This blog is dedicated to the life and times of an extraordinary dog named Guinness.
All of you who knew Guinness know that I've always told him he has Puppy Powers. Despite losing his right hind leg to bone cancer (osteosarcoma) early this year, Guinness continued to be his same good-natured, food-loving, gentle, yet silly self right to the end. It was during this time his Puppy Powers turned into Pirate Puppy Powers!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Chewbacca and other stories

I have all these funny memories of Guinness I have wanted to share, but I just really, really miss the guy, so it's been hard to wade through all the emotion and sit down and make myself think and write about Guinness. But I think I'm finally at a point where I can.

You may have heard many references to all of the crazy things he ate or chewed up over the years, and those of you that knew him, know that he was definitely a champion in that department. The first time he ate something odd started not even a week after I brought him home, when he was about 10 weeks old or so. He was playing outside, and when he came back in he suddenly got really sick. I called our vet at the time, and while on the phone, Guinness proceeded to cough up several clumps of very sharp, pointy, dried needles from one of those pine type shrubs. I told this to the vet, and was put on alert for various signs indicating he needed to be rushed in on an emergency basis, and what to give him in the meantime to help. Luckily, nothing happened and he was fine. It just reinforced his belief he could eat ANYTHING!

Not long after, it was this type of behavior that prompted Brett to make the declaration that the only reason Guinness had a body was to support the existence of his mouth and jaws....he had shown his true colors, we didn't have a puppy, we had an Ingesting Machine!

From there Guinness moved on to bigger and better things. He never was one to chew up a shoe, instead, opting for bigger and better delicacies such as, oh, say, a love seat!! Or, perhaps an entire webbed collar, minus the metal hardware (that was a fun go round, involving me finding the buckle to his collar and wondering where the rest of it was, and my sister Adrienne, weeks later, subsequently coming to visit and declaring "what IS that thing over there?" My reply: "Oh, that's where that was!" It had been living in Guinness' stomach for no less than three weeks before being regurgitated on the living room floor!)

Another top story, and this was probably his biggest, grandest display ever (a work of art almost), this past New Year's Eve, Brett and I and the girls were at our friends' house for the evening. We came home around 2am (the kids were overjoyed to get to stay up that late) and we were all beat. I had just washed all of our bedding that day in preparation of a long night, and being able to come home to some fresh sheets and plopping into bed. Upon arrival, the first thing we noticed was that Guinness had opened the cupboards (again, it was his newest trick). He had selected a can of black beans, or maybe they were pinto, I can't remember, and had crushed it, yes, CRUSHED, with his jaws, and had flattened it into a pancake and had eaten all of the beans out of it.

If that wasn't good enough, when I went to the bedroom, I was greeted by a scene that looked probably not that far off from a murder scene. I was really freaked out. On the floor and on our bed was this red stuff, and the sheets were shredded. I really was afraid of what it was, but luckily after seeing the bean massacre, I had a hunch. Guinness had found a plastic jar of tomato sauce and chewed that open, too. He obviously brought it up on the bed and probably clawed at it to hold it down while he, yes, ate a whole large size jar of tomato sauce. I almost took a photo, because it was quite the site to behold, but Brett was really disturbed by the thought of preserving that for posterity (it really was a pretty unnerving sight). So, instead of going to bed, we were scrambling to find more bedding.

Other things Guinness has eaten, attempted to eat, or otherwise shredded over the years:

  • Numerous canned goods (he perfected the can crush method, so we had to move our canned goods to a higher location)
  • Entire loaves of bread
  • Entire and partial rolls of paper towels
  • Toilet Paper
  • Kleenex
  • Half a 25 lb bag of dried dog food (big belly ache and vet call for that one)
  • 30-some birthday candles (overnight vet visit after raiding the garbage and coming close to needing emergency surgery, but it ended with a call from the vets after about 12 hours at the clinic. Vets: "We were just about to suggest surgery since we can't figure out what the mass we're seeing in his stomach is but he just passed a bunch of what looks like candles!" Me: "Oh yeah, we just had a birthday party for my friend Jen, there were over 30 of them!")
  • Pan of brownies (surrounded by shattered glass, as he had jumped up and knocked the glass pan down to get to them...this is a story unto itself, and one I'm hoping my brother -in-law will write up for us, since he was the one at the house and discovered it when Guinness did it...I was off at the pediatrician's office with Mia, then less than a year old for an emergency, it was an intense 2 hours but all ended well.)
  • No less than, say, 20 tv remotes (I started buying replacements in 2's knowing he'd find them!)
  • Baby gates (if they got in the way of him getting to the kitchen cupboard, he'd gnaw or claw it off the wall)
  • Stuffed animals, nun puppets, carrot stuffed animals and stuffed animal eyeballs galore!The kids lived in fear, and eventually we had to put them all up.
  • Work gloves. I don't think Brett ever had a pair that wasn't found, stolen, and chewed up.
  • Giant sticks (logs practically sometimes!), we have a photo of him dragging an 8-10 foot branch that had fallen in my mom's yard once.
That's just off the top of my head. We called him a Wookie because of the uncanny wookie call he made when people would come to the door, pretty fitting, since he chewed things so much that calling him Chewbacca wasn't out of order either! I'll return at some point, with more, but I would like to add, if you have any memories of things Guinness did (food related or otherwise) or any thoughts at all, please don't be afraid to post up. I'd love to read anything you have to say!

Until then...

Monday, October 5, 2009

My Pirate Pup - Guinness' Records

I wanted to make this post because leaving this blog hanging on the previous one makes me really sad. I wanted to be able to think past it, and reflect a little bit on what made Guinness so...Guinness.

His name, which chosen for, obviously, the stout of the same name, ended up being appropriate for another reason. He, in my opinion lived up to the name Guinness in the sense of records . . . I called them Guinness' Records. First and foremost, besides being a very large and powerful animal, Guinness had to have been one of the most gentle, if not the gentlest dogs I have ever met, and I am almost certain anyone who has met him will agree. In his 10 years he was witnessed to have growled only one time, and it wasn't even a growl but a little grunt of protest when a then 2 year old (my nephew) tried to sit on his back years ago. Kincaid loved Guinness so much I think he wanted to engulf him.

But he was also nuts! It was the mix of his sweet nature added to a completely bonkers personality (which is what drove to me to call him a Puppy, and never a dog to the very last) that made him who he was.

In my opinion, he won other "Guinness' Records" for: the most times causing an owner to have to call the vets for eating strange items, food or otherwise; amount of creative tricks learned in a short amount of time (I had to stop because I ran out of ideas eventually); the amount of surgeries he had to go through due to aliments and/or self inflicted injury; for his resilience and his ability to deal with various health issues with such acceptance; and above all else, his capacity for absolute love of every single human or animal that he met (including other dogs he occasionally encountered that clearly wanted to eat him for lunch).

At the moment I'm trying to draw on and learn from his record ability to accept situations with grace, strength and determination. It is this that is making me able to deal with his loss a little easier so that I can move forward and focus on all the love and enjoyment that came from having him be part of our lives.

That's all for right now, but I think tomorrow I'd like to start posting up some of the really silly things Guinness has done over the years, there are so many stories, I would love to use this place to put it down in words so it's not forgotten. Perhaps I'll touch on each of the Guinness' Records in a series of posts.

And, I'll leave this on a silly note with an early photo of him, taken a few days after he came home with me, wrestling with a visiting puppy friend. If you take a look at his expression, you'll get a tiny glimpse of the whirling dervish he was!

(Guinness and wrestling buddy, July 1999)

Thursday, October 1, 2009

The hardest yet

Well, as usual, I'm finding myself posting something completely unexpected. Last night, after a great day, we suddenly found ourselves in a position of having to say good bye to the one and only Guinness.

If you are in shock, know that we are in the deepest moments of shock as well. It's hard posting right now, but I wanted to let everyone know. All I can say is he woke up yesterday acting well, as evidenced by my previous post. I took the kids out and was gone from about 4 to about 8, and Brett got home around 6. He was acting totally normal, including bringing us another stuffed animal on our arrival, eating dinner just fine, going outside and trolling around as has become the norm once again. But by 10 or so, when I was going to let him out one more time, I found him lying in his usual spot behind his chair, a wicker rocking chair, but when I asked if he wanted out, all he could do was lift his head and lay back down. I knew immediately something was critically wrong. Brett came over to help me, and we knew we had to call for help. Suffice to say after a couple phone calls with Tom diagnosing over the phone, consulting with Wendy, and Wendy rushing home so Tom could get to us, we found that we were in a really tough spot fast with Guinness. I don't have the strength to post up any details right now, but I will say that after facing the (very few) options we had, at about 11:40 last night Brett and I were by Guinness' side with Tom in our living room as he was put to sleep.

I know you will most likely want to know why, so as fast as I can get it out, the anemia caused by the chemotherapy and the cancer, finally was stronger than the prednisone that was keeping it a bay. We were stuck in a rock and a hard place, where Guinness couldn't be kept on a high dose of predinsone without him suffering from damage to his body, but without it, he wasn't able to

The only thing that keeps me going right now is knowing that his last day was a really good one. I shared my breakfast with him upstairs in the office here, so happy he was still wanting to make the trip upstairs still. He brought us stuffed animals (even chewed the eyeballs out), and was feeling, at least outwardly, good enough to have a normal day. He was Guinness right up until the very end.

I have to say, after it was all over last night I immediately thought about how hard it was going to be to break it to everyone, my family, all of you. It made me really sad, but it also helped me immensely knowing that, once again, I have so many of you to share the sadness, and also the happiness that Guinness has brought.

Finally, the photo I posted yesterday now takes on one of those poignantly sad twists when I recall one of my first photos of Mia and Guinness. The image keeps reappearing in my mind, and I thought it would be nice to post it here to show how much of a gentle guy and kind spirit Guinness has always been.

I will leave you with these two photos of Guinness with Mia and Jaina for now, and I will post again when I have my wits about me a bit more. Thank you all of you for being there for me though the most difficult part of Guinness' life.

Guinness with Jaina and Mia, Summer 2003

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Pirate Pup...YAARR!

I am so happy to be able to say that Guinness is still doing incredibly well. We've had several people stop by in the past week or so remark how good he looks right now. Guinness is back to his old tricks, going outside with his hackles up, charging at the neighbors and barking, getting into cupboards again (yay for chewed up water bottles!), ringing his bell to go outside (a trick he learned as a pup, very handy), and just getting into general mischief. He's also been greeting people at the door with shoe in mouth, yodeling like a wookie. It makes my heart sing.

I've also done research on the natural remedies suggested to me by Dr. Tom and will be adding artemisinin, vascustatin and Imm-kine to his repertoire. It will replace the prednisone, which is almost phased out. Eventually he will only be on gabapentin to help maintain any pain in his existing hip joint (he has mild dysplasia), pepcid to counteract any stomach upset by medications, and the holistic support mentioned above.

I can't even put into words how happy it makes me to see him turn around and suddenly be himself again. I'm also happy that we made it this far, with a successful surgery, 3 rounds of chemotherapy and now a more natural approach on the horizon, with only a few scary, yet in the end negotiable, set backs along the way. I will still continue to update, probably more once we embark on the introduction of the artemisinin et. al. I'm going to add one at a time to make sure he can tolerate them, and if there is any side effects I'll have a better grasp on where it's coming from.

More soon!

(photo, Mia and Guinness, bird watching, a big habit in our household)

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Checking In

This past Friday I brought the cats in for a check up, and while there got to talking about Guinness and how he is doing, and how to continue his support. Given that he has been acting like he feels well, considering all that he has been through, I talked to Dr. Tom about what it would mean to discontinue chemotherapy. After me many questions and Dr. Tom taking time out to answer everything I asked, I have made the decision to cease the treatments , and hope that the three rounds he was given, plus the dietary change we made a while ago (Guinness is now being fed a high protein, low grain diet with the addition of some supplements and freshly cooked meat, we've all but eliminated commercial dry dog food which has a high grain content), with the addition of some alternative therapies that he has used with another patient to seemingly good result, will keep Guinness in good health.

At this point I am further researching a few alternative supplements to his treatment repertoire. As he is being weened off the prednisone, which also served as a method to inhibit tumor growth as well as helping to try to keep his white blood cell count in check, we are going to add artemisinin into his medicinal arsenal, as well as possibly two others, including vascustatin and Imm-kine, both of which I am researching. We are in essence going to employ some of the items on an alternative cancer treatment for dogs with osteosarcoma, called the Navy Protocol, which Dr. Tom has had some experience with another patient. I will be looking further into that as well.

Besides that we'll be monitoring his levels via blood samples and also occasional chest x-rays to spot check his lungs, and of course anything else (that hopefully doesn't arise).

It was nice to see Guinness get all upset and actually trot off to get a stuffed animal to bring to the cats when he saw them put into the carrier on their way out the door to the clinic, something he's always done. The cats weren't too thrilled about the whole thing, but I was!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Iron will, and a loss

Today's will be another fast post, sorry, I almost want to erase all that I was faced with and pondering not long ago, and just post that today still finds Guinness doing well. To say he's got an iron will and ability to forge ahead is an understatement. He's now getting him self up unassisted most of the time, stopped needing the "suitcase handle" harness I had to put on to help him down the back stairs, and we have all noticed how much more perky and alert he's been. His expressive ears are moving about all the time in response to our voices and activity going on, something I didn't even consciously know he does until it came back.

So, back up the roller coaster, hoping it continues. For now his chest xray and ultrasound have been postponed, which is great news to think we've overcome a big low.

On a sad note, we lost another one of our furry friends last night, Zelda, our fancy rat, one of two sisters we adopted a few years ago. It was a melancholy night for us all, as losing a pet of any size is not easy. I had suspected something was going on, as she had developed a tumor under her front paw very recently and I was watching it carefully. But I've been down that road with my old friend rat, Clover, who I had in college. I had actually had surgery done on her to try to help her, as she had a tumor as well, which is not uncommon for pet rats. She made it through surgery but ended up not pulling out of anesthesia. Unfortunately for those tiny pets (and their owners), there is not a lot you can do for them medically. As it was pointed out with Zelda's sister Aryll by Dr. Tom when she was ill, there are no known dosages for them. They are so tiny it's almost impossible to measure out medicines, you can't do blood draws because you can't take enough blood from them to give any kind of result, and obviously as I learned with Clover, anesthesia is a very difficult thing with them.

But, regardless, it is still a loss and very sad, although the lessons in loving and caring for another living thing has been such a wonderful experience for the kids. We will miss the good times with Zelda, just as we do her sister, Aryll, very much.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Catching up on the past 12 days

I have found that the hardest days we have are also the hardest to put into words, and I find myself avoiding it. I want to report good things to everyone, but alas, it's not always the way it is. I've also realized that after a really good start with Guinness and his treatments, I got a little spoiled since he handled it so well in the begining. I started to think that, hey, this is going to be a breeze! So, when things started turning rough, it was a big shock even though I had tried to prepare myself for a long hard road when he was first diagnosed.

I'm going to have to save all the details of what has happened in the past 12 days for tomorrow, as I'm my brain is starting to shut down, but I will say that in the past 6 days Guinness has gone from being very weak and me being so worried about him, to all of a sudden watching him starting to perk back up once again. As of yesterday he has started barking at cars going by and at our neighbors dog once again, it's pretty funny to be jumping for joy at a dog barking loudly. He's also started greeting us at the door with shoes once again, asking to come upstairs with us, and getting himself up much more without me standing over him to help him out.

Sorry for such a discombobulated post, I've got a lot of information and things to try to get into words so they make sense, but at least for the moment you know that while things have been really tough, I've been feeling much more relieved at Guinness' improvement in the past few days. I think I've learned by now that this is a big pendulum that goes back and forth, I just hope it keeps going this way for much longer.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Puppy by my side

As I write this, I have Guinness next to my feet, which makes me really happy.

He's had a rough last week, and I've been trying to gather my thoughts for this (once again) long overdue post.

Since my last writing, he has been to the clinic twice (photo, left from his visit with Dr. Wendy on the 24th) , with a third appointment scheduled for tomorrow. Guinness had been doing pretty well, and then once again took a down turn. He suddenly lost a bunch of weight, and became less active. I brought him in as a semi-emergency appointment with Dr. Tom on Saturday the 22nd, and he was checked over to make sure there wasn't something critically wrong. Luckily his heart, lungs and checks for anything really urgent and horrible were normal. I also had an appointment scheduled for that Monday for deeper tests, including a chest xray. That also came out good, and I am relieved that he still has clear lungs. Guinness was put on antibiotics to cover the bases for any potential infection that wasn't showing itself, and also was put on a high protein diet to help put some weight back on him (let me tell you, Guinness has been thrilled about that part of it).

Monday we went to see Dr. Wendy, and he had a second blood draw, several xrays and a urinalysis. While his blood counts are still out of whack, his chest xray is still coming back clear, which is very happy news. A second antibiotic was added because of some other symptoms that were appearing (one of which was very bad breath and strong urine odor). We also added an omega-3 suppliment to his diet, which are in the form of little treats that Guinness can't get enough of. Once again, heart, lungs etc. look good. All of his vitals were still looking good, and nothing is standing out as to why he's feeling so poopy.

On Saturday night, I became much more worried about him. His stomach appeared to be really enlarged, and he looked very uncomfortable. I stayed up with him very late making sure he was ok, bringing him water, helping him outside several times, and even putting a cool washcloth on his belly to cool him down (he seems to get hot at night, and pants a lot, whether due to heat, or just not feeling right). Finally, he settled down and got comfortable, and I was able to make the decision not to pack him into a car and whisk him off to be checked. Sunday morning he seemed to be feeling a little better, though still not his usual self.

As of yesterday, 10 days after being on antibiotics to see if he responded (if there was a drastic improvement, it would seem to signal that it is an infection causing his downturn), he is still pretty low key, and is having a hard time getting himself off the floor unassisted. He will be going back tomorrow, and we will be discussing what to do about future chemotherapy treatments (he's definitely not been feeling well enough to get them so that's been taken off the plate entirely for the moment), switching up his diet again (he's on a diet of puppy food and home cooked ground beef to eliminate as much grains from his diet as possible as cancer feeds on grains, but can't reproduce in fat) as the ground beef may be a source of stomach irritation (he may be moved to cooked chicken...let me just tell you again, Guinness is a happy camper over all this, he exists to eat!) and also changing up his pain medication to make sure we support his left leg so that he can become more mobile.

That's where we're at right now. I am happy to be able to report that me brining a muffin upstairs a bit ago was enough temptation for him to get off the kitchen floor and call to me from the bottom step to bring him up here with me...again, not something he's been doing lately, so it makes me happy to have my puppy at my side while I compose this.

See the muffin? Or, actually, the muffin paper...the muffin is long gone, he just hasn't been shown the evidence yet. Guinness still has his eye on it.

I have to add here that after visiting the Animal Clinic of Chardon so frequently, it's like walking into a home full of friends and family. I'm getting to know the staff one by one, and it's really comforting to be under the care of such a great team. Wendy, Tom, and all of the rest at ACOC (Jodi, Rebecca, Kim, Terri, Bitsy, Amanda, Marie, Jessi and Joyce, and Dr. Jessica, I hope I'm not forgetting anyone!) thank you so much.

More to follow after tomorrow's appointment . . . in the meantime, we're still hanging in there!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Hard post to make

Once again I've let some time go by between posts, and over all it's been a good thing. Guinness went through his third round of chemotherapy and did well for the first several days, no more vomiting, no other adverse reactions to report.

But over the past week or so, I've noticed him start to decline once again. Both my mom and my dear friend visited a day apart, and both noticed changes in him that I was suspecting as well. His energy is very low, and I've just made note that it's been several days since he's greeted anyone at the door like a wookie. He's been sleeping a lot, only getting up to beg for food, which I assume is the prednisone talking, and he's also appearing to have lost some weight, or possibly just some muscle mass. In either event, he's not quite the same at all.

I have been thinking long and hard about things, and I have decided to bring him in to our friends at Animal Clinic of Chardon to have him weighed and checked, possibly a blood draw to see where he's at, and I will also ask if a chest x-ray is appropriate. I have also decided I would like to discuss the possibility of cutting his chemotherapy entirely. The fact that he has not one, but two more rounds left gives me a knot in my stomach, and I am beginning to realize that perhaps this is a "gut feeling" in the literal sense.

The good news is he has had three rounds out of the original prescribed four, so I am hopeful if he can pull out of this funk he can have some more good days ahead. Last I knew his chest was still clear, and I hope that is still the case.

Tomorrow will tell...but I do know he needs to be looked at to figure out what to do next. I promise to update as soon as there is any news, and any decisions to continue to treat or not treat.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Here we are, the big day #3

I'm happy to report, for those of you who don't know yet, that Guinness has rebounded enough from the Carboplatin reaction that he was able to receive a dose of the Doxorubicin today. His counts were just enough, barely, but enough to allow the doctor to go forward. He also remarked that Guinness's color (his gums and tongue, as he was checking for anemia) looked much better than two weeks ago.

I sat in the office and watched as a big thunder storm rolled in over Lake Erie off in the distance while he was in the next room getting his treatment, and within 30 minutes they were finished, and Guinness was dragging the doctor back down the hall to me. He's had it with all the visits and wants out as fast as he can, not happy with being there but still tolerating everything and as always still is very friendly and tail waggy to all the people and any other animals (which there are a lot less of at this clinic than at the big clinic at OSU, but he still gets to see a few, and wants to sniff and schnuck them all).

We had one minor glitch in the day when, stupidly, I grabbed a dog biscuit on the way out the door when we were leaving, and I tossed it to him, thinking I was being nice after what he just went through. He gobbled it down without hesitation, and only then did I realize the error of my ways...he was just given medication with a known side effect being: nausea! Ding ding ding ding! Smart! Within 10 minutes of being on the highway the biscuit escaped Guinness's digestive process, to put it nicely.

The thing that bothers me most about it was when we arrived home and I took him out of the car and investigated, I found it was tinged with blood. It's something I need to report tomorrow. Luckily so far no other vomiting has occurred and he's acting just fine right now. I'm not really wanting to think about the possible causes, at least for tonight, the worst of which is fearing a mass in the chest forming, but I also know the chemotherapy and all the medication he's been on is hard on his stomach. It silly I haven't called yet, but I think for the first time in a while the seriousness of his situation has hit me again, and while I don't know one way or another what the cause of the blood is, I'm giving myself a night of not worrying and will address it and face it square on tomorrow, good or bad, after a night of some pirate sleep so that I'm ready to do battle if needed. I'll let everyone know when I know more.

Thanks again EVERYONE for being here with me during all the ordeals, I feel like we're a Pirate Pup Posse, and I don't feel so alone worrying about Guinness, it means so much!

Monday, August 3, 2009

The skinny

More news to share, a bit over due! Last Monday, a week ago today, the girls and I headed out to Guinness's new oncologist. As usual he was very excited about getting in the car, but once we got there and he realized it was another one of those places he's been frequenting, he was a bit hesitant to go inside, and I can't say I blame him. But, also as usual he was all tail wags and happy to greet everyone, despite his hesitancy.

After checking in and going to our patient room, the doctor came in a checked over his history and we discussed everything that has happened between May and now. He gave Guinness a physical exam and gave him thumbs up, and then ran another blood panel to see if he was ready to proceed with treatment and we waited a few minutes for the results.

Apparently his white blood cell count was elevated a bit more and his red blood cell count was down a bit more, most likely due to reducing his prednisone doesage, which means his body is still in the hyper alert, autoimmune response to the Carboplatin. So, the decision was made to give him a bit more time to recover from the reaction to it.

At this point we have another appointment on August 10th for a recheck, and he gave us a tentative time slot to administer the iv treatment at that time. Fingers crossed he's strong enough for it then.

Until then, he's been doing very well, not much to report. I left for a trip to Colorado (where I met several of Guinness's champions, some of whom I met in person for the first time, you know who you are and thank you for all the love!) and upon my return Guinness seemed just as happy and alert as when I left. I got the traditional wookie greeting with present (this time his kong toy) and I have been slathering him with hugs since my return.

I'll continue to update here and there between now and the next appointment if and when there is something to report (hopefully all good)....but expect a full report after the appointment in two weeks, August 10th in the afternoon.

Ciao for now, thanks again for all the support everyone, I really feel like I have a huge team behind me at all times.


Wednesday, July 22, 2009

So much to say!

Once again, I'm sorry I am so behind in writing this. At least there is a lot to say!

So, when we last left off, Guinness had been removed from the Ohio State study due to his intolerance to carboplatin. I had made an appointment for his recheck, and by Monday the prednisone was obviously helping. He looked so much better even by Sunday. He dragged me into the clinic to see Wendy and all the other great ACOCers, and waited patiently while they got the results of his blood work. In the meantime, he got to meet another lab, a chocolate lab, who was in the waiting room. He was very excited about that.

I'm happy to say that his bloodwork came back with thumbs up, and he is now able to continue on with his treatment. I called the other day and set up an appointment locally with an oncologist for treatment with another drug called doxorubicin. He will be going in this coming Monday (5 days from now).

He's doing great still, and now we are all getting to see Guinness's appetite supercharged from the prednisone. As if he needed to be any more food obsessed (mom, you were right...he does have the prednisone eyes!) Yesterday, because of a snack left upstairs unattended, Guinness actually made it up the stairs to the family room entirely on his own for the first time since his surgery. He's single minded about food. Or single-er than ever!

That's it in a nutshell...hanging in there, he's doing good, just waiting to finish up the treatment so he can just be. I'm extremely encouraged by how well he's been dealing with each hurdle we've come across during this whole process, and so grateful that so far there has been no signs of any cancer spreading into his lungs or elsewhere.

Unless I have any hunts for stuffed animal eyeballs, any Monty Python-esque events, or other news, I will probably update next after his appointment on Monday, so stay tuned!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

...and one more step forward

I'm happy to say that today finds Guinness a little more perky, his appetite returned and seeming to be a little closer to the Guinness I know. I'm hoping it's due to the prednisone helping him recover from the reaction.

I'll update again tomorrow, and again after his appointment on Monday afternoon. Thanks to all for the well wishes and warm thoughts, it means a lot!

Two steps forward, one step back

Well, sadly bad news is bringing me back to the blog today. I'd been planning to update with a photo of Guinness with Snickers, and to report he's been doing well, but recently things have changed.

About 10 days ago we left town for a trip to Philadelphia and my dad came to house and critter sit for us. When he arrived he called to asked if Guinness was ok. He thought he seemed not quite himself. This was after several days of playing with Snickers, and I was hoping it was due to that, and possibly because Guinness had to watch (sadly) as Brett and John and Snickers got into a car together and left him behind to leave for Philly (my sister and I had gone ahead a day early with the kids). That had to have been a bummer for him when that happened (I had a moment of sadness when I realized this, and it was a hard week being away from him).

I hoped that this was what my dad was detecting, but on our return, I noticed the same. He was quiet, not as bright-eyed, or perky. His early were low, which is a sign something is not right with him. Brett also noticed that in the morning when he fed him, that Guinness was picking at his food rather than gulping it down as fast as possible, which is very much not like him. So warning bells were going off in my mind all over the place.

This was Sunday/Monday, and he was due for his third round of chemotherapy Thursday (yesterday), but by Tuesday I felt something was amiss. I called our doctor at OSU and said I wasn't confident that he was able to handle treatment, so we discussed me bringing him in locally to ACOC for a visit. This was after hours so I was planning on taking him to the clinic the next day, but early the next morning Dr. London called and said to just bring him down to OSU so they could have a look at him.

We arrived this morning with hopes that after an exam to rule anything out he would be receiving treatment, but a little over an hour after dropping him off Dr. London called and said that Guinness's white blood count was very high, and his red blood cell count was very low. This meant he was anemic, and his immune system was heightened. She began to search for the root of the problem, and the first thought was to look for a mass. I began to fear the worst that the cancer had spread. So I waited for another phone call, but (thankfully) that was ruled out via ultrasound and abdominal xrays.

She then promised to call back after looking deeper into things to see what was going on with him. I got another call asking if he had eaten anything toxic, been bitten by a tick, anything out of the ordinary, trying to rule out toxicity or possibly a blood bourne illness. Nothing fit.

Finally I received yet another call, and they had pretty much pin pointed the problem to a very rare reaction to the one chemotherapy drug, carboplatin. In a very small number of cases it has been reported to cause an auto-immune reaction, and Guinness happens to be one of them. The good news is that there is a very big possibility that a week of prednisone should reverse this by suppressing his immune system (since it is currently over-active). He will also need to be kept quiet so that he can bounce back from the anemia. The bad news is that since he's had such a severe reaction to the carboplatin, he can no longer receive it, and therefore can no longer part of the study.

At this point we will be monitoring his counts making sure he is rebounding, and if he does as hoped and expected, he will be receiving another type of chemotherapy drug called doxorubicin.

I will update further as things he received a prednisone injection and tomorrow he begins taking it via pill form. Monday he will have a blood draw to see if he is improving. If so, and it is at an acceptable level he could be receiving treatment (the doxorubicin) as early as next Friday, a week from today (well, yesterday now).

Right now he's sound asleep in his bed...he's hanging in there. Even this morning before leaving, while feeling so depleted he still had the drive to run over and charge our neighbor to say hi when we went out in the front yard. It's the inner Pirate Pup in him.

More to follow...

Monday, June 29, 2009

Swashbuckling Pirate Pup

I apologize again for taking so long to update lately but happily, "no news is good news" is definitely the case here.

His last treatment was a week ago today, and this time around he has suffered no noticable side-effects to date. He wasn't even tired the day following, like he was the first time.

The best news of all, again, was being told by the head of the study, that he was doing remarkably well! He's tolerating the chemotherapy, his blood work came back very good that day, which means he's rebounding from the treatments, and this time around we don't need to monitor his levels between treatments because she feels he is doing so well.

I look at him every day and realize, had we done nothing to treat him, he would probably not be here right now. To look at him, minus the tripod look he's sporting, you'd never know something so serious was lurking very recently.

The one thing I still miss most is him jumping up and down on the bed throughout the night. Who knew! I've had Brett lift him up on occassion, but it's warm out, and usually in the summer he doesn't want to be a hotdog. He also can't make it up the stairs to the family room on his own, but a few nights ago when we put a movie on, I asked him to come up, and he trotted over and put his feet on the first steps, his sign that he's waiting for me to help him. It was nice to have him curled up while we watched.

In other news: in a few days Guinness's best friend, Snickers, a toy fox terrier/jack russell mix that is about 1/8th of Guinness's size, will be arriving for a visit. This is the first time in a very long while that I am not at least a little worried about Guinness playing. Before everything happened, Guinness was still slightly weakened from having the plate put in his knee after the torn cruciate ligament. Now that his poor bum leg is no longer an issue and he's built up a lot of strength in his solo rear leg, I feel I can really let him play (unless of course it looks like it's too much for him). Guinness lives to play with Snickers, so it will be a welcome treat for him. Photos of that mayhem to come!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

News to come!

This is a bulletin for an upcoming bulletin! (Argh!)

Very quickly, as it is getting late and my eyes are not focusing, I at least want to say that Guinness had his second treatment on Monday. All is well so far and no side effects at this point. I was told by the doctor who heads up the study that Guinness is doing remarkably well. So great to hear!

I will post more tomorrow, but for now I wanted to get that out there since I'm starting to get emails asking how he is! I appologize for the delay, and I promise to update fully.

Also, as you may (or may not) have noticed, I still haven't made this blog by invitation only, a few things happened that has made me question my decision, so for now we'll remain as usual and you can check this blog at your leisure! I will let you know if that changes.

Stay tuned tomorrow for a full report!

(Photo: Me interrupting Guinness watching the Food Channel with Jaina. Sorry Guinness, I know that's serious business!)

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

A little delay

Our trip to Columbus is going to be delayed a few days as Mia has come down with a fever and the virus that has been circulating within our family (and here I thought we were done with it!). So, Guinness's appointment is now scheduled for next Monday. I was prepared for the next round, but he'll have this weekend to feel good still, as I'm sort of expecting him to have a few down days again after treatment.

I took a short video of him barking away at people walking by, he gets all three legs in a solid tripod stance and let's them have it. Except "it" would be a ton of slobber and nose nudges!

Stay tuned and I'll get it uploaded in the next few days!

Toodles for now.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Cincinnati: a live show, an animal fest, and a new lab friend!

I have to thank Mia for holding down the fort and updating the blog so nicely for me while I was out of town!

On Friday I headed to Cincinnati for a Wilco show (no big surprise to anyone I'm sure!). While there, the next morning after checking out of our hotel room, Jen and I walked across the street over to Fountain Square, where they were setting up for something. It turned out to be a little festival on the square, and the theme this weekend was animals.

So, we walked around a bit, and met a bunch of tree frogs, an alligator, and a turtle from an exotic animal rescue group, an alpaca, and a lab that immediately brought out the Guinness-warm-and-fuzzy feelings. Rafter is a guide dog that could no longer be in the program due to skeletal problems, and Sarah is his "forever foster mom."

We talked a bit with Sarah and she and I exchanged stories about Guinness and Rafter. As I was walking away from the booth (for the second time...I kept having to return to pet him), I told her I wanted to blog my meeting with him, and mention their organization, Circle Tail, Inc. I took a brochure and read up a bit more about them, though Sarah had told me all about their mission. Circle Tail is a non-profit volunteer based organization that provides assistance dogs to people with mobility, hearing, neurologic or psychiatric disabilities. They also provide dogs for adoption, as well as offer obedience training, behavior management and boarding services. See their website (linked above) for more information, they are a great organization with a wonderful cause.

As Mia mentioned, Guinness is still doing very well, and is bursting with energy the past few days. He wants to be outside all the time with us now that the weather has turned so beautiful. He is still adamant the he does not like the back deck stairs, so I open the garage door for him, and he trots right up with no help at all. I think it's psychological, and I think the root of it is this: when he was first recovering, and he would make it up the front steps, he would be given treats, so I think it's because he's still hopeful that coming inside means FOOD! But you know what? If he wants to come up through the front steps, then that's fine with me. After all he's been put through, I can deal with his new little quirk just fine.

He'll be returning to Columbus in a few days (Thursday) for treatment #2, so I'm crossing my fingers all goes well and he'll rebound quickly again. And I must say once again, though this has been a long road treating Guinness, once again, because of his ordeal, I've met so many new
people (and now dogs, too!), and Sarah and Rafter are two more!

More from Fountain Square:

A tortise, from the exotic animal rescue group

an alpaca

and one more of Rafter

Friday, June 12, 2009

Pirate pupdate:

As you know, Guinness has been working with OSU for a while. He is still doing very well with that. He's been doing well with everything else, too. The only thing that worries him is coming up the stairs after going outside. We were surprised to see that the "eyeball" was acually a rock when he threw it up. That raps it ''pup'' for this pupdate.


Pirate Pup's blood work

Hi, its MIA!
Guinness' blood work came out better thn last time. He had a blood test last week and one yesterday. Last week he had 4.48 red blood cells, and 4.0 white blood cells.(We haven't gotten the paper with yesterdays blood work yet) By the way, Guinness' work with OSU is going well, as far as his drives to and from columbus.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Then and Now

Guinness Pupperelli, July 1999 (age, 10 weeks)

Guinness Piratepupperelli, June 2009 (age, 10 years)

Relaxing on the patio, July 1999

Relaxing in the yard, June 2009

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

A Happy Post

No gross posts, no medical updates, no input or output details (lucky readers!), just a simple happy post.

Last night Guinness wanted up on the bed at bed time. He's only asked a few times in the past few months since he knows he can't jump up himself anymore, so I asked Brett to lift him. As usual, he made a b-line to Brett's pillow and he snuggled up next to me for a while. Eventually he moved down to the bottom of the bed and fell asleep in the crook of my legs, something he got in the habit of doing since he was a puppy when I was pregnant with M and doing lots of sleeping myself. Such a familiar, happy feeling. He snored and slept comfortably until he got too hot (he is a lab after all) and then he jumped back down to his bed on the floor with no problem.

This morning, I found him sprawled out on his back on the couch and when I came in the room he wagged his tail and got feisty when I sat next to him. Those two moments alone have made all that we've gone through so far worth it 100%.

No arghs here today, but instead a big Yo Ho!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Help, I'm a Rock!

This post is rated **B** for Barf (Contains regurgitation scenes)

You probably can guess what comes next.

I was actually in the middle of posting the previous post when J came upstairs to tell me a few hours ago that Guinness had thrown up. I went downstairs to inspect (I'm on constant sleuth mode during his treatment, if you can't tell) and to take care of it, and no sooner had I cleaned it up, but he barfed yet again.

I was debating whether or not to put a call in to OSU, since it was a typical Guinness upset in my book, which usually is due to him eating his food way too fast. But I'm also on notice to call if there are any incidents of throwing up while Guinness is getting treatments, and I'm very aware of the need for accurate data. I ended up talking to my sister and mentioned it to her and said that if he did it a third time, that was a red flag and I was going to call. I walked downstairs, and I found a third occurrence, the biggest of all, of course right in the middle of the living room floor.

As soon as I walked closer, I immediately recognized a certain shape I had seen before. The 2 cm rounded shape that was straight on one side, curved on the other, that I had seen in the radiograph of his abdomen. The eyeball! Except, it was not an eyeball. It was dark and sort of grainy looking, but definitely hard. A rock! Sandstone, actually. So, I picked up the phone and called our doctor there (I'll call her Dr. K) to let her know. Not only was that in there, but also plenty of grass, some pieces of bark, and even a few clumps of clay. Hum. I was wondering if that was all sitting there in his stomach for the past two weeks, too?

Later on I talked to my husband and he suddenly remembered seeing Guinness troff* feeding in our new garden bed last night, which we had filled with a layer of compost. Mulch, bark pieces and little balls of clay are definitely in there as well. So, I suppose partially due to eating more weird stuff, it probably helped clean out his stomach and get the rock out of there. Just one more object to add to his "have had in my stomach" list.

As much as I hate sifting through the remnants of Guinness's munch-a-thons, I'm glad to not have to keep an eye out for . . . an eye (insert drum sound here!)


*trough (I love typos so much and that one cracked me up, so I thought I'd leave it so everyone else can giggle at me too)

Pirate Pup Blog is going private

Dear Pirate Pup Aficionados,

I have decided to set this blog to a private status, so if you wish to have an invite sent so that you can continue reading and posting to this blog, please send me an email and I will add you to the list.

I will wait a few days to give everyone the chance to read this through one of the several tubes of communication.

I will also continue to post regularly until then, so please keep stopping by for updates!

Saturday, June 6, 2009

And now . . . a word from the Pirate Pup

As I lie here sitting in the grass outside, my mind wanders. First, I think: food! Then my mind drifts back to all of the members of my pack. I was surprised to learn how huge my pack actually is! I have pack members in my house fussing over me all the time, but did you know that I also have a lot of pack members that come to visit me at my house, some that live at The Animal Clinic of Chardon who give me big hugs and kisses when I visit them, pack members that are a big car ride away at Ohio State University who do the same, and even people that live in the computer that send lovely messages asking how I am doing and that check this blog to read about me. Can you believe? Just the other day I had to visit ACOC and I got to see Dr. Wendy, Jodi, Terri and Mandy. They hugged and kissed me so much that I forgot I was there for a blood test. In fact, I couldn't wait to get in the car to go there. It makes me so happy that sometimes I can't even stop wagging my tail. What else am I thinking about? Oh yeah, food! I've been getting lots of good food lately, and the alpha members of my pack have been cooking me tasty things like chicken and rice, and giving me cottage cheese...mmmm...cottage cheese...lots of things that are way better than dog food. Pack members are awesome. Speaking of pack members, what I was starting to say is, I have so many people that are worried about me, thinking about me and asking about me, and it sure makes me happy. I want to list all of them, but I think I need to sit down and make a list so I don't forget anyone. I was even told that two of the pack members that are interns from the Animal Clinic of Chardon picked me for their case studies, and that makes me really happy to know that I made such an impression on them. Anjelica, one of the interns, even asked my alpha female for photos of me. This all makes it not seem so bad being a "Pirate Pup," as I've been called. And another thing . . . oh wait, hang on, I have to go ambush the neighbors and bark at them . . .

Ok, false alarm. Sometimes I get a little carried away and there's not really anyone there. If that happens and I get tired standing there so long waiting for them that I sit down in the grass by the fence so I am ready for barking action when they come outside. It doesn't seem like I actually scare them though, and my alpha pack members tell me I sound like Chewbaca and they all kind of laugh at me. That's ok, I'm not really trying to scare them anyway, I am really just hoping they'll give me some food. And if not food, maybe they'll just pet me and let me slobber all over them. Because, that's what life's all about! That, and all the love from my huge extended pack.

Oh, gotta run, I think someone is coming down the street, gotta go see what they want! Maybe they have food.

Pirate Pup Extraordinaire

PS - as for my blood test, it indicated that my white blood cell count has dropped a little, which is something the chemotherapy causes. I have to go back again next Thursday for another blood test before my second of four rounds of chemo on June 18th. They monitor my levels weekly to make sure I can continue to get treatments.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Crazy backyard lady...still on a rollercoaster ride

If I would have posted early this morning, the mood would have been much different. What a difference 8 hours can make.

As of yesterday evening, Guinness was feeling and acting sicker as the night wore on. I called our doctor at OSU and she prescribed more medication to help control the nausea and diarrhea (do you know how many times my spell check nailed me before I got that word right? Am I the only one who can't spell it? Maybe that is a good sign?) Anyway, I picked up the medication here in town at ACOC. I gave it to him early evening, but not long after I found myself calling Dr. Wendy in a panic because it turned bloody. He was also acting a little more depressed and just wasn't himself all day. I still had in the back of my mind, the threat of the lurking stuffed toy plastic eyeball and wanted to be sure we weren't getting ourselves into an emergency situation.

But, before calling, I headed outside to do something important.

You know those crazy ladies in their backyards you sometimes see doing odd things and wonder what it is they are doing? Well, I was one of them. Except instead of finding, as sometimes happens, that the crazy lady wasn't actually a crazy lady after all, the closer you'd get to me, the MORE crazy you'd think I was.

*****Reader Advisory: Semi-Yucky Story Ahead (Rated: P)*****
I decided it was high time for me to conduct a full scale search, which I endearingly dubbed "Operation Poop Chop." The sole reason for naming said exercise was to keep me (semi) laughing about what I was about to embark on. I took a shovel and literally went poop hunting, and would chop anything I found to bits, hoping to find a plastic eye, so that I would not worry that that was the source of the blood. Luckily I didn't yell things like "Curses! No! No eyeball here either!" out into the backyard air.

So, yeah, Crazy Backyard Lady was I. I found nothing to report to make my highly unpleasant undertaking worthwhile. So, I called Dr. Wendy and we talked about his symptoms. To my relief she felt that it was most likely the chemotherapy drugs at work, which I had suspected, but was afraid to confirm myself. She told me what to watch for in case I did need to bring him in to be checked.

We had a rough night, and Guinness got up a few times in the middle of the night with an "emergency"...but by 2:30 am, after turning on the air conditioning to help cool him, he settled down and got a good night's rest.

This morning, he bounded out of bed, and greeted Brett at the bed side like he normally does, wagging tail, and excited about breakfast. It felt like a typical morning. After he ate, he hung around and waited for a corn chip from Brett's lunch that was being packed to fall on the floor, and so far he's been back to himself again.

I'm breathing a huge sigh of relief right now. There's such a difference between how he acted yesterday and how he is today. At least I know there's something that can help the big "D" next time he has a round of chemo, and that his tiredness will wear off.

Sorry for all the poop talk lately, but, well, that's part of life right now. Perhaps in the future I'll give a "Spoiler Alert" type warning denoted with *****P***** before going into details.

All for now, I hope Guinness continues to feel well and has another good night's rest, because he sure needs it.

(Photo: Crazy Backyard Dog eating the world's largest stick, 2002)

Monday, June 1, 2009

Sleepy Puppy

Well, I knew that going into this wasn't going to be entirely easy. I consider us (and Guinness) lucky for the minimal side effects so far. About the only thing to report is that the chemo is indeed giving him some stomach upset (evidenced by his slightly more frequent visits outside, I won't be graphic, but you get my drift), and he's been pretty tired. I'm glad to see he still perks up for meal times, and for going outside. He's been really enjoying the cool weather and lounging in the grass as we do yard work. He still gets up and bounds across the yard to go bark at our neighbors, and for the first time I find myself cheering him as he does that, rather than trying to stop him!

I'll be calling the doctors to report his weekend later today, and I also will be scheduling an appointment for follow up blood work for this Thursday.

I also wanted to address my sister, Adrienne's post below. I responded in comments, but I want to officially say thank you again, tons, for your wonderful idea, it's so very thoughtful of you. I've put a permanent link on the side bar if anyone is interested, but please only do so if you can afford to and know there is no pressure at all. I will be making a shirt for her and the kids to walk in, and I am actually looking for some sort of walk or run myself, just to join her (even if it ends up being a solo run in a nearby park or something for me). Stay tuned for more information!

(Photo: Guinness with his best friend Snickers (my sister Adrienne and her family's dog) head to head doing some serious sniffing, last summer).

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Shannon's sister!

Hi Pirate Pup followers/supporters.

I'm going to run a race or walk a race with my boys to show support for Guinness. In conjunction with the race I'm asking for donations for Shannon to help offset the large debt that the treatment and surgery has cost Shannon and her family.
I know times are tough right now, and I totally understand that most of us are not in a position to make a donation! We totally understand. I thought I'd put it out there and see what happens.

Stay tuned to see what race I run. I will be wearing a home made tee shirt for the race in support of the pirate pup. Of course I'll make Shannon design it.

Thanks so much everyone in advance for the love and support you've been giving Shannon. I know she appreciates it and needs it right now! :)
Love you all

Two days post chemo

I am happy to report that so far Guinness has had minimal side effects from the chemotherapy administered Thursday. As I mentioned before, he came home and ate, and then slept well for the most part (minus some panting, I think he had a little stomach upset). Yesterday he was pretty tired, and was on the couch most of the day, though he did get up to eat and go out, and by evening was begging for some leftover Thai food (chicken). I did not give him tramadol before bed. I had the night before, because the doctor at OSU suggested giving it again for his good leg. We discussed putting him back on it since he has arthritis in his left leg, and they thought it would help. As I have observed before though, he pants and is a little more restless when taking it, and I think he does not tolerate it well. I'll be discussing that more when we return to Columbus.

So, last night he slept very well, and this morning was more perky. He ate breakfast, hung out and begged for our breakfast, then went out and hung out for a good amount of time. When it was time to come in, before I came down the steps, I could tell he was going to try coming up on his own. M was at the bottom of the steps with him, and she encouraged him to try to go up. He did it with little hesitation, and made it all the way to the top. We cheered and gave him treats, which of course he was happy about. Yay again for Guinness!

More to come, and in the meantime I've put together a slide show starting from when we first got him (at about 10 weeks) through last weekend. 

Friday, May 29, 2009

Round I

As promised, here is a little more about yesterday.

First of all, this time we were much better equipped with maps and such. Last time I printed a few sketchy maps of the area and directions, not taking into account missing any turns and ending up on one way streets! So, we (my dad and I that is...thanks for traveling with us again dad!), had a smooth, much quicker ride in. We also left a bit earlier and missed morning rush hour, so it seems getting on the road by 6 or 6:30 am is the way to go.

This time when we brought Guinness in we had no exams or testing to wait on, so they took him back, and the intern working with us (who I love, and was very sad to learn will be on a new rotation, so she will not be on our case anymore), knowing how far we travel to get there, made sure to expedite Guinness so they could get him going. They administer the first drug (Carboplatin) via an injection, along with some anti nausea medication, and then have to wait 4 hours for the second round, another drug (Gemzar), which is administered via IV over 30 minutes. They have one person administer, while another is sitting there with him, petting him and keeping him calm. When I left, I was told to expect to pick Guinness up at 4:30pm, and they would call to update. 

In the meantime, my dad and I treked out to the Franklin Park Conservatory, which was really beautiful, and a nice relaxing way to wait out the treatment. From there we had lunch at Lemongrass (which I had been to before on a trip with Renee and Wendy about 2 years ago? Is it really that long ago?). We had their lemongrass soup, which I had had there before, and have been craving ever since. It's fantastically delicious! From there we headed to the North Market where I fulfilled another craving, and returned home with 4 pints of Jeni's Ice Cream (yes, yes R and W!) I actually purchased 3 pints (Lemon Blueberry frozen yogurt with M in mind, Burbon Buttered Pecan with me in mind, and a Butter Mint which is rich mint ice cream with white chocolate, with J in mind), and then the cooler and dry ice so that I could travel home with it. But after telling them why I was in town, and also that we have had two annual Jeni's ice cream parties (where we order copious amounts and have it shipped), he stuck in a fourth pint free...Cognac! Sooooo good! I recommend their ice cream to anyone, and they even said they were talking of moving up toward Cleveland, and were happy to have someone to help spread the word if they did! 

But I digress. This is supposed to be a post about my Pirate Pup, and not ice cream, or soup! (So good! :D)

Anyway, while at the market, I got a call with good news, that Guinness was doing very well, and was going to recieve his second treatment at 2:30, an hour earlier than anticipated, and that she had gotten his paper work finished so we could pick up at 3:30.

From there, we headed back to the clinic and I did some reading while waiting. While I was heading up the steps from the parking lot to the clinic, I realized that earlier that morning when we had gone in, that no one had lifted Guinness or assisted him! He did it so naturally that I didn't even realize it until then. The steps are a bit shorter than the ones at home, so it must have been easier for him to get started, but still! Score another one for Pirate Pup! Yo ho!

Once inside, I signed in and waited, and got to see another batch of pup clients. It's very fun to watch everyone coming in and out. I saw another Great Dane. Tuesday I forgot to mention, I met two Great Dane/Mastiff mixes, both HUGE...200 lbs, super sweet and so gentle. Amazing creatures! Finally, when they brought Guinness out, he emerged, still wagging-tail happy and ready to roll! They told me he was very calm during the IV treatment and did great. I went home with some more anti-nausea medication and instructions for the next three weeks.

He slept the whole way home, and came home and ate dinner...a great sign. He did pant a little toward bed time, but slept fine, and ate breakfast. That is one of the things I am to watch for, inappetite, or any signs of nausea. I suspect he is somewhat, but at least not enough to curb his appetite. I'll be doing lab work between now and next treatment here in town at our regular clinic, and we'll return again in three weeks for his second of four treatments.

I'll be updating in the meantime as he has testing done and continues to build strength. So far no sightings of plastic eye balls, though I did bring the stuffed animal in question in, and they pretty much agreed that it was the right size and shape. I also told them a few other stories of things he has eaten over the years, and I think I shall be making a blog post dedicated to just that. Stay tuned for that exciting read!

In the meantime, I'm just trying to remain optimistic, and while I have had a few mental and physical exhaustion crashes, it's so good to be greeted with his wagging tail when I walk in the room or come home, and makes it worth all of this.

News at 11

I'm off to J's kindergarten graduation this morning, but will fully update on yesterday's happenings. I can say quickly that all went well with Guinness's first treatment, and so far he's handling without much problem. He's panted a bit and I can hear his stomach gurgling (the biggest side effect reported is nausea, and also suppressed white blood cell count, which will be closely monitored).

Stay tuned and I will update this post with more information on what went on yesterday, in a few hours.

Also, there have been a few questions about the awesome drawing of Guinness in my previous post.  It is a drawing by none other than little Miss M (sometimes refered to as Meaf thanks to her little cousin B), our 8 year old. I'm keeping their names off the blog because this isn't totally private, but you should all know who I'm talking about.

Ta ta for now, more info to follow later on today.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

A brief update and a silly video . . .

As planned, we headed to Columbus, but returned with an unexpected outcome.

In a nutshell, Guinness had more xrays done and his chest is still clear (yay for that!), so they put him in the study. They also, incidentally, found a foreign object in his stomach. They showed me the xray and while they couldn't conclusively say, I have a sneaking suspicion, based on it's size and shape, that it is a missing stuffed animal eyeball. Now I have to watch for it to make sure it passes without getting stuck...what am I looking for? Dog poop that is looking back at me. Fun times! Very reminiscent of the time we were watching for dog poop with birthday candles in it.

In the meantime, just before they were going to administer the chemo, I got a call while we were at COSI (J was having a blast), that his one pain med, given to him the night before, was concerning them. They were afraid that the possibility of him becoming nauseated would greatly increase, and I think it would also be adding a factor into their study that they didn't want there, as they are studying the effects of the combo of the two chemo drugs and how dogs handle it. So, we had to hold off and reschedule for Thursday. So, tomorrow we will be returning to Columbus.

In the world of Guinness himself, he is already getting so strong in his one leg that I can now assist him up steps without his harness, he just waits for me to put my one hand on his back, and the other sort of under his bum by tucking his tail under, and I think he THINKS I'm helping him. Yesterday he was able to jump up in excitement when he saw a little dog at the clinic, he literally had both front paws up and was balancing on his one back leg. And, as usual, he dragged ME into the clinic, he is still as strong as he was when he had four legs. So that was really encouraging.

I'll update more as things happen, but for now, as promised, here is the video and some new photos. (Image above is a drawing by our daughter, age 8).

Relaxing on the deck  . . . but what is this I see?

. . . must . . . get . . . tractor mower . . .

Getting the tractor mower!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Off to OSU

I've got some great photos and a video of Guinness chasing Brett on the riding lawn mower yesterday to post, but for now it's late and I wanted to do a quick update.

Tomorrow morning early we head off to Ohio State for Guinness's first round of chemo. It will be an all day event, with his apointment starting at 10, and we'll have paperwork to do and then the first chemo dose, then we wait 4 hours, and then administer again before going home. 

I'm feeling a bit nervous hoping that he tolerates it well, but very optimistic about it.

I'll update again soon . . .

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Pupdate Part II: May 21, 2009


I took Guinness outside this evening, and after a walk in the far back yard, I was able to get him up the stairs and back into the house with the sling...something he's been afraid to do before now. Yes!!

When we got inside, I tried the harness one last time, and figured out the harness expanded way more than I thought, so it fits! He isn't overjoyed with it, but once he gets used to it, we'll be able to help him out up stairs and into cars. I have Sarah and Indy to thank for that suggestion!

Here he is, the Pirate Pup in full tripawd garb:

Pupdate: May 21, 2009

Guinness continues to improve every day. The site of the surgery has healed amazingly fast, and his fur is starting to grow back. Soon it will be difficult to even see, and I imagine that one wouldn't even notice he is missing a leg unless you get right up close, or so I have been told, especially with dogs with black fur.

He's eating well, and moving around pretty good, getting used to being a pirate, though he still  won't do stairs on his own. I bought a special harness to help him up steps, but of course I measured wrong and when it came today it was very apparent that it was not going to fit. So, now I need to reorder and ship this one back. 

He's a little less energetic and carefree than he was prior to the surgery, actually I should say, prior to when he was first showing symptoms and limping on that leg. I get worried, but then I remind myself he's only just had the surgery not even two weeks ago. He definitely perks up when treats are around, and when he goes outside (in fact, one night I had to get up at 1am to let him out, and I practically had to run to keep up).

As mentioned in the side bar, Guinness will be heading to Columbus next Tuesday for his first round of chemo. He will have a dose administered, then will remain at the school for four hours under observation, and then another dose and we will return  home. I'm hoping he tolerates it well. 

The amount of support I have had from friends and family is overwhelming. Guinness has made acquaintance with so many people, people he knows, people he's just met, and also so many people I have come to know through a few forums I belong to (a design forum, a Wilco forum and the GoGetters blog). He is well loved, and it's been a big help. In fact, there are so many people asking about him, I've finally settled on this blog to keep everyone updated in one place. Keep checking back for new posts and photos.

May 14th:

May 13th (two days post-surgery):

Pupdate from May 15, 2009

Here's the latest:

Guinness has been doing great. He's back to his usual routine, begging for food, waiting for Mia and Jaina to get off the bus to greet them, carrying around his funny stuffed animal I got him (who Jaina named Honkington) and greeting us at the door with his excited Wookie whining.

The only thing that we need to work on is getting him to be able to go up steps back into the house. We had 
an "incident" today in which Brett, while trying to lift him up the front steps, squeezed too close to his surgical site, and it squeezed out blood and fluids that were in the cavity. ACK!  Brett and I just stood there for a moment, totally dumbfounded. I'm not joking when I say it squirted out just like in the scene with the Black Knight in the Holy Grail. It shot out in one big, five foot stream. Brett looked closer and said it was not blood blood, but more thin fluid like, and remembered Tom said there was drainage fluid that would be reabsorbed. It just seeped out one of the areas where there were sutures. Wow. Of everything so far, that was pretty crazy.

But other than that, he continues to get more sure of himself and how he gets around. He's starting to peek around the corner when we go upstairs so I know he's thinking about coming up. I can't wait til he masters the stairs.

The girls are still handling it well, Jaina is a little more squeemish, but Mia it does not bother at all. Today she counted his stitches, and petted him on the shaved part of his fur. They're both giving him lots of love and attention.

Brett and I have been pretty tired, I think I had a huge crash yesterday, the night before I could not sleep at all, then woke up early the next day. I've been working out more than usual to try to expend this nervous energy I've had...and it all caught up with me last night. But, really, considering what's happening, it has been going well.

We also found out that we are eligible for the study at OSU, and Tom and Wendy are all for it, so they will be touching bases with the doctor in charge of the study, and we'll get that going as soon as we get the lab results and Guinness gets the green light for the chemo. We'll know more soon.

Pupdate from May 12, 2009

Very good news today!

Guinness is reportedly doing remarkably well! Today when the nurses were getting set up to help him outside, Guinness got up on his own and walked outside on three legs with no assistance! He immediately tried to go over to the parking area, looking to get the hell out of there.

He's eating, wagging his tail and they are weaning him off IV pain meds, switching over to oral meds so that we can bring him home early this evening! This is all very encouraging.

We're also looking into treatment options. (Note to Sarah: I talked to our vet and mentioned the trials you were involved with with Indy, and we discussed that. Being that it was from OSU, which is where our vets graduated from, he is making contact there to see our options. I just went to the website, and it looks like we should be eligible for the same (or very similar) study. If we qualify, which it appears he does, we'll be doing that).

More to come, I'll update when Guinness comes home!

Pupdate from May 11, 2009

As you know, Guinness had surgery this morning. We originally thought he would be coming home today, but as it turned out, Tom wanted him to stay at the very least tonight so that he could be given IV pain medication to get him through the initial discomfort. I just got off the phone with him and this is what we discussed:

First off he said that the surgery was very uneventful (in a good way), meaning that it went exactly as hoped and expected. Right now he's, in Tom's words, gorked on pain meds to keep him quiet and comfortable so he can heal up. He's on IV's, and a nurse is coming in at 11:30 pm to check on him to see if he needs any oral pain medication and how he is doing. There is not a lot of swelling, and his body temperature was good when he left at about 9pm. The hope is that he will come home tomorrow afternoon. If he feels Guinness needs more IV meds to help with any pain, he may stay another night. The goal right now is to keep him calm and comfortable so that he can heal quickly.

As for the surgery itself, we were hoping that by some small chance it was an infection rather than bone cancer, but he said after getting in there an being able to look that, unfortunately it looks very classically like cancer. He sent out for a biopsy, which we'll get back in a week to confirm. As of right now his lungs still look clear, which is good and we will discuss what the next step is based on the biopsy.

The kids set up the bed I got him for recovery, and have decorated it with get well cards and a "Guinness's Corner" sign, and I got him a little stuffed fluffy weenie dog animal to take out any nervousness on. We took a bunch of photos this morning of him with the girls. We're looking forward to him coming back home, and his Puppy Powers are now "Pirate Puppy Powers."

It's been quite a day, as you can imagine. Thanks everyone for all the support, I can't believe how many people have been worried about him with us, it means a lot and has been a huge help.

I'll update more after I talk to someone tomorrow.