Living the bucket list (osteosarcoma comes back)

2013-04-06_13-34-30_891So Elgin is doing well, in the face of his recent bad news.  The fact that the osteosarcoma has come back in his remaining back leg does not give him a second thought.  Dogs are like that.  He’s not laying still in one spot all day, worrying because he’s got cancer and it hurts.  He’s laying in the sun, rolling on the grass, got to bark at some cows that got loose behind our house, and this week we indulged him in his passion for dirt and digging, as best we could.

I pulled out his wading pool and filled it with sand.

With how much Elgin slobbers, I’m afraid we’ll have a giant cement hockey puck before long.


Tonight, after he had dug in his pool this afternoon, he was weak and it was a bit difficult for him to rise and stand.  I gave him 100mg Rimadyl instead of 50 and he seems better.

One of his “Browndog” girlfriends (Mona) from the neighborhood came over last week for the last time.  They get so excited when they see each other that it’s like watching a couple of moose in rutting season.  I just don’t think it’s prudent to let him engage like this, so it was a short farewell visit.  However, Mona’s owner will still come over and visit.  She brought shrimp for him last week.  Unfortunately all it did was generate a lot of slobber as he mouthed it, and even though he tried several times, Elgin just couldn’t eat it.  I guess it must be sautéed in butter and garlic first.

So how do we know when it’s time to say goodbye?  My husband and I have talked about this quite a bit.  The vets at UC Davis were astonished that he was able to get around, with how much the cancer had spread.  They recommend he only get up to go potty and eat/drink.  If I understand things, the average time left for a dog with the metastasized cancer in one of two legs on the same end, is about 4 months; when the cancer comes back in that sole supporting leg, it’s half the time. Our older son drove 3 hours home from college to say goodbye to Elgin this weekend. We talked about the most important thing: Elgin’s quality of life. He won’t be happy being sedated.  We also don’t want him in too much pain, obviously.  And again, obviously, we don’t want to see him fracture that back leg, which is quite possible, since the cancer cells replace bone cells and are very aggressive.  So we will restrict his robust activities.  We will administer pain meds until the pain breaks through too much, he’s suffering, and adding more meds is unfeasible.  And we will pray he doesn’t fracture it.

We want all of you on this forum, and those of you who follow this blog, to know that we appreciate all of the warm wishes and support you’ve given us on this journey.  We humans are trying not to obsess over every movement, every groan, and every misstep Elgin takes. Elgin is obviously enjoying this spring, and we are trying to follow his example.




305 thoughts on “Living the bucket list (osteosarcoma comes back)”

  1. It is so hard to know when the right time is. I pray you will know. I went through so many emotions of “too early?”,”too late?”. Thinking of you.


  2. Thanks so much for keeping us posted!! As you know, we all worry with you and it actually was uplifting to see Elgin is still thoroughly enjoying life doing the things HE selects to do!!

    You are wonderful souls to accompany him on this journey… are committed to doing what is best and he knows it! He’s enjoying life and enjoying knowing how well loved he is!

    As you know, and of course I realize Elgin already has an “extra” challenge being a tripawd, many dogs live more than “four months” without amputation and, “supposedly” fractures don’t occur that often. Before Happy Hannah’s amputation, there were times when I would have to b bump her meds for a day or two if she overdid it and then times I could back off.

    We are keeping all paws crossed and so glad he has you! He’s clearly a happy boy now and not worried about a thing—-except maybe how to get all that darn sand out of his box!!!

  3. Just wanted to add how really fit he looks and clearly—even though he doesn’t like garlic on his shrimp—he’s eating well and that’s another great positive sign

    Sending you a sand box full of good wishes and love! Sally and Happy Hannah

  4. I love that you guys indulge Elgin in his digging. He appears so happy and that lifts my hear. I will continue to think of you guys and hope for a peaceful journey for Elgin when the time is near.

  5. You are absolutely right in following Elgin’s lead. He doesn’t know he’s sick. He just knows he loves his family. I know it’s hard (I’ve been there), but try not to worry too much on a daily basis. Don’t let the illness take away your time with him. There will be time for tears later; right now, you and Elgin have LIVING to do!! We’ll be thinking of you and your boy, and sending positive thoughts to him.

  6. Ann, I’m so sorry you guys are going through this. Elgin is such a strong dog, it’s hard to know what’s happening inside when all Elgin cares about is digging in that beautiful sand. What a great thing to do for him, I know you care about him like nothing else in this world. What a lucky boy he is.

    As far as knowing when it’s time. Unfortunately it’s that difficult thing that pet parents must do, but you know Elgin so well, you will know when it’s time. It helps to draw up some benchmarks as to what things will take away the most from his quality of life. Watch him on a daily basis and if you decide after observing him that he’s unable to do a lot of his favorite things, then you know. And if you have doubts, don’t hesitate to talk to us, that’s why we’re here.

    With much love coming your way,
    Rene, Jim, Spirit Jerry & Wyatt Ray

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