Don’t procrastinate that bucket list…

Elgin is 7 months post-amp now.  He’s done so well, that we are glad we made that gut-wrenching decision.  In reading everything we could about K-9 osteosarcoma and everything that comes with it, we kept seeing a repetitive theme: do all those special things your dog enjoys, while you can.

Elgin portrait

He recovered from his amputation of that back leg amazingly well, and that includes the chemotherapy, which he finished January 2.  He even got walked MORE  afterwards, than he did before he was diagnosed!  I scheduled a pet photography session for him a week or so ago with a friend (OK, that wasn’t on Elgin’s bucket list, but something I wanted done.)

This past month, he began to favor that remaining back leg, and after putting him on Rimadyl, he seemed better.  I stopped taking him for hops with his “browndog” girlfriends, and instead we sat outside on the front lawn, every morning for about 30-45 minutes.  He improved, but we were still cautious.  Having been reassured by our local vet that typical osteosarcoma cases do not spread to other limbs, but rather in the lungs or liver, running through our minds were thoughts like “What if it’s hip dysplasia?” or “What if it’s a torn ACL?”  and we waited for our re-check appointment at UC Davis.

This past Easter weekend I was enjoying the gorgeous weather and planting my vegetable container garden.  Elgin has a penchant for dirt.  LOVES IT.  So when he wanted to “help” me, I indulged him.  He snuffled and rooted like a pig, shoveling out most of the dirt with his nose, and actually digging in the container with his front foot, scooting it across the deck.  He was thoroughly enjoying this, so absorbed that he didn’t notice me leave to get my camera and come back.  I called his name and his head popped up out of the dirt with the biggest grin I’ve ever seen on his face. I just had to laugh out loud.  Then, when he was spent, he lay on the deck, covering as much of the displaced dirt with his body as he could.  An afternoon well-spent.














DSC_0333So we cajoled the vets at UC Davis into x-raying his leg and hip at the same time as the lung re-check. (Some of you on the live chat remember that this was not an easy task)

Today, as we sat in the waiting room at UC Davis, my husband and I each had our ideas and concerns about what the results might bring.  We had always anticipated he would get lung mets and would simply wind down, in a mostly peaceful way. As we looked at the x-rays in the exam area, we were devastated to learn that the mets had not materialized in his lungs, but rather that one, remaining back leg.  The evil cancer had come back with a vengeance, painfully sealing the deal.  Like deja vu, the vet went over all of the options of palliative care and other ideas, some of which were still in the trial phase.  “Normally, we would give about 4 months for this stage of tumor.  With this being in his only weight-bearing leg, we would be looking at more like one or two months.” said the vet.

We brought him home, and are trying to process this.

And so my parting thought for the day…. take the time to do the fun stuff your dog loves, while he/she is still able.


311 thoughts on “Don’t procrastinate that bucket list…”

  1. I was smiling through the first part of your post, remembering how much Maggie liked to ‘help’ me garden. There is nothing predictable or fair about cancer. No matter what you guys are doing this right, I hope there are lots of dirt days in Elgin’s future.

    Karen and Spirit Maggie

  2. I’m so sorry to read this about your boy. But what I know from all your posts and from looking at Elgin’s photos, is that he is a happy boy who loves his family. It’s not fair that he won’t be able to spend as much time with you as he should have. But I know that every second of his life with you has been filled with love. And dirt. Lots of dirt! Elgin is a wonderful helper, and I hope he has many more gardening days with you. Someday, please post photos from Elgin’s Garden. I would love to see what he helped nurture to life.

  3. Oh Elgin you are magnificent, absolutely stunningly cute!!! I have Bull Mastiff who owns me so “kinda similar”sort of.

    Elgin still has good quality time and, with you by his side, will clearly pack a lifetime of joy into every single moment and NOTHING can destroy that boy’s zest for life!!

    You’ve been around this site long enough to know that statistics, for the most part, can be pure hogwash. I mean, “statistically” this crap rarely spreads to the other bones—–wrong! And, I believe Elgin will continue living a full loving, splendidly happy life far longer than a statistic!! He’s already shown he’s the exception!!

    You might need at least two more buckets because you’ve got a lot more to put in there!!

    Thanks for sharing those delightful photos—they warm the soul.

    Holding you near and dear in our hearts, Sally and Happy Hannah

  4. OH Ann! This was so not what I was expecting to read. I’m so very sorry. Admin is too, I just told him.

    The cancer ride is completely insane, and as Bruiser Bruno’s Mom said more eloquently in her last post, it can just turn you upside down when you least expect it. But even when that happens, all you gotta do is stop, breathe, and look at that beautiful grin on Elgin’s face. See how happy he is living moment by moment, and wrap your arms around his big heart. Dirt can do amazing things to lift one’s spirits.

    Plant a garden, roll in the grass, splash in the mud and sit and be still together. These are the moments to treasure.


  5. Thanks, everyone, for your kind words. I will keep you all posted and maybe this agonizing publishing of his journey will help others who may face this later themselves too. We are grateful for this suppawrt group, especially you, Rene, and your husband, as well as Maximut.

  6. I’m am just at tears reading about the xray diagnosis. With a rear amp tripawd ourselves, that is our worst fear. I can’t believe how unfair cancer can be and how unfair life in general can be. We try to live with positive thoughts and some days, or some years, it feels like we just can’t catch a break. I am so sorry for you and your beautiful Elgin. We all know here on Tripawds that statistics are made to be broken so I am sending up prayers that you have much more time with him than the experts are stating. May you enjoy each and every moment, whether it be clean or dirty! And you are so right in reminding all of us not to put off that bucket list. A post well written, but a sad one at that. May your next post start out just as positive and continue to give us all hope.

  7. Elgin is adorable. And I love to hear that you let him play in the dirt (and got a good picture to boot). I wish your news from the x-rays had been better. Keep enjoying Elgin as long as you can and give him lots of hugs from us.

  8. As I read your post I just knew what was coming and my heart wept for you. We never got the xrays until the last day because our oncologists kept telling us that it would make no difference to the treatment. It is the one part of the journey where I felt they let us down because I knew in my heart that the cancer was in her other bones and maybe our treatment options would have been different, maybe not. We’ll never know.

    Magnum’s cancer also came back in the remaining back leg. It was 2 months from when we first noticed a change in her gait to when we said goodbye. We became her back legs for the last week or so until the pain became difficult to control and we made the gut wrenching decision to let her go. Unlike other types of cancer mets her appetite was still very strong to the end.

    I pray that you can beat the odds. But whatever is to happen next keep doing what you are doing, keep living each and every precious moment. Those photos of Elgin are priceless. As I said above, I spent hours just sitting with Magnum while she enjoyed watching everyone else. Guarding was in her blood and she loved it. Just like a dog, she just adapted to her new physical constraints.

    Feel free to PM me if you would like.

    Many hugs


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