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Riley's blog

12 1/2 year old German Shorthair Pointer

Riley's blog

One year post amputation

April 27th, 2018 · 7 Comments · Uncategorized

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Today marks a year since Riley lost her leg.  What a year it’s been.  She went to the oncologist yesterday for a checkup, and the vet said that Riley looks great.  Blood work came back all normal except for a very slightly high albumin reading.  Chest x-rays had an anomaly, but the radiologist thinks it’s just a fatty mass (Riley has an “old lady bump” on her chest), so it appears that our dear Riley is still in remission.  Woo hoo!

We caught her digging in the yard last week – a bit clumsily- but she was having a good time.  She will occasionally bring a tennis ball to us, but one throw is generally enough.  Riley’s remaining hind leg is not strong enough to get her up a flight of stairs, so we hoist her up with her Webmaster harness at least once a day.  Currently, Riley is receiving acupuncture every few weeks.  We also just started swim therapy, which is allowing her to get good extension on her legs.  She is taking an array of supplements to keep her as healthy as possible.  We are trying a different harness to see if that has anything different to offer.

She still struggles with mobility.  Her remaining knee clicks audibly, and the therapist says there is also some difficulty with the tendon back there.  Riley has some arthritis in her remaining limbs, so that certainly doesn’t help with getting around.  Perhaps it’s because of her age, but since the surgery she has never gotten back to being able move easily.  She can run a bit, if the spirit moves her, but it is a very ungainly gait.  I see many dogs on this website who are able to get around nearly as well as a four-legged dog, but that isn’t the case with Riley.  All Riley’s vets said that we would be surprised at how well she would do with three legs, but none of them said that she would be noticeably disabled.  That being said, we are still glad to have her in our lives.  Our Riley is now 13 1/2.  We are grateful for every day.

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Anybody else dealing with “knuckling under?”

January 30th, 2018 · 8 Comments · Uncategorized

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Riley just had her 9month post-operative check up.  She had chest x-rays and an ultrasound.  No evidence of cancer, which is wonderful news.  She has had an issue with “knuckling under.”  Her left front paw will sometimes roll under.  As you might imagine, this is causing some difficulties with Riley’s ability to get around.  Additionally, sometimes she hold that paw up (while laying down), and it sort of flops around.  It is almost as though she can’t get the paw to work properly, but maybe at the shoulder level.  At the recent check-up, x-rays of her shoulder were taken.  There is some arthritis there, and it has advanced since the last films were taken in October.  Also, Riley has an audible click when she walks.  It is not her harness, as you can hear it when she is not in the harness.  Nor is it toenails, for you can hear it even when she walks on carpet.  We are mystified.

We have had her to three different vets with this issue.  The rehab doctor thought that it was because her posture is poor, and she is wearing herself out just getting around.  He recommended massages, which she likes quite well.  Riley’s regular vet thought that it might have a neurological basis, but we elected to wait to follow up until the oncologist had seen her.  The oncologist thought that a trying gabapentin might be useful, so that is next up.

Is there a possibility that what she is experiencing is a long-term effect from the chemo?  Somebody suggested that to me, but I hadn’t heard anything about it.  We are looking into acupuncture, so that might be another thing to try.  While we are not totally opposed to taking her to a neurologist, we’re not sure what that might accomplish.  The ultrasound didn’t show anything obvious, but it just may be because an MRI is a better tool for finding possible growths on the spine.  Speaking of MRIs, our other pointer had one last month, and it disclosed that he has a brain tumor.  He has been treated (it was in an inoperable part of the brain) with stereotactic radiation, and we are in the wait and see mode.  Lots of vet visits around here lately.


six months post surgery

October 28th, 2017 · 3 Comments · Uncategorized

It’s been a while since I posted an update.  We have enjoyed a lovely few months where Riley just got to be a dog.  In the photo above, she was enjoying some outside time, and having fun gnawing on a stick.  For the most part, Riley does many of the things she was accustomed to doing before all our worlds got turned upside down.  She has even tried to wrestle with the other dogs a bit.  While the spirit is willing, she inevitably falls on her butt.  It is great to see her having fun again.  We reworked the dogs’ sandbox (4000 pounds of sand in a 10x 12 area!), and Riley loves to lie in the sand and watch the world go by.  If the spirit moves her, she will dig for a while and tear around the yard.

Stairs are still a problem, but we assist her upstairs each night with her harness.  Although Riley is pretty ungainly, she must be getting stronger, as she has managed to jump on the couch a couple of times.  Usually, she just stands in front of it and whines until her human staff helps her up.  With all the pampering that Riley has had in the last eight months, we find that she has become quite the demanding girl.  We really don’t mind, and are just glad that she can express her wishes.

This week was the three month post-chemo checkup.  The oncologist was very pleased with Riley’s progress.  No recurrence of cancer was visible either on the chest x-ray or the physical exam.  Woo hoo, that is great news.  The oncologist says that it is highly likely that there will be a recurrence at some point, although we might get lucky and Riley could be an outlier.  We continue to give various supplements daily, and Riley gets green smoothies with every meal to provide a large dose of antioxidants.  Daily stroller outings are not as far as before – because she wants to walk!  So we will go a couple of blocks, and then she will walk back on her own.

Earlier this month, we celebrated Riley’s birthday.  In our world, dog birthdays are celebrated with hot dogs all around, so it was a pretty big deal for our girl.  What a chowhound she is!  Through two surgeries and five rounds of chemo, she never missed a meal.  We are fortunate that her appetite has never waned.  For a while there, it didn’t look like there would be another birthday for her, so we are enormously grateful to have her with us.


Riley’s new normal

June 14th, 2017 · 3 Comments · Uncategorized

Well, it’s been nearly a month since I posted here.  I can only assume that’s a good thing, and symptomatic of life getting back to normal.  Normal, in this case, meaning keeping a bit closer eye on her than we did previously, and remembering the schedule for the various supplements that she is taking now.

Riley is very much her old self again.  She is able to navigate the house and yard by herself, and doesn’t need to be constantly monitored anymore.  All the rubber backed mats covering our tile floors have given her safe footing to move around downstairs, and things like raised bowls and an extra layer of padding in her preferred sleeping spot have added to her comfort.  Her incision has healed well, and the hair is starting to grow, although it is quite sparse.  She is developing a couple of areas where it looks like her hair is coming out.  We’re not sure if it was from wearing her harness 24/7 for a week, or if it’s the chemo causing hair loss.

Stairs are still out of the question, both from a physical standpoint and her rehab doctor’s restrictions.  Interestingly, she has learned to “ask” for help with the stairs.  We baby gate the bottom so that she doesn’t try it, but the other day I dashed upstairs for something, and was surprised to hear Riley bark.  Before her amputation, Riley was accustomed to following me throughout the day, up and down stairs numerous times.  Being left alone at the bottom of the stairs just wasn’t acceptable!



Three weeks post surgery, and started chemotherapy

May 20th, 2017 · 2 Comments · Uncategorized

Riley has had remarkable improvement since her surgery.  She is navigating very well on three legs.  Going up stairs is still very hard for her, so we put her Webmaster harness on at bedtime and lug her upstairs.  The handle on the harness is great – she is like a big, furry suitcase that we wrestle up the stairs!  Riley zips down the stairs on her own with no trouble.  Next week, we see a physical therapist, so maybe she can rebuild her strength.  Riley has never been much for water, so I don’t see her being a fan of an underwater treadmill, but there are other things that the rehab center offers. While she is intermittently active, it also seems that she is sleeping a lot.  But, overall, she is pretty much back to her old self.  Riley is alert and loving, and has a renewed interest in chew toys.

We started chemo on Thursday, with  possible five dose total.  The oncologist wants Riley to have a CBC next week, so that future dosages can be adjusted, if need be.  When the doc told us what to expect from the chemo, we were a little blindsided to hear that we need to be careful around her poop and pee for a few days.  Apparently, she will be excreting the chemo chemicals, and they are dangerous.  It makes you wonder why we give such nasty chemicals to a dog who is already sick…