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Willow's Journey

Sep 16

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I worked at the clinic the morning of her surgery. She came into work with me and I put her in large run until the doctor could get to her. I helped the doctor take an x-ray of her chest. He wanted to make sure the cancer hadn’t spread to her lungs yet. As I placed the cartridge in the scanner I was terrified to see the results. But thankfully Dr. Vice gave her an all clear! I then helped him take her blood for some blood work before the surgery. All of her levels were also normal! I was so thankful. I couldn’t handle anymore bad news. I left for class around 9:00 so I thankfully wasn’t there for the actual procedure. I would have been a mess.

The receptionist at the clinic called me at 11:30 to let me know that Willow was out of surgery and everything went well. I went to visit her after my classes and meetings were finished and she was doing so well. I had heard that dogs can adjust to life with three legs very easily but who knew that the day of her surgery she would be walking out the kennel door to use the bathroom outside! She got in and out of her kennel and squatted outside with no problem. She also didn’t seem to be in any pain. Of course she walks rather slow right now. It’s cute to watch her look at steps/ledges with confusion. She’s not quite sure how to maneuver those yet.  But I know that all of this will get better with time.

They gave her pain medicine and and antibiotic to prevent infection. Her bandages can come off in a couple days and her stitches in two weeks.  Soon, we are going to talk about our chemotherapy options. I just assumed we would do it at the clinic but it sounds like he might refer me somewhere else with more options. All of that is confusing right now but I’m sure the more it’s explained I’ll hopefully understand.

She has been such a trooper through all of this. She has always been so good at taking her medicine. She acts like theres nothing wrong at all. I’m really hoping her appetite returns to normal soon. I also can’t wait until her fur grows back because she looks a little ridiculous right now! Now we wait for the incision to heal and to hear more about our chemo options.

On to recovery!


Side note:  My roommate who is also a tech at the clinic told me that she bit Dr. Vice! They said she must have still been slightly under the anesthesia and got frightened or he accidentally touched her in the wrong spot. As he was bandaging her she had a small accident and he went to move her away from it and she bit him! I don’t think it was bad at all. Everyone was so surprised and so was I to hear this news! She really is the most gentle dog I have ever met. I’ve never heard her growl or seen her snap at anyone or anything!

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Sep 09

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Willow’s bone biopsy results came back Saturday (9/5/15) morning to confirm that the mass seen on the x-ray was in fact osteosarcoma. I was working for the clinic when they came in. I was really hoping I wouldn’t be there. I couldn’t help but run to the bathroom and cry. I wanted to leave. We were really holding on to the tiny chance that this could not be cancer. But now it’s a terrifying reality.

Dr. Ward called me yesterday (Tuesday, 9/8/15) while I was in class but I could never actually get a hold of him before he left the clinic.  I think he was assuming I had not seen the biopsy results yet and was going to break the news to me.

We scheduled her amputation surgery for Monday (9/14/15) morning with Dr. Vice at Gainesway Small Animal Clinic. We decided to go with her normal doctor instead of Dr. Ward due to the price. We also opted to do laser surgery in hopes it makes things a little easier. We are actually very eager to have the surgery so it will remove the main source of her pain.

Willow still isn’t eating near as much as she should be. The people of Bluegrass Barkery have been amazing! I have been taking her there as much as I can in hopes to lift a spirits a little and hopefully find a food she will actually eat. I explained to them that she won’t eat and they have given me endless amounts of free samples and advice. We also talked about putting a donation jar up at the counter.  And of course we buy a homemade puppy treat every time we are there too!

Please continue to keep us in your thoughts!

Morning park adventures

Sep 02

8:00 a.m.

We dropped Willow off at the veterinary clinic where I work as a technician.  She was scheduled to have a TPLO (Tibial Plateau Leveling Osteotomy) surgery to repair her partially torn ACL. Dr. Ward, a traveling orthopedic specialist was going to be her surgeon. It is odd for a dog this young to have a torn ACL, but it can happen, especially since she’s a larger breed. Of course I had the normal pre-surgery worries. Will she have a bad reaction to the anesthesia? Will she get an infection as the wound heals? Will she do okay during recovery? Are we still going to be able to go hiking? All of my friends and coworkers at the clinic reassured me she would be fine because she is so young-only a year old.

11:48 a.m.

My phone started to ring in the middle of my last class. I thought it was probably the surgeon letting me know the surgery went well and she is starting to wake up. I exit class and answer the phone.  Dr. Ward answered with “I have some bad news.” My heart immediately stopped. He proceeded to tell me that the pre-surgery x-rays showed a tumor-not a torn ACL.  He started to explain the type of tumor and what it all means, but I couldn’t listen. I was immediately heartbroken. She’s a year old. She shouldn’t have a tumor. Once I realized I hadn’t heard a word he had said, I asked him to repeat it. He informed me that she most likely has osteosarcoma-a bone tumor. Osteosarcoma is a very aggressive type of cancer and is very painful and essentially terminal. The only option was to amputate her leg and start chemotherapy soon after.  Even after these procedures, she still is only estimated to live for about a year.  I agreed to do a biopsy to make sure it in fact is osteosarcoma before we do the surgery. Step 1.

1:30 p.m.

I drove so fast to the clinic to pick Willow up. She was still groggy, but they let me take her home early anyways. It was obvious that I had been crying. All of the receptionists, technicians, and doctors were very solemn. They said that they were very sorry and no one saw this coming. Willow seemed so sad. Normally you can see the light in her eyes.  She’s always so full of happiness. The girl never met a stranger.  Everyone is her best friend. We drove home immediately and took a nap together on my bed. I was supposed to go back to the clinic at 3:00 to work for a few hours but  I asked if it was okay if I called in. I knew that I would be worthless if I went to work.

8:00 p.m.

She seemed so miserable. Normally she is such a shadow at home-she follows every step you make. She was constantly laying there whining.  I don’t know if she was still sleepy from the anesthesia or if she was sore from the biopsy-or both.  I couldn’t help but burst into tears every time I looked at her. I can’t imagine only having one year left with my beautiful girl. She doesn’t deserve this fate. She hasn’t lived a full life yet. I decided to do some research on osteosarcoma.  I read so many articles about pet cancer and so many stories of dogs who were diagnosed and then soon passed away. It really didn’t make me feel any better. All of those stories were about dogs who were at least five years or older. They at least got to live a little. I was so upset, angry, confused, and still in disbelief. It isn’t fair.


Now we wait. The biopsy results should come in no longer than a week. Theres a tiny, tiny chance that this could be a fungal infection or a mass that isn’t osteosarcoma-but it isn’t likely and they don’t want me to get my hopes up. But it’s the only hope that I have left to cling onto.

Willow's first grooming visit

Willow’s first grooming visit