Losing Our Best Friends

Last year one of our dogs was diagnosed with Osteosarcoma a virulent form of canine bone cancer which is more fast growing in younger dogs than older dogs.  We were given two options.  Do nothing and the dog would probably have to be put down in a couple of months or amputate the leg where the cancer was and have the dog undergo an aggressive chemo treatment.  The latter option might extend the dog’s life for about a year.

My husband is a very stoic and unemotional sort except when it comes to kids and animals which is about the only time I see him cry.  We opted for the second and most expensive option and had the dog’s leg amputated a couple of weeks after his diagnosis.  That was a very painful experience for all of us and to be honest not one I would want to go through again.  Following a very painful two week recovery, our little trooper adapted very well to being a Tripawd.  We had to consult a canine oncologist to advise us on the next course of treatment for our doggie with the objective of extending his life as long as possible and minimizing his discomfort.

Sonny

We decided on a chemo regimen that he would essentially be on for the rest of his life.  It consisted of a chemo pill that we gave him wrapped up in a hunk of soft liverwurst every other day for 3 weeks then giving his body a rest by not giving him the pills for a week.  If the medicine started to build up in his body, he got very lethargic and his back legs started to cramp up.  Then we monitored the effectiveness of the treatment with X-rays every 60 days to see if the cancer lesion that was now on his lung has grown, shrunk or stayed the same.  Additionally our oncologist put him in a cancer research study that was free to us and zapped him with a strong dose of chemo every week to help mitigate the growth of the cancer.  That treatment seemed to help shrink his lesion.  But once the research treatment ended and he went back on the chemo pill regimen, his lesion grew.  So we stopped the chemo and let nature take its course.  This week he took a turn for the worse and stopped eating regularly.  He stopped eating all together for 2 days and finally I was able to get him to eat some scrambled eggs.  He ended up eating 5 eggs that day but every day after he ate less and less finally not eating anything but still drinking water.  Everyone said when it is time you will know but both my husband and I vacillated every day between acceptance and doubt.  Finally we made an appt. with our Vet to come to the house and put him to sleep.  A couple of days before, we contacted the Pet Cemetery to inquire about pet coffins.  A plastic box was $380 and a Pine box was $450.  We checked out other sources and found a beautiful Teak Box at Urban Home for $79.  We decided to bury him under the lemon tree at our home in Malibu rather than cremation.

Sonny died in my arms after our Vet gave him an extra dose of sedative and the euthanasia solution that stopped his heart.  He was the strongest living being I have ever known, cheating death 3 times; the 1st as a 3 week old puppy at the pound waiting to be gassed when an angel stepped in and rescued him; the 2nd time when he got bit by a rattlesnake and spent 4 days in the hospital; and the 3rd time when his leg was amputated following his cancer diagnosis.  He was a fighter until the very end.

This year we again dealt with an ailing dog.  One of our Pit Bulls who was over 16 years old had a gradual decline in health over the last year.  She got weaker daily and my husband and I had to carry her up and down stairs because her legs were just not strong enough to support her.  She was still eating and trying to get herself out to use the bathroom, so it was hard to know when exactly the right time was to call the vet to put her down.  My feelings are it is time when they stop eating and it is just too painful to watch them get weaker.  We had to put our sweet Nyjah down earlier this month and she too was a trooper to the very end.

nyjah

Our dogs are so much a part of our family that losing them is very much like losing a best friend.

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