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An Awesome Pup and His Human

An American Bulldog's Story

An Awesome Pup and His Human

Who is Stronger?

April 28th, 2018 · 5 Comments · Uncategorized

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Am I stronger than my dog, or is he stronger than I?

Yes.

We encourage each other. Today was the second of five administrations of chemotherapy.  The last two days have been full of a Roscoe full of energy, full of endurance.  Today was the same, until about an hour after chemo.  It hit him hard, I can tell.  It deflated his spunk.  Because it deflated him a little, it deflated me a little.  I recall someone on this site saying, “I’m not doing this to him.  I’m doing this for him.”

I second-guessed myself…. again.  And again, I came to the same conclusion.  I am doing this for him.  Sure, I get a bit of joy for another day with him, but his tail wags when he plays with his sister.  His face shows so much emotion.  He perks up at the word, “squirrel”, and the word “treat”.  He is alive.

Yes, I get another day and night  and morning of doggie cuddles and smootches; but I am not doing it for me.  I am certainly not doing it *to* him.  I am certainly doing it *for* him.  I would do it 100 times again, though I wouldn’t remotely hope for that opportunity.

I am elated to wrap my arms around him when he is panting, and gives a big sigh.  He is equally happy (I think) to melt me with his gaze or a couple of licks when I feel sad.  We are both strong in our own ways, and we belong together right now, for that reason.

Love you bunches, buddy.


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A Happy Mess

April 26th, 2018 · 3 Comments · Uncategorized

“Roscoe! Who made the mess in the bathroom???” I asked, barely above a happy, only-very-remotely-perturbed whisper.

I never thought I would be so happy to find Roscoe had gotten into the trash.

His response?

Tomorrow begins chemo Round 2 of 5, and about 18 weeks since symptoms first surfaced.

 

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An Awesome Day

April 22nd, 2018 · 2 Comments · Uncategorized

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What an awesome day.  No drama.  No curve balls.  No fear.  Just an awesome day with an awesome pup doing what he does.  Full of energy today, he was jumping up on his friends at the vet while his sister got her annual exam and shots.  I have to believe he was disappointed that he wasn’t the one getting stuck with a needle, for once.  Today he was “full of piss and vinegar” all over the place.  Tonight, he is absolutely chillaxing.

This one is for you, Paws120!

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It’s Just a Bruise

April 21st, 2018 · 2 Comments · Uncategorized

Yesterday, during a spoiled pup’s morning massage, I noticed a dark purple bruise at the base of Roscoe’s scar line.  I quickly checked for any other such spots, and saw none.  It wasn’t there the night before, so it’s acute appearance concerned me a bit.  Knowing that I can easily be the type of dog dad to over-react (especially in the last couple of months), I switched-on my clinical side.

Being a paramedic for the last 18 years, I discover that I understand what some of my colleagues mean when they say, “I can handle anybody else’s kids when they are sick.  The sicker they are, the calmer I am.  But when it’s my kids, most of my reasoning goes right out the window.  It’s not the same when it’s yours.”

I mentally checked myself back to reason.  I found a Sharpie and marked the borders.  I estimated its size as about a centimeter, and checked the time.  0630.  Hmmm….  Doc’s not in yet.  I’ll call the clinic this morning, and let them know what’s going on.  Whatever it is, he’s not ‘crashing’.  He seems happy.  Good appetite.  No panting.  Nice pink gums.  We are okay, at least for a couple more hours.

When my morning at work kind of settled down, I gave the doc a call and told her what was going on.  She told me her afternoon was booked solid, but when I got home to check it.  If it is any bigger at all, even a millimeter, then I should come drop in on them for a CBC.  I left work early and checked the spot as soon as I came through the door.  To my relief, it was almost totally faded.  My Differential Diagnosis:  Worried Dad.  Well Dog.  I called and let her know I wouldn’t be coming in.  Everything looked fine.

We got up this morning and everything seemed fine still.  I let the pups out to do their business, then fed them and started getting ready for work.  As I finished getting dressed, I heard Roscoe scratching.  It’s that time of year in Texas, and anything with a pulse seems to have some kind of allergy to some living thing without a pulse.  Like clockwork, this is typical for Roscoe, right about the third week in April.

When I laid him down to check him out, I saw that his skin at the scar line was not just red from allergy or scratching, but actually looked bruised.  It was fine, literally 15 minutes prior.  The area was larger than a centimeter, about ten inches in diameter, bruised, but not as dark purple as the spot the day before.

“Crap,” I said to Roscoe, looking in his eyes, “I should have taken you in yesterday.”  He answered my doubting words the way I would expect him to.  He gave me a couple of really slobbery kisses, sliming my freshly-showered face.  Always forgiving.

I assured myself that clinically there was no good reason to have taken him in yesterday after the spot cleared, but also convinced myself quickly that this redness wasn’t a normal allergic reaction type thing.  I loaded him in the car and headed to the vet.  A call at noon confirmed my gut feel from the morning before.  Platelets, which should have been above 150,000 were measured at 6,000.  Day 15 after chemo.  Day 14 is the standard ‘nadir’ for effects of chemo.

“Did you say ‘six’, or ‘sixty’?” I asked.

“Six,” said the vet, “I called (the oncologist), and he said while it is extreme, it was to be expected.  Start Vitamin K, and he would plan on reducing the next round of Carboplatin by 20%.”

“Six?” I said, still kind of freaked out, “Does he need FFP?”

“Roscoe is fine.  We’ve got him in isolation, and he’s already started on Vitamin K.  He’ll turn pretty quickly,” she assured me.  She continued, “The good news is his red cells and neutrophils are awesome, considering the hit he took to platelets.  They are both within reference range for normal.  This is how we all figure out how the second treatment should go.  It’s all part of the plan.  Let it play.”

So I take another breath, and let it play.

End of day:  Roscoe is home.  His energy today was the highest I’ve seen in over two months.  He was pulling on the leash so strongly this morning that he even made me jog across the parking lot at the vet when we first got there.  He seemed even more energetic when I picked him up.  Seems like he’s ready to call it an early night, though, after getting to see some of his friends at the clinic for the day.

Sweet dreams, my prince.

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Good Days, Not Such Good Days

April 20th, 2018 · 8 Comments · Uncategorized

We are two weeks post first chemo treatment.  The doc said to expect some GI symptoms in the first 48-72 hours post treatment.  My Roscoe did seem to have a little loss of appetite, and maybe a BM that seemed a little loose, but he didn’t vomit and didn’t lose his appetite for food or water.

If anything, he just didn’t have the energy or unction that he normally has … which lasted maybe 3-4 days.  A couple of days this week, he kind of concerned me because he would only walk a short distance before laying down and taking a break.  Then again, it concerns me every time he licks at a limb or joint.

It’s difficult to trust the process, never having been through it before.  Like the post title, though, he seems to be having really good days, with some not-so great-days thrown in.  I don’t mean to be preachy, but my roots and beliefs encourage me to recall a few verses in the Bible.  Specifically for this journey, Mark 5:1, “They came to the other side of the sea, into the country of the Gerasenes.”

It might seem odd that this line carries so much weight; without the context the last lines of the previous chapter.  Jesus said, “Let’s go to the other side of the lake.”  It is the recollection of the disciples freaking out when a storm came out of nowhere while they were crossing (a presumably large) lake.  The disciples woke Him up and remarked, “Teacher, do You not care that we are about to perish?!”

Jesus (I imagine He was annoyed) replied to the effect of, “What is wrong with you guys?  I said we’re going to the other side.  What gives?”  Then he told the storm to chill out and it chilled out.

I know not everyone reading this subscribes to a faith, let alone to the Christian faith, but even for those who don’t, there is something, some hope to take away from these few lines.

The seas are stormy in our lives right now.  I really admire this dog, and some days the waves seem to kind of beat down on us.  Chaos, doubt, confusion.  They are each very readily met with the loving lapping of a canine tongue.  It’s as if, when my concern seems to take control of my day because Roscoe didn’t walk as far today as he did yesterday, those doubts and frustrations are met with the slobber from a dog’s tongue on my face (and entire head, to be clear), saying, “Enjoy now.  Have faith.  I will never leave your side.  Ever.”  Things like this make life, and even its challenges, a little more bearable. Roscoe makes life and its challenges more bearable.  Maybe that’s why I’m scared.

On a more humorous note, I snapped this shot of Roscoe after he did what he had to do to make his toy more like him.  What a character.  I really love this guy.

I can’t say there are good days and bad days, because there really aren’t any bad days.  Some days are clearly belter than others, but how can a life be bad, when it has a dog in it?  Humans are taught to plan ahead, to anticipate tomorrow.  Dogs don’t do that…. at least not that I can discern.  Dogs can wake the same way they spend their days, the same way they sleep, living in the moment.  I like taking a break from being human every now and then, and try to live that day in the moment, like Roscoe…..

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