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, 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.