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Spencer's Story

Another Amazing Tripawds Three Legged Dog Blog

Spencer's Story

Worrisome update…

December 29th, 2011 · 10 Comments · Uncategorized

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OK, the good news.  The xrays showed no problems with any of Spencer’s remaining legs.  All clear there.  No tumors around there either.  The limping is probably due to some sort of soft tissue injury, so he is on an NSAID and rest for a week.

And for the worrisome news… Since they were doing x-rays anyway (which apparently Spencer was great for), I asked if they would go ahead and also take a look at his lungs.  Good news, his lungs are all clear.  Bad news, they saw 3 masses – one about the size of a quarter, 2 about the size of dimes.  They are inside the chest  cavity (I think), in an area where it COULD just be swollen lymph nodes.  Maybe still from the surgery?  But it could be something problematic.  He is e-mailing the x-rays to Spencer’s oncologist and will find out tomorrow if the oncologist is even in the office this week.  I sure hope he is.  Our family vet does know that these 3 spots were NOT there the day of Spencer’s amputation because they did x-rays the day before (digital) to make sure the lungs were clear (remember, we moved fast – from seeing the tumor to amputation was a week, so we didn’t take a lot of time for additional tests).  There was no hint of these spots on those X-rays from August 23.

Possible next steps… we get him in with the oncologist for an ultrasound to get a better idea of what is there.  We also do a needle aspirate of them to try to find out what they are.  Our family doctor said that they are in a location that they can be surgically removed; but we would want a good surgeon.  One hope that we do have is that possibly the Cardiologist MIGHT have gotten a view of this same area when she did Spencer’s cardio workup about a month after the amputation.  If she did, then we can have an idea of if these were there then.

For now… I’m not sure what to do.  I can’t really make plans until the oncologist looks at things.  There is a good chance that I will go ahead and fly back early from our ski trip so that I can get him to the oncologist next week.  That is just too much to ask the pet sitter to do.  🙁

If you wouldn’t mind keeping him in your thoughts and prayers, we sure would appreciate it.

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A small update

December 27th, 2011 · 2 Comments · Uncategorized

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We took Spencer to our family vet today.  He doesn’t think that this is anything serious, most likely a soft tissue injury or some sort of sprain.  Spencer was running around FINE last night around midnight.  When he got up this morning and had the limp I at first thought that maybe his leg was asleep; but when it didn’t get better in 10 minutes I realized that couldn’t be the problem.

He is bearing SOME weight on it; but about every third step he tries to hop along with only 2 legs.

The vet is doubtful that it is a break or fracture since for a dog Spencer’s size that would usually be an injury that kept them from putting any weight on the leg.  His hip seems fine and so does his foot.  No obvious injuries to the foot.

We went ahead and left him overnight at the vet for them to be able to observe him and in the morning they are going to run him to their other office for digital x-rays (the office we normally go to is about to move, the building they are in can’t handle the power needs for the digital x-ray machine that they already bought).  That way we can at least have a baseline x-ray and can hopefully rule out any bone problems.

I’ll be honest, I am a little worried since this last tumor started with Spencer having a slight limp.  That was the only symptom he had in June; but the limp quickly got better and I didn’t give it a second thought until August when we found the tumor.  Who knows if that limp actually had anything to do with the cancer…

The vet thinks it is unlikely that this is a new tumor since Spencer has been on chemo for 15 weeks.  There is definitely nothing that we can see.

The dog/house sitter will be picking Spencer up from the vet tomorrow (hopefully).  The vet doesn’t expect any surprises and really, if most dogs had gone in with this they would at most have gone home with an NSAID and told to watch it and not be too crazy.  But… between Spencer being a tripaw and the cancer… we are just being cautious.

My youngest daughter didn’t want to have Spencer stay and didn’t want the dog sitter picking Spencer up tomorrow.  She said she wasn’t sure if she could trust him with taking good care of Spencer.  haha  We went over and hung out with the sitter for a bit and she feels better now.

If something bad does come up tomorrow, I’ll likely fly back from our trip.  Luckily my mom and step dad are going with us, so they can stay with the kids and get them to all of their ski lessons and stuff.  But I sure hope I don’t have to miss all of it!

I’ll update tomorrow night once I know how the x-rays come back (and I’m settled at the rental house).


A little worried

December 27th, 2011 · 3 Comments · Uncategorized

We have a 2:30 appointment at the vet.  Spencer woke up this morning and he is trying to limp.  His back right leg seems to have something wrong with it.  I can’t find anything, he doesn’t yelp; but he also is trying his hardest to not use that leg.  Him not yelping though doesn’t comfort me much… through all of this he has only shown that he was in pain one time and that was the day after his amputation when he tried to stand up and then fell forward on his incision.

We are up at the cabin, so 2 hours from our vet, hence the few hours until we will get in to see them.  Any good thoughts you can send him would be much appreciated.  Ugh.  We fly out tomorrow for a 10 day trip with him having a dog sitter at the house.  this is such a bad time, now I don’t want to go!  I’ll update you guys when we get back from the vet.


3 month ampuversary, great news and Merry Christmas!

December 26th, 2011 · 3 Comments · Uncategorized

I have been so busy that I haven’t updated you guys!

Spencer had his 3 month ampuversary!  yay!!  He is still doing great.

And best of all, he is done with chemo and the oncologist gave a great update!  He came in and started laying out where we go from here – every 3 months for the first year.  I think he said every 6 months for the second year.   So I asked wht he thought were the odds that we would make it to any of those appointments, reminding him that initially he had said Spencer had about 50/50 odds of making it to 1 year.  The doctor said that he is cautiously optimistic that Spencer’s odds are MUCH better than that and that he would be surprised if Spencer isn’t back for his 2 year followup!

Santa was great to Spencer for Christmas, lots of new toys.  Some are already torn up as is Spencer’s habit.  We spent a lazy Christmas just hanging around the cabin – the 5 of us and Spencer.

Thanks for being there for us the last 3 months and I’ll be sure to continue updating!

Merry Christmas everyone!  And… I don’t have a Christmas picture with Spencer; but here is one with the kids taken Christmas eve.  (had to use a slow shutter speed to get it and I knew Spencer would not play “statue” very well, which is necessary with a slow shutter speed!).  The kids have all agreed that Spencer having a better chance of being OK was the best Christmas present they could have gotten.  🙂


Spencer’s last chemo treatment is tomorrow!!

December 22nd, 2011 · 7 Comments · Uncategorized

yay!  so happy to be almost done with it.  As I have mentioned previously, I’m a little nervous; but I’m also happy to be done with it (almost).  He hates going to the vet for those appointments, so it will be nice to not have them anymore!  And what a great Christmas present it is to not only have him still here; but to have him here feeling so great!

And… because I haven’t done it for a while, some pictures.  This was our Christmas card this year.  The picture of Spencer and the kids was the back and the cartoon was the front.  Notice that even the cartoon dog is a tripaw.  🙂  (it was a flat, 2 sided card.)





















If I don’t manage to post again before Christmas – I hope that everyone has a great holiday weekend!



still going strong!

December 13th, 2011 · 5 Comments · Uncategorized

Spencer is still going strong.  He has 2 chemo treatments to go and then he is done with that.  Both will be vincristine.  He is all done with the mitox.  About a month ago he did seem to slow down a bit; but he has bounced back and seems to hardly be effected on chemo days other than peeing more.

Tonight I realized that Christmas Eve will be his 4 month ampuversary.  I am sooooo happy that he is going to be here for Christmas.  And it brings tears to my eyes to think that he might not be here next year.  I have been in a positive mindset; but reading tonight that fellow tripawd, and soft tissue sarcoma patient, Gayle died has me a little pessimistic again.  My heart breaks for Gayle’s family tonight.  🙁

I’m excited to be almost done with the chemo.  My pocket book is definitely excited about it.  But then I’m also really nervous about it.  Spencer is soooo good right now.  What if it is only the chemo that has been holding the cancer off?  What if it comes back as soon as the chemo is stopped?  I know that I can “what if” from now until the cows come home; but it is still what is running through my mind.  When I decided to do this chemo I wondered if I would regret it.  If the cancer would never come back and I would always wonder if it just wasn’t going to come back or if the chemo had kept it from coming back.  Now, 13 weeks down the chemo track, I know I’m not going to regret it.  Because I really do feel like doing chemo was giving Spencer his best chance of beating the cancer.  And if it never comes back I am going to really feel that the chemo stopped it.  God, I hope the chemo stops it!

OK, enough of my rambling about what is in my head.  Some things that Spencer has been up to…

We had to swap the leg that they do his chemo in.  They had been doing it in his front leg each week (he is a front leg amputee, so it was always the same leg).  I started to notice a sore though, so for the last 3 treatments he has had them in a back leg.  He doesn’t seem to be able to get the bandage off as fast from his back leg.  With his front leg he always has it off before we even get home; but with the back leg I usually take it off after we get home.  🙂

Spencer loved Thanksgiving.  While I tried to keep him to his grain free diet, I did let him have grain free scraps.  I had kind of worried that he was losing too much weight.  He was looking like he might be on the verge of getting too skinny.  Well, just 1 week of getting turkey and letting the kids decide on if he gets 1 scoop or 2 and he had put on more than 4 lbs!!!  I put him back to his normal diet though and he was back down to his healthy weight within 2 weeks.  I wish it were that easy for me!  (though I have way more than 4 lbs to lose!)

he has FINALLY gotten back to being willing to go out without me *right* there.  I can actually let him out, do something else, then let him back in.

Here is a video that shows Spencer running around.  It was supposed to be a video of my son showing me his new gymnastics floor routine ( mom brag alert:  he had just started learning it the day before); but Spencer wanted to run through some too.  🙂



2/3 of the way done!

November 19th, 2011 · 3 Comments · Uncategorized

Spencer has finished 10 of his 15 chemo treatments.  Yay for being 2/3 done!    If we were still doing the adria/cytox combo we would actually only have 2 more treatments to go; but with the swap to mitox we went up to 15 weeks.  I’m ready to be done.  I think Spencer is definitely ready to be done.  I noticed a sore on his leg.  Since doing an IV in the front leg is easier position wise than a rear leg, that is where he has had it each week and I think it was just too much.  So this week they did one of his back legs.  Poor guy.  And he is starting to not like going.  For a while now he has walked in to the the vet’s office willingly; but has obviously preferred if we would walk right back out.  But he has dealt with it.  Well, this week he REALLY wanted to go back home.  Poor guy, he was actually shaking and his teeth were chattering.  It made me feel so bad.  And to make it worse, this was a mitox week, which means he is there for several hours.

I think it is a very good thing that we have the cabin that we go to every week.  Spencer LOVES going up there.  And I think that each time we get in the car he is optimistic that he is going to the cabin, so he gets in the car willingly.  But then when he realizes we are at the vet, he starts to get nervous.

Has anyone else dealt with a dog who seemed to have some anxiety about the chemo treatments?  Did you do anything other than try to comfort your pet?  In the past we have given Spencer “Happy Travler” pills when we had lots of company; I’m thinking about asking if it would be OK to give him a couple of these before we head out for the vet’s office…


A little pitiful today and questions

November 11th, 2011 · 4 Comments · Uncategorized

Spencer went in for chemo treatment number 9.  This was a Vincristine week.  Only 6 treatments to go – 2 more of his mitox doses and 4 more vincristines.  I have never noticed much of a difference in how Spencer acts after a treatment.  Maybe he sleeps a tiny bit more that day; but nothing big.  Today he seems much more tired.  When my husband got home with our son tonight Spencer just hung out on his bed, no going to say hello.  🙁   He seems to be just worn out today.  Does anyone know if this is normal?  For a dog who has normally had little to no reaction from chemo to suddenly seem more tired?  Don’t get me wrong, he isn’t lethargic.  When I fed him tonight he came with tail wagging.  And when we went down to the school bus stop he was happy to go; but he also seems very happy to sleep today…

And other questions… Are there many grade 3 soft tissue sarcoma folks out there reading this?  If so, did you do chemo?  And… if yes to that, how did things go once the chemo ended?  How soon after did you do anything to see if the cancer was still around?  Today our oncologist said that we would probably wait 8-12  weeks after chemo is done before doing an x-ray or ultrasound as long as Spencer shows no symptoms.  Is this how your doctor handled things?  After chemo was over, did your dog have more energy, or did things just seem the same?  Not saying that Spencer doesn’t have energy now, just wondering if things are different after chemo…

And on to the next questions… has anyone out there gotten their dog certified (is that the right term) to be a therapy dog?  I’m not talking about a service dog, rather just a dog who visits hospitals and nursing homes.  Spencer is very friendly and social, so I was thinking about looking into this once he is done with chemo.  It is my understanding that he has to do a canine good citizen test.  It looks like there might be more than one organization out there to get certified through.  Which one is best?  Also, when out and about, Spencer is VERY social and sweet.  BUT… on his home turf (at our house, our cabin and in our car) he is protective.  he will bark at people until he has been introduced to them and given the OK.  He doesn’t do this at all when out and about though.  They don’t do home visits for certification do they?  Any other advice on getting your dog certified as a therapy dog?

Thanks for any advice on any of my many questions!!


Here’s my crazy coming out!

November 8th, 2011 · 9 Comments · Uncategorized

Spencer is kicking butt.  He is.  And I know it.  I don’t regret the amputation at.all!  But… when we first decided to do it I felt sad at the thought of his amputated leg being thrown away in the trash.  And since the surgery, I have had little flashes of the same thing.  Not like I’m *crazy* sad about it; but a little twinge of sadness about the thought of his cute paw being thrown away.  I know that along with it went that NASTY tumor; but anyway.  Like I said.  Just my crazy coming out.

On a not so crazy note… Spencer walks down to the bus stop with me each day.  I generally don’t have him on the leash for this walk (though I do carry one in case we encounter other dogs or something and I need to get it on him).  On our way back from the school bus a squirrel ran by and Spencer TOOK OFF after it.  I seriously thought he was going to try to climb the tree!  At least for sprints, he has his speed back for sure!!

(ok, edited my CRAZY type-o!!!)


Just a weekly update

November 5th, 2011 · 5 Comments · Uncategorized

Spencer is still trucking along.  Yesterday he had his 8th cancer treatment.  He still has a sick stomach occasionally, but for the most part he has had very few side effects.  No signs of his infection coming back, so that is great.  Still no signs of cancer.  YAY!

This week was Halloween.  Not Spencer’s favorite holiday since he really thinks he needs to approve anyone who comes to our door.  He also seems to think that our fall wreath is a person on our porch, which means he is constantly alerting me to an intruder.

Today Spencer and I walked down to the bus stop to find that there were some guys there digging up some sort of utility access.  I didn’t even have Spencer’s leash with me and I could tell 2 of the guys were none to sure about this dog running towards them.  One said, “hey, um, is he cool?”  I assured them he was, called Spencer to come back to me, which he did reluctantly.  The we got to our normal spot and I told him to lay down, which he did.  The guys were quite impressed with how well behaved he was.  Then we had the normal questions about if he had been hit by a car (no) and comments about how great he seems to have adjusted.