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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.


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!


5 Months, 3 weeks Post Surgery

July 12, 2010

Normally I’d save a post like this for an ampuversary date like 6 months, but the news is so good that I just didn’t feel like waiting that extra week to share.

Today was Nikki’s quarterly checkup with Dr. Pyne for chest X-rays and other “cancer detecting” work. The way this works is we have to drop Nikki off early in the morning, and then pick her up in the evening. They do this so Dr. Pyne doesn’t have to rush any of the work and so it’s more convenient for us. Nikki loves the ride to Banfield, and loves to show-off once she gets inside the store (We have to get there before PetSmart opens, so she gets a nice catered-to feeling when they let us in and the store is empty..

Today Nikki practically jumped out of the truck when we arrived at the store and ran to the door. Then she spent a fair amount of time checking out all of the displays. If you didn’t know she had only 3 legs and saw her from the “good” side, you’d not know that you were looking at a Tripawd. She’s moving around that well….

Well, to make the long story short, here’s a full-chest X-Ray of Nikki taken today:

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The almost unfortunate thing is that even though I have to veterinary training, I can read these pretty good at this point. What you’re looking at here is a FANTASTICALLY CLEAR picture! No mets, no signs of anything abnormal, and basically an absolutely CLEAR set of lungs and other organs. This means that at this point we still see no signs of cancer showing up in other parts of Nikki’s body.

Her next checkup is in late September! She’s almost getting to a “healthy dog” routine!

Meet Tilley

We all miss Buddy of course, but sometimes things have the strangest way of working out. Today I was sitting in a meeting at work when Mary sent me an email with the subject, “Awwwwwwwwwwww”. (I’ll bet you can guess what’s coming next). Anyway, as it turns out there’s a couple that live up the road from us who are Active Duty Army and are being relocated to Ft. Hood. Well, for those that don’t know, most Federal installations (Army bases are certainly Federal installations) do not allow Rottweiler’s. Unfortunately for this family, they were having to move from off-site housing into on-post housing, which meant that they could not take their dog. They have a beautiful year-plus old Rottie named Tilley that was going to have to stay behind. Long story short, after meeting with them and Tilley this evening, we have a new member of the Malone household. Meet Tilley:

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Tilley is getting adjusted to life in the house, and Nikki and Sasha both seem to have accepted her already. I guess we’re back to a 3 Rottweiler family!


5 Months!

June 21, 2010

Well, it’s been awhile since I’ve posted here. The only excuse I have is that basically we’ve all been having a pretty good time and Nikki has really been enjoying life. We’re now 5 months post-surgery, and the prognosis at this point could not be any better!

It’s interesting when I think back 6 months ago when we got the horrible news that Nikki had Cancer and that there wasn’t much hope other than to take her leg and see what happens. We went through some serious ups and downs after the surgery, both physically and emotionally. On one hand we had the news that Nikki could measure her lifespan in days if we didn’t do the surgery, and if we did the surgery, we might extend her life 5 months or more, depending on the roll of the dice… Well, here we are 5 months after surgery and Nikki is pretty much 100% healed and is her old self in every way, shape and form. She’s actually doing things these days that I haven’t seen her do since she was a puppy!

Ever since Nikki was a puppy, one of her favorite things to do is to go for a ride. She really gets into it, she climbs up in the window and sticks her head up as high as she can get it, and occasionally barks from pure joy. (Of course this tends to leave the side of my vehicle completely slimed!) Since the surgery, the rides we would take would generally be to the vet (Nikki hasn’t actually seen a doctor in a month at this point) and while she tried to get up in the window, that back leg just wouldn’t cooperate for her. I tried putting the seat in various configurations to help and rigging up a box or something for her to get on, but nothing really worked. On the occasion that she would be able to get up for a bit, she’d spend too much time trying to balance so it really took the fun out for her..

Well, now that we’re farther along in the healing process, one of the things that Nikki has been doing is really gaining strength in her rear leg. Yesterday I was sitting in the office and Nikki wandered in and gave me the, “Listen, you haven’t taken me for a ride in a week, and I’m ready to go!” look, so off we headed…

Once I got her up in the Tahoe and backed out of the driveway, I noticed that Nikki was sizing up the window again and figuring out if it was going to be worth it.. Next thing I knew she hopped up, and was balancing on that hind leg just fine.. Long story short, we drove for about 15 miles and Nikki didn’t come out of the window at all. The side of the Tahoe (which is normally black) was completely white from her bark-slobber.. Not sure I’ve ever seen anything so nasty look so damn good! Nikki is most definitely back!

It’s been a bit warm here in Colorado these last few days, so the dogs are all taking to laying in the cool grass when they can. As you can see by Nikki’s face (Far left in the photo), she’s pretty happy!

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Getting Used to Life on 3 Legs

April 26, 2010

Now that we have tackled the infection, Nikki has really been getting back to form! She’s been acting more and more like the “pre-diagnosis” Nikki, and is starting to let us know that we need to stop thinking about her as a dog with 3 legs, and more like a dog who’s pain has vanished.

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One of the more interesting things that Nikki has been doing lately is letting us know that she really just wants to be one of the dogs. Our normal routine in the morning is that I bring the dogs down the stairs and let them out (this means that Nikki has to navigate 2 sets of stairs going down) and then start my coffee. Then I go outside and down to wait for Nikki to be ready to come back up. Then I help Nikki up the stairs by using a makeshift sling (Really just an old sweatshirt that has been rolled up).

She has started letting me know that she really doesn’t want my help up the stairs, so I’ve been gradually letting her navigate them on her own. (I still don’t trust that she’s got it 100%, but you can sure see her fighting spirit as she does this)

 

We’ve also been going for rides (her absolute favorite thing in life) that are just for her to enjoy as opposed to us having to go see a Dr. We’ve figured out a system in the Tahoe that lets Nikki comfortably hang her head out the window without me worrying that she’s going to hurt herself. (As I mentioned in the last post, she figured out how to balance herself, but I really wasn’t comfortable with letting her do that for long..) She’s now asking for rides just about every day (Just like pre-diagnosis Nikki).

She’s also finding more time to play with her siblings, and Sasha really appreciates this!

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Getting Better Every Day!

April 18, 2010

We’re coming up on the 3 month apuversary for Nikki! It seems that all the hard times we went through after the surgery are finally heading out the door!!! Nikki is doing very well, her infection has pretty much all disappeared, and she’s starting to get a lot of her pre-diagnosis behaviors back..

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Today was definitely one of those, “Giant Leap for Dog-Kind” kind of days…

One of Nikki’s favorite things is to go for a ride. Even when she was sick she still loved getting into the Tahoe and riding. The big difference was what she did when she was riding. Before she got sick, she would just hang her head out the window and really just have a great time. Sometimes she’d bark at the cars coming the opposite direction, sometimes she’d just stare at the lines in the road, and sometimes she’d even bark at the dust thrown up if we were on a dirt road.. Today I decided to take her for a ride, and we headed off to a dirt road that I know of around here. Once we got onto the road, I decided to roll the back windows down so she could get a bit of air on her. Low and behold, after staring at the situation for awhile, Nikki figured out how she could get herself up and balanced on her one rear leg so she could hang out the window! (She had not been able to do this for at least 2 months prior to the surgery)

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So I just took it slow and let her enjoy herself. Almost made me cry to be honest, as she really was enjoying herself in a way that we thought she’d never be able to do again.

She was able to stay like that for about 5 miles, before I had to make her get down so I could speed up once we hit pavement again.

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So little by little Nikki is getting back to her old self!