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Archive for August, 2009


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Hello everyone! Back from our nearly 2 week adventure! We went to visit our friend in Kingman, then went camping in Zion and visited the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.

Caira Sue really enjoys a good view-of course what she REALLY likes is to RUN! And run, she did.

She got her feet wet in the river, but wouldn’t swim. Wouldn’t swim until an adorable 8 year old girl from Seattle named Sierra came around! It was an amazing experience. I had Caira Sue in her newly purchased ruff wear life jacket. She would go in up to her chest, but that was it-and I was OK with that. Mom’s a little nervous about her first swim post amp.

Sierra comes floating down the “rapids” in the middle of the river and all of a sudden Caira is off! Her instincts took off and she was right there in the middle of the river with the girl! She then swam to shore with Sierra and the 2 of them played for the next hour. This girl was wise beyond her years-she was so good with animals. Her mother told me she has trained many of their friend’s dogs-at the age of 8! Anyway, she had Caira Sue swimming across the river with her in no time, and the smiles were so worth it! I was glad to have the life jacket on though-there were a couple times where it seemed to really make a difference.

pine break

North Rim Grand Canyon. We had been to the south rim many times. The north rim was amazing!

North rimOf course, there were those stinky signs that limited our viewpoints….

no dogs

Our trip finished with a trip to see old friends in Flagstaff, AZ. Caira Sue was not a bit embarassed to see her old friends without her leg-she was ecstatic! Wahoo! What a great time!

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Who knew Kingman could be so cool?

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looking over hualapai

Hello everyone! We spent the last 4 days in Kingman with one of our favorite people, Christine! Some of the time was pretty boring for a dog-you see Kingman is in the desert. And although Caira WANTED to go play outside all day long, she realized pretty quickly that the ground was not that friendly while the sun was up! She did make friends with Christine’s neighbor who played ball with her in the courtyard, though. She thought that ole man was pretty darn cool! He kept cheering her on and she was like “Ok! Throw it again!”

I wanna run

me and c

We took a trip up to Hualipai Mountain Park. OH MY GOODNESS! Caira Sue bounded out of the car and started running and jumping over boulders! I started shouting “wait! wait! you you are missing a leg!” and well….she didn’t care! She was all over those rocks, just like she had been before. Our little desert dog-our little mountain goat. Do mountain goats do as well on 3 legs? Hmmmm

Additional notes: I forgot to add two things.

A. We ordered the really cool web harness for this trip, but due to a flumox at fed-ex, we did not receive it in time.

B. Caira Sue used to go an hour playing in the rocks, and then hike a good many miles with us. This day she got a 15 minute “pass” from me and we took a leisurely 30 minute walk up the trail. I was wondering if anyone can comment on how far their hiking dogs can go and how long it takes to get to that point? Watching her for clues is pointless. This girl will play until her heart pops! I have just been limiting her, due to her being a new amp. I take her on lots of short walks, but don’t really know about the longer ones. Also, I don’t want to stress her joints too much. Any ideas, advice, stories would be greatly appreciated.


perfect tri

Who needs 4 legs?

good day at the beachWe went to Dillon beach today. Who can keep their girl away from the water after such an ordeal. Oh my! Did she have a blast! Only one episode where she dove a little hard on the right and squealed (heart pounding moment) on the water’s edge, but she brushed it off true Caira Sue style and after an enforced 5 minute break, was ready to dive in again!

Here’s a great shot of her leaping-3 weeks after surgery! Yay! I love the sand kick-up in the pix.


At one point we had 5 dogs on our blanket hanging out with Adam-talk about Dr. Doolittle! I was worried about how she would do socializing. I had honestly forgotten how deep her playful bark is! So, we had the same normal issues of “oh my! is your dog mad?” and “no-she’s having a grand time and trying to get your dog to chase her!” ha!

oh yeah

Of course it ended with a good pat down from her Poppa. We stopped in Petaluma on the way home to get a treat and something to give Caira Sue half a pain pill in on the way home (starting to look a little sore). But by the time we got home she was happier than ever. Now she’s sighing and sleeping next to me. We count today as a success!


Beautiful Days

Pop and Caira

I haven’t been on to post in awhile. It seems I’m having difficulty with the tripawds page. We all know Jerry is workin on this, so hopefully I will have a good solution soon.

Caira Sue has been doing really well. Her enlarged lymph node was a reactive hyperplasia from the surgery. Basically, not cancer. BIG sigh of relief!

The past 3 days she has been a hoot! She has more energy than she has had in 2 or 3 months. Yesterday she jumped up (paw on shoulder) and kissed Adam when he came home. He almost cried! He said he knows he’s not supposed to let her do it, but it’s one of those things he loves about her, and she hadn’t done it for a month before the surgery. Now here she is, greeting her Poppa again!Here’s a pix of her in her “swimsuit model” pose…


She’s our little go-getter. She was a star at the clinic, everyone came to greet her-whether they were prior friends or not. She was just glowing and I think everyone likes to see someone who is doing that well.

The behavioral issue (turning her head to the side) seems to be subsiding. The oncologist had never seen a dog do that before and told me to watch her. So that’s what we do! We watch.

She has had 2 chemo treatments now. She seems to be doing well. I think it makes her a little tired, so we did the 2nd one at night so she could “sleep it off” and it seemed to do the trick. Just a little fyi for any others thinking of doing inhalation chemo!Chemo Set-up

Next week Caira Sue is going to be adventure dog! We are going to go see Auntie Christine in Kingman, AZ and then off to camp in either southern Utah or Colorado-depending on a few factors. Either way, we are driving and we are camping! Wahoo! Get ready for cool pix.

Not so Windy Cove

Happiest of Happy

Adam, Caira and SammyIt was blazing hot today, but Caira Sue needed a little play time. My continuous goal through all this is to make every day have a little fun in it for our girl. Soooo…we thought we would drive out to Windy Cove. It’s not anything big-but it’s close, and along the Delta where the windfarms spin-so there’s usually a great breeze. Not so much today. Oh well. We brought my father-in-law and his “monster terrier” Sammy with us.Here’s a snap of everyone getting ready for Adam to throw the ball.

When you have 2's best to bring 2 balls

When you have 2 dogs at the park, it’s always best to have 2 balls….

smilingatwindyWorn out from playing in the shade! Happy girl=happy family.

A new day

Caira at Windy CoveI have figured out how to add pictures…I think! Here’s one of Caira’s great smiles when we took her to Windy Cove.

Caira Sue and Polly hangin with AdamHere’s Caira resting on the couch with her Poppa (Adam) today. Polly, one of our rescue kittens has taken to hangin’ with Caira whenever she can! Before the surgery, Caira was so frustrated with the kittens she would grunt and hobble away. Now she spends time grooming them!

DSC01036A picture of our girl on one of our last big hikes, this spring in Sunol wilderness. She’s so beautiful here, and she ran and ran and ran that day! It  makes me a bit sad to think about it. I know she will run again, but it’s just a little hard right now. I miss her energy…and I want to see her running like she did that day. Sigh.

Today was the first day of inhaled Gemzar. We had to spend a few days getting her used to the sound of the nebulizer. It’s a 2 person process. I hold the tubing and work the chemo and Adam sits and keeps her laying with her head in his lap. I say it’s a 2 person process, because I imagine it is a bit scary-she shook at first-but Adam has a very calming influence on animals. Also, Caira has always counted on him for safety and her alpha. You can sense her fear whoosh away when he takes control and sits with her-it’s amazing. Anyway, an hour down and she did really good. Of course, I’m sure the Salmon Oil capsule bribes helped a little.

Polyester Caira Had to go to Goodwill and find our girl some clothes! That E-collar doesn’t work so well with 13 week old kittens who think she’s a jungle gym! I thought this one was cute-Polyester! Ha! Anyway, it works…there’s so many buttons and things in the way she can’t chew on the nubbin’. Adam says his girl should have skulls and crossbones cuz she’s tough–but I thought a gramma shirt would be a nice “hack-around.” What do you think?

Onto my worries…Caira has developed an enlarged lymph node along her neck, not far from the incision. She will have it aspirated on Monday morning. I hope it’s only due to the healing process, but I am very afraid for her. She keeps her head wrapped around to the left most of the time. Pain medicine does not seem to make a difference, so I don’t know if she is in pain, or not feeling well, or what. This is when I need a babble fish to help me communicate!

Out enjoying the neighborhood



Someday I will figure out how to resize my pix so I can put the good ones on this blog. I think a picture will tell you much more than my words can. We’ve been out on short walks the past 2 days. We are lucky that we live a block away from a city trail that has a decent amount of “grass” on each side. This makes it a nice, short walk to a place where we can play ball.

Caira Sue had a blast, she did! We took my father-in-law’s dog yesterday and Caira jumped into her old antics of playing keep away. She runs, she jumps, she dives for the ball. It was a beautiful sight to see. What was even more heart-warming was the big smile on her face.

I have to remember she can’t do as much as she used to-that it’s probably the equivalent of a 3 hour day at the park in the past-being so fresh a post-op as she is. I need to bring water, and we sit and take a break mid-way. That’s ok by me. It’s precious to see her smiling bigger than she has in 2 months.

Hello world!

Caira Sue started limping in June. We treated it as a soft tissue injury and it went away for about a week. All of a sudden she woke up one day unable to walk on her right front leg. Xrays were negative. Again, we treated as soft tissue injury. This is a very active dog who jumps and runs with passion. Unfortunately, 2 weeks later it was worse.

Our vet recommended going to UC Davis on July 22 for help with diagnosis and treatment options. It was actually UC Davis emergency that made the diagnosis of “lesion.” She had been in so much pain we went there originally for pain control, of what we hoped was a soft tissue injury. They gave us some stronger pain medicine and sent us home.

Caira was diagnosed with osteosarcoma in her right scapula. It’s the shape of an egg right at the very top point. This did not show up on xray on July 2nd, which means it is fast growing. Apparently, you can have pain long before it shows up on xray, which is why she was limping on and off.

We were filled with such sadness when we first got the diagnosis. Everything I read was pretty much filled with doom. They told us that an amputation would give her approximately 4 months, and amputation and chemo would give her 12 months. We then met with the oncologist at UC Davis. We wanted to do what was right by her, so we wanted to make sure we had all our options in front of us.

The oncologist did a sonogram to make sure that the shoulder was her “primary tumor.” There are no other noticable tumors at this point. He aspirated it to make sure it was cancer and not fungal-it was. He then told us our options. They were not that much different from what the ER told us, except he mentioned a study.

We took Caira, who was now feeling a lot better with the new meds, to Alameda to play on the beach. She was sooooo happy to be there! She was running (on 3 legs-keeping her sore leg up) and jumping for her ball and digging in the sand. She was smiling and wading in the water. We were heartbroken. She’s young and completely healthy, except for this. She loves life! She teaches us so much about how to live in the moment. We spent a long time discussing what our options were. We wanted to make sure that the decision we made was for her, not us. We decided we did not want her in pain at any cost. She does not deserve pain.

Adam called the oncologist first thing in the morning. He told us that once amputated she would be pain free. I have read that dogs practically run the day after surgery because they are so happy for the pain to be gone. This is what the oncologist confirmed. He was also able to tell us that if/when the cancer metasticized it would most likely be in her lungs and she would not be in pain, but would start slowly having difficulty breathing. Then we would know the time had come. He said that in the meantime, she could run, swim, jump and have all her crazy dog adventures.

The oncologist also offered to enroll us in a study. It is with inhalation Gemzar. The theory being that since the cancer metasticizes straight to the lungs, they will “nip it in the bud” before it shows it’s ugly teeth with inhaled chemo directly after surgery. The side effects should be mild or non-existent. They will pay for everything study related, and Caira will get monthly bloodwork and xrays to make sure the cancer hasn’t returned. We felt like this was our best option. The treatments will be done at home and she will have no problem going in to the clinic once or twice a month, as she is already a fan of the people there.

We feel like because she loves life so much, she was really telling us on the beach that she wanted to live. She deserves every adventure we can give her. She lives every moment to it’s fullest capacity. The amputation is supposed to make her painfree, and she will adapt within 1-2 days. She’s already been walking for 3 weeks on 3 legs. We all agree that if she has more pain, then we will put her to sleep. We can’t see making her suffer. We couldn’t see putting her to sleep now though, when she has such a love of life and everything we read tells us she will do really well (and be painfree) on 3 legs.

Pop and I took her to the clinic today for pre-op (Adam had to work). She stayed with us and wagged her tail and leaned against the surgeon while she talked to us. When the assistant went to lead her away she jumped up and licked Pop on the cheek. They went around the corner and I heard the lady say “oh! you want to go back, ok.” and she came back around, tail wagging, and bumped her head into my leg (like she always does to greet me, or say she’s happy) then she looked up at me, tail wagging and smiled. She then turned and walked back around the corner with the assistant. I left her with Adam’s Popeye t-shirt for comfort and strength during the night. Silly sentimental schmuck, I know.

July 26, 2009. We picked up Caira Sue  post-op. The surgeon came out and told me she probably broke a record for recovery. There were no complications during the surgery. She was still a little screwed up and “drunk” from the anesthesia plus pain meds. But she was happy and wagging her tail when she saw us. Adam stayed in the back of the car with her while we drove home. She appeared excited to be home, but a little hesitant about all the steps on the decking. Not to worry, by evening she had them mastered.

July 26, 2009-Aug 2, 2009. Recovery. It’s a long hard journey. Ok, mostly for us who whince at every little yelp or whine. We want them to succeed so badly! We had to keep reminding ourselves that it was major surgery she had been through. I wish I had access to while going through this stage-it would have made life a lot easier! Actually, looking back, our girl did quite well. Every day it was a little more, and then one day I open the door for our “walk” in the backyard and she takes off RUNNING after a squirrel! I shouted “wait! your staples!” Right.

Aug 3, 2009. We went to the park to help Caira’s and our spirits. It worked! We found a quiet corner and enjoyed the sun and wind. We brought a ball….and she proved to herself just how awesome she really was! What a superdog! If I can get pix to load, I will.

Aug 4, 2009. Half the staples out. Miss Caira Sue is a shining star at UC Davis. We picked up the nebulizer and the Gemzar. She is used to the “hood” she needs to wear while getting treatments. Unfortunately, she is afraid of the nebulizer! I have to spend some time with it just running in the background to get her prepared. I’m wondering if anyone else has been through this kind of study, and if they have any tips. Will do a search through the forums once I figure this site out!