The Chocolate Hound Strikes Again

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Mosby was a bad boy today.

Mosby has a pretty bad habit of getting into trouble when left by himself in the house. People who know him think I’m lying when I tell them this, because he’s so well behaved in general (he has perfect recall, both by voice and whistle), and super chill and laid back (professional napper). But when left in the house by himself his brain goes haywire. He’s typically crated (this is after many breakouts from a VERY strong crate, which I finally reinforced with gorilla tape on everything but the front, which is secured by multiple carabiners … only after that did the breakouts stop), but we always wish we didn’t have to confine him to such a small space.

So, being good parents, we ordered two 39″ gates and installed them today, so he now has the living room and sun room to wander around in (keeping him out of the kitchen, which is where he gets into the most trouble, and off all hardwood floors). As a test run, we left him while we went to the grocery store today. I worried the whole time that he’d try to jump the gates and hurt himself (or try to force his way through them), so we rushed through the shopping. I ran upstairs when we got home … no Mosby at the gate … no Mosby in his main bed. I went in through the gate and around the corner — there’s Mosby with boxes of Ghiradelli¬†chocolate, packaging torn everywhere.

Chocolate is his VERY FAVORITE bad thing to get into. I panicked, pulled out the hydrogen peroxide … roughly 10 min later we were back inside the house and Mosby’s tummy was empty (I felt awful). Once we were able to dissect the packaging, we determined he had NOT been able to get into the main chocolate, but he had eaten a chocolate covered graham cracker in a separate package, so he did get into some chocolate.

Turns out, while we thought we’d been so thorough in checking the space, the Christmas presents for my husband’s family – which we couldn’t deliver, because our trip was cancelled due to Mosby’s surgery – were in the corner. Among other things, the packages contained the chocolate and cookies, which Mosby had found. Face palm. I’m thankful he didn’t get into the main chocolate (he tried, oh he tried), but I feel awful that we didn’t realize it was there. I feel awful that I had to make him throw up.

I don’t feel too bad, though, because last night we gave him is VERY FAVORITE (non-chocolate) thing: PASTA:

This is a very dignified pose.

And we did, after all, install some very nice (and not cheap) gates for him.

Foxy loxy holding the gate open.

And also today we received our doggie DNA test, so that is set to be picked up on Tuesday. We know Mosby is part lab, but have always wondered what else he is. Probably something at least as mischievous. We are excited to find out.

So, Mosby keeps bringing the excitement. Whether it is worry about his wound (which is looking better) or worry about him staying by himself, there is always something to keep me occupied! Tonight we’ll probably head to Bruster’s after dinner for a doggie sundae … because as naughty as he might be, Mosby still deserves it. He’s at least 98% Good Dog.


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First Rehab Appointment

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Today, Mosby had his first rehab appointment. I was incredibly impressed with the vet clinic and his rehab vet. It’s a full service clinic, but the vets are also certified in orthopedic rehabilitation. They have an amazing facility with lots of equipment and a water treadmill. I think Mosby also fell in love with his vet, Dr. Johnson, and at one point almost crawled into her lap while she was working him up, stretching him, getting a gauge on where he was in pain, etc. Here’s a picture of him after she finished the initial work-up — I don’t think he realized he was at the vet!

At first the vet couldn’t get him to react at all when she was trying to determine where he was sore – he’s that stoic. Finally and only after he relaxed a bit more she was able to find a lot of tightness and soreness in his back – not surprising. So she used a TENS unit to relax his muscles in his back, and he enjoyed that. He’s tight in his shoulders, but fairly relaxed in his left hind leg, surprisingly. And very tight through his back.

Ultimately, the water treadmill is going to be great therapy for him, allowing him to get exercise without having the uneven strain on his body. He unfortunately couldn’t do it today, because in the last 3 days he’s developed an infected spot on his incision site. This vet feels it’s a suture that is dissolving and got irritated. In a dog that isn’t immune-compromised, it would probably not be a problem. In a dog doing chemo, it got infected. She consulted with his oncologist, and they decided to culture it and also switch to a broader antibiotic (he was already on one as a precautionary measure for the chemo). I’m hopeful that this will clear things up. We will keep it clean and keep him from messing with it.

They were able to do some good exercises with him. The vet was VERY impressed with his ability to sit for a treat (she didn’t have to ask – such a good boy), because he’s able to sit very squarely, which can be a challenge for rear amputees. He did cookie stretches, sit-to-stands, and hip rocking. They also helped him stretch out his back and relax using a big exercise ball. We have also been given instructions to do these exercises with him at home.

We are scheduled to return a week from today — fingers crossed his wound will have healed so he can do water treadmill! The other vet there does acupuncture, which can be a good palliative therapy for amputees, so we will probably be doing that, as well, at some point in the near future.

Onward and upward. It has been a stressful week as I’ve been monitoring and worrying about the wound, but I’m hopeful we can get that resolved. Mosby has to be at home tomorrow. We have a new soft cone, so we will try that on him so he doesn’t mess with his wound. Over the weekend we are going to put up some gates in the hope that we can restrict him to a small area, so he can be outside of the crate but not get into trouble. We found the tallest gates we could get, but we are still going to have to rely on the fact that Mosby won’t feel up to getting into trouble. Pre-amputation, he had no trouble jumping 6 foot fences, and I have a feeling he could manage a pretty good height even with the one back leg. Yikes. Monday I am off, so I will be with him and we’ll also go in for our 10 day CBC; hopefully everything will look ok.

Sometimes You Just Need a Puppaccino

Today was a big day for Mosby – the first day he held down the fort all by himself (ok, with an hour long visit from our sitters in the middle of the day) while we were at work. For now he’s crated, but we are working out how to confine him to a larger space where he still won’t get into trouble (this dog, who is a saint in company, can find trouble no matter how hard … like the time he hid bags of bread in the stuffing of my big chair). But he did a great job, and Sally on the Tripawds forums, after talking me down off a ledge of uncertainty (uncertainty is very hard for a Type A person like myself, just FYI), suggested that Mosby needed a puppaccino. Yes, he definitely did need a puppaccino.

So we loaded him up in the MUV (Mosby Utility Vehicle), which is my 4-Runner with a luxury Mosby suite in the back (believe me, it’s the only luxurious thing about that truck … and this isn’t a post-amputation thing, he’s always had a luxury suite in the back … kind of makes it hard to actually put luggage in it when we go somewhere.) and went to Starbucks.

Is that an entire cup filled with whipped cream?
Yes, yes it is.

Sometimes you gotta take time to taste the puppaccino.

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!