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My poor dog's not doing so well

 
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GregBell
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Joined: 23 May 2007
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Location: A great place to live, but you wouldn't want to visit

PostPosted: Sun Jul 01, 2007 1:27 pm    Post subject: My poor dog's not doing so well Reply with quote

I guess I'm talking to anyone who'll listen, but my dog Cesar is taking a turn for the worse. He was a stray pit bull who found us, and pretty much scared the crap out of me and was a substantial worry. Could NOT place him anywhere, found out he had cancer (2 years old, bad breeding), so we kept him.

Although he was awesomely powerful, he has the kindest soul ever. You'd never know he was sick. But in the last two weeks, he's stopped running like a crazy person, he doesn't want to fetch, and worst of all, he doesn't want to play tug of war. I thought maybe it was the heat at first, but now he's having to consider if ambulating is worth the effort.

Here's the part that blows me away. As he gets more infirm, he gets even more affectionate. He loves us like crazy. The thought of him being snatched away right at the absolute prime of his life tears a ragged wound in my heart. I wouldn't care so much if he hadn't made the massive effort he did to become part of the family, learn the rules, and respect us and our wishes (he was an unwashed, uncivilized MANIAC when he found us). I've never had a companion like him, and to be robbed of a decade is more than I can stand.

This dog has made me laugh more than all the sitcoms I ever watched combined. There was nothing he wouldn't do for my entertainment. The sheer power that he expressed his joy and enthusiasm with is something I had never seen before. I'll never find another guy like this to hang out with. I can't describe the relationship that we have. I grieve deeply, openly and without shame, and he's not gone yet.

My problem is that this is all happening so fast. There hasn't been a year or two to get ready. I guess that if this little guy has taught me anything, it's that he's going to demand my absolute best effort yet again, and again, somehow he's going to make it worth my while.

I want to tell the world how great this dog is. I guess I'm also trying to come to terms with the hard time that is right before me. I wish I could have done better for him, but I did my best. He's done his best. We have begun to write the final chapter. What a story it's been so far.
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 02, 2007 7:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hey buddy. You know I just hate to hear this. Cesar was very welcoming of me and decided I was a good teddy bear, as you recall of course. And I really, really hate it for your sake. I hear everything you're saying.

Every dog are ambassador from Dog, and more are coming. But right now it's Cesar for as long as possible. He's one of the greats. Anyway, I love you, man, and it will be OK.

mark
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GregBell
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Location: A great place to live, but you wouldn't want to visit

PostPosted: Mon Jul 02, 2007 8:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you, good buddy. I'm at the age where I think everyone wants to hear about my dog, you know? Not the bad stuff, of course, but how he's psychic, knows English and is an incredible athlete. He's had a small boost in the last two days because he had a visitor today, and yesterday we took him to see Grandma O'Brien, who he loves, so he perked up for the company. It's a small relief.

Erin and I had begun to believe that maybe he wasn't going to get sick, because he's done so well for so many months (since September). His general prognosis (at that time) was a 25% chance of survival for a year. All I can say is in that time there was NO amount of physical pain that could discourage him from being exuberant or overly affectionate. Just seeing him act "tiny" is a massive shock. It's got to be bad for him to be down.

He was the major component in helping us cope with losing Midnight around Mother's Day. There was precisely nothing he wouldn't do to cheer us up. He worked and worked and worked until we smiled and laughed. He didn't let up until we did. I can never thank him enough.

I had no idea I'd fall this hard for a dog, but I have. He MADE me love him. I wish I could communicate the amount of love and respect he has for us, and many others. You get the same greeting after being gone ten minutes that you'd get after being gone all day. I find it pretty hard to be away from him for several hours, let alone days.

I'm going to do my best for him, and I can't predict the future, but things can't stay the same forever. Who ever knew how serious life was going to be? I sure didn't.
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GregBell
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 06, 2007 2:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Here's a note about Cesar. We couldn't stand the thought of losing this dog under the circumstance of us leaving for vacation; in other words, his euthanasia at my convenience and not at his appointed time. I took him to Ohio State University for a checkup and they recommended chemo. Not on your life, I thought. They said dogs tolerate chemo well and they don't give the same doses they give humans. So I agreed.

Well, it's had a marvelous effect. He began to play again, run, and I'd call him at 50% of his maniacal peak. What a joy it is. He still loves us, he loves the vets, and he loves the cats (un-reciprocated). He had no down time from the treatment.

Here's the crazy part. On a standard scale of 1-10 for cancer aggression, his cancer was rated at 100!! No kidding. Since it's so fast growing, it responds well to chemo, which consists of one dose of this stuff called CCNU (pronounced see-nu for even shorter) and prednisone. He gets Pepto Bismol for mud-butt, Benadryl for allergic reactions, and Pepcid AC for GI protection. His cancer is mast cell cancer, which is part of the body's allergic system, so there's a lot of misfiring and too many loose histamines.

He's so much happier and so are we. OSU thinks he may have 8-12 weeks of quality of life, but at some point the cancer outsmarts the chemo. I'll be more prepared by then, but not really. I am in love with the fact that I can take this day by day and simply spend time with one of my best friends.
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Last edited by GregBell on Mon Aug 06, 2007 12:46 pm; edited 1 time in total
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 06, 2007 12:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Good news! I'm so glad he can kick up his heels and be silly some more. Thanks for keeping us up on the Cesar man! These next two mos. are crazy work & vacation (see Mom) times but maybe I can get over and see the big lug.
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SushiFugue
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 07, 2007 11:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

That's great Greg, I'm really glad to hear it. Here's hoping he can beat the odds!
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 09, 2007 2:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hey Sushi, I'm not sure if Mark or Cesar makes me laugh the most. Their comedy styles are different of course. Mark is pretty much physical slapstick, and Cesar is very dry...
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GregBell
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 25, 2007 12:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hey, here's an update on the visit Cesar and I had to OSU on Aug 21.

The upshot is that he is in far better shape than when he went in for his first visit July 12. The guy driving the ultrasound machine spit out his cud when he wasn't able to see the (formerly) softball sized mass of lymph nodes in his abdomen.

The medical community there is incredulous over his condition. I offered to contact Cesar's agent for them if they want to publish a paper in a journal.

A small tidbit I found moving was that he's the youngest guy admitted to the oncology ward. He's the youngest because he's the bravest. It must be crazy to see this young, strong, friendly, energetic soul in amongst elderly animals.

I guess that Cesar gets a triple-win when we go to OSU. He loves to see the vets, but he loves all the animals in the lobby even more. It must be like going to a resort for him... The third win is when we leave with another course of chemo, and the prospect for another good month.

Next update scheduled for mid-September.
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 06, 2008 1:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I had stopped the micro-updates as an effort to avoid beleaguering the point, but then I remembered that beleaguering is one of my assets, so why not use it?

Cesar is still doing well. We've settled into a routine where he gets 20mg prednisone every other day, and chemo every three weeks. It's a six week cycle, beginning at OSU with bloodwork and an ultrasound, and they administer Vinblastine. They give us CCNU pills to take home. Three weeks later we go to our local vet for blood work. If that's clean, we give him the pills. Three weeks after that we're back to OSU.

This has been working extremely well. His lymph nodes are a normal kidney bean size and his blood counts indicate no liver damage. Subsequent to OSU's initial short lifespan prognosis, they were quite convinced that Cesar would have liver damage after a dozen chemo treatments. Well, he passed a dozen some time ago, and OSU extended the time between treatments to four weeks. Of course, there is still no cure, nor will there be.

So, on to the good part. What has Cesar done in the meantime? He has matured ever so slightly, ostensibly modeling his Dad's behavior. He is still a juvenile, though. He has learned sit, down, over, stay, heel, come, no, and a number of moderately complex logic conditions. For instance, he knows that when my wife goes to bed, he can't go with her, unless she invites him. When I go to bed (with Erin in it), he knows he has to sleep in the other bedroom. After Erin gets up in the morning, he has permission to sleep with me. He clearly understands that the bed-limit is two, and if I join Erin and him, he's getting down, no argument.

We're in our second obedience class. The first session or two he's a scrambled mess, and I'm dripping with sweat. Then, all of a sudden, he "gets" it, and couldn't perform any better. Then the juvenile returns... But he does figure it out, and will adapt to a social situation in 15 minutes.

He's learned my wife's name, and of course he learned the cats' names. That was a shocking, accidental discovery. Erin and I now talk in code concerning the kitties. The problem is that Cesar loves the cats.

I taught him the names of two toys in 10 minutes, and he reliably picks the correct one, unless we're showing-off for somebody. If a dog-loving guest comes over, he gently climbs into their lap, and gives them a bath from the neck up.

We go for off-leash walks in the woods, and that's where this dog shines. He is absolutely focused and oh, so handsome. Soon enough Mt Ve-kookiness erupts, and he's running at a terrifying top speed through obstacles of trees, stumps and branches, all for my amusement.

Most consistent of all is Cesar's smile, which he shares willingly many times a day, even if it's been five minutes since he's seen you. He wags his tail like he's unaware that the back half of his body might separate from the front.

Overall, he's my most important daily male companion. We're two guys just trying to get by and be happy in this world. What other lesson is there? Thank you, Teacher.
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