Saturday, June 05, 2010

Stilettos in the States will have to wait...

Bigger things happening. Not good things. Bigger things.

The Boy. Osteosarcoma. Bam! Got hit in the gut with a sledge hammer this week on that one. Took my breath away.

Our trip from Saudi to North Carolina was a very long one. We left from Bahrain and flew to Amsterdam. I was told when I made the arrangements that both The Boy and The Baby would be let out of their crates at the "Doggy Hotel" to relieve themselves and to stretch. That did not happen. Apparently the layover has to be more than four hours in order for that to happen. We only had a three and a half hour layover. So, neither The Boy or The Baby got let out to do business or get a little stretching in before our flight from Amsterdam to Detroit.

In Detroit, I was allowed to take them out of their crates and take them outside to do business. It was in Detroit where I saw that The Boy's metal water dish was smack dab in the middle of his crate with the prong ends up. Poor guy - laid on that for some twenty hours? [Why he didn't push it out of the way is beyond me.] As I took The Boy out of his crate he was limping on his right front leg, badly. Actually he wasn't limping on his leg - he wasn't using his right front leg at all. Whoa! What happened there?!? He was fine when we left Bahrain.

I took him to the vet, here, as soon as I could get him in and we had x-rays taken and got some medication - pain meds, arthritis medication - for him and we were told to follow up in two weeks and we were told that if it was arthritis then we would see a noticable improvement. The Boy did NOT improve. He got worse. I didn't wait the full two weeks to follow up. We went to the vet last Friday - a week ago, yesterday. Dr. Metz - our vet here - the vet we had for many years prior to moving to Saudi Arabia - said that he believed that there was something much worse going on than arthritis and he referred us to the N.C. State Vet School. We went this week for our appointment with the neurological specialist.

BAM! Osteosarcoma. Bone cancer. A very painful and aggressive cancer. We were told that we have six to eight weeks with The Boy. Sterling. The Boy's name is Sterling. I have not published the names of my four-legged Kids on my blog before for safety reasons. I did not want someone in The Sandbox calling Sterling by name. More a trust issue than a safety issue, I guess - or both. I had my reasons. Sterling. Poor little guy. Sterling is in pain. Was in pain. We are managing the pain with a Fentanyl patch and with Tramadol and Rimadyl.

There are options. Choices. None of them are particularly good. Because Sterling is in so much pain the plan, as of right now, is to amputate his entire right front leg. The tumor is in his shoulder. That will not, of course, stop the cancer from speading and growing. If we remove his leg we will be able to let Sterling be relatively pain-free - again, with pain management medication - probably for three to four months. That is the likely scenario for Sterling's time with us. Radiation and chemotherapy? Another option. One that we are not going to choose. At most it would buy us another ten or twelve months. Tops. It is far too much to put a dog in his senior years through. We went that route with our Rottweiler, Sergeant, many years ago, when he was diagnosed with triple cell carcinoma. Did we do it for Sergeant or did we do it for us? Either way it was stressful for him. It was painful. I will not do that to Sterling, too.

Surely there is a reader out there who has been through much the same that we are going through right now. Any recommendations? Thoughts? I have done some research and am changing his diet to a high-protein low carbohydrate food. The recommendation of the neurologist was "puppy chow." Does Sterling like it? Heck no. I'll be doing more research on high protein diets for dogs and will figure out what is going to be best for Sterling.

Sick. I am sick to my stomach. I am sad. Sterling is my baby! The Boy. I am absolutely heart-broken that the poor guy has to go through what he is going through. I would happily trade places with him. DH and I sat and talked last night and we are wondering if we are doing the right thing. Amputating his leg. Once again, we wonder whether we are doing this for Sterling or whether we are doing this for us.

Posting will be light. Maybe even non-existent for a while.


  1. Nothing can be said to lessen your pain or Sterling's, but you are in our thoughts and sympathies.

  2. I am so sorry about your Baby. The choices you have are tough and no matter what direction you choose to take, it will always be "Did I do the right thing?" I know, I have been through those choices myself. I still mourn the loss of my beloved dog after many years. Each one is very unique.

    It seems as if the only feasable choice is to make his remainding time as pain free as possible. I hav been through chemotherapy...for's not an option I would choose putting a beloved pet through.

    My thoughts and sympathies are with you. May you and Sterling enjoy what time you are allowed now and may he be pain free and in the arms of those who love him when he is released from any pain. My prayers are with you.

  3. I too am so sorry to hear this. We have had many dogs over our lifetimes, but I would never let one live on in pain. I would never increase their pain just to keep them around with me for a few weeks or months longer. It's a matter of quality of life for me. I've had to make that decision 3 times with 3 dogs and while it was awful and heartbreaking for me and hubby, we knew we did the right thing for our does.

    RIP: Rusty, Precious, Puddin, and Miss Prissy. We loved you all.

    Right Truth

  4. My heart goes out to you. We lost our beloved Suzy Q to cancer. After months of treatments, we finally let her go. It was hard to do, but she went with all of us around her with love.

  5. o my!! disturbing

  6. My sympathies, Sabra.

    There's about 50,000 people I'd like to see get cancer before someone's dog does. Most of them vote democrat, too. I might otherwise be a jerk, but I do have a soft spot in my tiny, black heart for dogs (screw cats, though!).

    I don't envy you your decision.

  7. Sabra:

    I am so sorry to hear about this. Two years ago, I took my 21 year old kitty, Stella, (who I acquired when she was 17) to the vet for the last time. Her kidneys had failed - she could not stand on her own, she could not get up if she was laying down, she was blind, and probably in some pain.

    And there was nothing I could do to help her.

    I still don't know if I did the right thing, but my Dad said she knew I loved her. Cried I did.


  8. I've been following you blog for many months, and have thoroughly enjoyed reading on your take on life in the Sand Box.
    I just want you to know you, DH and Sterling will be in my thoughts and prayers. You will make the right decision. Enjoy every moment together.....

  9. This is from a relative and might be of value:

    One of our volunteers dogs, also an older dog has it, and here is one pf the posts from October, he is still doing fine. The posts are several pages long or I would copy and paste, maybe she could register and read them all. Benny also went to a vet school, here in Ft. Collins, CSU.

    Maybe you could get the word to her. They took x-rays last month I believe, no sign of the cancer. I think it was a new treatment. Here is the post:

    dipipi Post subject: Re: Benny has osteosarcomaPosted: Wed Oct 28, 2009 4:12 pm

    Thanks, Diane. Well, parts of the Ft. Collins trip today were white-knuckle, but very glad we went. We're going to find out whether Benny can be treated with stereotactic radiosurgery - a pretty new therapy involving the precise implanting of a high dose of radiation in the cancer site. CSU is one of a few places around the country that offer this. Next step, a bone scan - if the cancer has spread, Benny will not be a candidate for SRS. Paws crossed!

  10. On June 12, 2009, I had to let the sunshine of my life go. Emma. I have always had dogs, and I have always loved them dearly..., but even so, Emma was special. Emma was a beautiful mantle marked Great Dane, who never met a stranger and brought smiles to the faces of everyone she met. Shortly after her 8th birthday, I noticed lumps at her jaw line. Tests were done ~ Lymphosracoma was the diagnosis. After much discussion, prayer, and tears, I opted to go with the chemo treatment and steroids prescribed by a highly regarded oncologist. Emma responded BEAUTIFULLY, and actually it seemed as if the clock had been turned back several years. When I returned home from work each day, I was met with a playful girl, whose eyes were as bright as a star. She was in remission for about 9 months. I had been forewarned that when, not if, she came out of remission, the odds were not good to get her back into remission. That day came and I was faced with a decision: harsher chemo treatment that could threaten her heart, or a third chemo option that would be less stressful on her..., but also less effective. I went with the latter. The goal was to see if the cancer could be slowed...while maintaining Emma's quality of life. We met with some success, but when it became apparent that the cancer was affecting her respiratory, I knew I had to let my girl go. I always sang silly songs to Emma, and there were a few that stayed with her all of her life. When we arrived at the vet's office, he gave her a mild sedative. He told me I had 10 minutes, so I sat on the floor holding my beloved girl in my lap and sang her songs to her. Then, it was time. As it happened, the left side of her chest was resting against my thigh, and I felt her heart beat its last. It was all very peaceful, but I literally felt (rather wished) I would pass right along with her. I stayed with my girl for a bit...smelling her smell, the feel of her fur, the softness of her uncropped ears that were always so expressive. There is not a day that passes that I don't think of her, or feel the void of her absence. I thank God for my furbabies at home, and I try to focus on their happiness. Emma loved them all very much, and she always hated to see her Mama sad. If I cried, I would laughingly say "Mama's eyes are leaking," and she would press her graceful head into me to give me a hug. So, that is our story, I could go on forever about my beautiful girl, but the bottom line is...there is no happy ending. Love Sterling each moment he is with you.
    Lisa L

  11. Hey Sabra,
    I'm very sorry to hear about Sterling. I'm sure I told you that I lost my cocker, Misti, right before moving to Saudi. It's very hard when a loved one goes....2 legged or 4 legged. I know you will follow your heart and do the right thing for him. Saffron will miss him as you will. Please know that I'm thinking of you guys!!!!
    Cathy T.

  12. I'm so sorry to hear about Sterling...and I know you're going to be facing some tough times. It's a hard line to walk between being 'selfish' and 'selfless' when it comes to our babies. You and Sterling will be in my thoughts and prayers.

  13. Just a thought, I have faced the decisions you must now make, finances being a part of the equation, and an even larger part being the quality of life for my four legged friends. My vet told me to stop being selfish, when being faced with a steadily worsening and agressive cancer in my bloodhound.She reminded me to, disregard my own pain at the loss of my cherished friend and protector.Then ask myself would I want to live the way the dog had to live. She offered me good advice I offer it to you,thank you for sharing what really goes on in the middle east, via con dios mark

  14. Well, HELL!

    I'm so sorry, Sabra. I had to let my sweet baby (19 years old) boy go last month. It's not easy. He will forever be in my heart.

    You, DH, and Sterling are in my thoughts and prayers.

    Please, scritch Sterling on the head for me? Thank you.

  15. Oh Sabra, I am so very sorry. I don't know what I would do.

  16. Really sorry to hear about Sterling. They are just like are kids, aren't they? I lost our teacup poodle suddenly last August. I think she had a stroke, but it was apparent nothing was going to help her as she first started wobbling and within a few minutes was paralyzed from the waist down. She wasn't in pain, thankfully. I held her for hours and hours, talking to her, telling her how much we all loved her and would miss her. Two of my kids were in Maine on vacation and the other two were here. Even when I had to go to the bathroom, I'd call my dad to come and hold her. I didn't want her alone for one second.

    She died that night around 8:40, very peacefully in my arms. She had spent her last hours gazing into my eyes, hearing how much she was loved and how much she brought to us as a family. I believe she's with my mom in Heaven now, both of them watching over us.

    I swore I'd never get another pet. Too painful for me and the kids. But I broke down in April and got a Yorkie. Charlie will never replace Cinni but he's also perfect for us in a different way. He's a little love and has brought us some healing.

    For me, it was sudden, and I didn't have choices to make. For you, you're in a tough spot. I don't know what I'd do. I'm fairly certain I wouldn't go the chemo route. As for the amputation, I really don't know. I'd hesitate to do it unless I knew it would give him a signifiant amount of time with us without being in pain.

    Good luck with everything. I hope Sterling's pain is always well-controlled.

  17. I just don't know what to say. I'm so sorry to hear about your boy.

    A few years ago (almost 10 but it feels like much less), I held my springer spaniel while he was put to sleep. He was diagnosed with cancer and it caused his personality to change. That's when we knew it was time to let him go. He's buried in my mother's back yard so I can visit him when I stop by.

    You're in my thoughts.
    Laura L

  18. I'm so sorry to hear about Sterling. I know that you will keep him pain-free and very loved until the minute you have to let him go. Losing a beloved pet is sad. My thought are with you.

  19. TERRIBLY TERRIBLY sorry. my best wishes for Sterling's time left to be as peaceful and painfree as possible.



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