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Buddy is Home Now

July 2, 2010

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It’s been just over a week, and Buddy’s absence has really been noticed. I actually didn’t think I was all that attached to him, as he was really Mary’s dog, but I’ve been surprised at how much I’m missing that dog.

The funny thing is that Sasha (the youngest Rottie) still acts as though Buddy is here and is just waiting to pounce on her when she’s doing something. (Buddy would always keep her in line, and sometimes when she’d want to go past him, she’d ask for “help” from us to do so – She’s still doing that every once in awhile as if she still senses him)

Today we received a call from Banfield stating that Buddy’s ashes and paw-print were ready for us to pick up. Mary was able to pick them up this morning, so Buddy is now back home.

We all miss you Buddy, but we know you’re having a good time!

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Rest in Peace Buddy!

June 23, 2010

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This is one of those, “I have to do it, but I don’t really want to” type posts…

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Buddy lost his fight with cancer today.

Actually I’m not too sure that’s true, I think Buddy beat the cancer, but one of the side-effects of a study drug got him in the end.

As you might have read in previous posts, Buddy has been doing pretty good in the cancer department. The palliative radiation had actually reduced the size of the tumor to the point where you had to actually look for it to see it (whereas before you’d look at his leg and ask what the heck that big bubble was) and therefore Buddy was able to run, jump and play as if it wasn’t there.

One particular story along those lines that I will never forget; Buddy was enthralled by anything that flies. We live near a general aviation airport, and Buddy was always watching the planes in the sky, and once in awhile would try and chase them. He’d also go after flies in the house. After he was diagnosed with cancer and started losing the use of his hind leg, he wasn’t as active in that area as before, but as he started feeling better he would chase planes and flies again. One day I decided to buy a little radio control helicopter that you could fly in the house, figuring that I’d let him chase it around and we’d both have some fun.. This worked for a little while, and Buddy would have a great time. He got to know the word, “Helicopter” as well. One day recently I was hovering it about 4 feet above his head when he decided to just leap up and remove it from the air. He caught it, then ran like crazy with it, nub wagging like never before…. I took a lot of ribbing over that helicopter, but it was well worth it!

Anyway, back to the point of this post. Unfortunately one of the possible side-effects of Duramax is damage to the kidneys. This is a rare side-effect, but it does happen. Unfortunately it happened to Buddy, and by the time we caught it, it was too late to do anything about it. We tried everything we could to get those kidneys working, but they just wouldn’t kick in. Dr. Pyne taught us how to do subcutaneous fluid treatment, and said with that we’d likely be able to keep Buddy alive for a month or 6 weeks.. We thought that was a good idea and did the first treatment yesterday… Overnight though Buddy just took a nose dive. He was suffering, and just not happy at all. Mary and I made the decision to bring Buddy in to see Dr. Pyne, but we pretty much knew that it was the end for him. We just could not see having him suffer at the end of his life like he was, so we decided that the best thing to do was to let him go.

Such a hard decision, because if you only saw how he was acting at that time, you’d think he was a healthy and happy dog, but underneath it all was a dog in pain.

At 6:05pm today, Dr. Pyne injected the final drug into Buddy and he went very peacefully.

Mary and I want to remember the good times for Buddy. This is one of the best pictures that I have of him, and it’s how I’ll want to remember him looking.

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RIP Buddy! We’ll miss you, but we’ll meet again!


Update on Buddy

June 21, 2010

Well, as you might have read over on Nikki’s Blog, things have been going pretty good with Buddy’s sister and her cancer journey.

I wish I could claim the same good news for Buddy.

As you might remember, Buddy was diagnosed with Osteosarcoma in his right hind leg, and we pretty much figured that we’d caught it in time. We were also fortunate to get him into a pallative study at CSU that would spare his leg and yet still treat the cancer.

For the first 2 treatments (every 30 days), things were progressing normally and Buddy was doing fantastic. However about a week after his second treatment, we noticed that Buddy was starting to lose his appetite and just didn’t want to eat. He seemed fine everywhere else, was a happy dog, and had a great attitude, but just didn’t want to eat.

We called the folks at CSU and brought Buddy up to see them last week. After looking at him and doing some tests, it appears that the Duramax (a required pain medication as part of the study) had destroyed his kidneys. The reason he wasn’t eating was because his stomach was so full of acid. The protocol to try and solve this was intense IV therapy and 5 days of hospitalization to try and get the kidneys restarted. Even then no real guarantee, and the recommendation was to effectively end his life.

Well, being the types that like to get a second opinion on every major decision, we decided to let Dr. Pyne take a look at Buddy and see what she could see. She recommended that we bring him in and drop him off for 2 days of therapy (with being allowed to go home over night) and then see what the kidney tests show. If they showed improvement, then maybe we could get the kidneys going again..

Buddy spend both Friday and Saturday in the hospital hooked up to fluid IVs, and then Saturday evening the kidney tests were run again. The tests showed slight improvement on 2 of 3 tests, and major improvement on the last. The two tests that were only slightly improved were still in the range to cause concern, so Dr. Pyne suggested we give him a couple days rest, and then see if we couldn’t get him to eat and maybe kick-start those kidneys.. Today Buddy seems as if he might be pulling out of it. He’s eating much better, and is acting very much like he’s not in the same pain that he was before..

 

Keep your fingers crossed for Buddy. We really need him to pull through this, as the cancer seems to be the least of our problems right now, and honestly the radiation treatment seemed to do the trick there, as he’s been running and jumping like normal.


A Time to Paw-TAY

May 15, 2010

Today the whole family took a trip out to the Bear Creek dog park to take part in the Southern Colorado tripawds pawty. We all had a great time, and Buddy was really getting into the whole deal. We had to keep him on leash most of the time because the fence wasn’t entirely complete, and we didn’t really know how well he’d do with the other dogs, but he did fantastic. He is really coming along well after just one radiation treatment. We can’t wait to see how he’s doing after completing the regimen.

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It was really great to see all the tripawds that showed up today and meet their pawrents! I actually did not realize just how many tripawds we had here in Southern Colorado!

The star of the show today was of course Sprite, the mayor of Divide, who of course hammed it up as much as possible.

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We also got to meet Scribble and family! It was a good day to paw-tay!

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One Week Post Treatment

May 10, 2010

After bringing Buddy home from CSU last Friday, we had one night at home and then Mary and I hopped a plane for Europe. We left Buddy in the care of our son, with instructions on who to call and what to do if Buddy experienced any side effects.

Luckily, Buddy did quite well.

We have some security cameras on the outside of the house (Don’t ask, we live in a wonderful neighborhood with almost no crime, but we put the cameras up anyway) and one of the benefits that we get is when we travel we can check in on them. So, we were able to check now and then and see that Buddy was walking just fine while we were a few thousand miles away in Stockholm.

When we got in last night, all 3 of the dogs were bouncing and of course very happy to see us. I happened to notice that Buddy was really using his back leg and moving as if nothing was wrong at all. This was confirmed this morning when I let them all out and watched Buddy tear off after a rabbit that was in the yard. (I don’t think he really wants to catch them, as he seems to let off once he gets close, but he does like to chase them). I’ve been working from home today and all of the dogs have pretty much been here with me the whole time. Buddy has been very happy, and I’ve been watching him closely and he really is doing great!

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The swelling on his leg has gone down some, but not as much as I’d hoped it would by now. But, I guess that’s why we have more than 1 set of treatment to go through. The good news though is that at least for now, Buddy is very happy and doing quite well on 4 legs!


Home From CSU

April 30, 2010

Mary and Buddy just returned home from CSU in Ft. Collins. Buddy did extremely well, and the good doctors up there are very pleased with Buddy’s performance so far. (Not that he really had to do anything other than let them treat him, but even that can be a challenge sometimes I guess)

We’re very thankful that we have such a world-renowned care center such as CSU nearby (yeah, we consider a 3 hour drive to be “nearby”), and even more thankful for the various studies that they have on a regular basis.

All told, Buddy spent the night in the kennel, had a pre-treatment diagnostic exam that included a very high-tech weight distribution monitor (used to determine just what percentage of his weight he’s currently placing on the affected leg), had various visits with some specialists, and then received 2 radiation treatments that required him to be sedated. When Mary handed me the bill I noticed that it was $1351.00 for this visit, but when you take the study discount the total cost for everything that they did was $105.00.. NOT BAD!!

When they walked in the door, you’d have thought that Buddy had been away forever and was seeing his long-lost family for the first time.. He was so happy and full of pure energy that it was really amazing to watch.. (Remember, this is the dog that when he first came to us all he would do is lurk in a corner or attach himself to Mary’s side) He was running all over the place, playing with both Nikki and Sasha, and wagging what’s left us his tail (or nub, as we call it) like there was no tomorrow.. Anyone who doubts the power of positive reinforcement just needs to look at the before and after behavior of this dog!

Buddy really dislikes having his picture taken by me, so this was the best picture that I could get of him once he calmed down:

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You can see the lump on his right-rear leg pretty well in this picture. We expect that it will start to dissipate pretty soon, but it’s clear that he’s not experiencing much pain in it at the moment, so that’s a very good sign.

So now Buddy goes about his normal life for about a month, and then we repeat the treatment again…

So far, so good!!!


Staying Overnight at CSU

April 29, 2010

Early this morning Mary and Buddy left for the 3+ hour trip to Colorado State University in Ft. Collins. Buddy is on his way there to participate in a study that combines a high-dose radiation treatment with some new drugs that will slow/stop the growth of his cancer. (In case you missed it, it has been determined that Buddy does have Osteosarcoma in his rear leg)

Although we worried a bit about how Buddy was going to do when left overnight, the doctors at CSU convinced us that this would be best for him, instead of getting the first treatment and just having to return the next day for the second.

The way this treatment works is that Buddy gets 2 doses of very focused radiation on the cancer area 1 day apart. Then he goes about his normal life for 30 days and the process is then repeated. The idea is that the cancer is stopped from spreading, the pain is reduced or mostly eliminated,  and Buddy is able to keep his leg.

This type of treatment was important to us because Buddy suffers from Hip Dysplasia and we did not feel that he would do all that great as a Tripawd, and since the life expectancy is roughly the same (In other words there’s no way to know how long Buddy will live no matter what treatment protocol is used) we figured that limb-sparing techniques were the way to go.

Leading up to this study, Buddy was placed on Duramax (For whatever reason, the study does not work well with Rimadyl, even though these are basically the same family of medicines) and he has responded very well to that, even getting back to jumping and playing, so we’re thinking that he will do even better once the pain from the cancer is reduced!

Buddy has always been Mary’s dog. He picked her when we first saw him (you can read about this in the About page) and he’s always been by her side when we’re home. However lately Buddy has been really letting me know that he’s an equal opportunity dog. He’s been so happy and playful lately that I wasn’t entirely surprised when he decided to join me on the recliner last night:

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We will pick him up from CSU tomorrow, and then Mary and I will be out of the country for a week. By the time we get back we expect that he’ll be very much out of pain and ready to really enjoy life! (Which is good, because he’ll get a chance to meet some Tripawd friends during the Tripawd Pawty in Colorado Springs on the 15th!)


The Lab Results are In

April 15, 2010

Unfortunately they weren’t what we had hoped for.

After culturing the cells in the lab, the good folks at CSU have determined that Buddy has an aggressive form of osteosarcoma. This comes somewhat as a surprise to us, because osteosarcoma is pretty common, and the docs had a very tough time figuring it out by the looks alone.

But the good news is that it doesn’t change our treatment plan as far as the radiation goes. Buddy will be part of a study, “Radiation Therapy With or Without Bisphosphonates For Palliative Treatment of Canine Osteosarcoma” (Say that 3 times fast). We will get him in for his first treatment next week, and he’ll then go back 2 more times over the next month.

What this means is that Buddy will get to keep his leg, but he’ll be pain-free and has a very good prognosis for longer life. This of course won’t cure the cancer (neither does amputation), but it will reduce the chances that the cancer will aggressively spread, and will most-importantly improve the quality of Buddy’s life.

One thing that I didn’t realize is that the study itself is directly related to treating bone cancers in human patients as well, so Buddy will actually be helping all of us as well!

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The Trip to Colorado State University – Ft. Collins

April 13, 2010

Today Mary, Buddy and I took a trip up to Ft. Collins to visit the folks at the Flint Animal Cancer Center. We met with Dr. Karen Beckwith and a plethora of others.

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We brought with us the X-Rays that Dr. Pyne had taken, and of course discussed all of the events leading up to our visit.

After looking through all of the images, Dr. Beckwith decided that she wanted to do some additional investigation, because she frankly couldn’t tell from the X-Rays if we were dealing with cancer or not. Mary and I left to get some lunch, and Buddy stayed behind to endure more poking and prodding. (He didn’t like this part)

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Once we got back, Dr. Beckwith and her student assistant, Aslang, sat us down and talked about the fact that they really can’t be sure that we’re dealing with Cancer. They’ve taken some samples, and will send it to the lab to determine exactly what the problem is. It’s quite possible that we’re dealing with a fungus, and if that’s the case, we’ll be able to knock it down with relative ease. If not, and it does turn out to be cancer, they’ve determined that Buddy is a perfect candidate for one of the limb-sparing palliative studies that they have going on at the moment, which uses targeted radiation and a cancer-inhibiting drug so either way, it appears that we’re only going to have one Tripawd in the family. (I think this is a win, even though technically that means Buddy doesn’t fit in here….)

We’ll know much more once the lab results are in, and assuming the worst, Buddy will get his first radiation treatment next week (The regimen here is a high-dose treatment to start, then 2 more doses at 7 and 21 days. If he responds to the treatment well, this will be repeated at 2-3 month intervals). This means that basically Buddy will keep his leg *and* have a good quality life. Not sure what else you could ask for. (Keep in mind this is the worst case, in the best case, it turns out to be a fungal infection and we just have to fight that)

As you can see, Buddy enjoyed his day out (It’s a 3 hour drive up to Ft. Collins, 3 hours back, and we ended up spending 4 hours there)

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Results From the Follow-Up Exam

April 6, 2010

Good News!! It would appear that whatever type of cancer we’re talking about here with Buddy is not all that aggressive!! We just returned from a follow-up with Dr. Pyne, and she has taken a new set of full X-Rays (We needed to do this to see if we had to worry about the cancer spreading before working with the folks at CSU) that show no additional bone damage!

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We’re also happy to report that Buddy does not appear to have any metastasis to his lungs or internal organs!

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There’s a small spot in the picture above right over his heart (You can barely see it here between the 5th and 6th rib (counting from the left). Since it doesn’t show up in any of the other angles, we’re not going to be too worried about it at this point.

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This is really great news! This means that CSU can see Buddy, and that he most likely a candidate for the limb-sparing surgery, so he will not have to have his leg amputated!

Mary and I are very pleased with this news, as Buddy wasn’t going to have a good time of it with the amputation due to his hip dysplasia..

Next up is a visit to the docs at CSU in Ft. Collins, and a decision as to what the treatment protocol will be.

Buddy was just happy to come home and get on his bed after being in the kennel at the Vet all day!

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