Week 7 post-amp; an update on my fighter girl

We are at 7 weeks post-amp today. We have had our fair shares of ups and downs and I try and do my best and ride the roller coaster with Shelby since Shelby still is blissfully unaware she is fighting cancer.

We’ve had, for a while now, off and on, some digestive issues. From what I have heard, chemo can really wreak havoc on their digestive track – even longer than the initial days post treatment. So we finally got Shelby on a probiotic! Shelby’s on more supplements than even I take but I am hoping they are all doing their part to fight this cancer.


I finally had to get organized since my brain refuses to retain information and it’s all so overwhelming. Her pills include: fish oil (1), probiotic (1), iron pills (2), It’s Yumity – cancer fighting mushrooms (3) + she gets 1 ML of metacam. All at night. I mixed the powder into her meals. I also cook for her from a dog cookbook and currently she’s enjoying some doggy lasagna! Thankfully she doesn’t have the same issue with leftovers I do and will eat the same food day in and out. Basically it’s egg noodles, ground turkey, diced tomatoes, low-fat cottage cheese and some basil and oregano. Yummy!

She’s also been experiencing some odd behavior at night. She seems way more restless and anxious or hyper. Wants attention. Wants to go outside – a lot. I have read in a book on senior dogs that this is normal. As with most things with Shelby, it seems to come on all of a sudden and it is hard to pin-point her exact cause. She has also started BOLTING up from sleep and running across the room. Her vets don’t think she has phantom pain but we’ll watch it. She is eating like a champ (super hungry, hungry hippo all the time) drinks normally, is alert, happy  and does well on her walks so we’re not worried. I just can’t let go (as hard as I try) knowing that she has cancer and it’s in her lungs … every time she coughs, I freak out (even though she has always done that hacking thing), I worry that her chest or rib cage look bigger, I worry when she pants. But she is fine. She is doing really well. And she is happy.

Since there was a massive accident on the freeway this a.m., I chose to work at home and figured Shelby would be all up in my face for attention but actually, she’s quietly sleeping in her bed, content. So perhaps that is why she goes so bat crazy at night – because she rests all day.

Tomorrow will be my 40th birthday.  Shelby came to live with me when I was in my late 20s. When she first got sick last September, I prayed and prayed that she would make it to Christmas of last year (and she did). Then I prayed she would make it past the first two weeks in February which are hard because they are the anniversary of my father’s passing (and she did). Then I prayed she would make it past my birthday (and fingers crossed, she will).

I know that every day we have together is an amazing gift. I am thrilled that she and I have had so many wonderful experiences and adventures together in my 30s and as I bid goodbye to that decade of my life, I am grateful for the love and devotion of my best friend, through all the ups and downs, the good times, the bad. She has always licked my tears, comforted me, loved me unconditionally, taken care of me. And as I spend more time taking care of her and keeping my sad emotions at bay, I am thankful that I will start the next decade of my life with the best friend a girl could ever have.  She is the love of my life and she knows it! We are so blessed!


Hello mommy!
Good Morning!
Sleeping on the job!
My assistant!

From the bathroom to the bedroom

As those who have followed Shelby’s antics know, Shelby assumed residency of my bathroom about three days after her amputation.  At first it was kind of funny – she would just hang out in there but then she got aggressive with it. She refused to leave (even trying to coax her out with a cookie, she would grab the cookie and take it to the bathroom). My bathroom is tiny – just enough room for one person in there – let alone add a small dog! Since she refused to leave if I went in there, I would have to straddle her and the toilet to potty. I would have to lean over her to apply my make-up or brush my teeth. It was her ‘den’ and she wasn’t budging. I called the vets (they assured me while they had never heard of this, it wasn’t hurting her to ‘hang’ in there). My friends figured perhaps she had made it her ‘safe place’ for her recovery.

Guarding her spot

Two weeks into our recovery, she was still hanging in the bathroom and getting increasingly annoyed if I needed to get in there. I tried moving the purple bath mat that she loved to sit on to my bedroom to coax her to sleep in there – she just stood and stared at me until I put it back in the bathroom. One night, I decided to do a load of wash and washed the towels, including the bath mat. She was beyond upset. She couldn’t figure out where her beloved mat was and she kept going back to the bathroom to check and see if it had magically appeared. That was the same night our washing machine went wonky and almost didn’t work (God forbid the bath mat not get rinsed of it’s soap and put in the dryer). I tried to put a blanket in there to soothe her but she would have none of it. It had to be the bath mat in the bathroom.

Where is the mat?!?

Somewhere around week 4 or 5, I noticed she was spending less overall time in the bathroom. I had gotten so used to seeing her in there, I lost track of the time. When I would go to bed at night, she would have already tucked herself into bed in the bathroom. I would walk past and tell her goodnight (thinking if I stopped acting stressed about it, she would come out). One morning I came home from a run and she was on her bed – in the living room. The joy in my voice could be heard throughout the entire apt complex! Praise God – she’s out of the bathroom (she was back in it that night).

Slowly, she started to spend less time in there and more time in the living room and at the doorway to my bedroom. Never spending the entire night though. Then we had a breakthrough. Almost 5 weeks post-amp, she spent the night in my bedroom on her bed. I almost stepped on her since her bed is right next to mine and I had gotten so used to her not being there. The next night, the same thing. And again and again – Shelby has been in my bedroom for almost 2 straight weeks. In fact, she spends her days in there as I see her come out of there when I get home from work. I haven’t seen her step foot in that bathroom (except for Saturday night when she was being annoying and I told her to back off – she huffed herself up and turned and walked into the bathroom with a look of disgust at me in a passive aggressive move).

Inching her way closer to being in my bedroom completely

So here we are…. week 6 post-amp and Shelby is 100% back to her normal albeit crazy self. Shelby’s never been a dog that subscribes to the “status quo”. She has always danced to the beat of a different drummer from her irrational fear of crates and wind chimes to her desire think she’s “Ferdinand the Bull” in kicking up her rear legs (when she had 2) in anticipation of going crazy on a squirrel way up high in a tree. Many have described her as a “special” girl (and not in the flattering way). Shelby’s antics have amused my friends on Facebook for years from she and I having to have a conversation about “boundaries” when she takes food out of my hands or mouth if I am leaning near her or our utter co-dependence on each other; from both of us having aches/pains at the same time (cue my limping after a marathon to her starting to limp out of the blue long before her leg had cancer). Shelby and I have bond unlike any I have had with any dog in my life and most likely, unlike any bond I will ever have with another. She “gets” me and I “get” her and together, I think, we make a great team. So if anyone else ever has a dog that takes to the bathroom post surgery, know that it gets better. They will come out. And before you know it, your apt/home will be filled with fluff from toys and I personally wouldn’t have it any other way.

6 weeks post amp! Alert and happy Shelby!

6 weeks post-amp and loving life

Shelby is doing amazing – just 6 weeks post-amp – what a fighter she is! I am so proud of my girl. She really lives each day and moment to the fullest and I learn more about her daily and when I didn’t I think I could be MORE in love with her, I am. She is my inspiration, my light, my everything. The good news is that she definitely seems to have relinquished her hold on my bathroom. She uses it more now as a ‘passive aggressive’ kind of sort of “F-U” to me if she wants to pout. Saturday night she was being a royal PITA (pain in the ass) and I told her to back off and she looked right at me, turned around and walked into the bathroom. I told her no and she came out and she was fine so it’s definitely apparent that the bathroom is her “go-to” place to annoy me. She sleeps each night (soundly) on her bed by my bed. She doesn’t start off on the bed and I did hear her turn around a couple of times last night. She also seems to breathe louder or heavier (or maybe she has always done that and is just a sound sleeper now).

I find myself doing it less and less each day BUT I still worry about every little thing she does and wonder if it’s the lung mets or the cancer or the amputation. Shelby is a strong-willed, fiercely independent dog and she tries to show me that daily. On our walks, she will cut corners, sometimes fall and sometimes slide and I know I could make it easier for her to force her to avoid the cracks in the road but I try not to. Now I open my front door and let her go down the stairs (as she used to) to the grass and she takes off like she’s free! Does it make me nervous? Every. Single. Time. Is she fine? Absolutely.

She plays a bit more in the evenings with me. She had chemo last week and it took a lot of out her this time. She was super sleepy, would eat and then crash (food coma) but yesterday she wanted to play and pulled out some of her toys to try and engage me. She also always has a mischievous look in her eyes when I leave for work that makes me wonder what she’s up to all day. We’ve had a couple accidents in the house but I think that was due to over feeding her veggies (she was probably getting more fiber than most humans do since I eat a ton of veggies and was tossing her some extras).

She should get her mushroom therapy this week and we are eager to get started on that for the cancer. We got the all-clear from her vets to exempt her from her vaccinations due to her cancer and chemo.

We spent a great long weekend together and I try really, really hard to focus on the good and not think about what those long weekends will look like if she’s not by my side. We’ve seen a lot of our Tripawd friends lose their battles this month and it breaks my heart and it makes it all very real to me and what we are dealing with. Cancer – human or dog  – is just flipping awful. It’s heartbreaking to see those posts and yet I feel a sense of responsibility to click on them, read the stories, offer our condolences and hold them in our hearts. We are all in this together. As much as we don’t all want to be a part of this “group” – this group continues to be a great source of comfort to me; through the good and the bad.

And our weekly dose of cuteness …

Carrying her has done amazing things for my biceps! :-)
Carrying her has done amazing things for my biceps! 🙂
slowly that fur seems to be coming back (only on one patch though) – her bare ass is still… bare.
2014-02-19 (3)
Happy Dog. Happy Mom.
2014-02-19 (2)
Pre-work snuggles are the best!


Shelby’s 5 weeks post-amp today

Clearly math is not my strong suit since I kept thinking we were over the 5 week mark and marching past week 6! Oops! Shelby had her rear amputation on January 8th.

So I guess it’s even more amazing that she’s doing so well in such a short amount of time. Shelby visited with her fan club yesterday at Veterinary Cancer Group of Los Angeles and they were all pleased by how well she was moving/getting around and how *some* fur is growing back. Shelby had finished her chemo treatments three weeks ago so we were really there for some X-rays and get on a maintenance dose of chemo for life. After a review of her X-rays, her oncologist, Dr. Turner, noticed that Shelby’s lung mets hadn’t really changed (or if anything, the growth was marginal) which is good AND bad news. Good that they aren’t growing so her chemo is working and bad that they aren’t shrinking either which means that they are fighting back. So we decided to do another couple rounds of chemo on Shelby since it can’t hurt and it can only help to get her to the maintenance part in a better place.

I am choosing to focus on the extremely positive part of this – they didn’t grow tremendously and considering my dog has an extremely aggressive blood cancer, this is good news. And those mets didn’t show up until almost 4 months into her treatment which means we can still fight them.  At the end of the day, we all know that my dog most likely has had cancer since June when she first broke her leg (and we couldn’t find the cancer even then) so that gives me the hope that everything we have done along the way has been the absolute right decision. If we were indeed given 6 months from starting of chemo, that puts us at March and I believe Shelby is going to run right through March, headed for April, May, June and beyond … My dog is a fighter. She acts more and more like herself every day. She has an amazing spirit and will to live.

And each day, I see more and more of my girl coming back. The other night, she played for the first time (on her own, with no food involved). She spends less time (if any) in the bathroom which was her den for so long after her recovery that I truly never thought she would come out of there again. But the absolute BEST part of my day today was waking up and having my girl, sound asleep, on her bed, next to my bed. She hasn’t slept in my room since this happened. I think she was less than thrilled that I woke her up at 4:30 a.m. so I could walk her before my run but I had to kiss, snuggle and praise her for being by my side all night. It’s the little things that give us joy and remind us that we are seeing improvements, no matter how tiny they might be. Every day brings a new set of challenges and opportunities. I have often said, what I wouldn’t do to be more like Shelby, to wake up every single day with a clean slate, a world of opportunities ahead of me, wagging a tail. Because my  girl is a happy girl. She is LOVED by so many and she feels the love. She spent over 2 hours at the vet yesterday and her appt. was only about an hour – she had to visit all the nurses, techs, doctors that have fought so hard for her.

People ask how I can be positive or upbeat – faced with living with a dog that I know has terminal cancer. My answer is, what other choice do I really have? Shelby reads every single feeling, emotion I have, long before I even know it, she’s feeling it. My only choice is to be a strong pack leader – to let her know that I am proud of her, that I love her and that she is a fighter. And I truly think that, 5 weeks in, I can finally breathe a bigger sigh of relief and we can get back to living our life as it was. That she didn’t freak out in the car yesterday (YAY we  can go on road trips again), that she is walking better and kind of positioning that back leg in the middle like a true “tripod” (YAY down to the beach for us), that she can sit like a lady in my lap (YAY happy hour)…. Two weeks from tomorrow, I will turn 40. Shelby has been a part of my life since my 20s, through my 30s and soon my 40s. I couldn’t be happier today.


They always give her a new bandanna at the vet. My little Valentine!
Smooches for my best girl!
🙂 No words necessary … love of my life, right here!

A little over 5 weeks post-amp

Shelby is about 5 1/2 weeks post-amp and things are getting back to normal (or rather our new normal). She’s spending less time in the bathroom but still goes in there from time to time but definitely less than she was). I have started cooking for her since she’s gotten rather chunky (and I can tell this from when I pick her up and down to carry her when she feels like being a princess). She’s getting better at being lifted, a little less ‘dead weight’ – she even kind of helps by lifting/hopping into my arms. It’s usually just the stairs or I’ll pick her up when I see a dog coming toward us or a puddle that I don’t want her splashing through. I am still a rather nervous dog mom but definitely treating her less like a “China doll” than I was.

Her issues with colitis cleared up nicely and she’s 100% normal in that department. She still pants off and on at night but I wonder if that’s because she wants attention, wants to go out (EVERY. FIVE. MINUTES.) or if it’s her lung mets. She usually stops w/in a few minutes if she doesn’t get her way so I think she’s playing me.

She roams a lot at night, I think. I don’t hear her so much anymore but I usually wake up and she’s in the living room in her bed or on the floor. NO matter if I put the beds in my room, she will not sleep the night in there with me anymore BUT she will stay in there until I fall asleep. Friday was a rough day on me personally and it’s like Shelby knew she had to be the strong pack leader, act like she was and take care of me. It still amazes me – after 13 years together – how she can read me like a book and just know when I need her to be strong.

We go to the vet tomorrow for some X-rays (dreading that) and to get her maintenance dose of chemo. I feel in my heart she is doing great, eating normally, playing (sort of), alert, happy, excited to see me and to live … I know there are mets but I don’t want to know or hear about it. I only want to focus on all the positive stuff and pray that those mets aren’t any bigger than they were 6 weeks ago when they first showed up. So I am going to practice my ‘being the dog’ and live in the moment and think positive stuff for all things Shelby. Because I am so proud of my girl and so proud of how we have weathered each and every storm.  My birthday falls at the end of the month and I feel confident Shelby is going to enter a new decade of life by my side!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dIGcTf0LR7Q – Shelby prancing around ready to go outside!

Sleepy time Shelby (before I fall asleep) – not that she still prefers the floor to her TWO beds
Basking in the sun ….she’s relaxed, happy and warm!
Happy Days! Shelby can sit like a princess on my lap again. Strong core. Strong dog. She’s a fighter!

Celebrating One month post-amp

What a journey it’s been! When I made the decision to amputate Shelby’s leg, I told her surgeons that even if we made it one month pain-free it was worth it. And it’s been a hard month but definitely worth it. Shelby continues to improve and show those vets/doctors/statistics that she is anything BUT normal in her healing process. She’s getting that spirited “terrier” energy back and I couldn’t be happier. We both know (well, rather I know) we have a long road ahead of us but I desperately try and make each moment and day count. We thank our lucky stars and God every morning together for another day together. We have evening snuggle time that has replaced evening playtime. But I still feel optimistic that my home will once again look like a “build-a-bear” store exploded in it with fluff all over the place. I just think she can’t figure out how to balance and play w/the three legs like she used to.

February is always a hard month on me (this week marks the 17th anniversary of my father’s passing). The first two weeks of the month are hard and bittersweet , fresh with lots of emotion. Then the second half of the month is where I gear up to celebrate my birthday on the 27th. All I ask from the universe is to have my best friend, love of my life, by my side, as she has for the past 13 years to help me through this.  And she will be.

She is spending less and less time in the bathroom, however she still goes in there to either get away from me OR pout. She didn’t sleep in my room last night but she slept on the floor in the living room. She’s finding her way for sure. She wants to be back up on my bed which is heart-breaking but unless I am awake and can watch her, she isn’t allowed since she WOULD jump down and she WOULD hurt herself. I saw her looking at the couch last night while I was on it and she was clearly trying to figure out if she could get up there on her own (I didn’t let her try – I brought her up). She feels like she’s getting fat or heavier but we go back to the vet next week for X-rays and our maintenance dose of chemo drugs so we’ll see if she’s gained any weight since the last time she was there.

I ordered a great cook-book off this site so I can cook for her (if she likes my cooking, most people do not as I am a horrible cook and much better baker). But since she turns her nose up at regular food anymore, it’s what we have to do or I’ll have to buy her canned food since mixing that with kibble is the only way she eats dinner. She had carrots and cucumbers and a cookie for breakfast! She gets green beans with pure pumpkin mixed in with kibble for dinner but without something else ‘moist’ in there or ‘meaty’ she picks out the veggies!

So #shelbystrong is quickly turning into #shelbyspoiled and we would not have it any other way!

Approved couch snuggle time! Her face is saying, stop taking photos and pet me!
ZZZZZ….. guarding her toys!



Approved bedtime snuggles! Snoring dog is the best sound in the world!


One month! We did it!!!! Cheers!


Shelby’s officially been home 3 weeks now

And we are starting to settle into our new normal. It hasn’t been easy (but no one said it would be). She has become increasingly needy and affectionate in the evenings – demanding to be pet nonstop for hours on end. Also demands to be on the couch. When she doesn’t get her way, she starts to huff/puff and pant. She’s starting to learn that I don’t respond to that. So she will take to the bathroom in a pouting manner. I let her go and figure, like a child, she will work it out on her own. She does have to potty more at night (or again, she might be trying to get more walks).

She had two accidents in the house this week which were upsetting for the both of us. She never messes in the house so I know that was hard on her. For me – I am not used to picking up after a dog in the house as she was trained when I rescued her. I try and be more aware when we walk and make sure she has ample time to do her business. I am also transitioning her off ‘human’ foods so hopefully she will have less digestive issues.

I have to step back and remind myself (as my friends on this website like to remind me) that my dog is truly amazing. All she’s been through in 7 months, three major surgeries, chemo, a blood transfusion … that she’s eating/sleeping normally is really amazing. And I think the more I question our “new” normal, the more upsetting it is for her. She can read my emotions like no other dog ever has – she is in my head 24/7 and she knows when I am happy or sad without my even knowing it. It’s freaky how connected we are.

But this week we had some more glimmers of “old” Shelby. She is able to shake her paw now (which was hard since she shakes w/her right and it was her left hind leg that was amputated so she can’t balance like she used to). But she’s done it a couple of times  – on her own. She also prances like she used to for attention, walks, etc (I can tell she “wants” to jump like she used but knows that she cannot). She will snuggle and lets me kiss on her as much as I want.

She still sleeps in the bathroom at night but I know she checks on me since I hear her moving around. I also caught her keeping guard this am. on my floor. I think it’s harder for her to get up and down on 3 legs so I’ll ask her vet about that. Thus the reason she probably just stands around. As I type this, she is curled up in her bed, amp side up (but it was the other way earlier). I can hear the peaceful sounds of her snoring and it’s music to my ears.

I really struggle with grieving for what we don’t have anymore – the long walks, the hikes, the playtime with tossing her toys around. I know she isn’t in pain and she’s just happy to see me but I hate when I see other dogs out and about that can run/jump/play, it makes me sad for Shelby. That is a human emotion as this site has taught me so much that dogs don’t know what they can’t do – only that they are loved and pain-free. Oh the life of a dog…. it’s simple and best!


Shelby in her bed – amp side down!
She looks way more sad that she actually is – she just hates the camera when I get up in her face!
What I woke up to this morning. My little protector! I love this girl more than life itself!