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Welcome to Elgin’s Journey.

Elgin was born November 15, 2007. We have enjoyed his larger-than-life presence in our home since he was 4 months old.  Elgin’s personality matched his health; vigorous and strong.  He made friends wherever he went, and quickly became well-known in our neighborhood. Twice a week Elgin and a couple of other dogs (all brown colored) who live on our street, would go for a walk around the neighborhood. It was the “Browndog Walk”.

We had always had boxers, and while we love that breed, we quickly found that the Dogue de Bordeaux is the most perfect breed for our family.  A stout guardian, yet really mello and devoted to family. No worries about this one chewing, digging, barking, or being a nuisance…he would rather sleep.

This summer, when we returned from a week-long vacation, Elgin greeted us with a noticeable limp in his back left leg. As I was leaving for Sweden for two weeks with our younger son the next day, I unhappily left this situation up to my husband to handle. When we reached Sweden and the timezones were conducive to a conversation, I was able to reach my husband to check in.

What he told me made my heart drop into my shoes. The limp hadn’t abated, and after a visit to the vet for x-rays, it was discovered that Elgin had a tumor in his tibia, most likely it was osteosarcoma. A consult with a surgeon provided us with a second, concurring opinion. Prognosis could be as short as a couple of months, or as long as a year.  We decided that we didn’t want to traumatize Elgin with amputation and chemotherapy… we imagined it would be a terrible way to spend the last months of your life recovering from this. We planned on providing pain management meds and letting Elgin tell us when he was ready to go.

We decided to take him to UC Davis, a two-hour drive, to see if anything else that we didn’t know about could be done.  Their diagnosis was the same, and we were given several treatment options: Amputation and Chemo (median survival time: 1 year), Palliative treatment of radiation and chemo (median survival time: 4-6 months) and pain meds. We decided to go the palliative route.

So home we came with the “big guns” of pain medicine.  So far the Rimadyl was working well, but we were told that this cancer is incredibly painful… like getting hit in the leg with a baseball bat every morning, as the bone slowly explodes from the inside out. We began him on a regimen of Bisphosphonate and Tramadol.  Osteosarcoma is a very aggressive form of bone cancer, and also metastacizes at a very rapid rate to the lungs. Elgin’s lungs appeared clear on all ex-rays and the lymph nodes they aspirated were clear as well.  In that aspect, his health was superb. It’s not fair.  He’s not even five years old.

The day after the visit to UC Davis, Elgin began limping more pronouncedly, even through all those pain meds! We called UC Davis and asked about upping his meds, and scheduling him for radiation. The additional dose of Tramadol we gave him seemed to help somewhat, but not as much as we’d hoped.  Both my husband and I spent countless hours on the computer, researching about amputation, as we were beginning to re-think our decision. Better to relieve Elgin’s pain from the cancer, and maybe his last days will be happier.  That way, the risk of a pathalogic fracture at the site of the cancer would be eliminated also (the chance of such a traumatic event had terrified me since I’d heard it was a possibility). The other factors that made me reconsider, were thinking of Elgin, all hopped up on meds and in pain for the next few months, and also the challenge of monitoring his every movement, so that if a squirrel or a neighbor’s dog ran by our yard, he wouldn’t try to chase it and fracture the leg.

We had a family meeting and both of our sons were in favor of amputation, but my husband is still on the fence.

At this point in time we are trying to move forward to schedule his amputation, but we are having difficulties getting the vet at UC Davis to call us back (we assumed she was the one who would work with us to schedule this, but we must have misunderstood).  We will try on Monday, to reach the surgery dept ourselves and get this scheduled ASAP.


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14 Responses to “Hello Tripawds!”

  1.   admin Says:

    Welcome! It looks like Rosie may have a new bofriend. Be sure to have your husband check out her blog to see how well she is doing on three legs.

    •   elginsfamily Says:

      We saw your post and laughed at Rosie’s unique attitude and vocabulary…priceless! She is sure a beauty and your photography is fantastic. Truly some awesome pictures in your blog. We were wondering how she came to be a tripod…?

  2.   chilidawg Says:

    Welcome! Elgin is sure handsome! I understand what you are going through. We also were on the fence about amputation. I was surprised how well my Chili Dawg did on 3 legs after the first 2 weeks post amp. Whatever decision you end up making will be the best forElgin. Cancer sucks but you found a great community of support 🙂

    Jenna (Spirit Chili Dawgs mom, also mom to Finchy & Buster)

  3.   liliana Says:

    I’m sorry to here Elgin has been diagnosed with OSA. I hate to say it, but time if of the essence. Do check out Rosie’s blog, and you can check out my blog at http://www.lilisnotes.com. Our American Bulldog Sasha was diagnosed with OSA on March 6th. After I received the call with the devastating news, my husband read for about 3 non-stop hours about OSA, what to expect, survival rate, options, etc.
    That same day we were already leaning towards amputation, even though our girl is 12 years old. The next day, on March 7th, we scheduled her surgery, and her right arm was amputated on March 14th. We do not regret, for even a moment, our decision.

    She has been participating in the Mason Bone Cancer Study at UPenn Vet, and continues to do wonderfully. I personally recommend amputation. And also check with local universities on clinical studies.

    Please feel free to stop by our blog (lilisnotes.com) and ask us any questions. My husband made 2 posts here on Tripawds (http://sasharuano.tripawds.com/), but we mainly keep up with our personal blog.

    Best of luck to you Elgin, and your family!

    XO,
    ~ Liliana

    •   elginsfamily Says:

      I agree about time being of the essence. Monday can’t come fast enough–I’ll be calling to schedule the surgery as soon as they open! In the mean time, Elgin is LOVING all the cheese he’s getting (he doeson’t realize there are pills embedded in every chunk!)

      •   liliana Says:

        That is exactly how I gave the pills to Sasha, rolled in cream cheese! Sometimes peanut butter = )

        Good luck!

        ~ L.

  4.   eluke Says:

    Im sorry to hear about Elgin’s diagnosis. I remember the day my Christy was diagnosed with osteo too. I wanted to die, my beautiful girl had cancer. I researched, and researched, and had it tested, and re-tested, looking for the answer that it wasnt cancer, but it was. I made the appointment for her front left leg amputation at Univ of Wisconsin-Madison and cried and cried – and had many sleepless night, and when I dropped her off, supposed to be coming back in 2 days – and then she was stuck there for a few extra days due to a snow storm I coudlnt get through. I thought my heart would break in 2 if I didnt see her soon. When I did, she can walking out on 3 legs, and I was never more proud of her. What a little trooper. So if you are questioning on whether to do the amputation, I say YES!!! You wont be sorry, and it takes the pain away – and they dont even really realize the difference – they are not like people, they just go on like nothing happened. Feel free to call me evenings or weekends to talk, if you have any questions, I would love to help answer anything I can or give you advice on what I learned through our battle. I also have videos you can watch to see how welk she did!!! 224-600-8421 Liz (Illinois)

    •   elginsfamily Says:

      Thank you for your thoughtful reply. It is good to hear things are going well. I feel we’ve made the right decision, I’m just anxious to have it done (the amputation) and relieve his pain.

  5.   kungfunurse Says:

    So hard to read. I just adopted a DDB who is 1 and have only had him 5 days. I still can’t imagine making the decisionsyou are facing. Either way, I am sure you will have Elgin’s best interest and quality of life at the forefront. If you keep that the priority, you cannot make a ‘wrong’ decision, even if it is painful for you guys.
    If indeed, the time comes to let him go, find comfort in knowing you could give him this gift [this is making me cry] of freedom from suffering.
    I will hope for a miracle.

  6.   tazziedog Says:

    I also have a DDB and I agree that they are very easygoing! Our dog Loki is 7 1/2 years old and so far he is doing well. You might have read about our English Mastiff Tazzie elsewhere on this site. She lost her RF leg to OSA and did very well as a tripawd. She lived 14 months with chemo and some herbal supplements and her quality of life was great right up until her last day.

    I hope that surgery goes well for your big boy!

    Pam

  7.   Dakota Dawg Says:

    OSA is a mean beast that has its own rules. The only way to win is to decide not to play its game. Instead, you make the rules. Decide not to mourn for the dog that is still here and very much alive. Live large and be happy for the little things…just like Elgin lives. Easy to say, hard for humans to actually do.

    The one truth that is constant is this: leg gone, pain gone. So try to be happy that you have a way to relieve Elgin’s pain. Yes it’s awful that you have to do this but holy cow it’s amazing you can do it for him! See it through his eyes if you can. And keep us posted on how things go.

    Shari