Thursday, June 14, 2018

Neeko's Health Update

I have been bad about updating the blog, and this is not the post I wanted to write when I did.

A dirty nosed, smiling Neeko less than 2 months ago.
About 2.5-3 weeks ago, Neeko started limping in the front. Her hips have been bad for a long time, but she has adapted and adjusted, and was doing well with them on adequan, turmeric, with some occasional acupuncture and laser treatments. I figured she had played too hard, and would watch it. The Saturday before last, I took her to a groomer for a nail trim and to shave between her paw pads (she has grinch feet, bad.) The following day her limping was worse, and we ended up at the emergency vet.

They did an exam and a bunch of xrays under sedation. The vet on staff noted her hip dysplasia (which I had long known about) and pointed out a possible bone spur in her shoulder. They gave me digital files of her xrays, sent them out to a veterinary radiologist, and sent us home with some carprofen and instructions to follow up with our primary vet.

The next day (Monday of last week) the emergency vet called me back with the radiologist's findings. I don't recall much from that conversation, just a few words here and there. Cancer. Right front paw. Further diagnostics. Follow up with Dr. Baker. 

I was driving. I remember exactly where I was. South split of I65/I70 downtown Indianapolis. I burst into tears. I immediately called my vet, left a message. Then I reached out to a friend of mine who recently lost her Pyr to osteosarcoma. She and Neeko were older puppies together, old dog park friends. She was wonderful, amazing, so kind to me. I felt badly for calling her, with her pain so recent and raw. She offered to go to appointments with me, told me what questions to ask, said that she was honoring Stella by being of assistance to me.

Over the next 24 hours I felt every emotion possible. Sadness. And a great deal of anger.
HOW DID *MY* DOG GET CANCER?? My raw fed, minimally vaccinated dog? A dog who doesn't get nearly enough flea/tick/heartworm preventative. She's only 8! How did she get cancer?

I heard back from my vet. They asked me to drop off the drive with her films. I did the following afternoon. They asked if I could wait, because the always amazing Dr. Cindy Baker was going to look at them then. She came and spoke with me, straight forward, but full of compassion and kindness. Talked about next steps, our plan for the time being. Scheduled an appointment for 2 days later for Neeko to have blood drawn.

I began obsessively researching bone cancer, bone lesions, care, you name it. It's probably not doing me much good, and consuming a great deal of my time and emotional energy.

She had her bloodwork done, the results were "great."

Over the last 10 days, she has become mostly depressed and lethargic, and it is breaking my heart. I have her separated from the boys, and wonder if this is possibly contributing to it. I am spending the majority of my time with her, and feel as though I am neglecting them. Two days ago I spent the afternoon on my couch, sobbing. I cried so much and so hard that it exhausted me.

The universe has excellent timing. A month ago, I had decided to take this particular week off work. I was nearing the ceiling for PTO accrual, and needed to use it or lose it. I was excited, planning a day trip, ordered a new dishwasher to be delivered. I also ordered some day old chicks to be hatched and delivered this week. The day trip was cancelled, the dishwasher delivered and installed. The chicks came as well. They are adorable, and have provided me with some needed smiles. But mostly I have spent time with my girl. Loving her. Talking to her. Observing her.

I dropped her off early yesterday morning at the vet. She was fasting, except water, carprofen, and trazadone. They gave us the VIP treatment. I was allowed to walk her back through the kennels. They gave her the largest, most private kennel. I was told there were a couple of surgeries on the schedule prior to her, and that it would be after 4 before she was ready to be picked up. I was assured they would be with her as she woke up from sedation.

I received a phone call from the wonderful RVT before 10 am, stating they had done her first, and were finished. That she was not yet ready to go home. They had found a nodule on her chest xray, but sedated and did an aspiration of her bone lesion. I thanked them, told them of my extreme gratitude. She said they would call or text when Neeko was ready to go home.

A couple of hours later, Dr. Baker called me. She said they did the xrays without sedation, not wanting to sedate her if it wasn't going to be necessary. They were looking for metastases in her lungs. If they were found, they were not going to proceed with the biopsy. They did find a couple of "areas of opacity" which Dr. Baker said are not typical of metastases. They sedated her, and told me they obtained some really good samples which are now at a cytology lab. I picked her up, and she is sporting an adorable bandage on her lower leg.

And now we wait. We wait for the cytology results. And go from there. Today I feel like she is still feeling the effects of yesterday's sedation. She did eat her breakfast of ground green tripe.

Right now, I am trying to think about the positives. Her blood work was great. She has not lost any weight. The opacities in her lungs are not typical of metastatic disease.

But I don't know what I don't know, and am focusing on her comfort. 2 weeks ago, I never dreamed I would be in this position.

My family and friends are incredible. Kind words, emotional support, actual physical help (a family member drove 40 minutes one way prior to her blood draw appointment to give her some trazadone, because I was working during the ideal administration time frame) and countless offers of help.

She is my princess, my heart dog. I will do whatever is best for her.


  1. We're so sorry to hear this! It's cliché, but seriously -- one day at a time. Focus on the positives, accept the time you have together as the wonderful gift that it is.
    We'll be praying for you both!
    KZK - and Cam & Mags

  2. Our hearts go out to you. We've been there with Brut and Silver. It was and still is the most painful thing we've been through. Spend every moment you can. We will be praying for you and Neeko and family. Just know you are not alone. :)

  3. OH NOES!!! OMD, I am so heartbroken to hear this! I am keepin' my paws crossed for positive news, and keepin' all our paws and fingers and toes crossed. Sendin' lots of POTP and healin' vibes and AireZens ♥
    Ruby ♥♥

  4. I'm so sorry to read about this. I'm keeping you and Miss Neeko in my thoughts and am sending you lots of positive vibes!!!

  5. Is there a way you can let her spend time with the boys to keep her spirits up? Dogs have a way of knowing when to take it easy on each other (I had two that knew when the third one could not play so rough anymore and they were more gentle with him). I had a German Shepherd that was not vaccinated, not neutered and rawfed get cancer on his paw too. I have done the research and sometimes it takes 3 or 4 generations of raw fed and no vaccinations to get it out of the bloodline. Otherwise, there are other environment things that can cause it too-the outgassing of a new appliance, the pesticides we put on our grass or weeds, outgassing from stuff in our house (I open and air out my house once a day minimum even when it is cold out to help), etc. I have tried to make sure everything I do to keep my family healthy is done for the dogs too just like you do.

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Thanks for the howls!!