Thursday, May 10, 2012

Life and my Sweet Dream

It's been a little while since I have written, but that is not for lack of good things happening! We are, I wish we could say "settled" into the new place, not quite settled as in unpacked and living out of the dressers instead of suitcases, but content would be a better word. The horses however are settled in and snug as can be in their new palace. The barn and property is just beautiful, we could not be luckier. What sparked me to write this morning was that for the first time last night, and all day yesterday, I felt Leroy. Yesterday while I was doing chores, I was looking around at this amazing property, and was feeling so thankful that two days before Leroy passed away, he was able to run around this place, sniff out all it's corners and treasures, and marking his approval on every piece of sage brush, fence post, rock and tree. He even felt well enough to run up the stairs and investigate the hayloft which he found his favorite poop! I was so happy that even though this is the first move in my adult life without my, I can't say shadow, but my light, I at least can visualize his having been here. Last night was my first dream about him where I could really feel and smell him. We were snuggled on the couch like we used to, I could feel his soft fur, and smell his smell. He was keeping me warm spooned up against my body, and he licked my nose. I feel like I new he was not in this physical world during my dream, and I was able to appreciate his being with me for however short it was. I woke up smiling, but I can't say I am healed yet, since my eyes are filled with bittersweet tears as I remember and write this.

Saturday my friend Gina and I went to the Redmond Humane Society. I was feeling really lonely last weekend with Jeff and Percy being away at the home and garden show. I was intensely missing my dog and started my search. There was nothing. I looked at so many really nice dogs, but none of them really caught my heart. They knew I wasn't their person either as they would rather sniff the smells, and pee on the chairs in the visiting room. They are smart and probably sensed my detachment and indifference to them, which is good, it's like picking a husband in a sense, you will know the right one, and the feeling has to be mutual, I know the right dog will know when I am it's right human. For now, I am enjoying my horses, kissing Percy, and my heart grows bigger from it's break 3 weeks ago, and I am so thankful that Leroy took a second out of his hours chasing bugs, shadows, and birds, to come and lick my nose last night. Beautiful!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Moving forward...

So, even though Leroy is no longer with us in the spiritual form, I have decided to not give up on my blog.  I am actually considering finally pursuing my long time desire to write a book, I am thinking it will be called "Letters to Leroy" I have always had a few ideas out there, but always felt there were so many "dog books" out there, how can I join the ranks, or compete with what is already written? But..stay tuned, I have an idea in the works that will be different than the other been there, done that, dog books. I want to keep writing about the process of coping with life and loss of your pets. Though sadly Leroy did lose his battle with Lymphoma, I would say that we kicked that cancer in the ass with his and I's determination to beat the horrific side effects of weakness, illness, and more that comes with cancer. I have to say that Leroy never suffered more than maybe one day, and for that fact it wasn't even a full day, it was the Tuesday before he died that he had the weakest point I had seen yet. It was strange though, as it was almost as if he knew his time was up, he gave me a wonderful afternoon of helping me feed the horses, staring at the cat (which I got on video) and even ate my crazy concoctions of food that I often made for him. That wednesday morning that he died he seemed perkier than I had seen him in a while. I went about my morning as if nothing was wrong. This is something that I struggle with, had I known he was going to die I would have spent more time on the couch with him, you know, all those thoughts you have if you could change what you would have done. I know that's not the case, and it is a small fraction of how I feel. Leroy has always had his own agenda his entire life. Though we were both so reliant on one another, he had the most independent spirit of any animal I have ever met. The morning he passed away we had a vet appt. at 9am with Dr. Emily. I asked him if he wanted to "go for a ride" and he leaped off the couch, waited patiently, wagging his tail, at the door. He trotted, head up, ears flapping in the wind, to the car. I turned my back to open the car door and I felt him hit my leg. He was on the ground, I thought I had tripped him as he was struggling to get up. I knew in a moment what was happening and I started to scream his name. His eyes locked on mine, I held him, watched his toungue turn purple, and he died in my arms with my head on his. All I could say was he was perfect, even while dying, he died the "perfect" death. I know I am SO lucky to have had this experience with him. I never had to make the decision, he did it for me and for all of us. It was beautiful in it's own right. We took him to the vet to be cremated. It was amazing, even in death he was so beautiful and the cancer had not robbed his beauty of it's shine and luster. He actually grew more beautiful, his coat more shiney, and his eyes a deeper, more soulful brown than I had ever seen them. When we laid him down on the blanket in the vet clinic, he was curled up, eyes closed, and looked like a puppy again. It was amazing, even the technicians commented on how he looked.

I as a vet tech, have seen a lot of death, more death than I care to remember, but I can honestly say this was the most amazing experience I have ever had regarding another animal making their transition. I have had a week to process it all, I am not going to say it has been easy, I can't even say it has been hard. There are no human words that convey the pain that comes with losing a pet or a family member. My body literally feels like it has lost a limb, the nerve endings are still there but the appendage is not. I still hear his nails on the hardwood floor, I thought I heard him whining in the house while I was teaching a lesson the other day, he is all around me, yet not here in form. I have cried the hardest and longest I have ever cried, and I have done so 2-6x a day, I feel as if he is on the other side of a door, so close, yet impossible to get to. I have never felt this feeling in my life and it is a very frustrating, hurts to the soul and beyond sort of feeling. There have been so many firsts without him. This past weekend was the first road trip without him. His ashes came with us, his dog collar was on the rear-view mirror, I thought I would spread some ashes on the coast, but I could not let him go yet. I always thought I would be creeped out by having somethings ashes nearby, but they are in a beautiful wooden box right next to my bed, along with his collar and tag that says "Leroy". Every morning I touch his collar and I know he is there somewhere. I went to the beach without him, that was awful. My heart physically hurt, and I never knew just how big that lump in your throat could hurt, but it was crazy, there were thousands of sand-dollars washed up on the beach, they were all broken except for one, a beautiful purple sand-dollar. I found a big shell that I will use to scoop his ashes when the time is right. We came home to an empty house, his beds all around, the smell of him still on his blankets. It's crazy, I sleep with his stuffed animal. All of these things I would have normally thought were kind of crazy, but my point of writing this is to let everyone know that this is normal. However you need to grieve is however you need to grieve. Ride the process out, cry so hard that your body hurts, then cry some more. I have kept visine in stock for over a month now!! Today was the first day that I was in my car without Jeff and Percy and it hurt so much to not have my pal with me. I came home to the empty house, usually Leroy, even when he was sick, would race me to the door, run in the house, grab whatever toy he found first, then happily settle on his bed and just stare at me while I do homework. At this moment I am sitting on the couch for the first time since he died, on my computer, he has always been right next to me, one of my hands on his warm body, and one hand on my book or laptop. Today his side of the couch is empty, and I am forcing myself to deal with it. Writing helps, knowing that even if my words reach one person who is faced with the losing or loss of a pet or loved one, is therapeutic in and of itself. I am not trying to wallow in sorrow, nor have anyone feel sorry for me, I am moving forward, not on, but forward. I felt today for the first time that I need a dog in my life. I have Percy, but he is lonely too, and he is "Jeffs dog", his jobsite dog. I need my soul dog, and I trust that Leroy will lead me to him or her and the right pup will come to me for the right reasons. I am going to keep up with this blog, it may be about random things, it may still just be about my Leroy, who knows, but in honor of him, in therapeutic ways for myself and maybe others, I feel the best thing to do is the only other thing I know how to do besides ride horses, and that is to write.
My beautiful pup lounging while I taught lessons, the day before he died.

Ha ha ha...we called him the "lounge lizard"

His last day, staring and pointing at the cat...Leroy never suffered or lost his spirit to cancer.

Leroy making peace with the kitty on his last full day with us.

I think Leroy finally figured that kitties were o.k, to just look at for once.

The second to last picture I ever took of Leroy, the night before he died.

The last picture of Leroy, the amazing thing was the morning he left this earth, he had this toy with him on the couch, when we got up to go for a ride, he dropped this next to the door. I didn't even notice, when we came home from bringing his body to the vet, this toy was the first thing that greeted us when we walked in. He knew what he was doing leaving me his toy. I will cherish this toy forever. <3

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Letter to Leroy, The Best Dog in the Universe 7/3/2002-4/11/2012

  Leroy, I always said you were the “worst” puppy, that turned into the BEST dog in the world. You came to me at 16 weeks old, scared to death from living your life born in a puppy mill, landing in gross, inhumane, pet store. You sat in my lap and looked down at me with your long nose, dignified face, and human-like, knowing eyes. I knew you were mine. You walked in the door for the first time when we brought you home and in your cocky, puppy way, got yourself into all sorts of trouble with the older dogs. I can’t count how many seromas we drained off of you, the “best” one was off your butt, from you tangling with Sierra, the matriarch pointer. You would always trot up to “Howard” and bat him on the nose with your long paw, and they all loved and loathed you at the same time. I remember how you had to actually get in the shower with me everyday, otherwise you would chew my clothing, shoes, watches, hats, couches, CD cases, riding helmets, seatbealts, armrests, the most infuriating was a 300.00 pair of brand new hiking boots…but..despite all of that you were still the “best” dog in the training. Speaking of training, remember we posted your diploma from graduating “Obediance” school on the fridge for a few years?

The year we got you was the worst Maine winter I can remember. 4-foot snowstorms weekly and a german shorthaired pointer puppy were not a good mix. You could not run outside, so I would build jump courses with chairs and brooms in the house, I would throw food to the top of the stairs so that you would run up and down, we would do this for hours and I still never could tire you out. You were a great riding companion, I would close the indoor arena doors and you would run, run, run, while my horses were begrudgingly getting used to you. The miles on the trail, with me screaming for you as you would chase whatever scent you could find, despite all that, you always came back to me. Remember the time the neighbor called me because you ran away and they found you eating food off their counter in their house? Remember the time you made us an hour late to the boyfriend I was dating at the time’s, parents surprise anniversary party? We missed the surprise, but you were there. It was amazing the miles you would roam too, but always aware of the cars, and you never got hit. Remember the road trips you so eagerly jumped into the car for, yet you wouldn’t eat the whole trip so I would have to go to McDonalds and buy you bacon so you would not be taken from me for “neglect”? You would even make me get on the floor and pretend I was going to eat your food, and only than after you had gotten a kick out of making me do stupid human tricks, would you finally eat. 5:00 was your favorite time, you would stand at the door, wagging that tail that just never stopped, even today, your last day, waiting excitedly to go to the beach? We did that every day, we met many good friends and dogs during our days on the beach. Rain, snow, or shine we were there. I remember when I ran with you daily, and felt like a piece of me was missing when my hands were empty, and leashless running down the road. When you could no longer run with me, I stopped running, not having your little brown and white butt in front of me was not enough motivation to get the run done.

I was 24 when I got you, young, trying to figure out men, life, and commitment. You were slightly aloof, never needy, just what I needed, yet I wondered why you “didn’t need me” did in your own way, and that only came out as we were together longer…remember the men that were needy, we ditched? You were needy in your own way in that you let ME learn to love YOU, you never forced it upon me. I never knew if I was capable of loving like you read about in books. When we went through that first break-up together, you let me lay on the kitchen floor and we cried, he was a good man, and a good doggy dad to you, but we all knew it was time to move on, the couches that you ate during your anxiety of our arguments were testament to that fact. For the first time I connected with you instead of a man. You were excellent at picking my men, many men were jealous of you, did not understand why you needed to come into the house with me all the time, it was what it was, if someone wanted to be with me, they had to be with you. You would just look at me patiently with your knowing look, letting me know you would be there for me when I finally, sadly, figured yet another relationship was not going to work. You went everywhere with me, there was never a day that we were part for years. You spend the night in the back of my car with me when we would party a little too hard in Kennebunkport, you would chase crabs on the docks in the boatyard, and though you weren’t a huge fan of canoe rides, you still sat at the head of the canoe and sat like a statue, watching the shore get further away. You were always with me.

You were there for me when I almost died, July 11, 2006. You were sitting in the back of my Hyundai santa fe, with the hatchback wide open, when that horse had a seizure on top of me,  you watched the whole thing, and I heard you whining, though I could not see, and was bleeding out my mouth, I stayed conscious because I NEEDED to make sure you were taken care of and not left in my hot car while I went to the hospital. While I was in the hospital, drugged on pain medication, I kept hallucinating that you were at the end of the bed laying on my legs. Even when you were not with me, you still were. You stayed with Micheal for 2 weeks while I healed, and he would bring you over daily and that helped me heal. After that accident we put 18,000miles on our car in 8 weeks on the road trip of our lives. We went everywhere, you have been more places than most dogs will ever see. I have photos of you in the nations highest elevations and in the lowest elevation in death valley, you have ran on all the beaches Norteast, south, West, and Northwest, there are more photos of you than most peoples first born child. You were my first born child in a sense. You let me dress you in silly clothes, and ALWAYS posed for the camera. There are pictures of you in sunglasses, margaritas next to your paws, clothing, you name it, you let me do it. All with a graceful tolerance that many creatures and humans will never learn to possess. I actually really think you enjoyed the attention, If I didn’t think so I would have never done it.

You let Jeff into my life, you two are similar in spirit. You traveled with us, laughed with us, argued with us as we figured one another out in Santa Cruz, you survived your first round of cancer with us. You moved with us 8 times in 5 years, you shared 9 cars with me. You were the “best pet” and  ring-bearer in our wedding. You wore that role and goofy ribbon around your neck with pride. You knew this was the most important day of our lives. I thought you would be around to be a big brother to a baby someday, as you were only 9, but that’s not the way life works. You were however the best big brother to Percy, who is only 4 and has no idea how big the shoes are he will now fill. You fought this bravely, patiently, and did not really suffer a single day. You took your pills daily without much fuss, you always came when you were called when it was time for your shots. Yesterday I could see you were fading, I was trying to help you make it through the weekend so you could come to the beach with us this weekend for my class in Astoria. I was so anxiety ridden that you would get sick while we were gone, you had to have known this. You looked perkier this morning and I had a glimmer of hope. When I asked you if you wanted to go for a ride you leaped off the couch, trotted confidently to the car, and your big, giant, beautiful heart just burst. It was violent only for a second, I got to catch you, pick you up, lay you down gently and feel your beautiful heart beat for it’s last time. The only words I could say were “perfection” You were perfection, Leroy. Even in death, you were perfect. Cancer did not take your beauty, you were shiny, in excellent weight, your muzzle never even really grayed. Your hips and body never gave out on you. I held you as you left me on the physical form, and could only thank you for your confident way of taking charge of your destiny, as usual. You never made me make the decision. You let me do everything that I could do so that I was never left feeling as if I could have done more. You had an amazing week, you got to see the new facility, mark it with your presence, and give me the o.k. to move onto a new place. You left me as we had hoped it would go, your decision, quick, painless, as you were heading off to do your favorite thing, “go for a ride”. Death is not easy, but it can be perfect, and twice I have felt perfection with you this year, first was my wedding as you watched with those knowing eyes of yours, and second as I held you and you soared to your new place. I know you are around, and I find it no coincidence that the first thing I saw when I came home to the empty house, empty of our belongings and empty of you, was your little, blue, stuffed bear, waiting for me right at the door where you had left it when we “went for our ride”. You knew what you were doing Leroy, and you possessed a brilliance that I am not sure I will ever find in another dog.

You taught me so much, you stuck with me through so much, and you taught me that my heart is so much bigger than I ever thought it could be. I am wrapped up in your blanket, the fire going, I wish you were here to enjoy a rainy day snuggled on the couch watching a movie with me, but you are not. You are up there somewhere chasing seagulls and cats. Your last 24 hours were painless, you made peace with the cat ‘moses” yesterday, which we got on video, and we enjoyed a few minutes of scratches and snuggles before we got up to meet our day. You were one of a kind Leroy, an old soul that knew so much in your short 9years. I am not a religious person in the Christian sense, but I sure as hell am spiritual, and I know that my version of “heaven” or whatever you want to call me, entails you meeting me as I journey to you, your tail wagging furiously, as you run off to show me where the best birds are, and I hop on one of my long lost horses and we greet the new trails together forever. I love you Leroy, to say you were my best friend is an understatement. You were something that there are no words for, just a primal feeling that all humans possess instinctually if they let themselves. I vow to take care of myself the way I took care of you, and thank you, thank you, thank you, for being there. You are perfection. I love you buddy~ Samantha

                                                      Sunday Morning Snuggle session
My beautiful dog radiating his light!

Leroy and his dragon, the last toy he picked out.

Come on Papa..I beat you up the stairs-this was Sunday, Leroy ok'd the new place for us, even though he sadly will not be joining us.

Yesterday, Leroy making peace with the kitty. It was amazing to watch.

Taken last night, as Leroy perked up a bit. This is the last photo I will ever take of my beautiful pup.

Friday, April 6, 2012

I now know where they coined the term "Live Strong"

I thought I would write a quick update on my boy Leroy! It's been a really hard few days. We started the Lomustine last Tuesday with no real results. Friday he was very sluggish and in a lot of pain so we brought him in for fluids in which after he practically pranced out of the vet clinic. His pain was making it hard for him to eat or drink. For some reason the pain had localized around his neck and spine area so he could not put his head down, probably some weird side effect from the chemo. He did pretty well throughout the weekend, Monday was a beautiful sunny day and he spent it outside all day chasing shadows, bugs, and just sunbathing. Tuesday we woke up to a different dog, his lung sounds were harsh and crackly, his energy was back to lethargic and his eyes were depressed. All he wanted to do was press against me and followed Jeff and I everywhere around the house. Wed. I took him to the vet, we gave him Tramadol for the pain, some accupuncture on some energy points and it seemed to help just a little bit. Still very little appetite throughout the entire week. We decided on Wed. that if he deteriorated throughout the night, that we would re x-ray on Thursday.

Thursday AM rolled around and he wouldn't move. His lungs sounded terrible, Jeff and I layed on the bed with him and cried thinking this was maybe his last day. I was still trying to be optimistic. We took him in to the clinic, he wanted nothing to do with going back with Dr. Emily, which has NEVER happened, usually he trots back there without even a glance back at me, ready to torture the clinic cat with his staring, shaking, and whining. This time he shrunk to the floor and looked at me as if it was the last time he would see me. It was heartbreaking to see this unusual behavior. The other thing that occured since the day before was his veins were popping up all along his sides. Being a shorthair with thin skin you could see his vein network enlarged and raised along his rib cage and sides of abdomen, this was cause for alarm for all of us. I got the call from Dr. Emily, while in the middle of the appointment with our accountant for the dreaded tax season (which we were so late on, due to all that has been going one) I could hear it in her voice it wasn't good. Leroy's tumor burden had increased to about 7-8 quarter sized masses throughout both lung lobes, NOT good. The fluid in his chest had increased as well. We went to get him, and had the hard conversation about when "the time" would be. She thought without treatment of some sort he would not make it through the weekend. We discussed tearfully, her coming out to the farm to let him go, making plans now rather than when we have to in an emergency. We gave him a dose of Dex. as one last ditch effort to make him comfortable and give him a few good days. We were all unsure rather the Dex would even work at that point. We took him home, I layed on the couch with him all day, I cancelled going to the local dressage club social, which was so hard to do as on one level I knew I should continue life as normal, but who wants to be social with puffy eyes, a migraine, and a "dying dog" at home, so I stayed with him. At about 4pm I had to teach a lesson, when I got done and came into the house, Leroy jumped off the couch, grabbed his new dragon that he picked out at Petsmart, and did the "wiggle-butt" for the first time in days. He even went over to his bowl that had been full for a day or two, and devoured his food, he looked at me proud as ever at how strong he can be. It made me so happy to see the Dex working. We discussed the option of trying a new chemo called Elspar, that is an enzyme that will break down the lymphoma cells and masses. It has been used with great results, giving the animals a little more time in remission. I made the appointment for Friday at 11:30, but the techs were so understanding and said I could cancel if I needed more time to think about it. The cost is 450-500.00 and remission time, if any, is a gamble.

The next day, yesterday, he looked great. He slept pressed against me all night, his breathing was noise-free, regular and even. He had a great day yesterday, lots of energy, and ate well. We went to Sage Vet for his first dose of Iscador, Dr. Steve showed me how to give the injection, what to watch for, which is a red circle at the injection site. When you see this it means the body is reacting as it should to the Iscador, he said it may happen on the first injection or the 29th injection, every dog, and every immune system is different. Last night, I saw a small red circle appear, so that is good news. The Iscador may not "cure" the lymphoma, but at least we are doing everything we can to boost the immune system. I cancelled the appt. at the specialist, as I wanted to get the Iscador on board and get the immune system the kick in the pants it needed before adding more toxin to his body. I can go to the emergency clinic and get the Elspar done if I decide over the weekend that is the route we should take. The thing is, I am happy with any decision I make. It's amazing how rational one can really be when faced with these situations. I have never gone through anything like this in my life, and when my dog was healthy I never thought I would be able to cope with what is going on. What has helped me immensely is the complete, 100% immersion I have in committing to educate myself, experiment with options some conventional, some unconventional, I know in my heart and I know Leroy knows as well, that we are doing everything we can possibly do, within our means, to make him happy. I never thought my bond could be stronger with my pup, but this has brought the meaning of love to a whole new level. I guess that's the beautiful, yet bittersweet reality about death and being faced with it, it allows you and gives you the time to connect deeper in ways that you won't when in good health. I always thought maybe it would be easier for my dog to die a sudden death, but I cherish this time that I have to be with him, soak him in, and him soak me in, during his last days. I am ready for life to move on, whether it is in sickness or health, it's been hard to schedule meetings, lessons, etc. as I have to tell everyone "I am planning on being there, but..." I am not trying to write as if he is no longer around, he is, MORE than ever, his presence is the big it has ever been in his life, he is the brightest spot in my life, and when he is no longer with us, which will eventually be, given the way the cycle of life works, be it 3 days or 3 years, he will always be with me. Live strong is not just for the cancer fighter, it is for the survivors that hold and support those fighting with cancer or any disease. I have found my weakest moments in life through this time, but I have also found my strongest moments in life. And for this I thank my pup, my greatest teacher. Hug your pups, ponies, kitties, rabbits, hamsters, children, husband, parent, sibling..whatever/whoever it may be that gives you that feeling of undying love and commitment, then love yourself for having the ability to love so freely and deeply another living creature.

                                                      Leroy with his new Dragon!!!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Plan B...Chemo.

After our "wonderful" news on thursday that the tumor itself had disappeared, Leroy's symptoms returned. Keep in mind, that though the tumor had gone away, he still has lymphoma and the lymphnodes around his heart are enlarged and pressing on his airways. This left Jeff and I with a new amount of hard decisions to make regarding treatment plans. When faced with the large mass he had in the lung, it was "easy" to say, "well, we are doing EVERYTHING we can within our budget and personal feelings regarding surgery then chemo". But knowing that lymphoma can often respond pretty well to Chemo we were torn as to what we wanted to do, and could afford to do. Leroy was progressively getting worse, especially at night. Saturday night his resting heart rate was 116-120 and respiration over 40-50, no fever but his body is running very hot and rather than seeking heat as he has done his entire life he was finding cool places to hide, often using the hardwood or tile floors but this would cause positional respiratory distress so he would get anxious and pace. The coughing is still very minimal, but the labored breathing is what was concerning us.

We met with Dr. Steve Blauvelt at Sage clinic yesterday morning. Leroy's pulses were low, chi was stagnant, and toungue slightly lavendar, all indicators that he was wearing down physically, the look in his eye told the same story. So we put him on another herb called "General Tonic" which will help his blood flow, energy level etc.

This morning was not a good morning. I woke up and Leroy was not on his bed which told me something was not right. I found him on the couch in the living room, he was walking very slow, and could not really catch his breath, I for the first time wondered if today was "the day". He showed little interest in his food, he did eat a few cookies, and hopped up on the couch for some love from Jeff and I, but it still was not our Leroy. I had talked with Dr. Emily yesterday about trying a low-key form of chemo for Leroy that would hopefully buy us some time for the Iscador from Europe to come in. We made the decision this AM to give it a shot. 2 pills cost 158.00, and he will need this treatment every 3 weeks, along with blood work to make sure his WBC and Liver values are staying within a reasonable range. When we did his blood work this AM, his liver values were slightly elevated but we decided if we do nothing than we will lose him, so this is the last ditch effort to see if we can get him back into a remission.

I gave him his first 2 pills of Chemo, we are using Lomustine, at 2pm this afternoon. He is in great spirits this afternoon after such a rough morning, playing tug-of-war with Percy over a stuffed duck, he is laying beside me on the couch with regular, slow, breathing. This form of lymphoma is presenting itself so oddly, with the off and on symptoms, but we will keep our fingers crossed! The chemo is not likely to "cure" the lymphoma, but hopefully we can get him a few more weeks or months of being comfortable and happy!

This photo was taken in October 2006 at a podunk little motel in Moab, UT. on one of Leroy and I's many travels. He is my trusty road companion, and has protected me for thousands upon thousands of miles. He's a good dog!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Kicking cancer in the A*&(&!!!!!

So, wonderful update to report today!!!! After about a 2 week period of being relatively cough free, eating like a champ, and even getting into the trash which he NEVER ever does, Leroy went in today for a re-xray to see where the tumor is at. The tumor is GONE!!!!!!!!!!!!! As in completely, absolutely, NOT a trace of it anywhere in any of the radiographs!!!! : ) He does still have lymphoma, but even the enlarged lymphnodes and fluid around his heart have decreased in size by about 40%. This is excellent news! I am still however being very realistic about the seriousness of what we are fighting, and the point of this blog is still to remain hopeful, and most of give people a feeling that they are doing the BEST that they can WITHIN their budget and ethics. Had we opened him up for surgery 2 weeks ago, spending 5-6k for a very invasive surgery, I feel in my heart that would have killed him. I am NOT saying don't do surgery, we did surgery for his mast cell tumor in 2007, but I am saying do NOT beat yourself up if you cannot afford surgery or chemo and radiation in these situations. Every person and every dogs situation is unique, and you need to do what you believe in, and what you think will work, all within your financial means.

Dr. Blauvelt (Steve) at Sage Veterinary services has had me start Leroy on another Chinese herb called "Bloods Palace" it is meant specifically for thoracic tumors and heart support. We started this 2 days ago, and we have ordered the Izcador from Europe. The Izcador takes 4-6 weeks to get through FDA, shipping etc. and I asked Steve if he thought we had that long, he said he is thinking positive as that is the biggest part of fighting these battles. Leroy has no idea what he is going through, the amazing thing about treating animals as opposed to humans is there is no placebo effect. So, I need to stay strong and optimistic so he does not pick up on my energy creating more fear and anxiety for him. So, whether this bit of remission he is in currently, lasts a week or 3 mos. I know what I am doing is the best I can do for myself and for him, and I am giving him the best quality of life that I know how to give, and just thanking every single day and night I have with my best friend! I will keep you all posted as we go along!! : )

Leroy laying on the couch saying "if this is what cancer gets me, than I am going to live FOREVER with this treatment!!"

Monday, March 12, 2012

Travel is so good for the body and soul!!

After a not so great week last week, with last Tuesday night being a day I thought Leroy was going to die very soon due to such severe breathing issues, I decided come hell or high water I was going to bring Leroy to his favorite place, the beach! You cannot even say that word around him without him making the cutest little puppy face and getting all wiggly! We saw Dr. Emily on Wednesday AM. She had us leave him for x-rays for an hour where they determined he had a lung infection (hence the non-existent appetite and fever) the tumor appeared to have grown 15-20% in size, and he had fluid around the tumor. They gave him IV Dex, Lasix, and we started him on Doxycycline 3x daily and oral Prednisone 1x daily. I had to teach lessons in LaPine all afternoon so I took Leroy with me, it was like a miracle, every hour he got better and better..he did cough up a half-dollar size of bright, red, blood, but in my opinion that is the body clearing the cancer out of his lung. That night he had NO coughing, and his breathing was slow and regular. He ate a tiny bit of breakfast and dinner on Thursday, and Friday AM we left for the coast. I gave him one lasix on Friday to help with some mild coughing. We made it to the coast, he had a great run on the Beach Friday afternoon and devoured his dinner on Friday night! I had forgotten the ever so important staple of his previous cancer diet, Sardines in water!!! He LOVES sardines, and they are loaded with essential oils and nutrients known to fight cancer. The rest of the weekend he was AMAZING!!! He ran like a puppy, he coughed a few times on Saturday so I gave him a Lasix and he has not coughed since then! His energy and spirit is back, he is taking his pills like a champ! I have decided to take him off the raw diet while he is on Prednisone as it can be an immune supressent, I go with my gut on these things and right now full raw does not feel right. So he is back to home cooked food, mixed with his grain-free taste of the wild, sardines, veggies,cottage cheese and flax-seed oil. His daily regime of pills and supplements are currently:

Chinese medicine: Livaplex, Circu-VET, and Stasis Breaker (I switched from the powder to tea pills and he gobbles them up in little cheese balls)

Holistic: Protandim, Spirilina, Zinc, Vit C, Pro-biotics (forco) Equerry's Spunk II

Conventional: Prednisone 1xdaily, Doxycycline 2x daily, and Lasix as needed.

He has another appt. with the Holistic Vet in a week or so, and we are going to re-xray the lung the day before his re-check to see what the tumor is doing!! But for now he is HAPPY, VIBRANT, and doing wonderful!!! Kiss your pups, tell them you love them, love goes such a long way!!! Here are some photos from the weekend!!! Enjoy!!

                    Leroy and I having a photo op. at the amazing beach house we got to stay at!
                Leroy NEVER is interested in sticks, today he was very interested in the stick!! LOL!
                                                                 My Best Buddy!!
                           Mischeivous faces...this is their lets go to the beach already face!!!
                                               Pointers doing what Pointers do best!!!
                                                                     Family Photo!!

                                                           SO HAPPY!!!!!
                                                                Lee and I dancing!!!!

                                               Relaxing after a great day in front of the fireplace!!
                                                      Lee and I surfing!!! ha ha ha!!!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Funky day..

So, of course there are good days and there are not so good days. It's so hard to tell sometimes with Leroy, since he can be a bit "Emo" and finicky when it comes to certain things like eating. He has had a little belly ache since he woke me up a few times to go out on Saturday night. I had to really coax him to eat yesterday, and today he wants nothing to do with it..though he did act extremely interested in Jeff's Maple Brown Sugar granola bar, which he ate with ease!! I think he is just being picky but he does seem a little more depressed then usual. I called Sage Vet and talked with Dr. Blauvelt who was encouraging as always..we are just going to give him the Circu-vet since that is a great GI support, once he starts eating then he'll go back on the StasisBreaker (but this time in a pill form, as I think the powder is the reason he is not eating) and his LivaPlex..He seemed fine when he was outside and he might just be "working it" a bit so he could get some couch time with mom. He wins..we are snuggled up doing homework together while the wind whips insanely outside. That's it for now..keep fingers crossed he eats soon.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Holistic Vet=great day!! and better yet..a PLAN

So, yesterday was the worst day I had yet through this whole process. Between car trouble, my horse Cortez being laid up with a nasty abscess, and Leroy coughing up blood for the first time yet, I had hit the end of my rope with everything and was an emotional disaster from sun up to sun down. We went to the specialist yesterday at Bend Vet Specialist ie; BVS and visited Dr. Dougherty. She was super nice, but the appt. was very frustrating with the fact that his x-rays which were supposed to have been overnighted from a Portland Specialist were not there so everything was up for speculation on her end. This was her report that she e-mailed me:
March 1, 2012


        Leroy Fairfield, nine year old male neuter German Shorthair Pointer. Lives on a horse farm and has access to a lot of things. He is otherwise healthy. Coughing started about 1 month ago. He had a bit of coughing last year and cxr was done and was normal. CXR done last Saturday showed a pulmonary mass. Today Leroy coughed up some blood. Films were sent to VDIC and report says 4.3 cm mass and lymphadenopathy. Recommended repeat films or wait for originals to allow measurement and aid in locating the mass via ULS.  Discussed waiting for original films to be delivered or take films today and proceed.. If cannot locate with ULS then consider bronchoscopy and BAL.

PE) mm pink, heart nsa, no murmur, normal auscultation, abdomen ok, fundic nsf. Beautiful and well fleshed dog .
Submit CBC CHEM UA on Monday
Get films back from VDIC : received after appointment time today. Evaluation of CXR, a spherical left caudal lobe pulmonary mass is present. There is marked hilar lymphadenopathy and right cranial lobe infiltrate.
ULS mass and do FNA : not sure given location that I can reach mass with ULS. Will try to locate.
IF unable, bronchoscopy and BAL, cyto, cultures…Need to gas sterilize the scope today first. Scheduled for Monday.

 Basically I was in tears at that point because the estimate for all of this was 1800-2100.00. Which I DO not have with just one income at this point. I also had to reach the hard realization that even if we did these diagnostics we still were faced with the fact that we already know is that HE HAS CANCER, which means potential surgery 5-7k and then probably Chemo. which is very invasive and around 6k. I knew in my heart, even if I was rich and could afford it It was not the best quality of life I could provide my dog. I left there devastated again, and extremely frustrated with a lack of plan. I drove straight to Sage Veterinary Clinic knowing deep down this was the place I needed to get peace of mind, find treatment I could justify and wrap my head around. They got us in this morning at 9:30. I met with Dr. Steven Blauvelt. Right away I felt at home. The rooms are very cozy with a nice mattress on the floor for the animals, I was able to sit on the floor with Leroy, and you never felt pressured by the clock. We spent an hour with Steven where he asked a thorough history of Leroy, and looked him over carefully. Leroy was having an extremely "energetic" day (mildly obnoxious) because he knew there was a cat in the next room, so he was very whiny and pacing, he does NOT look like a "sick" dog.

 Leroy has a very strong constitution, and everything, heart and lungs sounded great! Steven explained a lot of Chinese medicine theory and practice and explained how Tumors are caused by excess Phlegm in the body. It is also an issue with stagnant heart and liver so we devised a treatment to boost these organs and move Phlegm out of the body. He was highly praising of the diet I have Leroy was wonderful to be validated in what I was doing and have done in the past with success. The vet at BVS was not so supportive of the diet, I told her I understand the pros and cons of raw diet..there is a lot of controversy regarding raw, but right now I cannot justify feeding him something I don't know where it comes from. The raw food he is eating is raised right here on our farm, disease and antibiotic/drug free. I can visit his "food" anytime I wish lol!! So, we went away with a plan some:
1. Livaplex capsules to help cleanse the liver-we start this slowly 1 pill/day for 5 days, 2 pills a day for 5 days, then 3pills a day.
2.CurcuVET-SA150 capsules that are Hepatic, muskulskeletal &GI support 1x a day.
3. StasisBreaker-which is an "herbal chemo" it is meant to cleanse and move the phlegm out of his body that is assisting in his tumor growth.

We are going to look into a new and extremely succesful in Europe, product made by Weleda, called Iscador. Check it out, he has had amazing results and he is going to call the company with Leroy's results to find the treatment that will work best for him.

So, anyway, this is a lot of information, we have a recheck in 3weeks, Leroy has had a GREAT day and is eating his food very well... as you can see from the photo of his dinner tonight! I feel back to myself at least knowing we have a plan. I am not looking to "cure" cancer. Cancer is cancer and it &*(&(*ING sucks..BUT..what I do feel is that I am now doing the best that I can within my budget and based on my personal moral feelings on Leroys quality of life. If it works GREAT, if not, then it is the Universe and Nature doing what it is supposed to do and there is nothing anyone can do about that. So for now..we keep educating and researching and I will keep you all posted on how the Lee-man is doing!! xo

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

More fun, cancer fighting information..

A great horsewoman in the Bend, and a huge advocate of Protandim has sent me this information. It is very, very, interesting and I do have Leroy taking this supplement as part of his daily diet. There are a few vets in the area that are using this supplement with animals and getting great results. This is the article I got today from Diane..Leroy seems great today and has only coughed twice so far. The diet is still a huge hit and one of my favorite parts of the day is the wiggle-butt dance he gives me while he waits rather impatiently while I make a huge deal of mixing all of his food together... : )

Curcumin (aka Turmeric which is in PROTANDIM) has been found to be highly effective preventing and treating glioblastoma, a fatal brain cancer and one study showed an 81% decrease in brain tumors with no evidence toxic side effects!. ”Curcumin is the most evidenced -based nutrient use as a cancer support than any other nutrient!” He states that the spice effects 700 genes, and it enters more than 100 different pathways once it gets into the cell. He also says, based on his research, that curcumin appears to be safe in the treatment of all cancers!

If anyone has any questions or wants to know more, or get protandim here is a link to Diane's site.. 

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

News! Sort of..

So, Dr. Emily called me today to give me the information on what the specialist had said. It was a lot of information to take in and process and I am hoping it will start to make sense as we go to more appts. The specialist that the x-rays were sent to thought that the lung tumor could be one of a few things. Excuse my spelling here, it's been a long time since my Vet Tech days, and my spelling is a little rusty...due to the fact that it looked as if along with the tumor in the left caudal lung field, there appeared to be some lymphnode enlargement around the heart area as well. The abdominal x-rays we took showed everything to be normal, except the spleen was on the higher end of normal. Judging by the way the tumor looked it could be a number of cancers that I can't spell such as lymphomatoid granulomatosis, malignanat hystiocyctosis, or a long shot, a fungal infection. I think there were a few other cancers thrown in there as well, but I was in the middle of a timed Quiz when the Vet called and felt overwhelmed and distracted. Of course none of these cancers can be determined without an aspirate..since cost is a factor right now, we decided to try just the aspirate and not the ultrasound which could range up to about 500.00 plus the costs associated with the consult, and the pathology report etc. we are looking upwards to 800.00 for just a keep your fingers crossed we can get an aspirate without an ultrasound. The other option is a CT scan, but we'll cross that bridge if we come to it.

We were referred to Dr. Dougherty at Bend Vet Specialists for an appt. Thursday at 10am. I just want to know what kind of cancer this is, some sort of prognosis, know that I am feeding him the exact diet he requires, etc. I have never gone through this before, to this extent with a pet. I knew somehow in my heart that he would get through the mast cell tumor, but this time I am afraid of having "false" hopes. I have my moments of ups and downs, clarity and confusion, but I am so happy he is an animal and does not process or understand this sort of information like a person does. I had some pretty amazing epiphones yesterday that Leroy enabled me to have, and if I am feeling more like writing later I will elaborate on them. Until then, hug your pets, tell them you love them, and remember that diet is SO important. The stuff that you buy in the stores is NOT healthy, do your research, and in my opinion prevention is the best "cure". Keep y'all posted as we know more!


Leroy is one of the smartest dogs I have ever met, I think he knows he can do whatever he wants as he left his bed in the middle of the night to go sleep on the couch, again, something he has never done before! : )The hard thing was he had his worst coughing fit was deep and sounded painful..that makes me sad : (

Monday, February 27, 2012

Tumors suck..heres a diet to feed health, not the tumor

Saturday, February 25th, I took 9yr. old, Leroy into the vet to see Dr. Emily about a seemingly small, but chronic cough he had had for the past few days. He had been digging holes in the backyard so I thought that maybe he had got something lodged in his throat, or inhaled an irritant of some kind. On a darker, gut feeling note, I questioned some sort of heart issue, I never expected to get the news, and see x-rays with a golf ball size tumor in the lower lobe of Leroy's left lung. I was devastated and tried as hard as I could to listen to what Emily had to say, but I could not absorb a thing. All I heard was that she was going to send the x-rays to a specialist, and that we could do an aspirate and ultrasound to find out more about the tumor. She touched upon surgery, but the cost is about 5-8k. and prognosis is life expectancy up to a year after this extremely invasive surgery. Thoracotomy. I felt helpless and at a loss with what to do. Jeff and I brought Leroy home and cried the rest of the day. Sunday, a sleepless night later, brought about a new vigor and plan...alternating between panicky and proactive, we decided to immerse ourselves back into educating ourselves once again on cancer diets and natural treatments..this is a rough overview of what we are doing right now, and we will keep you posted through this blog on all news and new treatments we pursue. Leroys diet has been 2c. Taste of the Wild, Salmon flavor 2x a day. His pm feeding included his supplement of Equerry's Spunk II, an amazing blend of probiotics, glucosamine and chondroitin. This supplement has been very successful in keeping Leroy sound and active since last summer when he was also diagnosed with mild spondylosis.

We went to Whole foods and got:
 **Spirulina which with 62% amino acid content, and one of the world's richest sources of Vit B-12 is an excellent cancer fighter and immune booster.
**Organic cottage cheese
**Organic Flaxseed oil (liquid form)
**Whole, brown, flax seeds (in bulk) This is all part of the Budwig Diet:
this diet has been used by many, including Leroy with his mast cell tumor with great results.
**Fish Oil..Omega 3 fatty acids. Watch for Omega 6's there have been some studies that have been done that show that to much Omega 6 may increase the rate of cancer cell growth. This is a great website with a lot of helpful information regarding canine cancer:
**Protandim- This supplement is gaining credibility and popularity quickly amongst the medical and veterinary fields. I have a few friends that swear by this for themselves and for their pets and I figured it would be excellent to add to his diet.
**Forco- is an amazing, tested and tried probiotic supplement that has virtually cured my horse Lewis of his ulcers and digestive issues. It is excellent to support Leroy with as his body undergoes many changes and stresses.
Other supplements used are Vit C
 Bachs flower essences: Are very good at helping the body achieve and maintain equilibrium..I use them myself as I need as much support as well going through the stresses of having a sick pup.

Food: Raw Poultry, Beef, Buffalo, and rabbit that is raised right here on our horse farm by the property owners:
we will feed with a ration of 1.25:1.0:.75

1.25 is meat ie; rabbit, home raised chicken, home grown beef, COOKED fish..Rabbit at least twice a week as it has the best amino acids, anti-inflammatory, and omega 3s

1.0 is healthy carbs brown rice, rice, potato, sweet potato, yam, oatmeal, quinoa, millet, barley, chia, or amaranth. I found an excellent mix made by that covers all the veggies and berry needs.

.75 fruits and veggies blueberries, blackberries, Kiwi, apples, pears, cucumber, carrots, pumpkin, green beans, peas

For now, and this will change as needed Leroys diet is transitioning slowly to the above ration mixed with supplements, cottage cheese and flaxseed sources.

For now he is doing well, he coughs most often at night and in the morning upon getting up, but he is in excellent fitness, mind and spirits! He escaped the backyard fence tonight (He NEVER does things like and ran to help us feed the horses, nose buried in the snow, VERY proud of himself...stay tuned for more food and supplement options..and updates on the Lee-man!

Leroy's Brief Medical and dietary History!!

Here is a brief history of Leroy's past..He was born on July 3rd, 2002, he was a rescue from a pet store in New Hampshire that had been shut down for abuse and neglect of dogs. I got him when he was 16weeks old, a terrified, shy, puppy, who had never set foot outside of his cage in the Fox Run Mall. The day I got him it was pouring rain, but there was something in his eyes, an old soul sort of look that instantly drew me to him. He would look down his long, pointer, nose at you, with this look that said he knew way more about life than I would ever know..a sort of arrogance, but a gentle, kind, confident sort of arrogance.

Leroy had bouts of colitis throughout his first few years but no major health issues of any sort. He was my companion EVERY where I went. He was always in my car during the day while I worked, or at the barn, out on trail, and at the beach every single day for his daily, chase seagulls as fast as he could, outings. Walk, was NOT in his vocabulary. I took many road trips with Leroy, he has more miles, and has seen more of America's coast line than most cars have. We moved from Maine to Santa Cruz, CA. in February 2007. In July, I noticed 2 ticks burrowed in his left, front armpit. I thought nothing of it as there were always ticks on him in CA. The site of the bite was the usual red, with a hard little bump, but still nothing unusual for a tick bite. I monitored the site as close as I thought necessary, with no unusual changes until one day I got in my car from a day at work and noticed the site had blown up to the size of a soft, fluid, filled golf ball. By the time I got back home, an hour later, it was back to it's normal size, about the size of a pimple. I called the vet the next day, and they got us in. I was heading to Maine in a few days and had almost thought about cancelling as it really appeared to be "nothing". Well that "nothing" turned out to be a grade II mast cell tumor. This was devastating news, as he was the picture of health, with no signs of cancer. The odd thing about the tumor was the amount of eosinophils that were within it. I knew in my heart, though the vets felt different, that this was a tick related issue. Leroy had surgery, the vets felt the margins were clear on all sides of the tumor, but due to the location so close to his lymph nodes the prognosis was pretty poor. 80% chance it would come back in 6mos. We even saw the best Canine Oncologist, Dr. Jay Stone, at Santa Cruz Veterinary hospital where we seriously contemplated chemo. and radiation, he was only 5yrs old at the time. The process and price of treatment was to invasive for all involved so Jeff and I decided to do what we could holistically. Until this point Leroy's diet was Purina food, I always "thought" I was buying the "best" store brands, and had never really explored, nor felt I needed to explore what other options were out there. We spent countless hours of research, talked to vets, naturopaths and more. We decided the best option was to put him on a cancer diet that was low in carbohydrates, higher in protein, and moderate in fat. We discovered Grain free, Innova Evo, at that point, as we did not have the freezer space to do a full raw diet. We supplemented this diet with cottage cheese, Salmon oil, Shitake Mushrooms, Bovine Colostrum, VIT C, Spirulina and fresh fruits and veggies. Leroy never looked better.

When we moved to Bend, OR. in November 2007 we discovered a wonderful pet store that sold, and made doing a raw diet easier than it had been in Santa Cruz. We fed him Full raw, alternating between chicken, beef, buffalo and duck. We continued his fruits, veggies, and supplements. Things were looking great for Leroy. We found a good vet, with a great wellness program. We discovered that Leroy was Lyme Positive after he had started limping. His urine was also full of struvite crystals, and very concentrated. So we had to alter his diet to a veterinary prescribed diet for the crystals. I am convinced that the Lyme disease, the urine issues and the Mast cells are all related on some level. All of his issues started after this tick bite. We got the crystals under control and slowly transitioned him onto a grain free food, Taste of the Wild. He was doing very well and we felt that we did not need to continue the huge expense of a raw diet. Plus, we had gotten a new German Shorthaired Puppy, Percy, and the dry food was a healthy, more convenient alternative. Every year during Leroys annual dental we would remove any new lumps that would crop up. I was so excited year after year when they just came back as fatty, lipomas. Outside of occasional limping he was in great health as long as we monitored his urine and lumps rigorously. As of last year we decided to no longer remove his lumps as he was having a harder time recovering from the surgeries. This year, January 2012 there were no new lumps to take off and he seemed to be in great health.