The good, the bad, the ugly, and being true to yourself

Well, the title says it all.  The good — Dieter received his bandana in the mail today!  Thanks Rene; the yellow color looks awesome against his black fur.  Here is the best shot I could get of him.  It shows the best part, I *heart*  The nice thing is that he doesn’t mind wearing it!  So, on it stays until it needs washing.  🙂


Dieter tri rule

He’s been a little listless today; the neighbor’s comings and goings got him up and barking, though, which is a good sign.  He is healing really well; I’m continuously amazed.  Although he did open up a couple of stitches night before last.  I’m not sure if it was from sitting on them, or licking, but he had to go in for replacements yesterday.  He’s doing well, though.  It’s his one-week ampuversary and he has no more bruising.  He can move all around the house without a problem and even goes through the dog door without a hitch.  I think he’s experiencing some itchiness and some phantom pain, but I’ve talked to the vet about both of those.  They are so nice, they don’t care how many times a day I call with questions.

The bad — In the course of balancing some bank accounts, I discovered just how much all this has cost so far.  That’s the bad part.  Ouch!  I never did, nor will I ever, ask how much it costs for whatever treatment he needs.  As a grad student, it’s tough to see my savings account drain, but so be it.  By this time next year, I’ll be making plenty and can carry debt until then.

The ugly — along with his one-week ampuversary came a call from the oncologist.  Osteosarcoma, and how quickly can I get him in for chemo.  Although I knew that’s what it likely was, it still hit hard to hear it.  So, I immediately made myself some hot chocolate and turned on some soothing music.  And got to thinking.

There are many phrases that you hear in life for which you really only have a cursory understanding of their meanings, until some life experience teaches you the meaning.  I remember absolutely *hating* the phrase, “you choose to be happy” until I got it.  Then many years later, I learned what it meant to say “you can’t love someone else until you love yourself”.   Really, that one is kind of like when the airline steward(ess) tells you to put your oxygen mask on before your child’s.  You’re no good to someone else if you can’t breathe yourself.

Now, I feel a dawning understanding of the phrase “make every day count”.  I used to think that meant accomplishing all that you had to do for that day, or at least doing some good for the day.  Or, make sure you were moving in the right direction for yourself.  Or something else…I’m pretty sure I had no clue.  Ha.

There are a lot of ways that one can “make every day count”.  I posted somewhere else that I was going to start a gratitude jar.  I never was good at gratitude.  It’s not that I’m bitter, I just have tried to practice gratitude and it never stuck.  I fell off the gratitude wagon several times after just a few weeks at it each time.  It doesn’t feel like enough to just be grateful that Dieter is around and reasonably healthy.  So I’m taking back what I said about a gratitude jar.  Screw it.

I’m more of a hands-on person.  That’s a big part of who I am, and I know that about myself.  I do much better if I can roll my sleeves up and get in the muck.  Dieter’s got about a week until he can really start to move around, so until then, I’m gonna do what I do best, and some other things.  Research, research, research.  I was told the median life span, with chemo, was about a year.  What’s the mean?  Mode?  The closer these three numbers, the less can be done to change them.  If they’re farther apart, then there are factors that make some dogs last longer than others.  What are the differences between dogs that last the median vs. the mode or mean?  I sure hope the oncologist knows the difference between median, mean and mode, or it’s gonna get embarrassing (for her).

And tonight, I’m gonna read to Dieter.  Tomorrow I’ll be sitting on the floor next to wherever he is when I have a couple of Skype meetings.  We’re spending Thanksgiving by ourselves, so he gets to share the meal with me.  Chicken (too lazy to run to the store and get turkey at this point, plus I’ve been sick myself), and a couple of family specialties.  Then, I’m not sure.  We’ll see.  But, I’ll make it count for him.

Dieter relax

Aloha, friends, aloha.


Well, Dieter’s recovery has been amazing.  The vet’s office said he was up and walking around the day after surgery, and had pee’d and poo’d by day 2 after surgery.  Thursday, the oncology section was “quiet”, so they let him roam around free in the office, and apparently he made himself at home, hopping around, laying on a makeshift bed and eating a piece of Pizza Hut pizza crust as a treat.  I couldn’t believe what I was hearing over the phone!  I was in the Detroit airport when I heard this news and decided to celebrate with a couple of beers before getting on my flight  (I was at a job interview while he was recovering).

I picked him up Friday and we spent the afternoon in a quiet house, relaxing for the most part.  Here are some photos.

The area below the incision looks real angry; it’s tough to look at, as you can see.  The oncology vet tech said everything was normal, and that in fact it doesn’t get much better than how he is.  No swelling, no discharge.   He is on some meds, and not showing any signs of pain, so that makes me happy.

Dieter 1-2

Here’s a full-body shot.

Dieter 1-1

And, the you’d-never-would-know-it-happened shot:

Dieter 1-4


Like so many others here, I am amazed and humbled.  I thought I would feel sorry for him, and want to baby him, but aside from some confusing times (which side do I lay on?), he is just fine and I really don’t feel that way at all.  I don’t feel like I have to be watching him or making sure he doesn’t trip up somehow.  Same ol’ D.  I think that’s what makes me not feel sorry for him — he doesn’t feel sorry for himself.  He just does what he does.  He seems more physically stable today than yesterday, which is great.  He pee’d and poo’d in the back yard last night (in the rain), which has an uneven surface and it almost looked like he was going to tumble over for a second, but he did it!  He was a lot more steady this morning when eating breakfast – his back leg did not shake, and he didn’t shift his weight at all.

I’m relieved that the surgery is over, and that he came through so well.  To be honest, I’m just really, really enjoying being home in a quiet house (it’s raining, too, which is nice) relaxing, reading, snacking, and otherwise having a normal weekend (no school work).  I’m going to start a “gratitude jar” today (if I can find a jar), and I think that one of the things I’m grateful for is the opportunity to have a slow weekend.  They are very few and far between in my life.

Oh, Christine, if you’re reading this, he is *still* a 100lb lab, even after the amputation!

Dieter is officially a tripawd – sailed through surgery (yay!)

Whew!  I am one relieved doggy mama.  Dieter sailed through his surgery today.  He was the 2nd amputation that the surgeon had on the docket for the day so I did not get a call until late in the afternoon.  Thankfully, they started him on pain meds as soon as they took him back.  The surgeon said there was very little bleeding, that there were absolutely no issues with the surgery and that Dieter was zonked out on pain meds.  It sounds like it could not have gone much better.  It was time, too, as the pain meds he’d been on were no longer effective — he was not using the bad leg at all, and was vocalizing and acting really (uncharacteristically) stressed out.  I could see it in his eyes.  Poor guy.

I was really impressed with the nurse I met this morning; I have a lot of confidence that they are taking good care of him and I know she’s doing a lot of work to keep him comfortable.  They like to keep their amputations for about 48 hours to make sure all is well, so I will not pick him up until Friday morning.  Thankfully everyone said that I could call and check in on him as much as I wanted.  😀

I’ll post some pictures when he’s home.  Friday morning can’t come soon enough!

Quick list of what I have, bought and am waiting on for pre-and post-op

Just because I’ve had a hard time finding this information in one place, here’s a quick rundown of what I’ve accumulated to support Dieter’s pre-and post-op.  I’ll add more things as they reveal themselves to be useful.

1.  The Big Barker (7″ of American-made support for your big 4-legged friend – yeah!)

2.  The Webmaster – I’ve been using Ruffwear stuff for years and this product is outstanding, as are all their other things.

2.5.  A soft towel to act as a sling for getting in and out of the car until he can wear the Webmaster

3.  Random “dog towels” – for whatever spills, accidents, oozing, and/or drooling may be going on

4.  Grip Trex booties – these I bought for Otto many years ago and he HATED them.  I’ve been easing them onto Dieter’s feet for familiarity in case they’d be helpful at the vet’s office down the line

5.  Hydrogen peroxide and triple antibacterial lotion – just in case things look a little too pink / red at some point

6.  Inflatable cone – somehow this just seems a teeny bit more dignified than the “cone of shame”

7.  I’m going to buy Bella’s hot/cold pack for pain management

8.  The BF showed up on Friday night with 500 sq ft of commercial-grade carpeting in his truck.  The whole house, which has stained concrete floors, is now carpeted.  I doubt you have as amazing a BF as I do, but now you know the secret.

9.  A baby gate with a swinging door to cordon off his recovery area (aka the bedroom)

10.  A bunch of new toys to destroy as he recovers (Goodwill and Costco are cheap sources of soft toys that destruct gratifyingly easily).

11.  Elevated food bowls – really tall ones since he’s such a tall boy.  His current 12″ ones will not be good for his posture on three legs.  I can’t remember the brand name, but these are 16″ tall and I ordered them from

12.  I raided Costco for soups, canned fruits, cereal, yogurt, Clif bars and other easy-to-prepare and reasonably healthy foods (oh, ok, except for the 15-pack of mac and cheese) so that I would not have to think about what I was going to eat while I was paying attention to his recovery

12.5.  Comfort food (see #12)

13.  The Dog Cancer Survival Guide.  I haven’t started reading it yet, but I’ll review it when I do.

14.  A good book to read for when I can’t concentrate on work or just want to hang out with him while he’s less mobile.