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Missing My Boys!

I’ve now been 3 days without my boys. My in-laws called on Friday and needed some Sam and Macklin time. It’s so awesome that they love the boys so much….we are incredibly lucky. None of us know how much time we have left with Sam so I think they just needed a good weekend together. They called yesterday and needed one more day so we’ll see the boys tonight. As you can imagine, the house is empty without 2 big Berners running around.
So the boys have been living large. They went to the boat fair in RI on Saturday so Grandpa could buy new sails for the boat and then walked along 10 mile drive in Newport. I guess Sammy was a rock star and did amazing. My in-laws love driving with the top down in the car and laugh at all the people that stop to take pictures! They went swimming yesterday before hunkering down to watch the Pats game. They are spoiled rotten when they visit their grandparents….non-stop head scratches and belly rubs! They boys will be good and exhausted when they get home tonight!
So I’m feeling a bit nostalgic this morning from missing my boys and thought I would share some old photos!

Here’s Sammy’s first day home! 

And here are my 3 boys from last November – as you can see, Macklin is completely unable to be serious for very long!

Few more hours until I have a full house again….yay!  I can’t thank my in-laws enought for taking care of the boys, but I’m really looking forward to having them back!

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So Good Sammy

Well hello! It’s been a few weeks since we’ve touched base. Not because anything is wrong, but because we’ve been super busy!
Sam remains his constant self….great. We’re still amazed each day that he has so much energy and is doing so well. He has periodic bouts of lower energy but it’s hard to tell if it’s the weather or his lung mets. We prefer to go with the weather!

We had another amazing night out in Boston recently. We took Sam and Macklin in town and went out for dinner/drinks. We had so much fun. They were behaved so well and made us proud. Of course, everyone is in love with Sam…who can’t resist a 3-legged dog!

On the 4th we went to visit friends in Hingham. We met up at a great park – Bare Cove – that has a beach where the dogs can swim. It was a bit of a hike to get in – a good ¼ mile and Sam handled it like a champ. Once we were there, we stopped to put on his swim coat….but he wasn’t waiting and ran right in the water! He was like a fish and was so darn happy. He was so proud of himself…swimming with 3-legs and no swim coat. I’ll admit, I was a proud mamma!


He tuckered out a little bit on the walk back to the truck, but we managed and headed back to Lisa and Jon’s place for a hose down and a fantastic dinner. Their dog, Babe was an amazing hostess all night long…she graciously shared her place with the boys and they had a fantastic time. It always feels so good with a house full of dogs that get along well!
The boys got cheated a bit this past week. I was scheduled to be away on business for the past week (in London) so we had decided to bring the dogs to my in-laws – we thought a change of scenery would make them miss me less. Well, I had to cancel the trip at the last minute because my schedule was too crazy and we were never able to get to RI to let them still have a visit. We’ll make it up to them….it’s their favorite place in the world and they get spoiled 24/7.
Here’s great pic of Sam with his buddy Nando…they are great friends!

We also had a great visit to the Sandy Paw this past weekend….time to trim the nails!  The girls there are always so wonderful to us…they always fit us in.  Sam was so good…Macklin was so not good…ha!  Macklin acts like a circus dog when it’s time for his nails…all sorts of flailing.  He’s never in distress….he just doesn’t like being still.  Well, at least it’s a good work out.  Otherwise all is great with us. Sam is still our little miracle. I’m in awe that he’s living large and with no indication that he’s sick. So cool.

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What I Think about Lung Mets

I hate lung mets. I hate that we all know about lung mets. And I hate that lung mets send us into a panic. I found that the appeanrce of lung mets was even more devastating than the initial diagnosis of Sam’s osteosarcoma. While JB and I were overwhelmed at the initial diagnosis, we were devastated by the mets. I think it may be because when we first learn of the osteosarcoma we don’t even know what to do or think. We don’t know what it is and we don’t know about an entire community of dogs that have the same thing! We’re not smart on the subject and we’re able to balance our fears of amputation and the unknown with trying to learn more and be smart. And then we start our journey as a tripaw. By the time mets come around, we’re REALLY smart on the whole cancer thing. We’ve researched procedures, protocols, diets, supplements, gear – you name it – and we know all about cancer in our pups. We know the known and we know the unknown. And we especially know all about scary lung mets.

So when lung mets appear, boy does it punch you in the gut. It seems really unfair. Our prescious friends have been braver than we could ever have imagined. They remain stoic through amputation and rounds of chemo. Even when they are in pain, adapting to life on 3-legs and just don’t feel good, they are the coolest and most heroic creatures. We admire them. We’ve found oursleves on a journey we never wanted to be on and wouldn’t wish on anyone, but yet feel a little bit of joy in the special spirt we are able to witness. And during the up times, may even consider ourselves lucky. We all learn life lessons from these amazing dogs.

I thought I would be ok when Sam’s mets appeared. What I wasn’t ready for was to look at his x-rays side by side – one from six weeks prior and one from that day. I gasped and the only think I could think of was that he looked like a cheetah. His lungs were so spotted with mets it just didn’t make any sense that he had no symptoms yet was so sick. What JB and I realized – and I will confess, it took us about 48 hours to get out of the funk – was that Sam didn’t think he was sick. The x-rays told us differently, but our heroic boy still wanted to live. And after all he and been through, who were we to act as if this news put an end to that? He will let us know when he’s had enough.

While we understand there are no givens on the time we have left, with our oncologist, we figured Sam had about 8 weeks. The aggressiveness of the mets would just be too much. We put him on metronomics to see if it would slow things downs. And we started living day to day. We thought we had been doing that since his osteo diagnosis, but let me tell you, when you really feel the tunnel closing in, it takes on a new meaning. The ear rubs get even longer, the hugs even more frequent, the time sitting on the floor just playing even more enjoyable then you ever imagined. Sitting next to each other is the best feeling in the entire world and you are consumed with wanting to spend time together. I’ve discovered how much time in my life has been wasted wishing for the days to pass quickly – so the work day was over, so it could be the weekend, so it was vacation etc. – and for the first time in my life, I want the days to slow down. But the days have been good…real good.

Sam’s appointment last week showed the mets had slowed. He still has lots of them – 25+ at this point – but not multiplying at the prior pace. The 8 weeks is off the table – he’s back to being an unknown. He’s still fighting, showing no symptoms and loving his time with us. Sam gained 3 pounds when we weighed him at his last visit (he’s now at 106 lbs.) I got the biggest smile when our oncologist said, “well, sick dogs don’t gain weight”. That’s right – Sammy still doesn’t know he’s sick.

We are realistic – we do know he could start showing symptoms any day. I can’t worry about when that will be or I’ll miss out on today. I know that day is not today at this point so I’m going to love him like crazy.

That’s what I think about lung mets.

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Sam’s Weekend

Well, we had a reasonably good oncologist appointment on Friday. The metronomics has slowed the lung mets just a bit. The mets less than doubled since his last scan 4 weeks ago. I know, that is still a whole lot of mets…but….given how aggressive they appeared in the prior 6 weeks, our oncologist thought it would be much more than that. So, needless to say, we were extremely pleased. Sammy still has no symptoms….just an occassional cough when he’s excited but otherwise great. He’s eating well and has good energy. Our hope is that his meds kick in even more over the next 4 weeks before our next appointment and slow the progression even more. We’ll see but for now, we’re just so proud of him. He’s definitely fighting the good fight.
We had a pretty quiet weekend….with Irene roaring up the east coast, we stayed close to home. Sam and Macklin were none too pleased when we crossed the street to their beach yesterday only to find the water up to the seawall….at low tide! Sammy was baffled….I got the “so where do I swim” look?  Here’s his beach…or his missing beach!

Macklin has become very clingy in the past few days which is very unlike him. We’re hoping it was the storm and not that he senses Sam is sick. Time will tell.  Lot’s of folks were out this morning cleaning up after Irene….and Sam watched out over the neighborhood.


Fortunately we fared well with the storm….this morning was sunshine and green grass.

 

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Super Weekend

We had a wonderful weekend. Krissy and Tristan visited from NYC. JB and I were not fooled – they came to visit with Sam and Macklin – ha. Don’t get me wrong, they were happy to see us and we had tons of laughs, but they were there to spoil the dogs – and they did a great job. We had lots and lots of snuggle time with the boys. Friday night was extra special because Kate and the kids came over too. Corinne and Jack had not visited in a little bit so they got to see Sam in full action and being his speedy self. Jack is the treat master and boy did he take care of the pups – maybe that’s why they didn’t want to eat on Saturday. I think Macklin even managed to get some mac and cheese! And then, as if the night wasn’t already perfect, my in-laws stopped by too…and then my brother and sister in-law. Wow, the boys didn’t even know what to do with all the love – that’s a total of 22 hands that were ready to give head scratches and belly rubs!

It was a super chill Saturday and we just lounged on the porch all day.

We went out to dinner later and the boys were so well behaved. Sammy was a little out of sorts at first and it took him a little while to settle down and find a comfortable spot under the table. The restaurant was croweded so thank goodness all the folks around us were patient while he settled in…a few people were swotted with his tail in the process.
Once we were back home, we all just sat on the floor with Sam and Mack and had a great night. Krissy and I shared old stories from our college days and Tristan and JB just rolled their eyes at us – it was perfect! Here’s my two sleeping beauties….Kristin and Sammy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our goodbyes on Sunday were teary…always hard to say goodbye to such dear friends.

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Summer Fun!

Well, sorry we have not posted in a little bit, but we’re having too much fun!
We’ve been out and about – enjoying the summer air, the cool grass and even some of the rain. The boys are doing terrific. Sam has tolerated the metronomics really well so far. It’s been about 2 ½ weeks with no complications. His energy remains very high and his appetite is off the charts. It’s really helpful that he has such a zest for food as it makes giving all his pills and supplements really a breeze. We ran into a friend yesterday and because Sam doesn’t exhibit one symptom of being sick (well, aside from missing a leg), she asked very seriously, “do you think maybe the x-rays of Sam’s lungs were not really his?” It made me smile….Sammy is so wonderful.
We’ve had some really fun excursions lately. We had a great day in Boston on the 6th and had a great dinner by the water. The boys were pretty much loved by every person that walked by. Macklin will seriously give up his belly for anyone….not shy at all. He was in the middle of the sidewalk, on his back, inviting each and every passer-by to rub his belly. The boys were rewarded with burgers, fries and key lime pie. I think they would move in to the restaurant if we would let them. More key lime pie please!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Last weekend we headed up to Salem. We found a great dog friendly restaurant and were able to sit outside, listen to the music and have dinner with the boys. They had a great doggie menu and both boys had grilled chicken. It was a great time – well, except for the idiot that kept screaming, “where’s the kitty”, to get Sam all wound up – and refused to stop even I begged please. I wanted to kick him in the shins….except I was too focused on trying to calm Sammy down….grrr. Otherwise, it was a nice find and we had fun.

We went to a great street fair in Wakefield on Saturday. All the streets were blocked off and there were tons of dogs and kids walking around. The boys loved it. They were able to visit one of their favorite dog stores and got to visit their friend Rex, another Berner! It’s quite the picture to see the three together. All three dogs were so well behaved and patient as every child in the area proceeded to approach and wrap their arms around the dogs!
And kongs for the tired pups. I love the laser focus when I give the boys their kongs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nice way to end a great weekend.   We have lots planned for this weekend so more updates later.

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Spoiled Sammy

Good few days with Sammy and Macklin. Sammy has been completely spoiled and we’ve had some good relaxing time on the porch now that the heat has let up a bit.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vanessa bought new toys and doggie cupcakes…yay! The pictures are a little blury because they just could not keep still – ha!


Sammy had a great day at the park on Monday. JB took him to the park after work and Sammy pulled all the way to the far park. I let my nerves get the best of me – when I pulled in the driveway, they dogs were not outside and then I received a text from JB asking “are you almost home”. Well, I ran in the house thinking something was the matter and realized they were not there – but the car was which could only mean the park – and that put a big smile on my face. JB had sent a text because Sam had played so hard he was a bit gassed and JB wasn’t sure he would walk back home. As I looked out the window, I saw him hopping down the street. He was one happy dog. I walked to meet them and our neighbor Alan met them on his front yard with bowls of water for a little break. 

It will be a good weekend!

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Tough Appointment

Tough appointment today.  Sammy had his 5 month visit with his oncologist this afternoon.  While we were a bit apprehensive this week, we were feeling pretty good.  His scans 6 weeks ago were all clear and he had really been a trooper with chemo.  He’s been completely amazing all week – he’s been so full of energy we couldn’t figure out what was going on until we realized it was his first week without chemo in his system in 4 months…he’s like the energizer bunny!  Anyway, so it was pretty devastating to find out he had developed mets.  He has about a dozen spots – about 1/2 of which are significant in size.  I felt like I got punched in the stomach.  We looked at his x-rays next to the ones from 6 weeks ago and it was crazy. The fact that there are so many and that they have all just developed so quickly is just not good – the cancer is just super aggressive.  I spent a very long time with our oncologist to try to make sense of everything and really think through what made sense to do.  We decided on metronomic so he’s now on Cytoxan, Piroxicam, Doxycycline.  In addition, we have him on K-9 Immunity and fish oil.  We would love for something to work against this darn cancer but for now we just want to slow the spread and keep him comfortable.  I did an ok job keeping it together until I got to the truck….JB had sent me a text and was anxious to hear about the appointment….let’s just say I didn’t do a great job maintaining my composure when I called him.  Sigh.  I pulled it together and managed the drive home.  I’ve now had some time to let the shock wear off and am feeling more grounded.  My girlfriend reminded me that when this journey started in March, JB and I said if we were able to give Sammy a good and happy summer we would be grateful.  Well, we’ve definitely done that and so we really are fortunate.  The remainder of the summer will be wonderful….we’ll live day to day and cherish each trot, bark, drool and smile.  We’ll love each other and create lasting memories.  We had a real chill afternoon on the porch. My tears are at bay for the moment and my energy will be in a better place tomorrow so they don’t pick up on my worry.  But for now, we’ll just relax on the porch and enjoy our quiet time.  I just love my boys.  

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Super Kids Take Care of Super Sammy

Sam and Macklin had a fantastic weekend at their very first sleep over.  Until this past weekend, they had only ever stayed with my in-laws.  JB’s little brother got married this weekend (congratulations Mike and Kristina!) so we spent the weekend in RI.  Given the festivities were going to take up much of our time, we decided it was best to leave the boys home.  So on Thursday, off they went to stay with Super Kids, Nando and Josie (and their wonderful parents, Neal and Christina) and they became city dogs for the weekend.  Nando and Josie took great care of them.  Sam quickly found a perfect spot on the window seat watching everyone go by – as you can see, Neal rigged up the PetLoader stairs so Sammy could get up and down on his own! 

 

Nando walked and fed the dogs every day and Josie even made Sam a new collar from one of her pink belts – I think he loved it!  They spent lots of time at the park and met many other dogs.  Nando took lots and lots of video and said everyone he met said they loved his dogs.  We could tell how much fun they had when we picked them up!  The boys have definitely moped around a bit because they miss the kids.  SO…..a very big shout out and lots of hugs and kisses to our good friends Nando, Josie, Neal and Christina.  Thanks for loving the boys like they they are your own! Xo

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Star Spangled Sammy

June 30th
Today was Sam’s 6th and final chemo! Hard to believe we started this journey 4 months ago. We typically have chemo on Fridays but we switched to Thursday this round because of the long weekend. The good news is our wonderful oncologist takes her patients at the hospital on Thursdays so we had the good fortune of meeting up with our surgeon today. Of course Sammy impressed her….and I received lots of “we told you he would do great” from all the girls. Yes, they we right….just hard to imagine way back then! It was really great to see everyone. Sammy did his typical Houdini when it came time for his infusion….he escaped from his collar and took off running down the hall. It was pretty funny although I did feel badly when the technician had to chase him – he took a wrong turn into an exam room so we were able to corner him…ha! I had a great chat with his doctor and we scheduled his next appointment for 4 weeks out. We have not decided what to do next and will likely just wait to see how he is in 4 weeks. We spent the day in Boston after chemo. We had such a good afternoon hanging out with Vanessa and Lisa. The boys chilled at the farmer’s market and even had a Dell’s lemonade for a treat!

I had a funny/embarrassing situation earlier this week. I was scheduled for jury duty this past Tuesday. Well, wouldn’t you know, I ended up getting picked for a jury panel. So, when the judge said the trial would take 2-3 days, I had to raise my hand to explain why I would be unable to serve. Now picture me, at the front of a court room…in front of the judge, two attorneys from the DA’s office, two defense attorneys and the clerk….explaining that I have dog chemo on Thursday. I got excused after a few raised eyebrows, some snickers and a big sigh. No doubt I made for good dinner conversation as the first time they had heard that excuse.

July 1st
Macklin had a vet appointment today. Boy was he surprised to get to the office and find out he was in the spotlight today. He is typically at all appointments for moral support and has not had the pleasure for a while. Sam was releived as he’s not feeling well and he just got good belly rubs from the vet…no poking and blood work etc. It was still a nice trip out of the house and we just chilled when we got home.

July 3rd
What an awesome day…it was a bit hot today so JB brought home a pool for the boys! Sammy loved standing in it….Macklin, not so much. Both boys love using it as a water bowl! Cooling off definitely took the edge of Sammy’s nausea.

July 4th
Sammy is doing a great job powering through chemo. He’s not feeling great so it’s even more difficult expending all his energy barking at fireworks. We live on the coast so on each night of 4th of July weekend, we can see (and hear) several firework displays from communities up and down the coast….that’s a lot of barking! It helps when everyone squishes on the couch with Daddy…ha!

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