Still a Golden size hole in our hearts. The pain has settled in, and might not be as raw, but it is there.
Today would have been our boy’s 9th Birthday. Today is especially difficult.
That is all for now
Still a Golden size hole in our hearts. The pain has settled in, and might not be as raw, but it is there.
Today would have been our boy’s 9th Birthday. Today is especially difficult.
That is all for now
It is hard to believe it has been two weeks. We miss you SO MUCH. If I close my eyes, I can still imagine you here beside me, rubbing your ears and the way your fur felt. The way it made me feel when I would look deep into your beautiful warm brown eyes.
You were the heart of the house. We brought you home when we had only lived here for 2 weeks. I have only a few memories in this house without you. You are in every corner of this house.
Your bed is still where it was with your pillows in the dining room, but it has been empty for two weeks. Until today, when I found Lola sleeping on it for the first time ever. There is a big empty spot in our bed, too. We all have our most difficult times of the day and for me it is supper time. I only have to grab one food bowl for your sister and there is not all this stuff that has to go in her food for supplements and meds. Your bowl stand is still there, too. We still fill your water bowl. Lola always drank from your water bowl more than her own anyway. The first night I stood over your bowls sobbing like a baby. We all still cry at least once a day.
We’ve been looking at old photos and videos of you. It seems so weird to see you with 4 legs, especially moving and walking on all 4. I miss that 3-legged hopping noise in the house. I miss you whining when you wanted to come up stairs and the baby gates were up or when you needed help up the stairs. There are endless memories that make us laugh. The things you did, the times we had, the good and the bad. (The time you walked around the couch 32 times with a sock in your mouth trying to get us to chase you.) Almost all good memories. The only real bad was when we had to make that tough decision to amputate and then at the end, just two weeks ago. We have no regrets for everything we did. We really did have a wonderful 26 months. Every extra day we had you was so worth it all. You had such a great quality of life for almost all of those 26 months. The surgery was tough and the last month of your life was tough, but it was all so worth it in between. Some might say we did too much, and some might say we didn’t do enough. People always vary wildly on their opinions when it comes to dogs. But we did what we could, when we could, because we could and because we felt it was right for you and for our family.
We will remember your last night in the back yard for a long time to come. Even in that time after the first seizure and before the second, you still had such a want for fun. You ran around the back yard after a ball and I was so sure we had more time left than we did.
Some pictures from our last evening:
I have met so many wonderful people through my dogs. I owe a debt of gratitude to many people who I have met over the years that have mentored and enriched our lives. The list is long and many. I am hopeful you all know who you are, as I wouldn’t want to post everyone’s name here on the internet. But thank you all from the bottom of my heart. We also are very thankful for all the excellent veterinary care he has received through his cancer treatment. I’ve never met such a wonderful caring bunch of people. We could not have gotten through all of this without you and your support. And, of course to Tripawds, to an amazing support community, a place to blog, a place to vent, and a wealth of information and friendship, thank you all so much.
For 26+ months, I tried to “Be More Dog” and live in the moment and not fear tomorrow and not live in the guilt of yesterday. But I failed miserably. I am only human. But I will still try tomorrow and every day after that. For Butchey Hudson, I will keep trying.
I am writing this the day after. I don’t know if I am going to be able to get thru it. This may end up short and I will write more later. But for now, everything is still just *raw*.
We had to say goodbye to Butchey yesterday morning. Things took a very quick turn for the worst on Sunday night. I lost my Dad to cancer 12 years ago. He worked a full day on a Friday and was gone by 4:00 am the following Monday. All of a sudden everything just sped up. It was the same with Butchey.
An update on what happened since our last post in July. The front right leg limp that had developed in July had troubled him since then. It started the beginning of July, and was sporadic. Within a few weeks he would not bear weight on that leg. Balancing weight on two left legs proved difficult and his rear left (his only rear leg) starting twisting in. His oncologist did X-Rays on the front right leg. Nothing. His primary vet palpated his entire front right leg and shoulder. Nothing. He would not wince, would not flinch, not a growl nor a whimper of pain. Nothing. Arthritis was ruled out (maybe slight, but not enough to not want to bear weight on the leg). He had full range of motion of his neck and legs. Everyone was perplexed and by ruling out everything else, it was thought to be a soft tissue injury. Which would have made sense, because he could be potentially re-injuring the area where he had no right rear leg to compensate and rest the front. He did have muscle atrophy in the front shoulder. So we took him to aquatic therapy for nonimpact exercise. Same evaluation there, no showing of pain what-so-ever. But Butchey got to swim, which he loved!! He stopped doing stairs at all, even with assistance, and we resorted to putting sod out on our back deck which was only one step down from our kitchen for him to use as a potty area. (We did this before when he was recuperating from amputation surgery.)
He had already been on Deramaxx as part of his cancer treatment. We put him on Tramadol. Then added Gabapentin for a nerve blocker. Then took him off Deramaxx and switched to Metacam for an NSAID. His holistic vet added in a TCM treatment of Yunnan Baiyao. Things seemed to improve a little here and there.
Saturday, August 31, he started with this weird breathing thing at bed time. At first I thought it was reverse sneezing, which he had done before, but it continued way too long (about 2 minutes) and it was different. Whole body movement, but he never lost consciousness and it eventually subsided and then he would do one every 10-15 seconds or so until it stopped. He had another episode of that the following week, but it didn’t last nearly as long and wasn’t as much with the full body movement.
Then the following Tuesday, he fell down half a flight of stairs. My mouth opened in horror but no scream would come out. He had started doing stairs again but still needed assistance to get down the stairs in his harness. But he either forgot or really had to pee and went charging down before I could grab the handle on his harness. I was horror struck. A call to vet, extra Tramadol and iced his legs and shoulders. We had to cancel his aquatic appointment, which was a huge disappointment because he had done so well after his last appointment. But by the next day, he was up hopping around, begging for food at dinner table and seemed to be getting around okay.
By Saturday he had gotten a little less mobile, however. Taking more to his dog bed, just outside our kitchen. (Still had to be near and close to the center of activity, of course!) Then on Sunday, he was real subdued in the morning. Sunday afternoon is when he took the first seizure. At first I heard an odd bang from where he was lying down and went running in and discovered him in full body gyration and foaming at the mouth. I’ve never seen a seizure before, and at first I wasn’t sure what was going on. I thought I was losing him right then and there, but then he came to. With a total WTF look on his face. We called the ER Vet and gave his background. The vet on call said the cancer had most likely spread to his brain. They said he might not have another, or it might be a few days before had another. But the time in between would eventually get shorter and shorter. But either way, time was short, we would have a decision to make and to spoil the heck out of him for now. Little did they know how spoiled he already was, but if there was room for more spoiling, then giddy up we were game.
We were stunned. Stupidly stunned. Of course I started googling and remembered what I had read on Hemangiosarcoma before and that seizures were there as a symptom. It just was never on anyone’s radar. We had mainly focused on the lung mets. We always figured that is what would be the tipping point. His cough had subsided after the two chemo treatments in June and July and then it was back again. We knew Oscar and Felix were growing, and growing more quickly than before. They had become Chemo resistant and the last two rounds didn’t do much. We would watch and see how often he would cough and if anything came out of his mouth. Last Saturday just after his dinner, he coughed something up on the floor. I wiped it up and thought it looked like blood, but he had JUST walked away from his food bowl and it could have been food juice. I couldn’t be sure, but nothing more came out of his coughs on Saturday night or on Sunday.
My husband went immediately to the local butcher shop and we ALL ate like kings and queens that night. King Butchey had a huge NY strip steak and a half for dinner, entirely fork fed. We enjoyed a romp in the back yard and he even chased a ball around, which he had not done in quite a while. Ironically he was getting around pretty well, putting more weight on the front right leg than he had. We planned a call to vets for 1st thing Monday morning to try to figure something out before the next one hit, which we stupidly thought might be a couple of days. Wrong. 8 hours later another one hit. This time we saw it from the start. It started with a quick head snap and teeth bared and air snapping. It lasted about 2 minutes of full body gyration and then another 2 minutes or so of open eyed unconsciousness. After our shock wore off, we agreed we had made that awful decision. If these were going to continue like that, we could not let him live like this and that it would need to be done in the morning. He had another seizure, his third, about 5 hours after that. We placed an emergency call to his oncologist, who concurred with the ER Vet. Seizure medicine might do something, but no guarantee. Especially given the sudden and quick onset. We left for our regular vet calling them in route as they would just be opening by the time we got there. We just needed to stop his pain before another seizure hit. He never had the fourth seizure.
Afterwards his vet reminded me that Gabapentin is an anti-seizure drug. So perhaps that slowed the onset. We wondered if the cancer had spread up the spine to the brain and perhaps that had something to do with the front right leg limping. After we left the office, my husband & I recalled the so called reverse sneezing incident. We will never know. And did it really matter? Our boy was gone now, he was free from his pain.
I guess I did write a lot. My reason for detail is part catharsis and part hope that these details might help another dog and their owner in their own journey. Especially at the end, where it is obviously the most difficult.
It has been said that Butchey Hudson had a lot of heart. In the end his heart was the strongest. We cannot believe our sweet boy with his amazing soul is gone. We cannot believe we will never kiss his face again, or rub his ears, or rub his belly, or scratch his bum ever again. Time and death make fools of us all. We all knew this day would come. We had accepted it, we had planned for it, but it never makes it any easier. Even all the anticipatory grief I experienced over the last 2 years or so doesn’t make this grief any easier. He was here one moment and now he is gone forever. I know the bond lasts forever, I know the love never ends. But all we feel right now is a whole in hearts the size of his amazingly huge Golden goofy spirit.
And now that is all I can really write at the moment. I can give you the details, but I can’t do the emotions.
October 15, 2004 – September 9, 2013
26 months of ampuversaries
We will love you forever
Butchey Hudson’s Momma here. As many of us know here on Tripawds.com, one of the words we hate to encounter after a cancer diagnosis is Metastasis. It is a nasty word, and unfortunately we have it.
One of Butchey’s chest x-rays back in May showed a spot that would probably be on the lung. About 6 weeks later, the spot had doubled in size. That growth spurt happened while we had him on Palladia, so unfortunately the drug didn’t slow the growth of the nodule.
August was not a terrific month for Butchey, but so far September has been much better. It seems the Palladia didn’t agree to well with Butchey. We posted before about his bowel issues with it. The pigment also lightened on his nose and on his paw pads. Whether a coincidence or not, his paw pads also got really soft and he began to lose traction on his feet. Not a good thing for any dog, but especially not good for a Tripawd. At first it was issues with the doing stairs. Then it was issues on the floor, even though most of the floor is covered with carpet or throw rugs. Then he was even slipping on carpet. He also seemed to have some weakening in his remaining back leg, which would flop out from under him quite a bit for about a week in August. He barely played with Lola. Then he stopped eating.
So away the Palladia went. Bye-bye. After giving him some time off from meds to clear out his system, we are going back to a modified version of his previous metronomic protocol. We started with Deramaxx (replaces the Piroxicam as the NSAID) and we are also back on Cytoxan. Holding off on the Doxycycline for now. He had vomitting issues several months back, which led us off the old metronomic protocol. We are hoping it was mainly the Piroxicam that caused that issue, and also hoping that where Deramaxx is supposed to be easier on the stomach, we won’t have any vomitting issues. He wasn’t on the Doxy for quite a while, so we know that wasn’t causing the last bout of vomiting on that protocol. But we know it can cause stomach upset, so we are holding off on Doxy for now.
So this modified metronomic protocol was one of the choices available to us. We also had a couple of chemotherapy options. But we felt that after 5 rounds of Adriamycin last year, we had given him all we really wanted to on that front. Keeping quality of life a top priority, and we were already quite concerned after the setbacks in August, more chemo just didn’t seem right to us. We had a good 6 months on the old metronomic protocol before, and it kept the cancer at bay for that time period. It did seem like the lump on his neck and the nodule on his lung happened while we were off the protocol and trying to get the other issues worked out. We are hoping the Cytoxan can slow this nodule on his lungs, or even better – stop it from growing. We rescan in another few weeks and will see what the size is then. We are keeping our paws crossed.
So, after the Palladia dry out, things did return to normal. Thankfully! Gradually, the strength returned in his back leg. We used Pawz Boots in the interim to help with the slipping issue, but eventually the pigment started returning to normal and we now have traction again. With those improvements, his confidence has returned. He started doing some stairs again. Then one morning last week he went down the long flight of stairs off of our back deck, just like that. All by himself, no harness, no boots. I can’t really explain the sense of relief we felt. After that he initiated a tug game with his leash after a #2 in the front yard. So we knew he was feeling much better.
And some cuddle time with Tessa…
Trying to enjoy each day and not spend it in tears thinking about what is ahead of us. Hemangiosarcoma, you suck.
Butchey Hudson’s Momma here. Just a quick update, as we are fresh back from our visit from our oncologist to consult on the Hemangiosarcoma tumor removed from Butchey’s neck last week.
First the good news: No metastasis to spleen or heart. They did new ultrasounds and x-rays and no masses were found in those areas. For this we can feel like we can come off of panic mode, at least for a little while.
There are a few routes we can take for treatment. We could do chemo treatments using ifosfamide or dacarbazine. Or we could use Palladia, Palladia/Deramaxx/Cytoxan as maintenance, or go back to metronomic protocol but replace Deramaxx instead of Piroxicam. Let me footnote this with I am pretty sure I have all the drugs correct, but the brain is swirling and we agreed not to make a decision right at this point in time. She is going to consult with her other veterinary oncologists and we are going to discuss again maybe this Friday.
We have some concerns with going the chemo route again, after doing the Adriamycin last fall. We also have some concerns with GI upset after having some vomitting issues under the metronomic protocol over the past couple of months.
So our heads are spinning on a decision of what is the best route to take. A difficult aspect of this is that this isn’t a textbook case of Hemangiosarcoma (HSA). While we are extremely happy that the HSA hasn’t acted like it normally would and have gone to his organs (and have a much poorer prognosis) there really isn’t much to compare it to. I believe she told us 5% at best of HSA show up subcutaneously. But to have two spots is quite unusual. Her concern is that this is metastatic, of course. The thought that this was a separate HSA tumor is just too coincidental. I almost feel like we might be playing whack-a-mole with HSA. Where will it pop up next? But these are my own layman’s terms.
In other news, he is doing very well recovering from last Wednesday’s surgery. He is off the Tramadol now and seems to be in no discomfort, other than itching at the incision site. We had a bad bout of Montezuma’s revenge over last weekend following the surgery, but that seems to have been resolved. We are trying to contain his energy and keep him from whipping his toys around and playing too rough with Lola. However, we think that he might end up being a little sore tonight though, from wrestling with the vet techs for his ultrasound. But so far, so good. He is a happy boy, feeling well and still doesn’t know he has cancer (of course). He thinks life is grand and he’s most concerned with where and when his next piece of cheese is coming from or which squishy ball to choose to lounge on the couch with.
So that is it for now. We are going to take a long nap now and try to have a relaxing 4th of July holiday. Well as much as we can with the Butchmeister hating fireworks and thunderstorms. =0/
Hope everyone is enjoying a well deserved day off! Thank you all for your good thoughts, emails and kind words. Time is precious; enjoy EVERY day!!
Happy 8 Month Ampuversary to my best buddy!
Tonight we enjoyed some cheesy eggy goodness and made a wish. I know what I wished for. Butchey’s wish was for me to stop taking pictures so he could eat his cheesy eggy goodness.
Thank you to all who replied to yesterday’s post on what never gets old! I loved all of your stories – keep them close in your heart.
Butchey Hudson’s Momma here. It has been a very bad couple of months for a lot of my doggie friends. I lost count at how many dogs crossed the bridge in such a short period of time. Some were Tripawds, some still had their spare. Some had cancer, some enjoyed life into their elder years, and some were too damn young. But all of them were somebody’s best friend, and all of them left a gaping hole in somebody’s heart when they left this world.
I have spent many an evening in front of the computer with a box of tissues, reading on a blog, Facebook or in an email about another loss. Sometimes, after I’d blown my honker for the upteenth time, I would get a nudge under my elbow. Somebody on his three legs thought I needed a big smooch. I think he likes the saltiness of the tears. Then that would make me cry even more. And then I would get down on the floor with him, or we’d go to the couch and snuggle. Dog people get this. Non-dog folk would think I needed to be committed after reading this.
I was relieved that Butchey had clean scans on February 3. Almost 8 months, and no signs of metastasis. I feel guilty for being able to say that. But we cannot kid ourselves, all of our stories end the same. Our canine companions just got screwed and got the shorter (and sometimes much too short) lifespans. We take the wins when we can get them, but we all wait for the other shoe to drop after getting the Big C diagnosis.
What I need to remember to focus on is the all the little bits in between. One of my favorite movie quotes is from Shawshank Redemption “You can get busy living, or get busy dying”. So every morning starts out with a belly rub and every day ends with a long ear massage. And there are lots of other good fun stuff to get those tails wagging throughout the day. Enjoy every moment, and I hope I have no regrets when that dreaded day comes.
My husband and I have a regular saying when the dogs do something funny or sweet or just plain awesome. *Never. Gets. Old.* We have lots of favorites, but one is when my husband takes the dogs out for “last call”. He will say to them “Go tell Momma!” Both Butchey and Lola come racing in all excited to tell me that I missed out on the festivities outside. I am usually stone cold asleep on the couch and wake up to 2 dogs giving me a slobbery face wash. It is a great way to end any day, in my world at least. Whether it’s me or my husband on the receiving end, we both always say never. gets. old.
Another is when Butchey enjoys his butt scratches while on laying his back. He used to kick both rear legs and being the goofy people we are we would sing “Wheels on the bus go round and round”. Now we just sing “WHEEL on the bus”, and it is just as good.
At every meal time, Lola gets so impatient she opens one of the drawers in the kitchen with her paw. I’ve had so many bruises from turning around and walking into it (you’d think I’d learn). It is still funny to me, and it never. gets. old.
These are the things I want to remember…Not the cancer, not the end.
I miss when my old dog Barney (at the bridge 3 years now) used to say “Herrrrooowww”. A beagle mix, he used to belt it out nice and high. But when I lowered my voice and said “lower” to him, he would drop his to imitate me. I have it recorded, but it’s just not the same. The memories are much sweeter.
So on the eve of Butch’s 8 month ampuversary, I would like you to share with me your favorite moments and/or favorite memories. What never gets old? What do you miss the most? Keep the memory alive in your hearts, because they are still curled up in there, right where we can can remember them.
I gotta go, someone is nudging me for a butt scratch.
Butchey Hudson’s Momma here again….First of all – Butchey’s appointment went well. Cardiac ultrasound was good, blood chemistry panel was good. There were a couple of things that did pop up, but our veterinary oncologist (or as Butchey likes to think of her as “the lady with the knees I like to lick”) told us they were within normal range and/or normal in a dog not even on chemotherapy. So all in all a good report.
We discussed his weight loss as well. Brett & I had thought over about what we had done differently as well after the 4th treatment and we realized that for about 2 weeks we had switched his food (due to loose stool issues) and he was getting less fat in his diet. So we are increasing his portion size and much to his happiness, he’s going to be getting more eggs. She also mentioned his “haggard appearance” is from the adriamycin and will disappear after he finishes his treatment. I am also going to order a peanut from FitPaws and add that to our PT workout.
All in all, both Brett & I felt it was the right way to go. Both in gut and in heart. We also discussed metronomics and will most likely follow that as a treatment plan, when we stop the adriamycin. I think Tatespeeps had mentioned that in a comment, too. =)
I want to thank all of you, both here on Tripawds and on Facebook, for all your comments, thoughts, advice and kind words. We are more grateful of your support than you could possibly know. Thank you all from the bottom of our hearts!
I tried responding to a few comments individually. I apologize, but I haven’t totally figured out this wordpress thing yet. Perhaps when I get our new computer, I will sit down and figure it out. Right now, things are loading slowly and I’d rather be playing with the pooches! =)
Butchey Hudson’s Mom Nancy here. Tough to write this one from Butchey’s point of view ;0)
Background: At the time Butch was diagnosed with HSA in right rear knee joint, the oncologist recommended amputation and 4 to 6 treatments of chemotherapy (Adriamycin). I hope I am quoting her correctly (will review all specifics with her on Tuesday’s appointment), but she had told us that 4 treatments is standard and if he was doing well he could get a 5th and 6th. But definitely no more than 6 treatments.
So we have now completed 4 treatments. Our 4th treatment was 3 1/2 weeks ago. This upcoming Tuesday we meet with her again and Butch gets an ultrasound of his heart to see if there has been any damage. If there is any signs of damage to the heart, then obviously chemo is out of the question. If the ultrasound comes back okay, then we have a decision to make on doing a 5th treatment.
We decided to have our regular vet and holistic vet check him out. We trust them both very much and just wanted to rule out any obvious signs (to them) of any health issues. They both think he looks good. To me, although his spirits are great, he looks a bit haggard. He has lost a ton of coat and has that skin discoloration that apparently is a side effect of adriamycin. He has also lost about 5 pounds in the last 3 weeks, which visibily (to me) includes a lot of muscle mass in his front shoulders. I would have thought his muscle mass would increase in his front shoulders, given the rear leg amputation.
He has also had a big issue with skin allergies. About a week or so ago, we finally made the decision to put him on Temaril-P (prednisone). This has made a HUGE improvement in the allergy department. He hadn’t been able to be out of his “cone of shame” since the surgery in June, really. Where before you couldn’t get him unfocussed off of chewing his paws, now he barely pays them any notice. We had to compromise with the prednisone aspect to give him a better quality of life, and we are very glad he is doing better with that.
So now what to do about a 5th treatment? If you asked us 3 weeks ago, we would have definitely have said no – given the allergy issue. Now that the allergies are so much better, we are on the fence. The weight loss really concerns me. And I am of the mindset, that if all that (including my perception of his haggard appearance) is happening on the outside – Then WHAT is happening on the inside? Or more aptly phrased – “How bad is it on the inside?” Otherwise, his appetite is great. He had a bout of diarrhea around his 4th treatment. Flagyl along with a hamburg and brown rice diet cleared that up and he has been okay in that department.
I am very interested in hearing from any of you who have found yourselves at this impass before and what was involved in your decision making process. I know regardless of what route we choose, hindsight is 50/50 and we could have regrets and What Ifs either way.
Of course we still have our appointment for the heart ultrasound and a consult with the oncologist first. Our decision might be made for us, and she could have additional info that could sway us in either direction. I wonder if I am making too much of the decision and should just go with it if we get the clear. But something in my gut just tells me to be cautious….
Here’s a recent picture taken about a week ago. This one even includes Lola!