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It’s Been a Year

March 31, 2012

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1 April. It used to be the day that we played tricks on each other and laughed about all the other April Fools jokes going around. Since 1 April 2011 though, it will always be remembered as the day that Nikki decided she was done with her struggle with cancer. I still have very vivid memories of waking up early that morning before sunrise and taking Nikki to the front yard, and watching her just sit and enjoy the cool night air. I also remember the strength she showed later that day as she let us know that it was time. I swear if she could talk she would have told us that we shouldn’t be sad and shouldn’t worry, but all we could really do was just watch her struggle to get comfortable.

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There’s not been a single day in the last 365 where I haven’t thought of Nikki, and while time has replaced most of the painful memories with good ones, I still can’t help but miss that Tripawd greeting me at the door and making sure that I bent down so that she could lick my face. That was one thing I could always count on when I walked through the door, whether I’d been gone for an hour or a week. Both Sasha and Max have been a lot of fun over the last year, and Max has done a very good job of picking up the torch of “My Dog”, but Nikki’s memory is still very fresh.

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And of course Sasha has taken over the position of “Protector of the Realm”. That used to be Nikki’s job, but I have to admit that Sasha does a very good job of it.

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We all miss you Nikki!


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A few months later

October 25, 2011

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Here we are 207 (but who’s counting, right?) days since having to say goodbye to Nikki. For some reason I’ve found myself thinking and talking a lot about her lately. Not exactly sure why, but in each conversation I’ve noticed that the memory being related is a happy one, or the situation I’m talking about is a positive one. I suppose that’s good news, and probably shouldn’t stop to analyze it, but that’s just how I am I guess.

I was going through some pictures today looking for something completely unrelated to Nikki or any of the dogs, but I found this picture. It was taken 6 weeks before we lost Nikki. I took it after being mobbed by Nikki when I walked in the door after being gone for the week on Business. If that’s not the look of happiness in her eyes, I don’t know what is.

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Max and Sasha are doing just fine these days, and Max has developed many of the traits that Nikki had at that age (He is now almost 8 months old). Max has definitely decided that he is my dog, doing many of the things that Nikki did (including laying at my feet while I type this) so I do think that Nikki is still with us in spirit. Doesn’t stop me from missing her though.

Just thought it would be nice to share this picture with everyone and keep Nikki’s blog alive.


Remembering Nikki

May 5, 2011

Well, it’s been more than a month now since we said our final goodbyes to Nikki, and I suppose the hurt is diminishing some.

Our new puppy Max is proving to be a real handful, and he really does exhibit many of the traits that Nikki did at that age.

For those that don’t know, Mary and I ride, and are very involved with the Patriot Guard Riders here in Colorado. We spend a lot of time throughout the year on our bikes and really do love the sense of freedom that you get from riding the open road. You might ask what any of this has to do with Nikki, and while I’ll admit that it’s a very tenuous link, when I was trying to think of an appropriate way to honor the memory of Nikki (among the ideas that I had was a patch or other type of “biker” memorabilia) I came up with the idea of having a helmet airbrushed in her likeness. The idea there being since Nikki loved to go for rides (though never on the bike!) I’d always have her with me when I wear the helmet.

The UPS man brought the helmet today. I made him wait while I opened the box so I could show it to him. (Nikki and him had what I’d call a very “special” relationship. She did not like his truck at all and would always bark and carry on when he was near)

Anyway,  here’s a picture of my new helmet:

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Tomorrow we’ll be riding to honor one of the USAF Airmen (MAJ David Brodeur) who was killed in Afghanistan, and Nikki will be right there with me…


Nikki is Home Now

April 9, 2011

Well, it’s been a week and a day since we had to say goodbye to Nikki. A lot has happened in that week, but I still think about her a lot. I really miss the fact that she’s not there to greet me and lick my face when I come through the door and miss looking over to see her lying on the floor as I work in the home office. The UPS and FedEx trucks now drive past the house unmolested. That just doesn’t seem right…

 

I picked up Nikki’s ashes and paw print from the vet this morning, put them in the backseat of the Avalanche and drove home with the back windows open. Sure did miss the barking.

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I was looking through all of the pictures that we have of Nikki and am really glad that we have as many as we do. I’m not sure what my favorite is, but I think if I had to choose it would either be this one:

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(Which was taken just prior to her Osteosarcoma diagnosis)

or this one:

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which shows her incredible spirit, and tells the world that she didn’t let the fact that she only had 3 legs stop her from doing anything she wanted to do.

 

One thing, however, is certain; Nikki will be missed but not forgotten, she had an incredible presence in life, and leaves us with her imprint. I’m actually not sure why I took the following picture when I did, but it was from one of the final snows we had this winter, and was taken right after I let Nikki out for the morning. I just felt it was a good picture and definitely shows the tacks that Nikki left behind.

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Goodbye Babydog . . .

April 1, 2011

Nikki Malone – 26 DEC 2001 – 1 APR 2011

This is the very first picture I ever took of Nikki:

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Ugh. I have no words that could possibly describe the heartache and anguish I feel at the moment, but it feels so wrong to cry over the loss of Nikki. She was so strong, and such a fighter, even when it was clear that the end was here.. Just before the final injection she licked both of our faces (and Dr. Pyne’s) as if to say, “Hey, why are you so sad?”

Last night was a very bad night for Nikki. She couldn’t get comfortable, and she was having a lot of trouble breathing.. She asked to go outside, and when I took her out, she just wanted to sit in the night air and breathe it in.. When I told her it was time to go back in, she kept leading me towards the garage and the truck, I think telling me that she was ready..

This morning, Nikki was her old self, playful and wanting to make sure that the neighborhood was safe from garbage trucks and delivery men. When I took her outside midmorning, she just sat and enjoyed the fresh air.

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She also kept looking at me with that, “what is wrong with you, there’s no reason to be sad” look that she has been perfecting over the last few weeks.

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You can see in her eyes a bit of the pain here..

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We made the appointment with Dr. Pyne for 3:30 this afternoon, and when it came time to go, Nikki very happily made her way to the Avalanche and waited for me to help her in. She was bound and determined to enjoy that last ride.

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So rest in peace Nikki. We love you very much.  I don’t know what else to say.


Another Week

March 30, 2011

Well, we’re another week along and Nikki hasn’t really changed much, although she’s starting to have difficulty breathing at night. Last night was a particularly rough night for her, and at one point she must’ve decided that it was easier for her to breathe when she was sitting up as she sat up for awhile before moving and laying back down and finally getting some sleep.

She hasn’t had much of an appetite, and I’ve been trying just about everything I can think of to try and get her to eat. We finally figured out that Vienna Sausages work, so she’s been eating a couple of cans of those (I know, yuck!) for her meals.. Sasha of course has been enjoying this process because this means she gets whatever Nikki rejects.

It’s tough.. One one hand I look at Nikki and I wonder if she’s suffering and if it’s time for “that trip”, but then I’ll be out for awhile (I’ve been fortunate that I’ve been allowed to work from the home office lately, meaning Nikki has been hanging out with me a lot) and walk in the door and Nikki will be there to greet me pawing at me and asking for my face so she can lick it.. How can you possibly think it’s “time” when she’s doing this? (I think the answer is that she’s just an incredible fighter, and has taken the tact that she’s not going to let this stop her from being Nikki)

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I took this picture a couple of days ago, and you can see that Nikki still has the spark in her eyes….

I’ve just been spending a lot of time with her, and letting her pretty much dictate what she wants to do. Strangely, she’s been asking to be helped up onto the couch quite a bit, but will only stay there for about 30 minutes or so before she climbs back down and heads to her spot on the floor..

Oh well, we just wait and see I guess..


She’s Definitely a Fighter!

March 16, 2011

It’s been a little over a week since we’ve gotten the news that Nikki has a shadow in her lungs and the prognosis isn’t good. Interestingly though, she’s gotten herself back to normal and has been quite happy over the last few days, so both Mary and I were hoping that the shadow was just some fluid from an infection or something.. Well, it just wasn’t to be. Dr. Pyne confirmed today with both radiographs and bloodwork that the cancer has definitely returned, this time in her lungs. Funny that it didn’t materialize as mets, but rather as a mass..

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(The picture I took isn’t the best, but if you look on the left side of the photo you can see the outline of the mass that is in her lungs)

We have no idea how long Nikki has, but from the way she’s fighting right now, we’re hoping that it will be awhile.

Mary and I have agreed that we will simply let Nikki be the happy dog that she is, and will trust her when she tells us it’s time to go. As much as we don’t want that time to ever come, I think it will go much better for all of us if we just don’t think about it and, as a friend of mine counseled me today, take it one day at a time and let Nikki lead.

She truly is Nikki the Three-legged Wonder Dog!

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Argh! Not Really Ready for This

March 9, 2011

Well, I have known since the beginning of this journey that I was going to have to write a post like this at some point, and honestly I was prepared to do so more than a year ago.. The fact that it has come now, 14 months into our journey seems to be somewhat harder to take.. After all, I was prepared back then for this, and have since grown away from that mental preparedness.

Late last week, Nikki started to slow down a bit and had decided that she really wasn’t all that hungry. She still looked happy and healthy, but overall just didn’t seem “right”. I had a business day trip on Monday, but Mary made an appointment and took Nikki in to see Dr. Pyne while I was out. After all, it’s just got to be a cold or something similar, right? Nikki’s checkups have been fine up to this point and she’s been the wonder dog all along. (Mary took the picture below at the vet, and as you can see Nikki is very happy)

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Well, long story short, Nikki has something in her left lung that is causing her breathing to be very labored, and her lymph nodes above the heart are swollen. Her blood work is normal, and the mass in the lungs doesn’t appear to be mets (too much coverage for mets) but we don’t know what it is. Could be fluid, could be something else.. Dr. Pyne estimates that we likely don’t have much time left, unless whatever is in the lungs clears up.

We’re not going to put Nikki through any more invasive treatments. We just can’t see doing that to her again, and given that the last 6 months have been especially good and happy for Nikki, I’d hate to think that we cause her any unneeded suffering. We did start her on some strong antibiotics to see if maybe it’s an infection putting fluid in the lungs, but frankly it’s a long-shot at best.

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Nikki has always been an amazing fighter, and who knows, maybe she’ll fight this off as well. I sure hope she does, because I’m just not ready for this yet….


What a (thankfully!) Long, Strange Trip it’s Been

January 19, 2011

19 January 2011. A very important date in the Malone household… It’s been ONE YEAR since Nikki had the surgery to remove her right hind leg because of a serious Osteosarcoma.

I don’t think I’ll ever forget that day in December, 2009 when the doctor said she had cancer and it was progressed enough to where she had days left to live unless we did something drastic.

I still remember standing in the waiting room at the vets office and hearing Nikki cry as they put her on the cart to wheel her out to us. I remember quite vividly that first look at her and the thoughts that I had just done the worst possible thing that I could do to her.

Now I look at her and, while I’m not a religious person, I can’t help but thank God that she’s still here with us, and for all intents and purposes is 100% healthy. I have taken to calling her “Nikki, the three-legged wonder dog”. (She certainly looks the part, doesn’t she?)

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She’s starting to get a bit gray on the tips of her ears and on her nose, but she’s really regained that “I am the alpha dog, you will tend to me” attitude (which I think you can see from the picture) and she’s gotten back to her pre-cancer self in every way, shape and form. She lets me know when it’s time to be her chauffer, and lets me know when it’s time to play. (As you can see by this photo, she’s not going to give in to the “little one” Sasha either)

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She has also gotten back to the “I am the protector of this house” mentality as well. We don’t have to worry about the UPS or FedEx man going by on the street unnoticed. Nikki lets us know anytime they are near the house.

She is also enjoying the rides in HER truck, although this is a pretty bad picture, I think you can tell how happy she is.

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And most importantly, she is prone to letting the world know that the Avalanche is all hers

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At any rate, if you happen to be reading this and are just starting the journey with your Tripawd, believe me when I say the road is up and down, but there’s light at the end of the tunnel and don’t give up hope. If you read back through the entries that I’ve posted here, you’ll see that I never would have guessed that we’d be here a year ago.. I can’t wait to see what this next year brings!


HAPPY BIRTHDAY (or “Hoppy” I guess) to Nikki!

December 26, 2010

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Today is Nikki’s 9th birthday! It’s amazing to think that 1 year ago we were prepared for it to be her last. This week marks the week 1 year ago where we got all of the specialists involved to figure out what was wrong with her leg, and it was determined that she had an Osteosarcoma and it was advanced enough to where there was little hope. Obviously that “little” hope was all Nikki needed, because as you can see by the photo above, she’s become the 3-legged wonder dog.

During her last checkup with Dr. Friedly, he noticed that she is happy, healthy, well-adjusted and still cancer-free. The natural-regimen seems to be working well, and we are just supposed to continue on with her treatment plan with no changes. He scheduled us to come back in 6 months for a follow-up. (It really wasn’t all that long-ago that our trips to see the docs were measured sometimes in hours, so getting an appointment for follow-up set out 6 months is a bit of a victory!)

At home, Nikki has resumed all of her normal life. We take trips now and then to the front yard so that she can continue to ensure the integrity of her territory and of course she gets her rides now and then as well. About the only thing she can’t do is jump up on the couch. She’s made up for that though by laying up close to it and sticking her legs under. Adaptation is what it’s all about I guess.

Anyway, Nikki is doing great, and is celebrating her 9th birthday today!

Another Trip to CSU

For those that have been reading Nikki’s story, you know about her brother Buddy who we lost, and you also know about the new-found member of the family Tilley. Tilley is about a year and 9 months old and is a product of some pretty questionable breeding. We knew right away that we were going to have trouble with her hips later on, but we didn’t expect what happened..

Last Sunday, Tilley decided that she was going to stop eating. Up to that point everything was normal as could be, but she just decided that she wasn’t going to eat. We took her to see our regular vet at Banfield (actually it’s hard to call them the “regular” vet, since Dr. Pyne isn’t there anymore) and they kept her all day. Long story short, Tilley ended up spending the night in their emergency hospital and we transferred her to CSU on Monday. They decided to keep her for 4 nights, and determined that she has a few problems, the most prevalent is Addisons Disease. Addisons is an autoimmune disease that causes a host of blood problems, but it is treatable.. Tilley is home again and doing fine, and she’ll need once-monthly visits to the vet to check her for the rest of her life.

Mary and I are starting to wonder if we’re doing something wrong, or if it’s just a terrible coincidence that we end up rescuing these dogs that need so much treatment, but we’re very thankful that we have a world-class veterinary hospital in our back yard!

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