How we got here

Mosby is a dog that definitely deserves a blog of his own. Just a few of the things Mosby has accomplished in his 10+ years are rock climbing (while hiking in the Blue Ridge Mountains with me), getting deputized by the county sheriff (back when I worked for a Judge and brought Mosby to work with me), training for half marathons (he’s a much better runner than I am, let’s be honest), and mastering lots of cool tricks. He’s also had some death-defying moments, including getting shot (a bullet was found in his hip in his x-rays) and eating an entire load of my Christmas baking one year (5 mini chocolate Kahlua cakes and 4 dozen chocolate chip cookies … that one involved a trip to the ER). So, as you can see, you could easily call Mosby The Most Interesting Dog in the World.

But, unfortunately, I didn’t start a Mosby blog for any of those very good reasons. Instead, I’ve started this blog because on December 19, 2016 I took Mosby to the vet to purportedly schedule him for surgery to repair his ACL and unexpectedly was told that Mosby hadn’t torn his ACL, Mosby had bone cancer in his RH knee, a very aggressive form of bone cancer called osteosarcoma. As I sat there in shock, his kind vet told me that he had gone ahead and taken films of his lungs – which is the main place that this aggressive cancer metastasizes – and that they looked clear, but that the radiologist needed to confirm. He asked if I’d like to see the radiographs of his leg, and I nodded through my tears. He took me back to the room where Mosby was lying, sedated, and showed me the tumor on the film. I didn’t know what I was looking at, really, except that it looked awful. The tumor had grown out from the inside of the bone, destroying it. Bone pain is the worst pain, and Mosby had been living with this horrible pain, probably for 2-3 months, the vet said.

Four days later, after emergency consults with an oncologist and surgeon, Mosby had his RH leg amputated. We were told that because he’s fit and his other joints are in good shape, and because he had no visible metastasis, he was a good candidate for amputation and chemo.

The next day, two days before Christmas, we brought him home. What a scary, scary time. My mom, bless her, flew out to help us take care of him that first week so we could get back to work, and the first week or so was rough. Mosby had lots of swelling and was on a lot of drugs. He was weak and learning to balance on three legs. We bought runners and created a circuit for him around the hardwood floors. We bought a very nice Ruffwear harness and a new Orvis memory foam bed for the back of my car. Slowly but surely Mosby healed and his personality came back. He is one tough dog. He has mastered getting around (although he needs lots of help going upstairs at night) and has had no trouble keeping his appetite up!

We never had any issues with his incision, and last Thursday he had his sutures out and also had his first chemo treatment. He’s scheduled for 6 treatments of carboplatin, spaced 3-4 weeks apart. And, true to form, so far he has handled chemo like the champ that he is. He has gobbled down every meal and has not had any tummy issues (knock on wood), although the vet has him on anti-nausea meds for the first few days to be safe, and he started an antibiotic today that is supposed to help him while his immune system is down due to the chemo.

We were feeling good – like we had a plan and it was going well – but unfortunately life threw a wrench in the works. I’d been worried about a lump on the thigh of his remaining hind leg, so I had the oncologist check it out when he got his chemo. Sadly, the cystology of the lump is consistent with sarcoma. We won’t know what kind (and the aggressiveness of the sarcoma depends on the type and stage) until we get it removed and biopsy it, but we can’t do that while he’s on chemo, which he absolutely needs in order to battle the microscopic metastasis of the osteosarcoma.

For now, the tentative plan is to get him through 1/2 of his chemo treatments (so three of them), stop and wait 2-3 weeks, and then if his white blood cells and platelets are ok, remove the lump, then resume the chemo. He would also be on antibiotics for the surgery just in case. There are a lot of unknowns, however. I don’t know how invasive the surgery will be, and mobility is a concern since it’s his remaining hind leg. I don’t know if the lump will change over the next few weeks – his third chemo treatment, if everything goes well, would be 2/16, meaning the earliest they could operate is 3/2, basically 2 heart wrenching months away. I’m going to discuss things with his oncologist this week, and have the surgeon evaluate him probably at his next chemo treatment, and we’ll go from there.

For now, we’re going to focus on the positive. Here are a few of the positive things Mosby has going on right now:

  • He’s really adapted well mobility-wise. He rarely needs our help and gets around really well. I shouldn’t be surprised considering how athletic he’s always been. I feel like he’ll be ready to run around before too long!
  • As he’s backed off the pain meds, his personality has really returned. Sweet Mos is back to his old tricks including thinking everything is for him. He especially thinks this now because the only thing Mosby will take his pills in is marshmallows. We’ve taken to calling him the Prince of Marshmallows – since he doesn’t know we’re sneaking pills in them, he just thinks we’re randomly plying him with marshmallows throughout the day! Knowing Mosby, he probably wonders why we haven’t been doing this all along.
  • He’s strong enough to make short trips out to the mail box, and he’s enjoying his time outside. He like to stand outside for a while just sniffing and listening … even when it’s 10 degrees out. :/ But I can’t begrudge him, so I just get suited up in all my warm gear and stand as long as I can with him.
  • His appetite really couldn’t be any better – in fact, only now do we realize how anorexic he had become prior to the surgery, because of the pain that he was in.
  • We are looking forward to taking him on trips over the next few months. He’s a good traveler and as he gets stronger he’ll enjoy getting out and about.
  • He has received so many ‘get well soon’ cards and treats! He has wonderful friends and family.
  • We found the Tripawds site – which is absolutely invaluable to folks in this horrible situation. The support we’ve gotten from members of this site has been unbelievable.

I’ll close out with some pictures – here are some pre-amputation photos of Mosby through the years:

Mosby with a well-deserved half marathon medal.


The time Mosby dug up some carrots.


Mosby checking out the water in North Carolina.


Mosby by the creek in his (our) backyard.


Mosby doing what he does best – run like the wind!

And here is a post-amp picture – I’m sure there will be many more to come!

Look at that cute face!