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Beautiful Slideshow – Watch with Sound On

The week before Cassie’s amputation, I had a professional photographer come to the house to take photos.  She made this BEAUTIFUL slideshow of some of the photos she took.  Makes me cry every time I see it. . . 🙂  It is a wonderful tribute to my beautiful girl.  I miss her so. . .


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She Is Gone

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I haven’t been able to bring myself to post this here until now.  On Friday, April 13th, Cassie lost her battle.  Here is what I wrote that evening:

Cassie Jean Davis (12/3/99 – 4/13/12)

This morning, I said goodbye to my best friend. Her “official” name was Sherborne Cassiopeia, but she was better known as Cassie, Peeps or HoneyPot. She didn’t KNOW she was “better known as” any of those, because she was born deaf; however, I believe she could hear my heart. I believe she knew how important she was to me.

From the day I met her when she was three months old she was my best friend and constant companion. I picked her up at O’Hare Airport when she was three months old, the week after my Mom died, and her “puppy-ness” saw me through my grief. She licked the tears off my face, and made me laugh. She made me get out of bed and made me get out of the house. She literally brought ME back to life.
She had an amazing sense of humor and she made me laugh almost daily. She was EXTREMELY loving and loyal. She was SO smart. Once I figured out she was deaf and I started using hand signals, I’ve always felt she must have thought “FINALLY, she’s speaking my language!”
She gamely followed me through moves from Chicago to Orlando to Atlanta, and adapted well in each place. She LOVED the snow in Chicago, and Florida was a “bit” warm for her, but she was happy because she was with me.
In February of this year, Cassie was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, and her front left leg was removed. She was a fighter, and she was soon hopping bravely around. She went through one round of chemo, but had a hard time recovering from that. Two days ago, she started having problems with her remaining front leg, and the vet felt it was a neurological or spinal cord problem. We had a plan to combat it, and had a medication plan in place.
Last night she was very restless the whole night. I couldn’t seem to make her comfortable. Unfortunately, this morning, she was also unable to use her hind legs. She wasn’t able to stand on her own. The vet told me there wasn’t really anything that could be done, and I didn’t want her to suffer any more.
She ate some of her favorite treats as they injected her with the anesthesia. She lay in my arms as she fell asleep. She went very peacefully. I told her to go find my mom and my brother in heaven. I will always hold her in my heart.

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Chemo Starts Tomorrow

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We met with the oncologist on Friday, and deciding to go ahead with the chemo treatments was a no-brainer.  He said that average survival rate WITHOUT chemo is 2-3 months.  WITH chemo, the average is 12-15 months.  So I am hopefully optimistic.

Our first treatment day is tomorrow.  We are scheduled for a total of six, with three weeks between each one.  They will alternate between Cisplatin and Adriamycin. 

My biggest challenge now is Cassie and her “recovery”.  She continues to act “depressed”, even as I coax her into more and more of our normal routine – running errands with me in the car, visiting my Dad at his assisted living facility, chatting with neighbors in the front yard, etc.  And while she sometimes will take 20 steps or so at a rapid pace, most of the time she takes 2 or 3 and then stops.  I have to really convince her to take a few more.    This weekend, we visited my Dad and after I got her out of the car, she took about 6 steps and just laid down in the pine straw.  I remembered reading that they will let you know when they need to rest, so I just stood there beside her (in the heat) for almost 10 minutes, at which point I did ask her to get up and keep walking.  She took maybe 10 steps (with rests in between) and then laid down again.

It’s not that she has a very strenuous life. . . . before we got in the car for my visit to Dad, she hadn’t done much except lay on the couch that day.

She has done well walking UP the front porch steps (5 steps).  I haven’t asked her to do more steps than that yet.  She has a VERY hard time going down, even with me holding on to the harness to give her some support.  She balks at the top and turns back and seems like she would rather just stay there all day than go down the steps.  I know that DOWN is harder on front amputees than UP, so I’m not too surprised.  I AM surprised though that even with a number of successes, she is still terrified of going down.

Nighttimes are the biggest challenge.  She wakes me between 5 and 8 times a night, every night.  She pants loudly and quickly most of the night, has a hard time finding a comfortable spot and seems to have to go outside a lot (or maybe that’s just an excuse for waking me up!).  I have positioned her bed and support pillows every way I can possible think of to try to make her more comfortable, but she just keeps turning around and around, and pawing at the bed.  If I don’t respond to the loud panting, she starts crying.  I now know how mothers of newborn infants feel. . . . I am EXHAUSTED!  I actually was awake last night from 3 to 4:30, trying to drown out the panting (after taking her out, making sure she had water, offering her a treat (which she didn’t take), plumping the pillows, and just petting her).  I am looking forward to an 8 hour overnight flight next week, because I will get better sleep on the plane than I’m getting in my own bed!

I’m still giving her Tramadol for pain, and I started giving her Gabapentin last week.  The vet thought the Gabapentin might ease some of the anxiety, and maybe help if she’s suffering from phantom limb pain.

Dazed and confused and weary. . . . but still hopeful and very much in love with my Cassie. . . .  🙂



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Confirmed Osteosarcoma

I suppose I had been hoping that it wouldn’t come back this way, but the biopsy definitely shows osteosarcoma in the leg they removed.  I have an appointment with the oncologist on Friday to discuss options.

My heart is heavy. 







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Two Weeks Out

Cassie’s amputation was two weeks ago, and she is “turning the corner” in terms of her personality.  While I had seen glimpses of it over the course of our journey, yesterday (the actual 2 week anniversary), she seemed to “come alive”.  She showed more interest in things and she seemed to have more of her old sense of humor back.  It’s SO wonderful to see!

She continues to make progress physically.  She takes longer and longer between rests, and can easily go 15-20 steps without stopping now.  She can walk up and down the five steps to the front door.  (We haven’t tried the stairs to the 2nd floor yet, although she keeps going toward them as if she wants to.  I don’t think that *I* am ready for that!)

Still waiting to hear results of the biopsy, and I’m kind of dreading the next steps of this journey.  If we have to do chemo, I just don’t know what to expect.  I haven’t done much research yet (on purpose) because I don’t think I’m ready to face that stress yet.  Let me get thr0ugh this first! 🙂

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Video from Day 3

Thanks everyone for your words of support and encouragement! I’m heading to the grocery store for cottage cheese this afternoon! 🙂

I took a little video of Cassie on Day 3 after surgery.  This was her first time being in the backyard and she surprised me by “taking off”!  Hopefully this will also provide some encouragement to those who are worried about making this decision (Alicia :).

I was overwhelmed with anxiety on the days approaching surgery, and after I dropped her off at the surgeon’s office, I got back in the car and cried for 15 minutes.  I understand the anxiety.  But now that it’s done, I can tell that she is in less pain.  She’s getting used to it, and she continues to push herself.

Does anyone have any suggestions for seat belts for riding in the car?  I tried to search the “gear” blog but didn’t find any mention of seat belts. . .

Thanks again for all the support and encouragement.


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Cassie’s Courage

Cassie, my 12 year old Belgian Sheepdog (Groenendael), was diagnosed with bone cancer in her front left leg. We amputated the leg on February 22, 2012.

We are now beginning the 2nd week after surgery. Cassie has been absolutely incredible. The surgery was on Wednesday and I picked her up on Thursday. When we got home, although I had to carry her up the front porch steps, once we got inside she jumped right up on the couch! I couldn’t believe it. I had set up a nice comfy mat on the floor right next to her spot on the couch, thinking she would be able to “camp out” there. She was having NONE of that! The couch is hers and she jumps up on it without caution. 🙂

She is slowly but surely gaining strength. She can go ten steps or so before stopping to rest. And this morning, for the first time, she walked down about five steps on my front porch. Until now, I had been carrying her up and down the steps.

Cassie has always been a “Velcro Dog” in that she wouldn’t stay somewhere if she couldn’t see me. She wouldn’t stay outside if I went back in the house; she wouldn’t stay in the family room if I went to the kitchen, etc. Since the amputation, when she goes outside she goes underneat the deck and sits in between two chairs I am storing under there. She just sits. She’s not in any visible distress and it’s not even like she’s sitting on some cool dirt – it’s pine straw! But it’s quiet and dark and still. I guess that’s what she needs.

I’m still having some challenges with getting her to eat. I’ve had success with chunks of grilled chicken, and plain tuna (packed in water). Last night I browned some ground beef and mixed it with rice. . . . she picked out the beef and left the rice! She has absolutely NO interest in her regular food, and hardly any in some of her special treats. At least she’s drinking a lot of water.

I continue to be amazed at how well she is adapting. Sometimes I think she is “depressed” and I’ve done my best to never let her see me upset. I’m doing the “tough love” thing and making her walk places, making her get off the couch to eat and drink, etc. Sometimes she just looks at me in the saddest way – it’s heartbreaking.

But she gets a little bit better every day and we celebrate every pee and poop and step. I cherish every moment I have with her.

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