Progress

Short but adorable post today. 

All of our bandages are off and we are far more comfy! 


The ear height is back to normal! 

It’s still taking some getting used to for us humans. We keep thinking her leg is just tucked under her. 

Next we just await an official call from the vet to be sure all the cancer is gone after it was sent out for testing. A little worried, but we can only solve one problem at a time. Above all else, we just want to have the best life possible. I’d say Liza’s is pretty darn awesome. 

2 Days, 1 post, a whole lot of progress!

I’m behind a day in updating, but certainly not due to lack of adventures!

Yesterday started with a text saying that Liza, having been left alone for probably a minute and a half, managed to climb up the flight of stairs and jump onto the bed-her happy place.  My reaction was twofold.

First- Oh god…she pulled her stitches.  What if she fell and is injured? What the hell was she thinking?!

Second- I’m so proud!

After she eventually got off the bed, she decided to go check things out in the craft room when she heard a car pull in.  So there’s this…

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She is incredibly determined, that’s how I know she is going to be just fine.

Then, she was pretty disgruntled when she was brought back downstairs.  We know she was angry because her ears are often more expressive than her tail.  When one ear flops down like this, you know you’re in trouble.

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Then, last night, a miracle happened.  WE SLEPT!  We both managed to sleep (in the living room) for about 6 hours!  Of course, I was happy that I finally got some rest myself, but I was most excited that she was finally resting instead of fighting it.

Today is another great day!  She decided to stop eating yesterday though.  She wouldn’t take any food, even bacon!!  For a little while today I was concerned that this was not a good thing.  The vet recommended getting canned chicken.  After my initial offense to the fact that the vet thought that Liza would prefer chicken in a damn can to my organic homemade cooking, I decided to get some from the store on my way home.  She cleaned the bowl.  I’m offended.  But she ate, so there’s that.  Now I’m going to go from not even knowing where to find canned chicken to buying half the aisle.  At checkout I even mentioned it was for my dog because in my proud homecook mind, the lady was judging me.

Today she also got a chance to do one of her favorite things.

Being a sun-bum is pretty much what her life revolves around (next to canned chicken now, ugh).

So glad that she’s starting to get some “normal” back into her life.  In my attempt to truly think like a dog, I’ve concluded that she probably doesn’t even notice she doesn’t have a leg.  The things that bother her, I think, are the that her leg that is there feels and looks weird, she can’t do her normal routine, and the meds make her feel funny.

Tomorrow two of those things will go away.  She is done with one of the medications and we can take the bandage off.  Here’s to hoping everything looks good, that she remains pain-free, and once the bandages come off that she likes the adorable 1-armed tshirts my mother made for her to avoid the cone of shame.

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Meanwhile, I’m making ground beef, steak, eggs, and salmon because I’m now on a mission to win my way past the canned chicken to Liza’s belly.

Day 4

Did someone say steak tonight?!

Liza got one of her bandages off today! Not the one we were hoping for to free her leg, but it’s better to keep it on to ward off possible infection for a little longer. We are able to take all bandages off on Thursday at home to avoid another visit. Her amputation incision looks great. Well…as great as it can. We prepared ourselves by looking at pictures online of what it could be, but her surgeon is some kind of twisted artist with that work. 

This tshirt she currently has to wear is not nearly as fashionable as the ones she has in her future. Expect far more pics when that time comes. 

For now, we are doing ok! Incredibly sleep deprived but it’s all worth it when we see her get stronger and stronger. 

Last night there was no whimpering or crying. Instead someone decided that 2am was a great time to practice her walking. Liza walked laps around the house for quite some time! I couldn’t even be frustrated because every time she walked around she went a little further before having to rest! I’m almost positive she was trying to devise a way to sneak by me to get upstairs but either way, this girl is so impressive. 

At one point I just laughed hysterically and wish I had a picture. Liza was walking in front, I was behind her to make sure she didn’t fall, Chat (black cat) was a few steps behind me and Leyla was behind him. We had the equivalent of a dysfunctional exhausted parade. 

I don’t have the highest hopes for sleep tonight since she was sedated half of the afternoon and sleeping it off the rest.  It’s all good though, that’s what coffee is for! 

Day who even knows anymore. 

We picked up Liza last night and it was a very happy moment. So much so that I forgot to even be upset or nervous about her not having a leg. She was so thrilled to see us and couldn’t wait to go home. On the way out of the vet she was going so fast pulling me down the ramp that I couldn’t keep up! 

That joy only lasted so long. Last night was incredibly long and agonizing. She just cried all night. So many calls to the vet later, we determined something I’ve known since I named her Liza…she’s a diva. 

It’s impossible to determine what is “normal” in this situation. Was she in pain, uncomfortable, or just annoyed?  Based on her very healthy appetite and list of meds, we were pretty much able to rule out pain. 

We concluded, with the help of the 24 hour doctor team, that she is just very anxious. Once she saw me and came home she probably thought everything would just go back to normal. Her normal is heading upstairs to bed around 8:00. Or snoring on her own loveseat while we watch TV. She can’t do any of these things, and believe me, it’s not for a lack of trying. Every time I had to divert her attempts to go upstairs or jump on the couch, she went to her floor blankets and just cried more. Again…diva. So we slept on the floor together. Lined with mats and blankets. And by slept I mean we closed our eyes for an hour. 

Today is a new day though. She has had visitors and is even greeting them at the door! She loves the extra love and attention and when it gets quiet is when she starts to whimper. 

But this seriously sucks.  There’s no better word. Not only is she dealing with having one less leg, but she has a huge cast on her “good” leg that is making it impossible for her to get comfortable, is chafing her skin, and weighing her down when she tries to walk. So unfair for her. 

She has made a lot of progress since last night and needs a lot less assistance in getting up and down.  The only think I’m helping her with now is going out to the bathroom. That’s a strange position to get up from! 

 She gets her bandage changes tomorrow and (hopefully) that awful leg cast off. Until then it’s just a lot of love, new toys, and even a get well plant! 

Day 2

If I thought surgery day (yesterday) was one of the hardest days of my life, today may have topped it.

First, the official update on her surgery from last night:

The amputation went really well. On top of it, she had another tumor that they weren’t sure they were able to get all of, BUT THEY DID! And they were able to close it up successfully. We didn’t think that would be the case and we were looking at daily bandage changes and sedation at the vet for the next month or so, which was a huge stress. We don’t think that will need to happen anymore. We won’t know for sure if 100% of the cancer is gone, but it’s looking good. The whole surgical team cheered when they finished up. And her amazing oncology surgeon went home to have a few glasses of wine.

Most importantly, even though there was a major stress for us in her surgery being delayed all day due to an emergency with another dog, it was a good thing for Liza. She got a chance to get to know everyone and watched every move they made throughout the day and by the time they got to her she was completely comfortable, friendly, and not anxious

Now, onto today.

My update at 9:30 this morning was not great.  While she did ok through the night, as of this morning she would not stand up and was, as the Dr. said “feeling sorry for herself.”  I kept myself calm for as long as it took to get off the phone, but it was downhill from there.  I spent all day thinking that we made the wrong decision and Liza was not the type of dog who could be happy with three legs.

Then I used the resources of an amazing non-profit called Tripawd.  They have chat rooms, forums, and even a 24 hour hotline to talk to people who have done this.  Many people talked me off of ledges all day.  Then, one of my students could tell that I wasn’t normal.  I told her a little bit about Liza’s surgery.  All of my students know that my dog is my baby.  All this student said, like it was nothing, was “Who cares miss?  She’s going to walk, she’s cute as hell, and you love her.  She’ll be fine.”  Why are teenagers and animals so much wiser than us?!  What do I have 2 college degrees for?

Then I anxiously awaited my 6:00 call with the vet.  WE HAVE A WALKER!  My little bugger of a dog has made great progress in just 10 hours today.  She is standing, walking, and even wagging her tail when people go to see her.  On top of it, I was warned that she may not want food for a few days, but she’s eating!  I mean…who could turn down my cooking?

I may not be able to bring her home tomorrow like we originally anticipated.  It may have to wait until Sunday.  The Tripawd motto for humans is Think Like a Dog.  I’m trying it.

Day 1, Part 1

We decided to start this blog to document Liza’s journey.  We recently learned that our approximately 10 year old beloved dog, Liza, has cancer.  When sitting in that appointment and hearing our options, I think I stopped breathing after hearing the word “amputation” as being a possible way to save her life.  It has been a process to wrap our minds around the idea of that being the best thing for her, but is ultimately what we had to do.

The thinking for a blog stemmed from the overwhelming (but in a good way!) number of people who regularly asked how she’s doing and requested updates.  Then I started to think of all other the reasons it would be a good idea and the amount of lessons this has the potential to teach us.

  1. Every single person I have spoken to that has gone through this has stressed how much harder this is for humans than it is for a dog.  In fact, dogs just simply don’t care.  She will not miss her leg.  They are not logical in thinking of how different their life will be.  That’s one of the reasons we love animals and want them in our lives.  They don’t think like us, and thank god for it.
  2. Everyone who knows those close to Liza are aware of how important she is in our lives.  It’s not easy to get close to Liza, since she can be a bit particular in who she chooses to like (another great life lesson, folks).  She came from a crummy situation before we met, and while it takes her a little while to warm up to people, once she does there is nothing but love.
  3. I want to have these memories.  I wish I started documenting her journey with us back on May 3, 2008 when we met and it was love at first sight.  Since that day, Liza has provided me with many life lessons on forgiveness, trust, loyalty, and unconditional love.  When she comes home and has one less leg to live her life with, I want to remember how amazed we all were by her resilience and natural ability to go through life without the fear of the next chapter.  All she cares about is the love she receives.  And chicken.
  4. Lastly, I want everyone else to be as impressed and inspired by this diva as I have been in her life to date.  I have no doubt that she has a lot left to teach us.

 

So that’s the Why.  Moving onto today and the initial reason for beginning this page.

Updates!

We dropped her off this morning and I was admittedly a mess for many reasons.  Aside from the surgical worries, I am devastated that she has to spend time in a place she hates and away from her home.  But when the surgical technician came to get her from me, Liza went right with her!  For those who know Liza, you are well aware that this is not typical.  We’re talking about the same dog that needs sedation to have her nails trimmed.

While still devastated, I left the office feeling like Liza knows what’s up.  I promised her 9 years ago that I would always take care of her, and by dropping her off today I was doing exactly that.

And, of course, I left her with chicken.