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My Toto

Monday, July 12th, 2010

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I cannot thank you enough for all of your well wishes.  I have read your comments on my blog and on the forum over and over.  I think I have cried at every one of them.  I am so grateful for the tripawds community.

This weekend I have been busy.  This weekend I have been (pretty) strong.  Now I just want to be sad and mourn the loss of my baby. 

From the day we found Toto, we knew he was a sweetie.  We found him with another stray and he would curl up and sleep next to him.  He was a dog, abandoned, living on the streets, who was just looking for love.  And then, we found him.  Well, I guess I should say that he found us.  I don’t believe for a second that it is a coincidence that he showed up at our house.  We took him in.  We gave him a second chance.  And Toto, never for one second, forgot that.  We thought that we were helping him by taking him in.  But, he blessed us more than we ever could have imagined. 

Toto was a dog who was just happy to be here.  He loved being outside, he loved French fries, he loved sleeping in my arms, he loved his dog friends, and he loved us.  I have never felt as loved as I did when I was with Toto.  I hope to be half the person that Toto saw when he looked at me.

When Toto was diagnosed with cancer we were devastated.  He was only three years old.  But Toto faced cancer and amputation the same way that he approached life – with a twinkle in his eye and a bounce in his step.  I think Toto was faster on three legs than he had been on four legs.  He would still rough house with the other dogs and run to the door when someone came over.  For a little dog, he was quite the watchdog.  Toto was the sweetest boy, but he also had a feisty side to him. 

Even as Toto got more and more sick, he never stopped fighting.  He just didn’t want to let go.  He also didn’t want to upset us.  Even facing death, he was trying to make us happy.  I would be worried about him, afraid he was slowing down, and then he would jump up and play.  I would be upset that he wasn’t eating, and then he would run over and finish his food.  Just last week he was laying down and I was afraid that the end was near.  Then he saw me looking at him and jumped up and wagged his tail.  Toto had a tiny little tail.  We called it his “nubbin.”  When he got excited he would wag his little nubbin and his whole body would shake.

I am not sure what I will do without him.  I heard one of our dogs coming down the stairs this morning and my first thoughts was, “Tooter is awake!”  And I almost got up to go get him, and I realized that he is not here.  And I wake up in the morning and out of habit look in his bed for him.  And he is not here.  My four year old son says that I should talk to God and tell him that Toto is my “favorite person ever,” and then maybe God will give him back to me.  I just hope and pray that Toto is in a better place.  I hope that Toto has crossed the Rainbow Bridge and now he can run free…  with all four legs, and without the cancer that destroyed him.  I hope that I will see him again someday. 

I never thought that I could learn so much from a scruffy little gray dog.  Toto showed me otherwise.  I learned about loving unconditionally, and showing how you feel, and living life to the fullest…  everyday.  Toto faced life and death with a big heart and a brave soul.  We are forever grateful Toto came into our lives.  Rest in peace my sweet baby.  I love you.

Toto, the day he showed up at our house

Sleeping in the carseat with my oldest son

Papa was the one who decided we were keeping Toto, he never could say no to that face

Taking a nap with my youngest son and Stella

My baby

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The Good Fight

Saturday, July 10th, 2010

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My Toto is gone.  10+ months he fought hemangiosarcoma, and today he lost the fight.  My heart is broken.  Completely broken.  I don’t know what to do.

The past week or so has been rough for Toto.  It got to the point where I wished he would just pass away in his sleep.  It got so hard to see him so sick.  Toto got to the point where he was pretty unresponsive.  His abdomen was terribly swollen.  His gums and tongue were pure white.  Today I took him out in the yard and he just collapsed.  His breathing was heavy.  I kept saying to my husband, “I don’t know what to do with Toto.”  Finally he said, “I think you do know.”  We were going to wait until tomorrow to do anything, especially because we have friends visiting and staying at our house.  But when I saw how Toto was this morning, I knew we had to bring him to the vet.

When the vet saw him he said it wasn’t good.  He said the cancer had clearly spread to his organs, probably liver and spleen.  Also, because his gums were so pale, it looked like he was bleeding internally.  He said it didn’t look like he had much time left.  But, I said that he had looked like that for awhile.  I just think he wouldn’t let go.  Our vet said that if we had any doubts we were doing the right thing, he didn’t.  It was time. 

I sat in a rocking chair and held Toto in my arms like a baby, like I have done so many times.  It was only seconds and he was gone.  Gone.  I cried so much that my head felt like it was going to explode and I was sure I was going to puke.  We stopped and got a Coke to try and settle my stomach.  Then we had to go home and get ready because we were having a bbq at our house.  Seriously.  It was the worse timing ever.  The last thing in the world I wanted to do was to smile and talk to people and pretend that I was ok.  I kept it together.  Once everyone left I went to my room and fell apart.  Going to bed without Toto next to me was horrible.  I just kept sobbing and saying, “I want my baby back.”  Finally I just gave up and went downstairs.  I can’t sleep tonight.

 I want to write some beautiful, poetic tribute to Toto.  But, right now, all I think about is how much my heart hurts.  Toto was the best.  I don’t know what I am going to do without him.  I miss him so much.

9 Month Ampuversary!!

Sunday, June 20th, 2010

Tomorrow is Toto’s 9 month ampuversary.  I can’t believe it.  It has been a crazy 9 months, but I am so glad he is still hangin’ in there.  The good days still outweigh the bad, and for that we are so thankful.   Thank you to everyone for sharing your stories and giving us support over these past 9+ months. 

Here is a poem that I just read and it made me think of Toto…

Every dog must have a soul
Somewhere deep inside
Where all his hurts and grievances
Are buried with his pride.
Where he decides the good and bad,
The wrong way from the right,
And where his judgment carefully
Is hidden from our sight.
A dog must have a secret place
Where every thought abides,
A sort of close acquaintance that
He trusts in and confides.
And when accused unjustly for
Himself, he cannot speak,
Rebuked, he finds within his soul
The comfort he must seek.
He’ll love, tho’ he is unloved,
And he’ll serve tho’ badly used,
And one kind word will wipe away
The times when he’s abused.
Altho’ his heart may break in two
His love will still be whole,
Because God gave to every dog
An understanding Soul!



Friday, June 11th, 2010

For all the worrying that I have been doing, Toto doesn’t seem to be worrying much.  🙂

Still Here

Monday, June 7th, 2010

Thank you for all of your kind posts.  There are not many people who are understand what I am going through, and it is so comforting to hear your own stories and your support.  Reading your comments to my last post made me cry…  again.  I have been crying a lot lately.  But, as my title says, Toto is still here.

This journey has been such a rollercoaster.  I was sure it was Toto’s time, and then…  he surprised me.  I was agonizing over the thought of letting Toto go.  My husband and I decided to wait until the next day before we did anything.  I put Toto to bed next to me that night and the next morning he was a new dog.  He was running outside with the other dogs, barking at people outside, eating, following me around.  I know  he is not “better.”  I know there is no miracle cure for hemangiosarcoma.  But, every day he is here, and happy, is a miracle. 

For now we are back to enjoying the moments we have together.  I am spoiling Toto as much as I can.  I know our time together is coming to an end.  I know I will have to let go… as hard as it may be.  Toto has been so strong for so long.  Now I need to be strong for him.


Sunday, May 30th, 2010

We finally made it.  We are in our new house and starting to settle.  Toto seemed to be adjusting well to our new home for awhile and then he took a turn for the worse.  As I wrote about in my last post, there have been a lot of ups and downs.  So, I have been trying to take it all in stride.  But, Thursday, it seemed like it was more than just a “down.”  Wednesday night I got home from my son’s preschool program in the evening.  I brought the dogs outside.  Toto went to the bathroom and then came inside.  He was standing in a kind of strange way and I looked at him and he just collapsed.  I looked at his gums and they were white.  I tried to make Toto comfortable for the night and hoped he would seem better in the morning. 

Thursday was not better.  Toto has been sleeping next to meet every night in a little sofa/bed for the kids.  It has three of the Disney princesses on it so my son calls it the “Three Ladies Bed.”  Well, in the morning I took Toto out of the Three Ladies Bed and brought him outside.  Again, he went to the bathroom, but then collapsed.  Inside he found his favorite spot behind a chair and slept for most of the day.  His gums were still very pale.  When I would talk to him he wasn’t very responsive.  I talked to my mom.  I talked to the vet.  Everyone said the same thing…  Toto has put up a good fight, and if he is in pain, we should think about letting him go. 

I have had dogs all of my life, but this is the first time that this is my dog.  This is my decision.  It is the worst decision ever.  The most painful decision ever.  How do I know when it is his time?  How do I know when he is uncomfortable or in pain?  He puts on such a brave face.  In the time since I learned Toto has cancer, I have had time to get used to the idea he is not going to be around forever.   You can never really get used to the idea, but it does help a little.  But, especially lately, I have also gotten used to having Toto around me all the time…  sitting on my lap, out in the yard, sleeping beside me…  I don’t know what I will do when he is gone.

Ups and Downs

Saturday, May 15th, 2010

The good news is that we have officially closed on our old house!  The bad news is that we have NOT officially closed on our new house.  Our plan for being “homeless” was that we were going to go to Wisconsin for a weekend and then stay with my parents for no more than a week.  Well, it has been more than two weeks.  I guess things have been crazy because everyone is buying at the same time because of the tax credit…  Anyway, the plan is we are supposed to close now on Monday!  I hope it all works out.

So, as I said, we went up to Wisconsin for a weekend.  The weather was beautiful, it was relaxing.  Toto was running around outside and everything was so beautiful.  It would have been a perfect picture, except of course I forgot my camera.  I was thinking what if this is the last time Toto gets up to the cottage?  I at least want a picture!  My husband said we will just have to take pictures the next time we go.  Toto was definitely slower than the last time we were in Wisconsin.  His hop has gotten heavier.  But, he was still going.  We still made it for a good walk and he was still having a great time.

We moved in with my parents on Sunday night.  Monday morning my mom went to let the dogs out and everyone went…  except for Toto.  When I looked for Toto I found him sitting in a corner.  He did not look well.  I carried him outside and back in.  He wasn’t eating.  He wasn’t moving much.  I didn’t know what the next move was.  All you can think is that this is the end.  No more barking.  No more playing.  No more hopping around.  This is it.

Well, Monday things were better.  Tuesday, things were way better.  We have had a lot of ups and downs in the past weeks.  I have to remember that our lives have been so hectic lately.  It could be stress playing a part.  It could be that Toto was just feeling under the weather.  It could be that Toto was worn out from a busy weekend.  Whatever it was, he has been doing a lot better.  Like I said, it is up and down, but good.

I have had a lot going on lately.  A lot of stress.  Everyone always says that God won’t give you more than you can handle.  Well, I kept telling God, I can’t handle losing Toto.  Not right now.  I just couldn’t handle it.  I guess he listened to me.  Thank you, God!

I have noticed swelling in Toto’s abdomen.  My fear is that the hemangiosarcoma has spread to his spleen (as is very common).  Sometimes I also wonder if it has spread to his other shoulder and leg.  But all I can do is focus on what I can do.  I try to keep Toto eating.  Some days he has no interest in food.  Maybe he has just figured it out…  if he passes on dry dog food, he will get something way better.  He is a smart dog. 🙂  I got him a bunch of the Beneful Dog Food, Prepared Meals.  He loves those!  I also try to focus on making sure Toto is happy.  He is happy.  After the scare last Monday, he is barking again, playing, hopping around.  He jumps up in the picture window in my parent’s house so that he can bark at strangers passing by.  He will jump on Stella when she is sleeping when he wants to play.  Every morning when I get up, he is waiting for me.  How can you not love a dog like that?

The ups and downs are hard.  One minute I think this is the end.  The next minute I think he still has a few years left in him.    But I would take every “down” there is… if I knew there was an “up” just around the corner…

Dearly Devoted Dexter

Monday, April 26th, 2010

This weekend was pretty horrible.  My husband and I decided to try and pack all of our belongings into portable storage containers that will get stored until we move into our new home.  We thought we could somehow do this by ourselves will taking care of two toddlers.  And, it rained all weekend.  We started Friday and got some stuff done, but we were still doubting we could do this.  Saturday I wasn’t feeling so great.  My brother came over and helped move some of the heaviest furniture.  We decided to quit early on Saturday and get a good night’s sleep.  I thought I would feel better in the morning.  I was wrong.  I had a fever and sore throat and was miserable Saturday night and all of Sunday.  So, moving pretty much sucked.  But, we are pretty much done.

Also, Dexter went to his new foster home this weekend.  I appreciated all of your replies to my last post.  They were comforting, but they also made me sad.  We continued to go back and forth about what was best.  Finally, we decided to let him go.  The rescue that we adopted Stella and Elvis from called us and said that they had an opening for Dexter.  We brought him to the vet for his last heartworm treatment last week.  The vet said he could go.  We stalled some more after that.  But, eventually we came to the conclusion that this was best.  His heart is still weak, and he is not supposed to get too excited.  Our house is never calm.  In addition, we are in the process of moving.  I just feel that this foster home will be a better environment for him, and they will be able to give him more attention that he deserves.   I also think that this is his best shot at finding a forever home.  This rescue brings the dogs to stores and events to find homes.  I think if people could meet Dexter they will fall in love with him.  I know I did.

I made him husband bring him by himself.  I wanted to go with.  I thought I should be with him.  But, I just couldn’t do it.  At least I was distracted with moving and being sick.  I tried not to think about it all morning.  When it was time for them to go I had to say my good-byes.  That was really rough.  I gave Dex his bed and his toys.   The foster home that he is in is actually the home where Elvis was stay when we adopted him.  That makes me feel a little better. 

I can’t say that we have made the best decision.  I feel horrible.  I miss Dexter.

The Moment of Truth

Friday, April 16th, 2010

So, first I have to say…  thank you so much for all of your comments and support!  I am so happy for Toto celebrating his 6 month ampuversary.  I wanted a miracle for him, and no matter what happens now, he got his miracle.  Although I don’t post that much, I love to keep up with the stories of your tripawds.  I am inspired by your triumphs and heartbroken at your pain.  This is such a special community, and I am so glad that I found it.

Things have been moving along with us we prepare to move.  It has been crazy, but we are hanging in there.  Then, yesterday, my husband tells me that one of the rescues we have been in touch with has found a foster home for Dexter.  This is what we have been wanting… what we have been waiting for.  So, why then, did it feel like I was punched in the gut?  Dexter has been here for months now, and he still has at least another month of heartworm treatment.  It is really going to hurt to see him go.  A lot. 

Part of it is that he has such a sad story.  He is the underdog, and I always root for the underdog.  He is the dog that nobody will give a chance.  I want him to have that chance. 

Part of it is that I am afraid we will give up Dexter and then something will happen to Toto.  The thought that I could lose two dogs just seems unbearable.

And, part of it is that he is just such a sweet dog.  I guess at this time I was just really getting used to have Dexter around…  and now he is leaving.


You said you caught me cause you want me and one day you’ll let me go.
You try to give away a keeper, or keep me ’cause you know you’re just scared to lose.

6 Months

Thursday, April 1st, 2010

It has been over 6 months since Toto’s amputation!  He is still fighting the good fight against hemangiosarcoma.  I never imagined Toto would still be around at this time.  We have been so blessed.  For the most part, Toto is still doing great.  He is still eating pretty well and still active.  As I said in my last post…  I see signs of the cancer, but he is still fighting.  I have noticed that his breathing is more labored, and he is definitely slowing down at times.  But, he doesn’t let anything keep him down for long.  I love that dog!

It has been a long time since I last posted on here, but life has been pretty crazy (as usual).  After two years of trying to sell our house, we finally have a contract on it!  The house buying and selling has been horrible, but we hope and pray the end is in sight.  I had thought that Toto would be gone before we ever moved.  I am so thrilled that we will all be moving together.  It just wouldn’t feel right without him.  Soon Toto will have a bigger yard to play in!  Months ago I was praying that Toto would live to see one last snow.  Now here we are back at 75 degrees today!  He is a lucky dog…  and we are lucky he is ours.

Dexter is still staying with us.  We have had many people interested in adopting him and then change their minds.  We have talked to every rescue around.  No one will help.  I guess there is not many people interested in an 8 year old dog with heartworm.  But those people are missing out, because he is an amazing dog.  We started his heartworm treatment almost two weeks ago.  So far, so good.  We are still trying to find a great home for Dex.  We are determined that good things will happen for him.

That is the update on us in a nutshell.  I hope all is well with you and your tripawds!