I can’t believe it’s been so long since I last posted. But so much has happened, as predicted. And more. But that’s not what this post is about. I got my renewal notice for supporting the Tripawds blog and realized that day after tomorrow is Dieter’s one year ampuversary! Wow. He has been on such a long journey (I hate that word, but it’s appropo). And you know what? He’s beating it like a BOSS.
We have been so lucky to be in Utah. There is an amazing vet center, with amazing doctors (and staff!) who have really brought the latest in cancer care science and rehabilitation to the forefront of their practice. I drive 30 minutes to see them and have no trouble doing it. I’ve recommended them on the blogs, so if you’re in Utah, you’re in luck.
Interestingly, I wrote a post a long time ago about the importance of rehabilitation. At the time, I had not started Dieter on rehab, but had been convinced by others that it was worthwhile. I can now say that Dieter’s current state of health (mental and physical) is significantly improved through rehabilitation. I can’t stress it enough; if you have access, do it. You will be amazed at what your dog can do with help. In addition to rehab, his vet recommended a change in diet, weight loss (he’s lost 14 lbs), and some ongoing medication that will help protect his joints (Adequan and meloxicam). She’s run a barrage of tests on him over the last few months, and his chest x-rays have been completely clear so far.
The last post I wrote before this was was about the ups and downs, and the down I was referring to was the sobering conversation about average life expectancies for dogs with osteosarcoma. Jim and Rene responded to that post by reminding me that each dog is different and that the averages are just averages. In looking back, I realize that there was no way to know, at that time, whether or not Dieter would fall into that average.
About a month ago, Dieter finished his rehab, and he had a general review check-in with his vet. She told me that she had never seen such a strong three-legged dog before, and that Dieter had responded to therapy extremely well. Of course, the therapists are all ladies, so Dieter was happy to do whatever they wanted him to do, ha! I was very pleased to hear that Dieter could now basically do anything he wanted, from a physical standpoint. I asked the vet what else I could do, aside from what I was already doing, to help him. She said nothing, that I was a model dog mom in this situation. Again, I was pleased. Then she got quiet. One of the things I like most about Dieter’s (and now Otto’s) vet is that she’s a straight shooter. She’s quick, to-the-point yet personable, and operates from an evidence-based perspective. She is a CSU graduate and keeps in regular contact with them to keep up on the latest.
But her going quiet made me anxious. Then she said, “You know what? I think he can beat it. His systems are all super healthy, his images are clear, he shows no signs of cancer or evidence that he’s fighting anything, and there are a bunch of things we can do to avoid factors that have known associations with osteosarcoma. [apparently certain vaccinations?] He’s on the right diet, and is physically and mentally very healthy. I think we have a success story on our hands.” I was shocked. I asked her if she’d had other patients who had beat it, and she listed off a short list, most of whom had osteosarcoma, and one dog that had lymphatic cancer. All lived out full and healthy lives. I just couldn’t believe it. But she’s no BS-er; she would not have said anything if she didn’t believe it. I asked her if she was serious about 10 times, and she said yes every time. As with Jim and Rene, she reminded me that every dog is different, and Dieter has a good combination of things going for him.
I probably won’t ever clear the cobweb of anxious possibility from the corners of my mind, but in that moment I realized that I’d been approaching life with Dieter as a short-term proposition, waiting for the other shoe to drop. It started to dawn on me that there was a real possibility that he would be around for a while. I honestly can’t remember something giving me as much joy as that realization.
Here’s a recent picture of my beautiful, healthy boy, enjoying the grass in Utah. Like a BOSS. 😀