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9 Months and Still Going Strong!

October 22, 2010

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Well, today is my birthday, and as I sit here pondering the fact that I’ve made it through another exciting year, I realize that one of the best things that’s happened so far is the fact that I still have my companion Nikki by my side (She’s actually laying at my feet at the moment, but that’s close enough I think) even though the “experts” had told us that there was little chance that would be the case.

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Nikki has been doing pretty well, although she is slowing down somewhat on the stairs. She’s pretty much regained all of her old habits, and has even picked up a few new ones.

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Now that she’s on 3 legs, she has decided that it is MY job to bend down to her when I get home and present my face so she can lick it. If I don’t do this immediately when I walk in the door, she will follow me and paw at me until I give her my face. This has only started in the last 3 weeks, but it has become a ritual every single time I walk through the door. She’s also taken to sleeping on the floor on my side of the bed as close to the bed as she can get (As opposed to in her very comfortable dog bed) and then making sure that I pet her first thing when I wake up. Basically she’s letting me know that she’s the boss and that I am well trained.

All in all on the medical front we’re still very pleased with her progress. She had her check-up and blood test last week and still no signs of mets or cancer, so we’re extremely thankful for that.

So, another “no news” update, but in this case no news most certainly is the best news!

 


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Another Ampuversary! (8 months and going strong)

September 20, 2010

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8 months ago at about this time Mary and I were preparing to bring the new Tripawd Nikki home from her surgery. I’ll never forget that day, sitting in the waiting room and hearing her yelp as they prepared to bring her in to see us. Then of course seeing her for the first time as a Tripawd, all I could think about was “My god, what have I done?”

NikkiPostSurgeryRide

8 months later I think we have the answer; (Actually we’ve known it for awhile, but it’s never been more clear than these days) We saved her, and gave her a whole new lease on life!

Nikki had her checkup last week, and everything is still A-OK and normal, with no signs of cancer or other indications of issues. This is really great news for Nikki because she’s already far-outlived the expectations of all the specialists. (We were given anywhere from 4-6 months as a best case scenario). For every day that goes by, Nikki acts more and more like the puppy that she is (She is almost 9 years old, but she still thinks she’s a puppy) and has even started figuring out how to get into my lap when I sit down in the office (This used to be a ritual for us, I’d come home from work, sit down at the desk, and she’d crawl up in my lap to lick my face and basically let me know that she missed me). It’s very good to have the old Nikki back!

Here’s some pictures taken since the last update:

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Upside-down Tripawd.

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Out for a ride

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After-effects of said ride (Yes, that is Tripawd Slobber)

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More upside-down Nikki

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Dogs are plotting!

The point is, as you can see Nikki is very happy, and is really enjoying her life, and we’re just simply enjoying that fact.

If you’re just now starting the cancer journey, all I can say is take heart in that there are definitely success stories out there, and I’m just happy that my BabyDog is one of them!


A Clean Bill of Health

August 11, 2010

We’re about 8 days short of the 7 MONTH Apuversary for Nikki!! Considering what her chances were when she was first diagnosed, I really do know how lucky we are that she’s still with us, and in great health to boot! I swear every day with her is like we’re going backwards in time and Nikki is becoming more and more puppy-like. These days if I toss a ball in the house, chances are that Nikki (remember, 9 years old and only 3 legs) will likely get to it before the other two (who are mere puppies at just over 1 year).

Today was a dual-doctor day for Nikki. First she saw Dr. Friedly, who is her holistic vet. He’s the one that devised the treatment plan that we’re on (No Chemo, all natural “eastern” medicine) that seems to be working quite well. He basically looked at Nikki, told us to keep doing what we’re doing, and scheduled the next visit for December (Which will be 1 year post-diagnosis). Bottom line as far as he’s concerned, Nikki is healthy and happy, even though she’s missing a leg.

Next she saw Dr. Pyne, who is Nikki’s primary vet. Dr. Pyne has seen so much of Nikki (and us) over the last year that I’m sure she’s pretty tired of us. This was basically a follow-up exam to the dental cleaning that we did last week, and a general all-purpose examination. The verdict there is Nikki is healthy and doing great. Nikki owes her life to Dr. Pyne, and we’re all very appreciative of that fact! While the visits to Banfield aren’t exactly the most fun thing for Nikki, she really does enjoy the ride both to and from, as you can see here:

NikkiAfterVet

Anyway, I guess I keep providing these very positive updates just to show that there is light at the end of the tunnel for those that are just starting down this path. I know every dog is different, as is every situation, but I can’t say enough about the treatment plan (and diet) that Nikki has been on since her diagnosis. I really do believe that had we gone the traditional path, we’d have lost Nikki by now.


Colorado Leg of the CannonPaw Run

July 15, 2010

This entry isn’t about Nikki, although I’m sure if she were able to talk to me in English she’d be saying, “WTF"???”

If you haven’t read about the CannonPaw Run, you should check out the thread on the Tripawds forums here: http://tripawds.com/forums/the-tripawd-rescue-forum/rescue-railroad-legs-help-needed-for-tripawd-rottie-nm-to-ca/page-5/#p34789 

“Baggins” is a Rottie-mix Tripawd that was discovered in a shelter in Taos, NM. He had been picked up as a stray and nobody claimed him, nor wanted to adopt him. He was at the end of the line, as the shelter was ready to put him down, Note: Just received word that this bit of info wasn’t correct. Apologies about that. but alas, it wasn’t to be. “Dawn”, a member of the Tripawds community and mother of Spirit-Raven (Who incidentally helped Mary and I quite a bit when we first started this journey with Nikki) paid Baggins’ bond and sprung him from the joint.. Only problem is getting him from Taos, NM to Auburn, CA.

Hence the Cannonpaw run.. While it’s certainly not the most direct route to California, Baggins travelled from Taos, NM to us here in Colorado Springs today. Tomorrow he’ll head to Ft. Collins with Mary, and then on to Salt Lake City with Jim.. He’s going to have a busy few travel days, but it’s all worth it.

Baggins is an absolutely beautiful dog, and one of the most laid back and easy going “shelter dogs” that I have ever seen. He fit right in with our “Monkey Butts” here as you can see:

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(Baggins is the lighter colored one in the foreground)

As you can see, he’s quite beautiful and very much fixated on Mary’s hand (which happens to hold a treat at the moment).

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I am very much amazed at how well he is getting around on 3 legs (He’s a front leg amputee and he’s very well adapted!)

You can tell so much from a dog by their expression, and right now I’d say that Baggins has that, “Thank you for saving me” expression! (That and, hey, those treats are great! Gimme!!)

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Dawn, you are one lucky gal! Baggins is going to make a wonderful companion! We’re glad that we were able to visit with him, even for the little while we’ll have him here.


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:

Tilley

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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Pawty Time in Southern Colorado

May 15, 2010

As mentioned on Buddy’s blog we all headed out to the Bear Creek dog park to meet up with other tripawds in southern Colorado for the tripawds pawty. It was a great time, and Nikki had a great time just being out of the house and yard around new friends and new smells. With all the excitement going on around us, it was hard to get a shot with the family, but I was able to manage this one:

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It didn’t take too long for her to just adopt her “I’m chillin’” pose though:

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As you can see by the look on her face, she’s very content and happy to just hang out with the others and watch all the goings on.

There were plenty of new tripawd friends to meet as well, including the famous Mayor of Divide, Sprite!

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Of course there was the famous Calpernia, and Wyatt and others as well!

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All and all it was a very fun outing. I hope we get the opportunity to do it again sometime!


A Very Normal 3-legged Dog (aka Tripawd)

May 10, 2010

With all of the mess of the surgery and post-surgery complications and infections out of the way, Nikki continues to get back her old post-diagnosis behaviors and mannerisms.

Mary and I left for a week in Europe on 1 May. We left the dogs in the care of our son Steven, and checked in from time to time via email and some peeks now and then at the security cameras. We could tell that Nikki was doing just fine while we were gone. (It was especially funny to watch Nikki outfox Steven one morning as he went out to help her up the stairs and she was already up on the deck)

When we got home last night all of the dogs were extremely happy to see us. Nikki in particular was overly-excited and kept pawing at me until I got down on the floor and let her lick my face for about 5 minutes.

I’ve been working from home today and Nikki has been no more than 6 feet away from me all day. When I look at her she has the most amazing spark in her eyes that I haven’t seen in a year or so. It’s very obvious that she is feeling great.

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It’s funny to be writing these blogs posts now talking about how normal Nikki is, but it’s good thing!

We’re definitely looking forward to meeting up with some of the Colorado Tripawds family here in Colorado Springs on Saturday!


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)

NikkiOutTheWindow

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!