Goodbye, Sweet Boy

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I haven’t posted on here in over a year. This post is really more to help myself grieve than anything, to anyone who sticks with reading the whole thing, thank you for your kindness.

The past year with Milhouse was amazing. I think 14 of his 16 months as a Tripawd were some of the best months of his life. He was pain free and was dogging like a champ- playing with his brother and keeping our yard safe from salespeople and neighbor dogs. 🙂 We celebrated a year post cancer diagnosis in June 2018. In August, we were given the all clear from the oncologist and told that we could come back less often. Lung scans had been clear through the entire past 14 months, with no evidence of metastasis. We had actually beaten cancer!!

One morning the beginning of September, Milhouse was having a normal morning. After breakfast he had begun yelping in pain if anything touched his abdomen. We took him to the pet emergency room, as it was Labor Day weekend. They initially wanted to give him antibiotics and pain meds and send him home with a follow up appointment scheduled. I asked for an ultrasound. I’m so glad that I asked for it and didn’t just take him home. After a long weekend stay in the ER, our oncologist called that Tuesday to say that the ultrasound revealed both a large mass and a small mass in Milhouse’s liver. Two different types of cancer in one organ. He apologized so many times, as we had been diligent in scanning Milhouse’s lungs for over a year. When osteosarcoma (Mo’s original diagnosis) spreads, 9 times out of 10 it metastasizes in the lungs. Sometimes, it spreads to another bone. This was a totally unrelated to his original cancer. This felt like such a punch in the gut after being so on top of regular x-rays and bloodwork. We just were never looking in his liver…and we had no reason to be. Our oncologist was absolutely amazing and I feel like I owe every bit of the last 16 months to him.

Surgery was not really an option. Removing the large (not as concerning) mass could disturb and spread the smaller, much more concerning mass. It could also spread any lurking osteosarcoma. I decided to take my baby home and enjoy the time that we had left. When we got home, we had professional photos done by a family friend. I am so grateful for them and will always hold them close to my heart. They are some of my final memories of my boy looking healthy.

 

Through the rest of September and October, Milhouse began to slowly decline. We had an awesome regimen of prescriptions to help keep him comfortable, and I believe that we were able to do that until his last day. Getting him to eat became a daily struggle, and he lost so much weight. As much as we could, we did all the things he loved. We went on walks and sniffed all the things. We went to the lake and watched geese. We went and dipped our toes in the creek behind my mom’s house. We got hamburgers, and steaks, and all the junk his vegan mom didn’t let him eat all those years. We snuggled and napped. I cannot thank Will enough for all of the extra time and care and help he gave to keep Mo happy and comfortable. He has been my rock through this insanely hard time. My mom has also been extremely supportive and I so appreciate her as well.

A week ago yesterday, when I knew it was time to say goodbye, I wanted to save my buddy the stress of a car ride to the vet (they always stressed him out). Lap of Love is absolutely amazing and I would recommend them to anyone. Milhouse’s last day consisted of him snuggling with me, going on a walk with Will and me, napping, visiting with my mom, going on another walk with Will, Mom, and me (where he got to eat a Snickers) and then laying down for a nap in my lap in the yard. The three of us prayed over him that his passing would be peaceful and pain free. It was a warm, beautiful day, and I thank God for such a perfect peaceful day. Dr. Regan from Lap of Love was so compassionate through the euthanasia process, and Milhouse had the most peaceful passing I could have asked for.

The past week without Milhouse has been so tough. I have heard others on this site talk about their “heart dog” before, which is defined as your “canine soulmate”. I cannot describe the bond that we had and I don’t know that I will ever be able to put it into words. The past week has felt a year long. I feel lost and I’m trying to keep doing all the things I normally do: work, church, friends, etc., but I am wrecked. I know it will get easier, and I know it will get better, but right now I just want my dog.

To my beautiful boy: Mama loves you and misses you so much. Thank you for (3 weeks shy of) 14 years of being my little spoon, tennis-ball fiend, nap buddy, car-ride loving, water splashing, bottomless treat-eating, brown speckly-nosed, cuddle-avoiding but eventually welcoming, wallowing, stuffed toy de-fluffing, Charlie’s tolerating but actually loving, beautifully singing, best friend. You were such a bright spot in every single day. I will forever be grateful for the day your little puppy self came to live with me. I will miss you always. I love you.


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DONE WITH CHEMO!!

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Milhouse had his last chemo appointment last Wednesday!! He celebrated with a hamburger 🙂 The doctor said that he is handling it like a champ. He had a little nausea after the 3rd and 4th treatments- had trouble eating for a couple of days afterwards, but otherwise didn’t act any differently than normal! This fifth and last treatment hit him the hardest. He’s still not back to his regular food, but we are getting there! He finally ate 2 full meals today, just not of his regular food.

We go back in 3 weeks do do x-rays and make sure that the cancer hasn’t spread to his lungs. They were clear after treatment three, so fingers crossed they will be clear again! At that appointment, we will begin a low-dose daily chemo pill. The doctor says there is a lot of research supporting that the use of this pill could add several more months to Mo’s lifespan! I’ll take all the months I can get!!

 

 

 

Chemo round 1

 Getting comfy after chemo. 

This is my brother Charlie. He likes to stare at me to make sure I’m ok and cleans my ears a lot.

 

 

 

 

I am SO proud of my boy! We are 3 days post our first chemo treatment, and he is just acting like his usual self!

I was SO terrified to even do chemo. I had already talked myself out of it before we went to see the oncologist. He was seriously the best. Dr. Vancil at NVS spent at least 45 minutes explaining osteosarcoma, chemo, and everything in between to us. I’ve had doctors that have operated on me before that spent less time with me than he did! He wanted to make sure we talked until I had zero questions. He understood my hesitation about Mo’s quality of life. I told him I’d rather have 4 awesome months than 12 crappy ones. He assured me that if at any point in treatment if I felt like Milhouse was suffering that we could call it quits. So I’m playing it by ear, and so far, so good!

Probably the best info in this visit was regarding his leg break. Dr. Vancil explained that usually dogs with osteosarcoma have pain and begin to limp or favor their hurt leg. Then comes the cancer diagnosis, and then pup parents have to make the agonizing decision regarding amputation. The way everything went with Mo, to my knowledge he wasn’t having leg pain until the break. The break helped us catch the cancer early on, and really the amputation choice was made for us as there was no way to reattach the leg. So we’ve kind of done this whole thing backwards, but I’m grateful.

We go have his white blood cell count checked next week, and if all is going well, we will continue on to treatment 2/5 in a couple of weeks.

 

Thanks for all who who have shown care and concern through this whole ordeal! We are figuring out our new normal 🙂

Love,

Milhouse & his mom

Brother reunion and the dreaded C word.

Hi all,

The good news: Milhouse’s recovery from his amputation is going really well. He even jumped on the couch this past week, which was a total shock to me! He also started playing a little- brought me a tennis ball a few times, and de-fluffed a stuffed puppy.

We are now 4 weeks out from surgery, and brother Charlie got to come home from Grandma’s house! We had a reunion celebration with some cheese and peanut butter frosty paws! Charlie came in and sniffed Milhouse’s leg nub. Milhouse stood very still and let him take as much time as he needed to figure it out. Charlie gave it a lick and then got to business cleaning Milhouse’s ears. He does this daily, and he takes his job very seriously 🙂 I’m so glad to have both pups back under my roof!

The bad news: Despite uncertainty last week and the possibility that Milhouse’s leg tumor wasn’t cancerous, it was confirmed on Friday that he does in fact have osteosarcoma. The vet called literally 5 minutes after I had hung up the phone with a friend who informed me that a former co-worker, friend, and all-around amazing lady had passed that morning. Talk about a 1-2 punch.

Initially I had assumed that I wouldn’t put Milhouse through chemo. He’s almost 13 and I want him to be comfy and happy this last little bit. I thought through friends and family members who were miserable through chemo, and just couldn’t see putting my buddy through that. I told the vet this, and he strongly encouraged me to make an oncology appointment anyway. He said that dogs tolerate chemo much differently than people do and generally feel fine through the treatments. He said if I didn’t do chemo, we could have as little as 4 months left due to the aggressive nature of osteosarcoma. 4 months felt like a punch in the stomach. That’s before the end of this year. I can’t do it.

So we have an appointment Wednesday with a veterinary oncologist. I’m going to at least listen to all of the options and pray that I can make the best choices to keep my buddy comfortable and happy.

Off to snuggle my boy. I have nine more days until I return to work, and want to soak up all the snuggles and play time that I can!

 

 

Two weeks down and maybe not cancer?!?

Hi guys!

From Milhouse: Today we went to NVS to get my staples out! I’m a happy boy! Doctor says I’m looking good and that in 2 more weeks I can run AND be reunited with my bro! I’m not necessarily super excited about him coming home because honestly Charlie is an attention hog. I’ve enjoyed being the center of attention, getting the best bed, and ALL of the treats and toys. I do miss the daily ear cleaning Charlie gives me though. I’ve been really stressed from all of the fireworks and thunderstorms we’ve been getting this week. I’m ready for a nap!

From his mom: I really expected us to have the biopsy results back today. Our doctor gave me some pretty surprising news. We aren’t out of the woods yet, but the preliminary results of the biopsy shows that Milhouse’s bone sample showed “abnormal cells” that may not be cancer. The doctor said he would be “shocked” if it wasn’t cancer. I would love for him to be shocked!! I had gotten myself ready for the c-word and to talk oncology options today. I’m trying not to super get my hopes up that it’s not cancer, but I am praying fervently that it might not be! Thank you Lord for a glimmer of hope!

That’s all for today. Thanks for all who have prayed for Milhouse and me. I’m hopeful with his staples out that I may be able to start going out for an hour or two at a time and be social again 🙂

Kisses!

Mo and his mom