Spring

Kai became a part of our family in the Spring.  April 6, 2002 to be exact.  I remember the day well.  Mark had called a few days before to talk to our landlord to see if it would be okay if he got me a dog for my birthday.  She agreed!

As humans new to the dog-owning business, we didn’t really do any research.  I know that is hard to believe because both of us are research fiends when it comes to most things.  In this case, we just ended up at a local petstore and saw our very first White German Shepherd.  We were sold in an instant.   We grabbed a leash, a collar and our new puppy and went home to play.  It was a long, great day.  Somewhere in there we bought a crate, bowls, toys and food.  I don’t remember much of that kind of stuff.  What I do remember is having this sweet little boy looking at us and the years that same sweet boy belonged to us and us to him.

It is hard not to be reminded of him daily, but this time of year is so very bittersweet.  The painful tears come when they want to, but they are also mixed with wonderful memories.  I have been dreaming about him although he never makes an appearance.  In one dream, I am calling for him and then realize he is dead and calling will do no good.  I know it is silly, but I would like to see him in a dream so I can pet him and tell him how much I love him.

I’m not a poodle!

Been a good day today.  Kai is still concentrating on just the meat portion of his meals, but he is eating and I sneak in some bites of rice.  We are mixing his food with a variety of things to be sure he is getting proper nutrition.  Blackberries, raspberries, coconut oil, chlorella, garlic, parsley and ginger.  Some things he loves, others I try to trick him into eating.  Hiding a bit of parsley in a raspberry can be fun.

His fur is also growing back nicely.  The shaved armbands and naked belly have been replaced by some dense fur.  It reminds me of how a pug’s fur feels.  Now we can’t tease him for looking like a badly shaved poodle.

Today was sunny and warm so he spent a bit of time outside.  I wanted to have him out there more late this afternoon, but his neighborhood stalkers were out.  I know they mean well, but some days you just want to enjoy your dog and the great outdoors without interruption.  Going to try to get him out on the back patio for a few moments this evening.  It’s the little things that keep us all going.

One day at a time

We had another rough weekend.  Actually I think part of the weekend was good, but Sunday was miserable.  Kai spent the day with heavy breathing and not wanting to eat.  His drinking was immense.  He also would wobble and look like he was going to pass out any time he stood.  Although I try not to think about what may be going on inside, it does happen.  Every little thing makes you wonder – is he drinking more because he is bleeding inside and needs to make up for the blood loss?  Are his kidneys failing?  Is the bulge in his belly from blood accumulation or is he just laying a certain way?  It can drive you nuts!  I spent the day cooking to keep my mind off things.

Sunday night found us with little sleep and a lot of tension.  It is hard watching the one you love in such dire shape.  Add a terribly restless night and the nerves of the humans are shot.  Thankfully Mark still has some vacation time and was able to take the day off on Monday.  I slept for a few hours in the morning and felt better.  We caught up on laundry as most of our blankets were wet from Kai not being able to go outside.  I bought some vinyl sheets that day to save our beds and hopefully to make things a bit easier for everyone. 

Kai improved through the day and was eating mainly the meat from his diet by lunch.  For some reason he has been avoiding the rice in the food.  This past batch of food I didn’t mix together except for half the chicken and the rice.  If Kai continues to avoid the rice then we can use it for meals for humans and the other dogs.  We had slept a lot better last night although the time change has mucked things up a bit – Elli and Anna wanted to go out at 4:30am.  Bah!

Today Kai has been outside several times and has a healthy appetite.  It is important to try to get food in his belly along with the supplements he takes.  We continue to hope and pray he is fighting the cancer inside and these dips in energy and health are him just recovering from the fight.

Catching up to today

Having Kai home has been a joy, but it hasn’t been without its difficulties.  Although there are days that he acts like a healthy dog, we know that the cancer is still in his body.  While I was preparing things at home, Mark was researching how to heal Kai through means other than chemotherapy.  If we only have limited time with him, we don’t want it to be filled with stressful trips to the vet paired with chemicals being dumped into his body which would weaken his body and kill normal healthy cells along with the cancerous.  The surgeon had said that chemo is better tolerated in dogs than humans.  Something about they use a dose and if it causes any ill effects they reduce it, so side effects are less prevalent in dogs.  I am not sure if I fully believe this or if dogs simply just can’t tell us what they feel.  Kai had a body fully of cancer and we didn’t know until he started to fill up with blood in his abdomen.  There may have been subtle clues, but he acted like himself.

When Kai finally settled in at home, I started a diary to keep track of the medications, supplements, diet  and his progress.  Making sure he receives everything he needs each day is key, but we also don’t want to miss those subtle indications that something may be not quite right.  Today, we are a month into the diary, so I will try to play catch up to bring us up to date.

Day 1 found him resting mostly as he had already had a busy day at the vet and a long car ride home.  He was prescribed Tramadol for his pain three times a day.  Eventually I will get back to this medication, because I believe it is important to discuss its side effects.  That can come on another day.  I am happy he had something to help his pain.

Kai had not had a bowel movement since Saturday or Sunday.  I am not sure the folks at VC even tried to see if he would go outside.  That is a bit frustrating but maybe they did try and he just didn’t need to go yet.  After having pumpkin puree and almost a full can of food, he did ask to go out and finally went that Wednesday evening.  Good news!  He also was urinating a lot.  The push of IV fluids at the clinic as well as his hearty drinking made this possible.  He was able to go out on a leash to go.

29 September 2010 – Wednesday
Good demeanor, gums slightly pink, barked at some animals outside, protecting food from other pets, lots of tail wags, BAR (bright, alert and responsive), some whining likely due to the need for many bathroom breaks, much more mobile than before the surgery, ate some roasted squash and loved it, glad to see him home!

30 September 2010 – Thursday
Tramadol – AM, Noon, PM
K9 Immunity Plus – 6x per day
BM – AM
Meals – broth and 1/2 C canned food, 2 cookies, 1/4 C ground food with leftover brekkie, 4T cottage cheese with 2T flaxseed oil, 4T cottage cheese with 2T flaxseed oil, sardines and 1/2 C dry food
Water – lots!
Notes – drinking less but still plenty, wants to be more active, curious about things happenings outside and of indoor pets, seems more alert, gums pink. :)

1 October 2010 – Friday
Tramadol – AM, Noon, PM
K9 Immunity Plus – 6 times
Bio-Sily – 2 times with peanut butter
Urine – 8+ times
BM – 1 in AM, 1 in afternoon, 1 in evening
Meals – 4T cottage cheese and 2T flaxseed oil, cookies, 1C oatmeal, 1/4C rice, 4T cottage cheese with flaxseed oil with 1/4C rice, started dog cancer diet 1C plus broth
H2O – lots!
Notes – Better night’s sleep, went out once during the night and then slept on the bed with me, went upstairs when I was walking Elli, way more active and bored, need to find ways to entertain, Biosily arrived! First day of full dose of K9 Immunity Plus, incision site looks pretty good small amount of oozing, may have licked site briefly in the night, ate cancer diet heartily.

Home!

Kai came home on Wednesday the 29th.  I spent the morning preparing for his return.  Cleaned the house, shopped for groceries, gathered up supplies and bought a crib mattress for him to lay on in the living room.  The crib mattress seemed like a good idea as it is waterproof and about the same size as a large dog bed. 

We picked him up in the afternoon.  Of course we had to settle up our bill before we even saw Kai.  By the time we stepped out of Valley Central we had spent $5145.20.  The estimate was around $3000, so this was a painful reminder of the money-making side of the vet business.  In hindsight, we should have saved for an emergency like this and we should have asked the folks at Alpha what their costs would be.  VC is notorious for overcharging.  Ultimately, we would have paid much more to give Kai the chance he has to fight the cancer.  His life is more important than money, but being charged so much is painful.  Greed. :(

We spoke to the surgeon while the vet nurses prepared Kai to leave.  I don’t remember much of the conversation with the doctor.  I really just wanted to get Kai home.  I do believe we asked how long Kai likely had the cancer and the surgeon could not tell us.  It is likely if we could backtrack his symptoms, Mark and I would have a better estimate than the professionals.

The vet nurse went over Kai’s discharge information – staples out in 10-14 days, exercise restrictions for 3 weeks, back to regular food, keep the wound clean, biopsy results in a week, call us if you have questions.  Kai came out and we were happy to see how well he was doing.  He was able to walk on his own and was very alert.  He was also happy to see us.  I also had a chance to speak briefly with one of my former classmates of the vet tech program, Allison.  I had seen her the day Kai was admitted but was so upset I couldn’t talk.  It was a comfort though to know she worked there and Kai would be in good hands.  It was nice to see her on Kai’s discharge day under better circumstances.

The trip home was pleasant.  The rainy days had turned into sunny giving us much hope and lifting our spirits.

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