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Signs

Tuesday, March 2nd, 2010

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I think I am starting to see outward signs of the cancer that I know is in Toto’s body.  Lately, Toto seems to be more tired, and he sleeps very soundly.  Sometimes when he is sleeping it sounds like he is breathing heavier (but that could be in my head).  His appetite is also starting to decrease.  Of course I worry about him.  I am a mom.  It’s my job.

But for whatever negatives I see, I also see a dog who is not ready to leave us.  As soon as I start to worry that he is not eating, he goes back to his bowl and finishes his dinner.  Then he runs over and brings me a toy.  It is as if he is trying to show me, “See?  I am fine.  Really!”  And when he seems lethargic and I begin to worry he is slowing down, then he will jump off the couch and go play with the other dogs.  He is still his feisty self.  He plays just as rough as ever.

So while I know that Toto is physically sick, I also know that mentally he is stronger than ever.  He is not going to leave us without a good fight.


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The Good and The Bad

Wednesday, February 24th, 2010

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Ok, well I guess I will start with the bad.  We finally heard back from the prospective adoptive parents for Dexter.  Apparently they are no longer interested.  That really sucks.  It breaks my  heart.  Fortunately, we have still been hearing back from people, and others have been spreading the word.  It is just disheartening that we have had at least 8 people who were interested in taking Dexter and none of them panned out.  None of them even got a chance to meet Dexter!  At least give him a chance!

The good news is that there are wonderful people out there who said they cannot take Dexter, but they wanted to contribute to the cost of his heartworm treatment, neutering, etc.  That has just been amazing!  The generosity just warms my heart.  I cannot even say thank you enough!  It is such a huge burden off of us knowing that we can afford to start treatment while we continue to search for a forever home.  We brought Dexter to the vet yesterday and we were able to do x-rays.  More good news, it looks like his heart is in good enough shape to move forward with heartworm treatment.  We plan on bringing him in next week.  They will do an ultrasound to look at his heart, and if all looks ok, they will move ahead.  They will give him a series of two injections into the muscle, 24 hours apart.  After that, we keep him inactive for 4 weeks.  At four weeks he gets oral medication at the vet.  Then, another 2 – 4 weeks of inactivity. 

When they did the x-rays the vet saw some arthritis in his back half and said, “he is no spring chicken!”  The vet now thinks he is around 8 or 9 years old.  We are still trying to find a WONDERFUL home for Dex, but it definitely makes it hard when he is older and sick.  Anyone looking for a really sweet dog?  He will make someone very, very happy. 🙂

More Info

Thursday, February 18th, 2010

I have been holding off posting more info on Dexter because we found a potential home for him.  I was very optimistic on this one, but we were supposed to hear back yesterday, and we haven’t heard anything yet.  Now I am afraid that this means it isn’t going to work out.  I will let you know as soon as I hear any news either way. 

First, I want to thank you for all of your advice and support.  I love the tripawds website!  Everyone has been so wonderful.  I was feeling really down on Tuesday and then I received so many positive comments and messages on the tripawd board, and my husband and I both received some nice messages and offers to help from people we work with.  It makes me feel so good to realize that there are really good people out there… with big hearts.

Well, everyone seems to want some more info on Dexter, so here it is!  Dexter was 38 pounds when we brought him to the vet, but he looks like he could gain a good amount of weight.  He is super skinny.  He looks like he has a lot of German Shepherd in him.  His face also looks kind of like a Chow or Collie or Shiba.  He is kind of a reddish color which is pretty cool.  The vet was having a really hard time aging him.  She said he has the body of an old man, but some really nice looking teeth.  She guessed around 7, but I am not sure how accurate that is.  He has scars from fly bites on the tips of his ears and he had some cuts on his nose.  He looks like he has been outside for awhile.  Dexter seems pretty well housetrained.  He hasn’t marked in our house at all.  We brought him to my parents house though, and he wanted to mark.  After a short while, when he adjusted, he was fine and totally stopped.  I think it was just a reaction to anxiety.  We borrowed a crate for Dex to use.  He doesn’t love it, but I think he could get used to it. 

Dexter was pretty nervous coming into our house, and I can understand that.  It took him awhile to get used to coming in and out of the house and going up and down the stairs.  He was very cautious.  Now he has gotten the hang of everything and is doing great.  Dexter has been a real sweetie.  He loves to be with us, but doesn’t go crazy if we go away.  He seems to bond easier with women, but he was fine with my husband and father after just a short time.  He has been really good with our other dogs.  He likes to play with them, but he isn’t too hyper.  Most of the time he is pretty mellow.  He his happy to sit around and chew on a rope toy!  He likes our cat a lot.  He follows him around a lot, but he is very good with him.  Dexter has also been great with our kids.  He hasn’t show ANY signs of aggression.  Even with food, and the poor guy was starving, he was never aggressive at all towards us or the other animals.  We were pretty impressed. 

Dexter doesn’t seem very used to walking on a leash, but he enjoys it.  I bought him a harness and that makes it pretty easy to lead him.  Dexter doesn’t know any commands, but he is teachable.  He responds very well to “no” and also to treats!  He is not much of a barker, but when he does, he has a really great bark.  It is a lot more convincing than the sounds my other dogs make. 🙂

As far as medical issues…  Dexter is heartworm positive.  We are going to the vet this week to see what they say about treating him.  However, you wouldn’t know anything was wrong from just looking at him.  Hopefully we have caught it in the early stages.  Dexter also needs to be neutered, but I doubt they would want to do that before he is treated for heartworm.  Not sure.  And, he may have one or two teeth that are broken, which should be checked out.  When we brought him to the vet the first time, he had his rabies shot and DHLPP. 

Well, I think that covers everything!  Any questions??

Dexter

Tuesday, February 16th, 2010

Dexter has been a wonderful dog –  housetrained, great with us, the kids, the other dogs, the cat, and SUPER sweet.  But, we realized that there is no way we can keep him.  Our plan was always to have two dogs.  Toto changed that plan when he showed up at our house.  I think that three dogs is stretching it.  Three dogs is a lot of work, especially when one has cancer.  We just don’t have the room or the money for one more dog.

The good news is that we have had about six different people who were interested in Dexter.  The bad news is that, as of now, we still haven’t found a home for Dexter.  We brought him to the vet on Thursday to have him checked out.  We also got his shots and heartworm test.  That is when we were dealt another blow.  It turns out that Dexter is heartworm positive.  So, anyone who was interested in taking Dexter before is a lot less interested now. 

We are still trying desperately to find him a great home.  We have been contacting everyone we can think of.  One thing we learned from Toto is that rescues will not touch him until he has gone through animal control.  I guess when you find a dog they are supposed to stay at animal control for a set amount of time before they can be given up.  So, our only other option is to give him up to a city shelter.  I don’t know if I can do that.  Dexter was so nervous when we found him, but he really has grown to trust us this past week.  I don’t want to turn him over to a shelter where he is scared and alone.  My other fear is that he won’t make it out of the shelter.  Living in a big city, an insane number of dogs are euthanized each day.  I am afraid that a nervous, heartworm positive dog wouldn’t make the cut.

As we continue to look for a home for this poor guy, we also are looking into the treatment options for heartworm.  Unfortunately, it looks pretty rough.  It is supposed to be expensive, very painful, and there is a chance they can die from treatment.  Furthermore, you need to keep the dog inactive for something like 6 – 12 weeks.  If we can’t find a good home, or good rescue, to take Dexter, we will have to start treatment for the heartworm soon.

All of this has been pretty stressful and overwhelming.  But, I can’t just be another person who has let this dog down.  Dexter deserves a second chance.  I just want to give him that.

Another Lost Dog

Sunday, February 7th, 2010

Thank you for all the get well wishes for Toto and for all of the advice!  We really appreciate it!  I am glad to say that Toto is feeling a lot better.  That is a huge relief.

There is never a dull moment in our household, though.  You may remember that I wrote a post awhile ago about how I just have a magnet for animals in need.  Well, it happened again.  After a long and stressful week, my husband thought I should take some time to myself.  So, this morning I decided to go to the mall.  I hopped in the car and was about to drive away when I saw a car slow down in front of our house.  My first thought was that she was looking at our house (because it is for sale).  Then, I saw a dog.  I pulled the car over about half way down the block and ran back.  I asked if it was her dog.  She said that it wasn’t her dog, but she works for Animal Control.  She was trying to get a leash around the dog’s neck, but he didn’t want to go near her.  I knelt down and called him over.  He came over to me.  I put his head in my hands and he licked my face.  I am such a softy when it comes to animals.  The lady said that she was going to try and catch him and then bring him in her yard until Animal Control came to pick him up…  unless I had any other ideas.  “Just leave him here.”  I said. 

So, I got the dog into my yard.  Then I had to figure out what the hell I was going to do with him.  He is a super sweet dog.  He looks like he has some Chow or Collie in him.  He is a medium size…. maybe 50 pounds.  His face looks like a mix between a bear and a lion.  You can tell he has been on the streets for awhile.  He has some scars and scratches on him.  His ribs are sticking out and he was very grateful for food and water.  We decided to call him “Dexter” for now.

Once he was in the yard we decided to bring our dogs out one at a time to see if they would get along.  We brought Stella out first, kind of as a test.  Everyone gets along with Stella.  They got along just fine.  Then we brought Toto out.  He is so friendly, but he also has a fiesty streak.  They got along well, too.  Finally we brought out our wild child, Elvis.  We were 3 for 3.  Once we found that everyone got along ok, we tried to get him inside.  He was super scared to come in our house.  He would stand in the doorway, unsure what to do.  It was like part of him wanted to come in and part of him was afraid to.  Finally, we convinced him to come in.  Our three year old was very excited for Dexter to come inside.  “Dexter, come inside.  You’ll love our house!” he called to him.

So now we have Dexter here and settled.  He is sleeping peacefully on the rug.  He must be relieved to have food and water and a warm safe place to rest.  Poor baby.  He deserves a good home.  Now, we just have to find him one.  We know from Toto’s history that this can be difficult, but we will figure it out. 

Of course part of me wants to keep him.  I get attached to animals so quickly!  But four dogs… that’s a lot.  We don’t really have room for four dogs.  Not to mention the money… we are still paying off Toto’s vet bills.  But sometimes it can be very tempting.  I just hope that we find an awesome home for Dexter, and then maybe it won’t hurt so much to see him go.

Say a prayer tonight for Dexter, and all of the homeless animals, that they will find homes filled with love.  Finding Dexter makes me think of when we found Toto (well, actually, he found us).  And Toto has taught us that even though things may start out rough, it is never too late for a happy ending.  I hope that today is the day that things turn around for Dexter. 

“Someday I’ll wish upon a star
And wake up where the clouds are far
Behind me.
Where troubles melt like lemon drops
Away above the chimney tops
That’s where you’ll find me.”

Sick

Thursday, February 4th, 2010

Toto has been feeling under the weather for the past few days.  I can’t believe that it has been over 4 months since his amputation and over 5 months since he was diagnosed with cancer.  Most of those days have been happy days for us.  But this week, Toto has had an upset stomach.  He has had more than a few accidents and he kept me up most of Tuesday night because I was worried about him.  I am hoping that it is just a bug or something he ate. 

I didn’t give Toto his Rimadyl today because I don’t want to upset his stomach anymore than it already is.  I have been making a lot of rice for Toto.  I think it is helping.  His stomach seems to be settling, but he was very lethargic this morning.  I was worried leaving him when I went to work, but I came home and he seems more like himself again.  That’s a relief.  Hopefully he will be back to normal by this weekend…  I hate to see the little guy sad.

I’m Back

Tuesday, January 19th, 2010

I just had to post that I am back from my trip this weekend and Toto was fine without me.   I am so glad that everything was ok and Toto seems to be doing a lot better again…  full of energy.  Maybe he is just glad to have me back… 🙂

Slowing Down

Wednesday, January 13th, 2010

It has been over three months since Toto was diagnosed with cancer.  We had a great Christmas and New Year (very busy!) and now we are trying to get back into our old routine. 

Toto is still doing great…  still playing, still eating, still happy…  But, I feel like he is slowing down a little.  I hope that it is just his recovering from the holidays.  Honestly, my husband things he is doing just fine.  Knowing Toto has cancer, though, I fear the worst.  I fear that the cancer is finally getting to him.  I try to push that thought aside, but sometimes I look at him and I just feel scared.  I am going out of town this weekend.  My biggest fear is that something will happen to him when I am gone.  Whenever anything goes wrong, Toto looks to me for help.  I can’t stand the thought of Toto being in trouble and me not being there to help him.  I am sure I am just being paranoid, and when I come home on Monday, Toto will be there to greet me at the door.  🙂

I went on a shopping spree at Petsmart buying more healthy, low carb food and snacks for the dogs.  I am also still giving Toto Rimadyl… though I am not sure if I should keep doing this.  I have heard some scary things about long term use of Rimadyl, but, with Toto having a highly aggressive cancer, I don’t know if this is something I should be concerned with. 

Toto is sitting with me now, looking at me as to say, “Mom, relax!”  Ok, Toots, I’ll relax.

Toto Meets Santa

Monday, December 28th, 2009

I want to start out by saying, Merry Christmas to you and your tripawds!  I hope everyone is enjoying the holiday season.

The weekend before Christmas we went to visit my in-laws.  We can’t bring our dogs with, so we left them with my parents.  We have done this many times, but not since Toto became sick.  I was a little leary about leaving him, but Toto loves my parents (and their dogs) maybe more than he loves us :-), so I tried to relax.  My mom called a few times over the weekend and everytime I feared the worst.  Luckily, though, Toto was having a great time and even went to see Santa Claus!  My dad said that Toto was a big hit at the store.  I am not sure what Toto asked Santa for, but I hope he gets it. 🙂

Toto and Santa

We had a very nice Christmas.  It was super busy, as always, but nice.  Our kids, and pets, all seemed very pleased with their presents.  The best present I got this year was just having Toto with us.  After all of the rough times we have had this year I am looking forward to the new year… a fresh start.  Happy New Year to you and yours!

Love,

Kristin, Toto, and fam

Merry Christmas

Seizures

Wednesday, December 23rd, 2009

Last Monday I came home in the evening before my husband (and the kids).  I sat down on the couch to relax.  Toto hopped over to me… clearly unsteady on his three legs.  He got to the couch and just looked up at me.  I immediately picked him up and held him.  He started to have a seizure.  I held him tight and told him over and over that it was ok.  Finally he relaxed some and wanted to get down on the floor.  I put him down on the floor and then followed him as he walked over to the rug.  He started to seize again.  I held him on my lap and his body was rigid…  his eyes were rolled back in his head.  All I could think at that point was that he was dying.  There I was holding him, alone, and I thought it was the end.  I tried to stay strong, but the tears rolled down my face.  I just kept thinking that Toto was dying, and how he must have felt so horribly scared and alone.  I tried desperately to comfort him.  I told him over and over that it was ok and that I was there for him and how blessed we were that he came to our house to stay and that he was our baby.  I told him that I loved him… and that it was ok for him to go (though I desperately wanted him to stay).  And then, after what seemed like forever, but was probably only a few minutes, Toto got up and walked to the door to go outside.

After the horrible seizures, Toto was back to his old self.  I calmed down after I realized that this was not how it ended.  A short while later my husband came home.  He walked in the door and started telling me a story…  Then he took one look at me and said, “Are you crying?”  I thought I was looking ok by then, but obviously he could tell that something was wrong. I slept downstairs on the couch that night because I didn’t want to leave Toto.

Toto was diagnosed early this year with epilepsy.  Toto had his first seizure last November.  We were freaked out and had no idea what was happening.  After that Toto had a seizure once a month, almost like clockwork.  We brought him to the vet where  they found nothing wrong with him outside of the seizures.  The diagnosis was epilepsy.  Our vet said that they would start him on medication if he was having seizures more than once a month.  Since he was right on the borderline we decided to hold off on the medication (which had many side effects).  At that time I also started to research everything I could about seizures and epilepsy in dogs.  I found that many people believe that there is a correlation between seizures and certain brands of dog foods.  So after some more research, I switched Toto to a really good quality dog food.  He had one seizure after the new dog food, and then they stopped until just now. 

Of course I was upset when Toto had the seizure last week, but I was really scared when he had the second seizure.  He has never done that before, and I felt that he was going to keep seizing.  Maybe the seizures were caused by the epilepsy.  Maybe the cancer triggered something that caused the seizures.  My biggest fear is that the cancer has spread to his brain causing seizures…  But I am not ready to believe that yet.  All I know is that Toto is doing fine now and for that I am truly thankful.