It’s been nearly three years since my last Dog Blog post. Here’s the Cliff Notes version of those three years: We bought a house and built a garden on our property that’s bigger than the house.
Thanks to my wonderful husband for doing all the work by hand. It was a very labor-intensive project, digging and sinking the posts in concrete, putting up an 8-foot deer fence around the perimeter, spreading topsoil and various organic amendments, along with a myriad of other things to make this magical garden happen.
The end result has been walking out of our door and into our own personal organic produce section. The snow has melted and we are starting to prepare for Season 3 now.
Our two greyhounds, Tiger and Truman adapted instantly to the new house. They, like us, seem to have felt a true sense of home after four moves in as many years.
We settled into new routines in our new neighborhood and life blissfully went on. Then, around Labor Day of 2019, Truman developed a limp in his right front leg.
Knowing a number of greyhounds and other sighthounds that have succumbed to Osteosarcoma, we were very concerned and took Truman to our local vet right away. Our vet determined the source of Truman’s discomfort to be in his right shoulder. X-rays taken of his shoulder were inconclusive and showed no apparent tumor. Based on that, the thought was that Truman was suffering from a deep tissue injury.
We began treating him with anti-inflammatories, along with massage therapy and acupuncture from a holistic vet here in the Methow Valley. She noticed that the vertebrae in Truman’s neck appeared to be abnormally close in the X-ray and sent it to a radiologist. Again, inconclusive. After two weeks of holistic treatment, Truman showed no improvement. In fact, he was getting markedly worse. Ever-increasing dosages of pain meds were required to keep him comfortable.
I took him back to our regular vet to do another set of X-rays on Oct. 1. This time, those X-rays clearly showed the presence of a large tumor growing in his shoulder. Truman was rapidly declining, each day exponentially so. He was doped up with double doses of Tramadol and Gabapentin. We made the tough decision to say goodbye to Truman on Oct. 4, 2019.
Absolutely heartbreaking, but truly the right thing to do. Five months later, and it is still difficult for me to write about this.
Eric and I were not the only ones devastated by Truman’s death. Tiger became despondent, deeply missing his best friend. Tiger chose Truman to come live with us back in 2012, after meeting several other greyhounds at Greyhound Pets, Inc.
We knew that Tiger, now 10-and-a-half years old, didn’t want to be an only dog and that we needed to get a new friend for him. So in late October, we drove over the mountains to GPI in Woodinville, WA to let Tiger find a new best friend. We met several dogs and narrowed our choice to three. Out of those three, Tiger and Campagnolo hit it off the best.
We brought Campagnolo, Campy for short, home on Oct. 27, 2019. He settled in beautifully. Tiger and Campy bonded instantly. We all fell in love with Campy.
Fall turned into winter and we all enjoyed watching the season change. Campy, like all our other greyhounds, loved playing in the snow. He’s a very energetic 4-year-old dog.
The holidays came and went and we humans started to settle into our winter routines of skiing, fat-biking and snowshoeing.
Then, around New Year’s I noticed some unevenness in Campy’s gait. Within days he developed a pronounced limp. Campy hadn’t even been with us for two months. It hadn’t been three months since we said goodbye to Truman.
We wasted no time getting Campy in for an X-ray. We started seeing a noticeable swelling on his right hind tarsus joint. Our local vet didn’t like what he saw on the X-ray and recommended that we take Campy to a specialty vet clinic in Wenatchee, two hours south of us, where they have more sophisticated digital X-ray machines. So we did, and the higher-quality X-rays revealed the presence of a tumor. We also had Campy’s chest X-rayed as the lungs are the mostly like place for bone cancer to metastasize. The three views taken of Campy’s lungs were clean and showed no metastasis.
With the tumor growing rapidly and Campy in considerable pain, we made the decision to amputate his leg, and follow-up with chemotherapy. The amputation surgery happened on January 21, 2020.
Campy showed remarkable resilience and was up walking hours after coming out of anesthesia. I brought him home a couple of days later.
A biopsy of the tumor confirmed Osteosarcoma. Our vet also had the lymph node in the affected leg biopsied. That showed a fair amount of inflammation, but no cancer. The weeks leading up to and immediately after Campy’s diagnosis and amp surgery were consumed by searching for, reading, and watching everything I could find about canine Osteosarcoma. Vritually everything I could find gave a fairly grim survival prognosis even with amputation, and amputation combined with chemotherapy. They all talked in terms of months, not years.
I also discovered a couple of clinical trials using immunotherapy vaccines to combat the dreaded Osteosarcoma. I’ve been in touch with a study out of Yale and was able to get Campy enrolled in the Yale Canine Cancer Vaccine Program, which we will do once Campy finishes his chemo.
Our immediate goal is for Campy to see his 5th birthday on May 23. Campy is on a regimen of Carboplatin treatments every three weeks. He had his third treatment on Thursday, so he is now at the halfway point. I had follow-up X-rays taken of his lungs and abdomen. Our vet at the Cascade Veterinary Clinic thought they looked clean. The radiologist who looked at them also said there is no sign of metastasis in either Campy’s lungs or abdomen. So for the first time since going down this carcinogenic rabbit hole with Campy, I am allowing myself to feel somewhat optimistic about his chances.
Part of me feels that the reason I am throwing everything I can think of to fight this with Campy is that I am compensating for losing Truman so rapidly. Is Campy’s resilience and ability to handle the amputation and chemo so well due to his young age? Campy is only 4 vs Truman being over 10. Also, the location of Campy’s tumor, relatively isolated on his lower hind leg made the decision to amputate easier. With Truman’s tumor in his shoulder, I am not sure if amputation would have even been an option for him.
Campy’s surgery and ongoing chemo treatments are all quite expensive. So prior to the current Coronavirus pandemic restrictions, I had already committed to zero travel in 2020. In a way, Campy is saving us. My deepest hope is that we may return the favor to our wonderful boy.