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Caring for a Three Legged Dog or Cat

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I think we're near the end...
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Forum Posts: 12
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23 August 2019 - 8:19 am
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Thank you all so much for this site and these forums! I have read through several of your experiences in Coping With Loss and your compassion and support is beyond amazing. A quick summary of Bailey’s journey since I am not a frequent poster:

Bailey was diagnosed with histiocytic sarcoma in her left stifle joint in September of 2017. We met with a radiation oncologist and medical oncologist at Purdue University and decided to first try radiation to shrink the tumor in the stifle joint as well as a lymph node near the site that seemed likely to have cancer but was too vascular to safely biopsy. Bailey handled radiation like a champ but after the series of treatments, she was still not using her left leg. We started her on a monthly chemo (Loumistine/CCNU), that in the words of her oncologist, would need to be given “until it no longer makes sense” (basically the rest of her life). Prognosis at the time was 6-12 months. Bailey’s left hind leg was amputated in December of 2017 and we continued the monthly chemo until March 2019. Bailey is in the unlucky 20% of dogs that has adverse side effects from chemo. She had to be hospitalized after her first dose and had several courses of antibiotics due to low white cell count after subsequent doses of chemo. We finally landed on a reduced dose of chemo that she could tolerate but we still had to put her on Cerenia for 7 days following each treatment and, even with the medication, she still was uncomfortable. We made the difficult decision in March 2019, to stop the chemo. In June 2019, Bailey had a full body, contrast CT scan done because she was showing weakness in her remaining back leg and we feared the worst. The CT scan showed no signs of mets! Yay! Except there were some small lesions on her spleen but the radiologist felt that those were within normal range for a dog her age (well…histoiocytic sarcoma likes to go to the spleen so we were cautiously optimistic at best). Turns out, Bailey had a nasty uti that presented as weakness in her back leg. Who knew?? A course of antibiotics and she was back to her hoppy self!

So, here we are nearly 2 years to the day after diagnosis of cancer and Bailey has started to decline. The first week of August she enjoyed a bucket list-worthy vacation at the lake with us. She swam, chased her ball, went for boat rides, and had near constant love and attention. When we got home, we thought that she was just worn out from her vacation (we were!). When her exhaustion persisted, we thought maybe she had another uti. Bailey also experienced two very mild seizures (my husband does not even agree with me that they were seizures) about a month apart during this time. So, we called her internist and she suspected hypothyroidism. Thyroid tests confirmed that her levels were super low and her cholesterol and triglycerides were super high. Those results, along with the seizures, made a strong case for hypothyroidism. So, we put her on medicine right away. However, the CBC taken at the same time revealed dangerously low platelets. Our primary vet thought it might be a mistake so he re-ran the test in-house the next day. Nope, very low platelets. Bailey’s internist and her primary both agreed that the platelet issue was separate from the hypothyroidism and suspected that Bailey’s cancer has returned, likely in the spleen. We started her on prednisone and just had her 7 day post prednisone blood check yesterday. Not good news. Her platelets did not come up at all. She is at high risk for spontaneous bleeding. In fact, we suspect that she may have some upper gi bleeding as her stool has turned black.

This news is devastating. Bailey is still wiggling, meeting us at the door, and eating. However, she has stopped going for walks and seems to have very low energy. If she truly is bleeding inside, we know that it will just be a matter of time. She is 11 and has long outlived her prognosis with histiocytic sarcoma. We have drawn our line. We are not going to put her through anymore painful procedures or tests. We are scheduled to have an ultrasound of the spleen done on Monday just to confirm what we already know. I feel some guilt for discontinuing the chemo back in March but our internist told me yesterday that, even if we had persisted with the chemo, the cancer would likely have come back anyway. She said this is one of the most aggressive cancers they see in dogs. 

So, now comes the difficult time of watching and waiting and trying to determine when it is time. Our top priority is that Bailey does not suffer. We do not think she is suffering currently but maybe in the coming days? She is terminal. There is just no other way to say it. As hard as it is, I would rather end her life after a good day then after a struggle. But, I don’t know…this is so hard. Thank you if you have read this far! I appreciate any thoughts or experiences you would like to share. I know opinions vary greatly on the end of life stuff. I just feel like Bailey has been through so, so much. She is my eternal puppy and is always happy and energetic and crazy. Her personality has remained through the whole journey over the last two years. When that light goes out, we will know it is time.

Virginia




Forum Posts: 17993
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23 August 2019 - 9:48 am
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Sweet Bailey!  Whether  you know it of mot, Bailey  is quite the RockStar around here, as are her hoomams!! Goodness knows you have left no stone unturned qehen ot comes to the truly exquisite  care uou have veen providing  Bailey all these years, especially  these past two uears.  You have gone above and beyond what many do for their dogs.

As a quick aside, I can assure you that almost everyone  here would have stopped the chemo when you did in order to sustain quality.   You put Bailey’s quaility snd her well being above all else.  A little bit of “pptentially extra time” is worthless when quaility is compromised.  You know your Bailey so well.  Such an incredible  bond..

For now, Bailey certainly  seems comfortavle (low energy isn’t  “painful”) and her light is still shining. When you go to the Vet Monday you’ll jave a better sense of where you are with Bailey.and any recommendations that may be offered to continue to keep jer comfortable. .Talk to the Vet about what signs you should look for IF the bleeding gets worse.  Should it get to that point where internal bleeding  becomes irreversible (and I hope that’s  a long time off), signs would become more and more evident and you would be able to follow through with an at home visit.  I say that with the assumption  that you can go ahead and get those kinds of things lined up  ahead of time for whnever that service may be needed.

And just to throw everything out there, no matter how off the wall it may be,  also ask about mushroom therapy and ask if there is anything  supplemental  you can do to counter any potential  anemia.

I know this is such a hard place to be in.  I also know that your love is soooo strong for Bailey that you will continue  to stay in the moment, in the now, and not let anything  interfere  with your time together.

We are here for you and with you, sending  love, peace, clarity.  Now go give sweet Bailey a big smooch for us and watch her tail wag and wiggle.

(((((((((((HUGS)))))))))

Sally and Alumni Happy Hannah and Merry Myrtle and Frankie too!

Happy Hannah had a glorious additional bonus time of over one yr & two months after amp for osteo! She made me laugh everyday! Joined April's Angels after send off meal of steak, ice cream, M&Ms & deer poop!

The Rainbow Bridge



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23 August 2019 - 10:55 am
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As sad as I am that your family is going through this with Bailey, I’m glad you found the strength the post here. As you saw when reading others’, it helps to share what eventually all of us must go through with our pets. I’m just so sorry you had to find yourself here, it’s never easy.

Bailey IS a champ! Yes, histio is not a nice cancer at all. She has rocked life with this disease and shown the world that it’s not an instant death sentence. What a legacy!

It sounds like you have a good feel for Bailey’s quality of life needs, and are in touch with your own feelings about when to say when. You are so right. The old saying, better a day too soon than a day too late, seems to be the kindest way to release their spirit from a body that no longer serves them as they would want. That’s the way we all want to be remembered, strong, vibrant, enjoying life. Waiting too long tends to be doing a great disservice and results in far more grief for us, the living.

You may want to check out this article we wrote, I think you’ll find it helpful if you haven’t found it yet:

How to Prepare for Pet Loss Before It Happens

Let us know how your Monday vet visit goes OK? Also, you may want to ask about Yunnan Baiyao, a Chinese medicine herb that even conventional vets often give to help control bleeding.

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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Forum Posts: 12
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23 August 2019 - 11:31 am
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Thank you both for your kind and thoughtful responses! You all have me crying at work but that’s okay. I’ve pretty much been doing that anyway. I love the idea of Bailey leaving a legacy of hope for this nasty disease. We are going to add a stomach coating medicine (I didn’t catch the name) today in the hopes that if she does have a stomach ulcer or irritation, this may ease some of the discomfort. Thank you for sharing the article above. It was very helpful. We have a 24 hour emergency vet clinic that we are comfortable taking her to if need be. I am also in the process of reaching out to a vet from a nearby town who does house calls. He comes highly recommended by a neighbor of ours. I’m not sure if that would be too traumatic for our two boys (ages 6 and 9) or not, though. We’ve been very open with them throughout this entire journey. They are sad but are hanging in there. They’ve never known life without Bailey. She has been beyond an excellent dog for both of them! We plan to take this weekend moment by moment and then confirm on Monday what is going on. Thank you again for all of your help and kindness!

Virginia




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23 August 2019 - 12:46 pm
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It is so very clear to us you really, really are continuing  to do what’s  best for Bailey, whatever that may look like.  

And Bailey certainly  could be dealing with a tummy irritation  of some sort and, hopefully, the tummy coating medicine can take care of that.  We’ve  seen it sooooo often where a worse case scenario scares the heck oit pf eceryone, and it ends up being something  minor!  Paws crossed for something  mjnor!

In the for whatever it’s worth column,  a couple of suggestions to help the kids with the transition,  whenever that may happen in the future.  Take some pictures of them with Bailey  in their favorite places with her…or pictures of her doing some that makes them laugh, etc.

You can also make eceryday a Hapoy Birthday  Party Day for Bailey and get her presents and cake and ice cream.  You can have ace the kids plan a special meal for Bailey everyday.  And get her a present eceryday. Maybe steak ine dat. Maybe macaron  and cheese the next,  cheese pizza after that, etc.

Also, you can tell the kids (whenever ot od rime fpr jer transition), she’ll be traveling  to Heaven, or The Rainbow Bridge soon and they need to pack a bag for her.  They can put in thjngs they thimk she’ll need for the trip, including  lots of treats, etc.  They can each write her a note saying anything they want to say.

Okay Bailey, of you don’t  have an upset tumny noe, you sure will after all the junk food you’re  about to eat!!!

Lots of love ❤

Sally and Alumni Happy Hannah and Merry Myrtle and Frankie too!

Happy Hannah had a glorious additional bonus time of over one yr & two months after amp for osteo! She made me laugh everyday! Joined April's Angels after send off meal of steak, ice cream, M&Ms & deer poop!

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28 August 2019 - 7:59 am
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We helped Bailey transition to the bridge on Saturday evening. She was amazing all the way to the end! She declined on Saturday throughout the day. Her gums, cheeks, and tongue were becoming pale and she had very little energy. At times she would pant but then could settle down. I counted her respirations and they were slightly high. With her platelets as low as they were and the likelihood of internal bleeding, we knew there was nothing else we could do. When she no longer offered my husband any help when he went to pick her up to take her outside, we knew it was time. She had an appetite right up until the end! I served her a last meal of warm boiled chicken, broth, and rice.

Our boys said their good-byes and my husband and I took her to our local emergency and specialty hospital (where she routinely saw her internist and where her amputation surgery took place). Since it was Saturday, none of her usual doctors were there. Thankfully, the vet on call had spent time with her when she was in hospital recovering from her surgery so he knew her case and what a rockstar she was. I thought we had been in every room of that hospital over the years but, no, we had never been in special room #5. Room 5 is set aside for euthanasia. There was a comfortable couch and some comfy chairs. A very peaceful space.

We had brought Bailey’s blanket from home. We cuddled her up in her blanket and I sat next to her on the couch, her head resting on my leg. The vet techs did have to take her into the back briefly to insert her cath. I was a little disappointed in that but, when they brought her back we helped her curl up right next to me again. The doctor came in and first administered the sedative. Then, when we were ready, he gave the lethal injection. I repeatedly whispered, “Such a good little Boo” to her as she quietly passed away.

Life is so very different now without her. We are still getting used to the emptiness in our home. But, the important thing is that Bailey is not suffering and is now whole and happy and at peace. Over time we will heal and I fully believe that Bailey will have a hand in picking out our next companion for us, just like I believe my angel dog Parker picked Bailey for us. I want to thank all of you for your kindness and support over these past few years. The service you provide is priceless. Please feel free to share Bailey’s story and to pass on my information if anyone else ever comes here with the devastating diagnosis of histiocytic sarcoma. We got two extra years with our sweet Bailey Boo. Again, my sincerest thanks!

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28 August 2019 - 9:29 am
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I’m so sorry to read this about Bailey. What an amazing fighter she is. She just decided she was tired of continually kicking cancer’s butt and wanted to move on to some new adventures at the Bridge.

The quiet and emptiness is hard. It will hit you in ways you haven’t thought of yet. But if you listen carefully, Bailey is still there with you, pain free and happy. And when the time is right, she absolutely will have a hand in finding another little soul for you and your family.

Wishing you peace and comfort in this time of grief.

David and Rocky (and Baxter now too!)

Rocky had his right front leg amputated on Valentine's Day 2017 after being diagnosed with osteosarcoma.

He joined the September Saints on September 3, 2017.

He is the toughest, bravest, sweetest and best friend I'll ever know. 

The Rainbow Bridge



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28 August 2019 - 11:01 am
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Our deepest condolences and (((((hugs))))) to the pack, we are so sorry.icon_cry You gave her such a loving farewell. Her spirit will always be near you to thank you for that last day, and every day you ever had together.

Bailey was a champ from day one to her last breath. She has a legacy that will live on, because she is living proof that no matter the diagnosis you just never know what can happen. Bailey is the definition of HOPE. 

Thanks for being so kind to offer to chat with others. I put your email in that link so that you won’t have crazy spammers contacting you (exposed email addresses encourage it). Also, I’ve been meaning to put together a blog post of Histiocytic Sarcoma survivors and Bailey’s story is for sure going in there. Do you have any photos and/or video you would like to share here? We would love to fawn over your beautiful angel.

We are keeping you in our hearts today and always. Thank you for being a part of our community. 

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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28 August 2019 - 12:02 pm
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Thank you both so much for your kind replies. And thank you for hiding my email from the spammers. I appreciate it! I would love to share some pictures and videos but I’m afraid I’m not sure how? Thanks!

The Rainbow Bridge



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28 August 2019 - 3:24 pm
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Check out this post about adding images to the Forums. If you’d like help just message me via the little mailbox icon in my post, I”m happy to assist.

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
Latest Tripawds News
Read my story here.

Support the Tripawds Foundation!

Livermore, CA




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28 August 2019 - 10:22 pm
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I’m very sorry that Bailey went across the Bridge.  It is such a difficult time and decision but you know you gave her a gift and knowing that you did the right thing for her will be comforting down the road.

I hope the good memories will provide some comfort in the days and weeks ahead. Your girl is an inspiration to all those hopping down the same path and her story will live on here.

You are family here and are always welcome.  Come back when you are ready and share more about your warrior. 

And do let us know when Bailey finds your next companion.

Karen and the Spirit Pug Girls

Tri-pug Maggie survived a 4.5 year mast cell cancer battle only to be lost to oral melanoma.

1999 to 2010

 

              Maggie's Story                  Amputation and Chemo

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