereas before this most recent surgery she was eating twice a day and even wanting to go for walks again…finally.  Granted, this recovery shouldn’t be nearly as long, but I just want her to enjoy the days she has left.  My 12-year-old daughter was so insightful when she said of Toto having to stay overnight at the vet again, “Another night without Toto!!??  I want her for all the nights she has left.”  🙂

We did, however, get some very good news!!!  ALL of Toto’s blood work on her CBC…all results were within normal limits!  SO…..we got to give her the second dose of CCNU last Wednesday…just a day late.  She’s on antibiotics for another week as a precaution from the surgery, too, but she is doing OK.  I don’t know what I did to deserve this dog in my life.  She’s an amazing creature.  I’ve started a list of what I’ve learned from Toto.

One week post CCNU dose #1

Wednesday, August 28th, 2013

My husband took Toto to the vet yesterday for her post-chemo dose blood work.  Mixed emotions.  The vet was overall pleased with Toto’s progress.  Her cutaneous and subcutaneous lesions (our “visual” for how the CCNU is working) are obviously smaller…I had even seen that though I wondered if it was wishful thinking.  The vet was really happy with that because he said she’s responding more quickly than is usually seen.  My husband mentioned to him that she has days when she’s really tired and others where she’s more herself and he said, “Well, she has terminal cancer and she just recently had a major surgery.  She’s going to be tired.”  Why is it that it’s always nice to hear the obvious from someone else?  🙂  The vet also looked in her mouth (her gums and jaw) for sometimes apparently the CCNU can affect the mouth.  The mixed emotion stems from the fact that her white blood cell count is already down to 6000.  The vet explained that these will peak and trough through the treatment but if she’s down in two weeks (next scheduled blood work before next CCNU dose) we may stop the CCNU.  Yep…he used the word stop.  Not delay….not reduced dose….stop.  That’s a little discouraging, but I refuse to let it get me down!  🙂

FYI…we are changing her food to a low carb/high protein diet.  I haven’t read much about diet on here, but I’ll let y’all know how that goes.  We chose Hills Science Diet High Energy as a dry option and their “n/d” canned food to supplement.  Our vet says about half of the dogs he’s recommended the “n/d” for have GI side effects.  Toto being a golden and having a fairly sensitive stomach as it is, I’m not very hopeful.  LOL  But, we’ll see.  We’re just going to use that as supplemental and as a mix in occasionally.  Anyway…just a side note. 🙂  Starting that new regimen today.  Fingers crossed that I’m not cleaning vomit up frequently……..

Here we go….

Tuesday, August 20th, 2013

Toto had her sutures removed today and suddenly I feel as if 20 pounds was lifted from my shoulders!  Her incision looks great and the vet was very pleased as well.  There’s some dried blood that must be 10-14 days old so I cannot WAIT to give her a bath.  🙂  We discussed chemo and protocol with the vet and, as I’ve stated previously, the chosen chemo for Toto at this point is CCNU.  Guess what?  It’s pretty cheap!  AND we get to give it at home!  Whew…..I hadn’t been clear on that.  I knew it was by mouth and not IV but I didn’t know we were going to be able to give it ourselves.  We will stick with CCNU until we’re finished with the cycle or until Toto’s body won’t let us any longer.  She had her first dose (8 fairly large capsules!) today about 2 hours ago and so far, so good.  I’m keeping my fingers (and her paws) crossed that all goes well and that her WBC count and hemoglobin stay up for the duration!  Some of her cutaneous cancerous lesions are notably larger in recent days so I’m happy we’re finally started on this chemo!

Some have said Toto isn’t a statistic.  I agree.  She’s my dog, my friend, my sweet pretty girl.  🙂  She’s not your everyday, normal golden retriever.  She’ll be the exception…not the rule.



Two “steps” forward!!

Wednesday, August 14th, 2013

My husband works from home several days each week.  Yesterday was one of those days.  I was cleaning and doing laundry, etc. and my daughter had a friend over and they were giggling and carrying on.  Toto is not a fan of the vacuum cleaner…or, well…any loud noises.  She never has been.  So the vacuum was going, the washer and dryer were going and the giggling was incessant.  I kept checking in on Toto who was in our bedroom and caught her out of the corner of my eye as she walked out and sat on one of our new necessary area rugs.  I greeted her and continued my vacuuming.  I turned back around and caught her again out of the corner of my eye halfway up our only flight of stairs that goes up from the main level of our house (where she has always spent the majority of her time) to the upper level where my husband’s office is and some bedrooms.  There are 16 steps and she was literally right in the middle on the 7th one!  I dropped what I was doing as I thought she was “stuck” there!  The steps are carpeted but there is hardwood at the bottom and the top and she usually (even when she had 4 legs) doesn’t even mess with the steps unless we are all upstairs playing XBox or Wii.  I met her on the steps and she was panting and obviously tired so I sat with her and petted her a while.  She then suddenly stood back up and climbed the rest of the way up!  She did slide and fall at the top, but she recovered well!  My husband, who had heard her fall, barreled out of his office and saw her sitting there panting and we both just praised her and praised her.  She then followed him into his office, had a bowl of water then jumped up on the couch in there!  What the heck was she thinking?  She spent several hours up there with him where it was quiet.  🙂  The way down was fairly uneventful as I had place rugs at the top and bottom in anticipation.  But she did it!  No one coaxed her, no one really helped her!  AMAZING!

Then…THEN…later in the day I decided to see if she wanted to go on a walk…just a block and back.  She came willingly into the front yard but didn’t want much to do with a walk.  I found a ball and decided to toss it to her.  She missed, but chased right after it! She brought it back, I grabbed it and threw it again…only about 3 feet, but she chased it again!  She then laid down and enjoyed the breeze as she always has loved to do.  She was so happy to be out and about.  A few neighbors came to greet her and even her favorite doggie pal from down the street walked by, though his owner and I thought it best to keep a safe distance at least until her stitches come out (Wally is a bit WILD!).  🙂

Good, GOOD, GOOD DAY!  She slept well last night and seems tired but still very happy today.  BIG DAY!  TotoOutside

Quick update….

Monday, August 12th, 2013

Just wanted to post a quick update that Toto had a GREAT day!  After our scare last night I’m happy to report her incision looks terrific and has very little seepage.  Thanks so much for the helpful posts yesterday.  Boy, I’m glad to know her situation was somewhat “normal”.

She ate twice today which I’m THRILLED about and even came out with the family to watch TV with us this evening.  My cat is giving her fits (though he always has) because he really wants her to play like they always have but she’s just not up for it yet.  But being our wonderful sweet and stoic Toto, she’s just watching him act a fool and laying low.  🙂

Until someone sees this transformation first hand, there’s no way they know how amazing this can be.  I love Toto more than ever and my family even seems closer because we all love her so much.  🙂


Sunday, August 11th, 2013

Thanks once again for all of the supportive and helpful comments!  I know y’all know how important they are as you’ve been there.  🙂

Yesterday I returned to work for the first time since Toto’s surgery.  My husband and kids were home with Toto and we pharmacists must open our stores on the weekends.  ;0)  Before I left, I noticed a bit of seepage from Toto’s incision.  Unlike some of your blogs I’ve read and photos I’ve seen online, our Toto has no bandages.  Her incision (which is somewhat horrific) was left uncovered and clean with (though I haven’t counted) nearly 100 stitches.  We’ve been using old t-shirts that I’ve tailored to kinda fit her to cover it up so we don’t have to stare at it and we’ve found it keeps her from trying to scratch at it.  Anyway, I asked Dan (the hubby) to call the vet if it got any worse…which he did.  To which they replied, “If it’s not dark it’s just seepage so you shouldn’t worry.”  The family left Toto alone for about 2 hours and when they returned home my husband could not get the bleeding/seepage stopped.  UGH!  I’m at work, unable to leave due to what I do and my husband is NOT a worrier!  Long story short, he decides to take her to the emergency animal clinic…the only place open I think in the state of WV on the weekends!  Longer story short, they removed a few stitches, they drain the incision, test it for infection (even though Toto is still on an antibiotic), stitch Toto back up – all without sedation – and determine that it was normal seepage that should be occurring but it had formed a pocket under the skin and had collected.  AAHH!  So, not a wasted trip and this morning she’s still seeping a little but now we kinda know what to expect.  And we were told to use warm compresses and to try to “milk” the fluid toward the incision to help it come out the correct way.

Whew!  My blood pressure meds had a workout yesterday!  Back to work for this weary pharmacist today, but at least I know my Toto is in my family’s very, very, very capable hands.  Very thankful for my husband.  I have no clue what mental state I’d be in without him.  🙂


Amazing Homecoming

Friday, August 9th, 2013


I’m simply amazed at how well Toto is doing!  She’s hopping around as if she’s been a tripawd all her life!  Honestly, I’m pretty sure everyone at the animal clinic is amazed as well.  In fact, the nurse who discharged Toto said she was doing so well that she didn’t have to stay the usual two days they normally keep amputees!  She hopped into our SUV unassisted (though the stinking e-collar was banging everywhere) and even hopped up our steps to get into the house…unassisted!  AMAZING!  I can already tell, even with her large incision, that she’s feeling better…less pain I’m certain!  All doubts are gone!  This truly was the best thing we could’ve done for her.  I realize there’s still work to do and a (hopefully) long road ahead but oh my gosh this is an amazing situation and we have one amazing animal.  We are blessed beyond measure!

Silver lining?  They’re everywhere.  Toto is home…Toto is more pain free than she has been for quite some time…we have an amazing story to tell about a remarkable dog.

Whew!  And the journey continue


Waiting anxiously…again. :)

Thursday, August 8th, 2013

First let me say a gigantic THANK YOU for all the comments and good thoughts yesterday.  It was a strange day…as y’all know.

We went to see Toto last night.  She was trying desperately to get up and greet us but with the effects of her fentanyl drip and the slippery floor of her cage with an added blanket or two she just couldn’t manage it.  Our vet had to fly out somewhere, but the surgery nurse seemed very pleased with Toto’s progress and was happy she was trying to move!  She hadn’t been walked yet but they were going to do that as soon as we left.

I know someone said to not look at her incision site, but I couldn’t help it.  She has no bandages and the incision is SO much longer than I had anticipated!  Whew.  But, it’s clean and not leaking and looks like it’ll leave as small of a scar as possible.  Other than that, she seems very much herself!  Just a little drug-induced haze.  She looked at us as if she couldn’t believe we were leaving without her as we walked out but, of course, we promised her we’d see her today.

It’s now 10:00AM here and we were told we could most likely pick her up and bring her home at noon.  I’m keeping my fingers crossed but not holding my breath.  It all depends on how she does on her walks.

THANKS AGAIN for the input!  It is SO appreciated.  My friends and family have been great support, but I long for the advice and thoughts of people who have been there.  🙂