11 weeks post amp and Shelby is rocking her Tripawd life!

Shelby’s going on almost 3 months post-amp and she’s doing fantastic! I continue to worry about her all the time (her coughing,  her breathing that sounds like she’s either congested or breathing only through her nose, when she starts to pant) but overall… Shelby continues to prove to be an amazing fighter. You know how you just ‘know’ when there is something ‘off’ with your child? Shelby has no clinical reasons that her vets would think I need to rush to bring her in (she’s eating normally, drinking like a champ, etc.) but she seems off. Maybe sad?

Shelby has always been the most social dog I have ever come to know. She LOVES all people – regardless. As I have said before, Shelby had long been my travel companion for quick get-away weekends, lunches, happy hour… you name it, she went with me (if she could). Since her amp, I realized I have reduced the number of outings we take. Most of our day to day life is rather “transactional” and going through the motions. Neither of us really stop to smell the roses right now. Partly because of my busy work schedule and partly because of my fear of Shelby getting hurt. But what is the point of putting her through ALL the surgeries (3 total) the 9 rounds of chemotherapy and countless other drugs if I can’t let her live her life? What am I waiting for? She isn’t going to get better. That is the cold hard reality. My dog WILL lose her battle to this disease. I don’t like to think it or say it but it’s the truth. And facing that truth can only help us live MORE in the moment and more in the day … Because at the end of the day, I don’t want to say, “I should have taken Shelby for one last romp on the beach” or “I wish Shelby and I had gone to Happy Hour one more time”.

Shelby’s blissful ignorance to the fact that anything is different in health is a HUGE plus in dealing with this. She won’t look at me and say, not today, Mom, I’ve got cancer. She wants to live each day. She wants to smell the flowers. She wants to be outside. She wants to be a dog! Not a China doll.

I am going on a week of Spring Break tomorrow (and incidentally, Shelby gets a chemo  treatment and X-rays which I am dreading since she does seem to cough a bit more and sometimes it sounds ‘juicy’ and I am hoping it’s just allergies or a cold).  But I plan to take her to Happy Hour this week (weather permitting). We’ll go to the pet store so she can sniff around and get lovies from other people. Because I can see her spirit light up when we are on a walk and she sees a new person – her tail starts to wag, she gets excited and then her damn mama picks her up!!! But Shelby has had about three fainting episodes due to excitement so it scares me. I think that is a natural human trait and as much as I try and be more like a canine, at the end of the day, I am human.

So tomorrow we  go for our last – hopefully – chemo treatment and decide on the next course of action for my beloved. I know I want to get her off the iron pills she is currently on since I think they make her uncomfortable (again, not a medical condition that her vets would notice but as a mom, she is off – she is more anxious/active at night and is taking to sleeping on the other side of the room, away from me but thank GOD it’s not the bathroom). I’ve been feeding her some form of red meat nightly (ground sirloin or carne asada + spinach) but maybe I need to diversify her diet. She is sleeping in living room at night instead of beside my bed (but again, thankful it’s not the bathroom). I think she prefers her little bed in there but if I move it, she gets antsy. Shelby likes consistency and routine (a lot like her mama) !!

And of course – the dreaded X-rays … I am not even going to dwell on that since we already know she has mets in her lungs and our only hope right now is stabilization or slow growth. Everyone who meets/sees/is around Shelby comments how great and amazing she looks at and acts and that she is full of life (and full of belly) and that you wouldn’t know she is sick. This continues to be the hardest journey of my life to date but one that I am proud of. I am proud that I not only have the resources to care for Shelby (I don’t even want to see a grand total on this – ever) but that I have the strength to handle what the universe throws at me. All I ever had to do is look at Shelby and realize how far we have come together in our 13+ years together and realize that we are one of the lucky ones. So fight on we will. Because while I say  #shelbystrong and #dogisafighter – so is her mama!


Snuggles before work! Always the best!
At first she was scared of it but definitely loves her meaty rib bone!
“Being more dog”….
All she wanted last night was for me to NOT be on my computer or phone but to be with her…




Shelby is 6 months post-cancer diagnosis! Take that statistics!

I know what we all say here about prognosis’s BUT Shelby’s getting a shout out today for reaching her 6 month diagnosis. Shelby’s story was a complicated one and I am pretty sure that evil cancer was living w/in her long prior to her spleen distress and thus removal but it was 6 months ago – today that I received the most heart-breaking news of my life.

When Shelby broke her leg in June, I was still working at a prior job.

Shelby’s first (of 3) surgery .. visiting hours are the best!

I was laid off in July and Shelby and I spent the summer together while I searched for a new job. I was scared but I knew I would be OK financially and I would find a new job that was even better than the last one. Late August, I interviewed for my current job and everything seemed to coming together. I was also getting ready to travel out of town for my 11th marathon (one that I had trained hard for all summer and hoped would re-qualify me for Boston). A week before I was to leave, I was trying coordinate Shelby-care with a friend who had a puppy to see how Shelby, even with 4 legs but limited mobility, would react. Monday (5 days prior to my departure for an overnight trip) Shelby got this look in her eyes – she wouldn’t sit down. She started to shake. I told her she was fine. She was not. I rushed her to the ER where she vomited for them. They said her belly was swollen but suspected pancreatitis. The next day, her surgeon called me to say that she suspected it was Shelby’s spleen (where we had seen nodules before but weren’t as concerned). She said it had to come out.  We caught it in time. Shelby was rushed to surgery.

What was I going to do? I was scheduled to start a new job that following Monday, run a marathon that weekend, and now this? I talked to the surgeon – should I cancel my trip? She asked me why I would do that? I was trained, right? Shelby was fine. She could stay at the fancy ER hospital until I returned and I could visit with her daily. She said she wouldn’t know the results from the spleen until early next week. There was no reason for me to miss the race.

So that was that I did. I left  Shelby at Advanced Critical Care where she has many, many friends and they have wonderful visiting hours. I would go and sit with her for hours … she would just sleep next to me and I was comforted by her soft snores, knowing she was getting some great rest next to my side. The day before I was to leave I got a call from ACC telling me that Shelby had snapped at a nurse (not one that she knew but that was definitely out of character for Shelby). I was worried. Did I need to bring her home? Cancel the run? They said she was fine but wanted to let me know that she needed an attitude adjustment. I rushed over there and in our private room, I gave Shelby a talking too. I explained to her that she needed to shape up, that she needed to get it under control and that she needed to remember that she is a sweet/loving dog. Well it worked -she was a princess the rest of her stay. And that I sat w/her on the floor for almost 4 hours and she slept  the whole time – my poor girl was exhausted.

I ran the race. My friend came over and sat with Shelby while I was out of town. She stayed with her for almost 3 hours – above and beyond the call of duty for anyone – and sent me photos and videos of my happy girl.

My race didn’t go well. I didn’t re-qualify for Boston.  My heart wasn’t in it. I wanted to get home to my girl and no matter what I did, I couldn’t enjoy the race. I was in Boston last April when the bombs hit and I desperately wanted to go back to be able to finish the race and not have it end in the same way. But I will get back there. This just wasn’t my year.

I got home, picked up my girl, and went home. As I prepared for work that Monday, I was blissful, praying that no news was good news about that damn spleen. I went to work Monday and was greeted with such friendly enthusiasm! Finally , a job that valued me as a person and professional. I was so happy. Driving home, I was so happy! I got home and the call came that changed my life. I went from laughter to tears. I could tell the surgeon was upset to have to deliver the news; she kept asking me if I understood what she was saying and she said she would recommend an oncologist. She also told me that it was 1 – 3 months w/out chemo and 3- 5 months with chemo. I was in utter shock.

The next day, I woke up with a plan. I was going to take Shelby with me to Santa Barbara for a weekend like we used to  and then we would see the oncologist. What would two more weeks matter? Shelby still had stitches from her surgery and we couldn’t do anything till those came out. Two weeks later we were on our way up north to wine country. I didn’t realize it at the time but Shelby hated riding in the car, probably due to the fact that her 4th leg was still painful for her. She was a good sport and we had a good time but it was bittersweet knowing it was probably our last time together. Shelby’s leg really started to her hurt while we were up there so I rushed us back home. Of course, once we got home, she was fine!

Our mini vacation to wine country!

That following Thursday, almost 2 1/2 weeks after her diagnosis, we had our first appt with the oncologist. I liked Dr. Turner from day one. I try and keep my emotions in check when I am around Shelby but I started to cry when Dr. Turner told me even more dire statistics for Shelby. I told her my dog was a fighter and she would prove them wrong. Dr. Turner told me she would fight for Shelby and that she could see that Shelby was a fighter and that our bond was incredibly strong. She gently encouraged me to try and be strong for Shelby since Shelby can read my emotions – she could see that in the way Shelby would look at me for comfort and reassurance. And off Shelby went for her first of many chemotherapy treatments.

Before her first chemotherapy…

And today marks 6 months … Six months since I first pumped poison into my beloved dog to try and save her life. And while it hasn’t been a bed of roses, Shelby has proved to me, day in and day out, that she is a fighter and that together, as a team, we are fighting against horribly aggressive blood cancer. Like I told Dr. Turner on day one – I will NOT stop until Shelby tells me to stop. I will fight for her until the bitter end and I will always know in my heart that I have done everything possible for my girl. Shelby is not just my dog; she is my child, she is the love of my life. She has always been strong for me and now it is my time to be strong for her.

From our portrait session (pre-amp/post-diagnosis)… safely in mommy’s arms!

Shelby’s awesome life … a little #TBT (“Throwback Thursday”)

I thought it would be ‘fun’ to commemorate some of my fondest memories of Shelby … from day one under my care, Shelby has kept me on my toes! To say she is spirited is an understatement. Growing up with dogs, never have I met such a STRONG-willed little dog with a total mind of her own. “Holy Terror” comes to mind when thinking of her younger years.

Recalling a time back in New Orleans when Shelby was still a youngin, I remember going out with a girlfriend and leaving both Shelby and her dog alone in my apt. We got home (late and probably pretty tipsy) to discover that Shelby and the other dog (who was also small – about 12 pounds) had consumed an entire BOX of Frango mint candies (8 oz). Now for those that don’t know, this is fancy, high-end chocolates, not your run of the mill Hershey bar. The chocolates had been on the kitchen counter and since Shelby has always been a jumper, I can only assume she was the instigator who jumped up and nosed them down. They ripped through the packaging (each chocolate is individually wrapped) and devoured the entire thing – leaving a few wrappers.

Instantly sobered up and panicked, we called poison control, who calmed us down and said that if they started vomiting things would be fine. Sure enough, Shelby started to projectile vomit (on me), chocolate and more chocolate. And like that, we had two incredibly hyper dogs – I think Shelby was literally awake for over 24 hours, bouncing off the walls, which was normal since she’s always been a super high energy pooch. Thankfully, everyone was fine and I learned that nothing on the counter top was ever safe from Shelby.

It wasn’t Shelby’s last chocolate experience (she had 2 other and a red vine incident). The funny thing is, growing up, we always let our dogs lick the bowl after we had ice-cream, including chocolate, lick ice-cream cones and not worry at all. It was several years before we had another chocolate scare but I quickly learned that with Shelby, where there is a will (and she has an incredibly strong will) there is a way. Even today, fighting cancer, she remains one of the strongest pooches I know. I am so proud of my girl. I am so glad I walked into that shelter that day and even more glad that she picked ME! #shelbystrong

One of our first photos together … circa 2001. Baby Shelby! she still likes to be held like that!
She won 1st price for her bikini costume at “Yappy Hour” in New Orleans. Circa 2001


A little bump in the road

I was reminded over the weekend that this journey can have some hiccups along the way and that life with a tripawd isn’t always a bed of roses. We had a mini earthquake last Friday night and while I don’t “love” earthquakes, when I commented that the little ones were good since they break up the pressure so we can avoid a BIG one, someone mentioned that that is a lot like this journey with a Tripawd dog with a terminal cancer. There can be little bumps in the road along our journey that can stop us in our tracks but it is important to remain calm, focus on the positive and remember to be more ‘dog’. Shelby continues to be blissfully unaware of the cruel disease fighting back at us inside her.

Last week Shelby had her 8th chemo treatment (two more than what we had signed up for but we switched treatments mid-course when the mets were discovered and it was determined that her leg was destroyed by hemangiosarcoma). As always, Shelby has a love/hate relationship with going to the clinic. The oncologist group is right next to the ER vet (the ones that did her surgery) so she’s got quite the fan club there which always turns into a 2+ hour visit since Shelby needs to see everyone. At her oncologist appt, we learned that Shelby is still very anemic and were prescribed some iron pills. We popped next door to visit with her favorite nurse, Andrea, who has been with us through all of Shelby’s surgeries. Andrea’s dog was diagnosed with the same cancer as Shelby around the time that we met. It broke her heart when Shelby had her spleen removed and was diagnosed with hemangiosarcoma. Since that day, she has been an even stronger advocate for Shelby – their bond is so incredibly special – I can see it. Shelby is like that; she bonds with people in ways that I haven’t seen with other dogs in my life. She really “gets” people and loves unconditionally.

We learned, sadly, that Andrea’s dog, Lola, lost her battle a few weeks prior. Right after Shelby and I had seen her in February. We cried a bit, together, and celebrated that Shelby was doing so well. Andrea’s dog fought a valiant 9 month fight. More proof positive those statistics don’t mean a thing!

Shelby is coming up on her 6 month diagnosis with cancer – almost 9 months since her leg first broke. As each ‘anniversary’ approaches, I feel elated and trepidation.  I try and ‘live in the moment’ but it’s so hard when you have those dates creeping up on you.

Shelby had a rough go with this round of cancer. The carboplatin really hits her harder – makes her more lethargic and less interested in her food. We added the iron supplements and within 2 days, Shelby had extreme nausea. I can usually get her to eat SOMETHING but Sunday afternoon, after going for our walk, she just refused to eat. I finally forced some gluten free pasta into her and then noticed she was dripping from her mouth – not really drooling but drops on the rugs. A quick call to the ER vet advised me to wait an hour to see if her anti-nausea meds kicked in. They did not. Then she started to shake. I really didn’t want to rush out (it was after 8:30) but they told me to bring her in. On the way there, she just dipped and shook. We get there and she’s a perfect angel for them (of course). A quick exam and they determined it was probably the iron pills and to stop those until hearing from the onco. Thankfully no fluid in lungs/belly yet her remaining rear leg was a little bloated so they suggested I massage it to see if I can get the swelling to go down (they called it a cankle).

Shelby usually goes to the bathroom when she isn’t feeling well (as we have discovered in the past) and she did go in there Sunday. But I coaxed her out and she slept in her bed next to my floor all night. She was feeling a smidge better Monday a.m. when I left for work but still no real interest in food. I picked up some ground sirloin at the store that night and she had that and leftover gluten free pasta for dinner … the onco told us to ease off the iron pills until she gets back to normal. Shelby had serious GI distress Monday night and I could just tell she wasn’t feeling herself. Yesterday, she didn’t poop at all, and I could kind of tell she wanted to. I feel horrible when I get frustrated or annoyed on our walks – because she will start to pant, which indicates we have gone too far, but she refuses to go up the stairs. I know she wants to please me but I can tell she’s struggling. We went to bed last night without a poop but she ate a full healthy dinner of ground sirloin and white rice. I am just happy to see her eat.

So this a.m., I think she tried to poop or maybe she didn’t and I didn’t see it but she was definitely interested in eating this a.m. She had cookies, some deli meat from my lunch and a banana slice. Her energy/personality levels seemed great when I left. The swelling on her leg does appear to be going down. She was ears up/tail wagging/alert. I know we will have to deal with the low-iron issue eventually and I hope there is something else we can give her. And I know within a couple days, she will feel 100% better from her chemo treatment. But it is exhausting and heartbreaking to go through this. I wish I could “fix” it but all I do is look at her and tell her that she is a fighter, that I am proud of her and I thank GOD every day for another day with her. I give her lots of kisses … I try to be a good mom and try to mask my frustration on our walks when we don’t go as fast or as long. I have to believe that deep down in her soul, she knows that I am not really mad at her – I am mad at the situation. And that she remains, as always “the love of my life” and “#shelbystrong”.

Snuggles at night
Snuggles before work – she looks super drugged here but she was actually perky right before. I think she hates selfies anymore!


Beach time with my love… even though she didn’t feel that great, I found us a bit of shade on the beach so she could be outside. It’s always one of her favorite things to do.


Two Months Post Amp

We did it! I cannot believe it’s been two months since my quadpawd became a tripawd. What a whirlwind two months it has been. Shelby continues to adapt to her new gait/lifestyle better and better each day. The sparkle is definitely back in her eyes! And I continue to relax and learn to embrace each day as a new day, full of possibilities, potential and great love!

My birthday was last week and I think I was so incredibly anxious on the actual date because I was at home with Shelby and I wanted to make sure that I savored every minute of it while being ultra ‘on-guard’ to her every breath, movement, cough…. I think I was actually so worried that we would have to take a trip to Advanced Critical Care that I forgot to enjoy the day and just ‘be a dog’. I was so freaked out that my 40th birthday was going to be marred by a trip to the emergency vet that I forgot to the enjoy the day. Lesson learned – Shelby didn’t know it was a special day. She just knew it was a day that her mommy was home with her. But Shelby could definitely tell something was amiss and was a bit aloof most of the day (which was concerning to me). I worked at home on Friday due to the epic rain and was being more normal and Shelby, as a result, was more normal. Fast forward the entire weekend I was home with her (which was normal) and Shelby was picture perfect normal dog.

I wish there was a way to shut off my ‘crazy’ fear feelings about Shelby or that I could “forget” that she has lung mets. Shelby doesn’t know she is sick. I wish I could remove those thoughts from my mind as well. Because when I do push them far back, I do notice my girl acts more like herself but if she so much as senses that I am guarded or anxious – even if I don’t verbally articulate it – she starts to breathe a little harder, cough a bit more and shake. As soon as I offer her a treat, she relaxes and so do I. We are quite the pair.

Shelby has her 7th or 8th chemo treatment this week – I’ve lost track since we went over the prescribed treatment plan. I know the drill all to well now which is good since I don’t get as crazy anxious about it. I fully expect the lethargy, the very slight nausea and the lack of interest in things. She’s been on her mushroom therapy along with a plethora of other pills. What I don’t know is how we know if the mushrooms are really helping. I guess that they aren’t hurting means they are helping.

I have spring break from work in a couple of weeks. Shelby has always been the best travel buddy. There is a part of me that wants to take her on a mini-road trip (just an overnight). But there is the part of me that worries that I will even enjoy it if I am worried about Shelby and being so far (2 hours) from her vet(s). I might take her to lunch this weekend to see if we can dine together like we always do on vacation and if I can relax w/her there. My default is to pick her up – when strangers walk by, other dogs, to cross the street; all things I KNOW she can handle and yet I still treat her like a “China” doll. I am getting better. A meal out together would be a good test. I guess I worry more that Shelby has no concept of her limits and will over-exert herself and get injured.

I would also love to mark the 6 month anniversary of her hemangiosarcoma diagnosis – a week from this weekend. I don’t like to think too far in advance because I have seen on this forum things can change in the blink of an eye but I am cautiously optimistic that Shelby is doing really well.

“love of my life”
My princess … because some things never change! (notice no whiskers)