Slowing down…

On April 1, the specialists at UC Davis discovered advanced osteosarcoma in Elgin’s remaining back leg. We saw the X-ray, could clearly see the spongy cancer breaking down the margins of his bone, and were devastated. They projected that a normal dog, with all its limbs, might have a good quality life for four months at this stage.  Elgin, being a heavy mastiff and being that it was his only back leg, was looking at two months.  And based upon their concern and cautions against Elgin moving around more than to go potty and to eat, Gary and I were planning for much less; maybe one month.

DSC_0170Thus we began indulging in his bucket list in earnest:  His pool is now full of sand/dirt so he can dig and scrape as much as he wants. Large femur bones come home from the butcher, frequently.   Our younger son spends a lot of time each day, laying on the floor next to wherever Elgin is resting, just petting his giant head and cuddling.  I drive him to the park every morning, so he can sniff and pee on stuff without hopping very far, and sometimes his Browndog Girlfriends come visit him.  And he gets a treat for almost everything; especially just for being Elgin. But we still won’t get him a IMG_20130525_215456_943cat.

It is now June.  Elgin breezed through the last two months almost like nothing was wrong.  He still played, caught a rat behind the grill, chased the squirrels on the fence, still begged, still got ornery and frisky. IMG_20130525_135613_962

But we knew this streak of incredible goodness would wind down, and it seems it is doing just that.  In the past two weeks we’ve noticed that he doesn’t dig anymore in his pool, but just lays in it.  He picks and chooses which squirrels are worth chasing. He hops around the house and sits down almost as soon as he comes to a stop, not standing as much. He pants a little more and seems slightly restless.  Just today he spent significant time licking his back leg where the cancer has come back. But meanwhile, he is still bright eyed, affectionate, and defends his home when he feels the need… his guardian nature overruling his pain as he storms the front door to growl and stare down solicitors.

DSC_0202This weekend he had a good DSC_0211hosing-down in the backyard, as temps were over 110.  He used to play in the water, but this time I had to hold him still while I soaped him up, trying to wash away all the dirt he’s collected, wallowing in his dirt pool.  He wasn’t enjoying his bath at all.

We were discussing how we will know when the right time to say goodbye will be.  We are not ready for him to be gone from our lives.  But we are not willing for him to suffer much.  It seems that the Rainbow Bridge is looming closer every day.


254 thoughts on “Slowing down…”

  1. Awww Elgin. I hate this stinking cancer. Its not fair. You are such a beautiful boy. Enjoy your time with your family until its your crossing time.

    It does look like you are getting spoiled but that is a great thing 🙂

    Hugs from Sassy & I.

  2. Thank you sooooo much for such a detailed update……was holding my breath as I first scrolled down very quickly and …YES….ELGIN IS STILL BEING ELGIN:-) 🙂

    Yeah, slowing down a bit now and being g selective how he expends his energy….but that’s just the sign of one wise soul!!

    As you already know, don’t let any concerns about “tomorrow” rob you of the bliss of being with Elgin in the moment today! He sure isn’t worried! He’s already shown everybody statistics/time frames don’t mean squat to him:-) 🙂
    You’ll kow–he’ll let you know–when the time co es.. But for now, he’s not interested in going anywhere……except to the dog park maybe….and to a squirrel factory:-) 🙂

    ELGIN, you are. one of the finest looking dogs in the land!! Your pictures are an absolute joy!! And, you look great too!! I know your momma’s bursting with pride loo,king at your mug!! Such a fine mug!!

    Sending bucket loads of sand filled with bones and wiggly squirrel tails!

    LOVE to all, Sally and Happy Hannah

  3. I’m so glad Elgin has been enjoying his bucket list. They are memories that you will cherish.

    This is the toughest part of the journey. I hope Elgin will give you a sign to let you know when it is time. Magnum was still very bright in her eyes but very tired and no longer able to put any weight on her back leg. I had hoped to get her stronger pain relief and buy another week for her (for me) but after an xray the vet warned me not to take her home again because she was at high risk of fracturing her hip. For me, that risk, together with her pain and loss of movement made the decision for me.

    My heart goes out to you. Keep making precious memories with Elgin. They will stay imprinted on your soul forever.

    Karen and Spirit Magnum

  4. Thinking of Elgin and you. What wonderful gifts you are giving him and at the same time making memories to hold close to you forever.

    Luanne and Shooter

  5. Thanks, everyone, for these bolstering, happy replies to my post. Elgin has been, as all of our tripods have been, a real inspiration to watch. Cemil’s mom put it well: “Don’t spend time worrying about the way things used to be; the new is normal now.” …or something like that.
    Elgin’s beginning to give us more signs that he’s almost done; finding “caves” around the house to crawl into (under tables, dark bathrooms, under the desk), becoming more restless, and less able to support his weight on that leg. I upped his pain meds but it has had no noticeable affect on him. We will NOT let him suffer more pain. This next few days will be rough, I think. I know.

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