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Great Pyrenese mix nearly 12 joining the Tripawd community
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7 November 2019 - 9:06 pm
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Karen and Anthony checking in, we are pet parents to Mr Brock Samson our Great Pyrenees/Border Collie mix who, if everything goes well will be turning 12 in January.  Samson was diagnosed with likely osteosarcoma this past Tuesday Nov 5 in his rear right leg.  His x-ray showed quite severe degradation of the bone near his ankle that is pretty much a tell tale sign of the disease.  The vet was not in favor of amputation, didn’t even bring it up, we had to ask about it.  The only reason they gave though, was because they thought he was too old and wouldn’t be able to adapt.  To be honest, they pissed me off pretty bad, I almost turned into the internet meme “Karen” you may have heard of her, the unreasonable b*tch who demands to speak to the manager LOL.  I did keep my cool, but continued to ask most specifically wouldn’t an amputation relieve the pain, they admitted yes but countered that our dog was the equivalent of a 90 year old and in many cases, this type of surgery wouldn’t not be recommended for a person that old and at least a human would have the benefit of a wheelchair , an elderly dog would be unlikely to adapt and wouldn’t have the benefit of assistance that people had. 

Maybe I should back up a little too, Samson is nearly 12 and that is old for a big dog, I get it, BUT, except for the leg pain, he does not act like an old dog.  Anthony and I have had the shepherded a few dogs in senior years and like people, there is a change when they get truly “old” and they are ready to move on, he was not exhibiting any of that at all.  He has also been a healthy dog his whole life with the exception of some clumsy accidents he has had over the years, such adventures earning him the nickname Bumbles the Wonder Mutt.  We did have them do a chest x-ray too and there were no overt signs of cancer and a blood panel also came up normal. His is a little underweight right now which I attribute to the pain he is in and just not being interested in getting up to go to the food bowl as often, but when it’s his favorite naughty (that is human food) treats from Anthony (bad habit of spoiling doggos with sausage egg mcmuffins and various hamburgers and doritos), well he seems to find the energy just fine.  He also eats his regular canned food feeding, even when spiked with pain meds.

We were able to get into a consult with a vet surgeon today, I called after we left our normal clinic on Tuesday. We were scheduled out to next Friday the 15th but I had explained the whole thing to reception and they called me back later on Tuesday saying they had a cancellation and could we bring him in Thursday instead, given that time was a factor.  I really appreciated that.  And so today and after an initial exam, I’m happy to say the surgeon agreed with us!  Samson doesn’t show any overt reasons that he would not be a good candidate for amputation and for better or worse amputation is the best option at giving him some more relatively pain free time in this world.  They agreed that given he doesn’t show an overt lack of appetite and has no vomiting or diarrhea the weight loss is likely attributed to the pain.  They also noted that for all intents and purposes he’s been living as an (almost) tripawd for a little while now anyway has he fairly recently doesn’t really use his right back leg, often slightly lifting it once he steadies himself, but he’s still getting up and getting around.  I did feel bad because they noted that his right leg is actually pretty atrophied, he’s been trying to hide his lameness, quite successfully, for a while now, which makes me feel awful that he has been in so much pain for longer than I thought. Unfortunately the earlier signs of discomfort were attributed it to a back injury that had been seen on an earlier xray (Bumbles the Wonder Mutt *sigh*) and him just feeling that more as he was getting older, it was the lump that appeared on that back of his leg that indicated otherwise.  The surgeon also noted on that point though that to them, it’s just another indication that he will likely do well post op, after all they said, if he’s been able to tough out the pain of the cancer eating away his bone, he should be able to power through recovery as well and will likely be feel quite a bit of relief.  They did run a couple other tests not done at his regular clinic that are minimums for what they want pre-surgery, we are waiting to hear back on a broader blood panel but assuming that is OK, he is scheduled for surgery next Wednesday.  We still need to discuss chemo options if we also go down that road but they would not want to start anything until he is healed from surgery so those details are still to be ironed out. The surgeon is also part of an internal medicine clinic and advised their recommendation at this point would be 5 or 6 rounds of carboplatin. At this point we just want to get through phase one, amputation.

I gotta say, I’m still scared out of my mind no matter how confident in this I sound from the above paragraphs.  What if I’m wrong? What if he doesn’t do well through surgery/recovery? What if his QOL gets worse? We just want to do what’s best for Mr Samson.  He was named after the family body guard in the Venture Bros cartoon on Adult Swim and he has been an excellent guardian for our family all these years, we want to do right by him.  He’s also the only dog that Anthony and I have had together from puppyhood, so though we have loved to pieces all the good doggos we have had, he is….special.  And as we have had overflowing menageries of dogs and cats over the years, we are susceptible to sob stories of furry friends that no one else would take, we had decided that once Samson had to go to the rainbow bridge , he would be the last dog….for a while.  Saying goodbye to the furry friends does take it’s toll after all.

Thanks for reading our story. This new journey is just beginning. Appreciate any advice anyone has to offer, have read through a bunch of stuff here already.  One direct question I have for the community would be if anyone has had the experience of their dogs experience weakness when tramadol was added to their pain meds?  We started gabapentin and tramadol on Tuesday, Samson was already on Rimadyl though that dose got upped from 1/2 a pill twice a day to 1 pill twice a day.  Anyway, after his new pills on Tuesday, he was having a lot of trouble getting up.  Anthony thought is was the tramadol, I wasn’t sure, we didn’t given him either on Tuesday night and he was able to get up and around again on his own after about 12 hours from the initial doses.  The next morning I gave him his Rimadyl and the gaba only and he was fine, in the evening we added back 1/2 a tramadol and he seemed fine.  When we spoke to the surgeon today, they advised that half a tramdol twice a day really wouldn’t make much of a dent in pain, I tried tonight to give him a full tramadol and he couldn’t get up by himself again, had to help him so I’m pretty sure it’s the tramadol that is screwing with him somehow.  Will obviously also be talking to the surgeon about this but am wondering if this has happened to other people and what happened.  Did you have to stop tramadol? did they get used to it? I want to make sure his pain is well managed but also that he is not too loopy to be functional.

Really appreciate what you all have done to create this community, honestly if I hadn’t found this place before our Tuesday visit, we probably wouldn’t have fought the vet at the regular clinic. Until I saw this place I thought bone cancer was a quick death sentence, so many people who had Pyrs will tell you it was bone cancer that claimed them, and interventions were only available for rich people. Best wishes to anyone who is reading this who is sitting in nearly the same the spot we are right now…it sucks but at least we’re not alone.

The Rainbow Bridge



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8 November 2019 - 10:12 am
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Karen, Anthony and Samson, welcome. We are also so glad you found us, sorry you needed to of course. This is the club nopawdy wants to join!

I don’t know if you happened to see this week’s Tripawd Tuesday about a Pyr named Gabriel, but his story is quite similar to yours. Unfortunately we see this all too often with giant breed dogs. Gabriel’s vet also completely disqualified him as a candidate for a Tripawd, and it took his mom’s advocacy to find a new vet and get the surgery done. His recovery was a bit tough on his mama because she is solo, but today he is doing great and she is so happy with the decision.

I’m sorry your vet is stuck in old school thinking. IMO it was wrong for them to not tell you about amputation from the getgo. That is for you to decide, not them. It’s unethical and is akin to withholding pain management . Find a new vet. Good vets who keep current on things know that neither size nor age should disqualify a dog from amputation as long as the pup is otherwise healthy. The world’s best surgeons know this. Unfortunately there are still too many gp vets stuck in a time warp. We are trying to change this, and stories like Gabriel’s, Thurston’s, and now Samson’s are making a difference in how people think. So thank you for being here to share his story. And kudos to your surgeon! Feel free to give them a shout out in ourVeterinary Referrals topic. In the meantime, start looking for a new general practice vet, preferably at an AAHA-accredited practice.

No, recovery isn’t always a breeze and many giant breed dogs will take a bit longer to recover by maybe one or two weeks. But overall, the people who have gone through this almost always say they are glad they did it.

Regarding the tramadol. It’s a wacky and often minimal-acting drug (see this recent article). My non-vet guess is that perhaps it’s the combo of tram and gabapentin that is making Samson act funky. Your surgeon should be able to prescribe an alternative during recovery. 

Please let us know how we can help OK? We are here for you!

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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Virginia




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8 November 2019 - 10:27 am
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Looking at that avatar  pocture pf Samson just melts mu heart!!  What a cutie!!

Right off the bat, let me say that the love and devotion you have for Samson/Bumbles comes shining  through!!  And you are making a decision  out of LOVE for Samsin and that’s always the right decision

Thank you for sharing everything  that led you to us.  We are sooooo glad you got another opinion from an Orthopedic  Surgeon.  As you can see from lurking  around here, age is just a number.  We have dogs older than Samson handle being a tripawd like a champ!!   You  know uour Samson best and, based on what you’ve  described, he has a lot of living  to do!!  The fact that he’s a “Wonder mutt” says a lot about  his personality.😎

As far as pain meds, every dog reacts so differently.   So the Gaba can  ake a pup a tiny bit sedated, sometimes not.    Some dogs react to Tramadol, but it’s  usually  by being anxious and restless, not always.  Every dog realky is different.   Tramadol and gabapentin  compliment  each other.  Keep your   Vet in the loop.  Can’t  really offer any input other than your little experiment  seemed to work for him.  

Keep things chunked down for now  Just focus on keeping  the pain managed and gettjng thrpugh surgergy  We’ll be by your side the whole way cheering for Samson.  Recovery  is no picnic and yes, “mature” dogs recover generally at a s,lower pace…their own pace…so patience  is important.  It IS major surgery.  So remember during the ups and downs of recovery, you are doing rhis FOR Samson and not TO him. 

STAY CONNECTED!  We are all on  TEAM SAMSON!!

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!

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8 November 2019 - 2:47 pm
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Hi Samson and family. Sorry to hear about samsons diagnosis but so glad you found us. 

First what a handsome boy! We had great pyr. Growning up and they are a wonderful breed! Love me a big fluffy bumbling dog!

Second samson obviously has awesome pawrents. Im so sorry that your visit with the vet went the way it did. I was getting angry just reading it. Thank goodness you were able to advocate and get another opinion. So many people see giant breed dogs and age and put a label on it. Our girl was only 6 and on occasion my vet made it sound like she was ancient! Bottom line, its all just silly numbers and sampson isnt counting. As long as that big guy is happy and loved you’ve made the right decision. 

The first few days of recovery can be a little bumpy but when you see that sparkle come back it will be worth it.  Im sure you’ve prob found it already but there is some great reading on recovery prep that will help you bumble proof the house so to speak 😉 

As for the meds sometimes it takes a minute to figure out the right mix. Roane was on 100mg of carprofen/rymadyl and 600 mg gabapentin twice a day before and after surgery. If you dont like how hes reacting to the tramadol there are definitely other options.

Keep us updated. we’ll be here to support you and cheer you on. In the meantime give that furry guy a snuggle for us.

❤ Bev, Moe cat, autumn angel Roane, and angel dog Gypsy 🐾

         Hugs ❤ Bev, nurse Moe cat, Autumn's Angel Roane & Angel dog Gypsy 🐾

My sweet soulmate Roane was diagnosed with osteo in June of 2019. Had a rear leg amp on July 2nd & crossed the rainbow bridge to be with her sister Gypsy on the first day of Autumn Sept 23 2019.

Virginia




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8 November 2019 - 9:08 pm
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Lovely to see “Autumn Angel Roane” continuing  to inspire  our “bigger” dawgs.❤

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!

new hampshire
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9 November 2019 - 3:27 pm
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Thank you sally ❤ our angel was a big girl with an even bigger heart. I miss her dearly but she continues to inspire me every day. I like to think shes looking out for all the puppers joining our tripawd family.

Go Samson, team big dogs got this one! 

         Hugs ❤ Bev, nurse Moe cat, Autumn's Angel Roane & Angel dog Gypsy 🐾

My sweet soulmate Roane was diagnosed with osteo in June of 2019. Had a rear leg amp on July 2nd & crossed the rainbow bridge to be with her sister Gypsy on the first day of Autumn Sept 23 2019.

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11 November 2019 - 12:30 pm
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Just wanted to add Brownie was 10 days before his 12th birthday at time of amputation and is doing fine.  Bu the way, your baby is beautiful!

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12 November 2019 - 7:19 pm
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Karen here again.  Samson, Anthony and I thank you everyone for your kind words and support.  Tomorrow is surgery day and I’m pretty nervous.  Believe this is the correct action but it’s just such a major surgery, I think I would have to have my head examined if I WASN’T worried LOL.  I keep thinking about one of my cousin’s who was diagnosed with osteosarcoma when he was 12, he’s in his early 20’s now and is working to become a doctor like both his parents and his grandpas. Basically, though he was a candidate for limb sparing surgery, his treatment was essentially the same as Samson’s, gotta get rid of the cancer bits!  I’m also thankful that Samson’s leg didn’t break as that would have been disastrous and the reality is, that would be likely to happen and probably fairly soon given how swiss cheesed that bone looked so this really is the best option as a break would result in so much pain and drastically limit the choices from what we have now.

Samson got over his wonkiness on the meds and we slowly upped the dose to the recommended amount and he seems to be tolerating OK now.  Will be watching when we get him back.  We will be talking more with the surgeon practice but they seemed very progressive on pain management being a huge priority for them as well.  Another reason we felt comfortable with this surgeon was they had experienced amputation on their own pets, both Great Dane one also had osteosarcoma and another had congenital issues where amputation was necessary so they have experience not only performing amputations but also living with their own tripawds.  I was able to make arrangements to work from home for the next couple weeks so he should virtually always have a human with him over his recovery period.  Very thankful my work is understanding on this. 

It does sort of suck to be looking for new primary care vet on top of this and with something so major going on.  The clinic we were using is AHAA accredited, we had never seen this particular vet before and I looked into it and it seems like one of the three regular practicing vets passed away rather suddenly in August .  I was most familiar with the other two though, not sure if who we saw is a new permanent member but we’re just not comfortable there anymore. I did get a referral from a co-worker, we talk dogs fairly frequently, he lost his girl Lexis this summer to old age but had been through quite a bit with her, including skin cancer when she was 6 (she made it to 15!) and the clinic he recommended was her primary from her first puppy post adoption checkup to her last day.  He was also familiar with the place where Samson is getting his surgery as well, they are part of a multi-practice site that includes a 24 hr emergency center, Lexis needed ER care for a throat blockage that needed resolved ASAP. He was satisfied with the experience so that makes me feel better too.

Thank you again for listening and offering your kindness! Will be back with hopefully some updates in the next couple days.

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12 November 2019 - 7:35 pm
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It sounds like Samson Is in good hands! I worried so much the day before surgery I made myself sick and had to call in to work. It’s great you get to stay home for two weeks.

Try not to worry but I know it’s hard!

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12 November 2019 - 7:40 pm
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By the way if you have hard floor non skid rugs with rubber backs work great.  I would ask the vet if there are any supplies you need to have on hand. Brownie came home with a pain patch but his wound was not bandaged. If Samson comes home with a bandage, most likely youh are going to have to change it.

Sending good thoughts for tomorrow!

The Rainbow Bridge



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13 November 2019 - 11:09 am
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Hey there, we are sending you and Samson tons of pawsitivity and love today. How very cool that you get to work from home for his recovery. That is super helpful! Please keep us posted OK? Meanwhile…

Wow I can’t believe that old school vet was at an AAHA clinic. That’s crazy town and until now, unheard of. Sorry you endured that. Yes, talk to others and investigate the clinics, you sound like a terrific advocate for your boy. I love the specialty center’s attitude about the surgery and pain control. Samson is in good hands.

Oh and as for your friend’s son, YAY for him beating osteosarcoma! That’s terrific. He is on to great things in life. One of our favorite prosthetic designers, Ben from Hero Braces, is also a childhood osa survivor and an amputee. I think when you overcome such great odds as a child, you can’t help but make a big difference in the world as an adult.

Hang in there today! You’ll be able to breathe easier in just a few hours. 

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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