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!

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).