Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Little surprises

Even after she's gone, our Chaser continues to surprise us.

While searching for their phone number, my husband stumbled across this today:

It's the website for the Veterinary Speciality and Emergency Center. We took Chaser there for her eye exams. I guess they decided she was beautiful too.

We always joked she could have been a movie star. However, it was enough she was a star in our hearts.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Knee of nastiness

Our five-year-old was sick.

For some households, that’s a daily occurrence. But when you live with a child who’s healthier than God, you get a little spoiled.

So when the fever started at midnight and he wandered into our bedroom asking to share some space, it was hard to turn him down.

But I was less than enthusiastic to share our queen-sized bed with two other humans.

Correction: I was less than enthusiastic about the five-inch strip of mattress along the edge of the bed that I had been assigned.

After getting the little guy settled with the big guy, I grabbed my pillow and headed into the guest room in search of wider pastures.

I collapsed on the bed and went to sleep. All was great.

Until 3 a.m. Then all hell broke loose.

It was a scream like no other. Stabbing and full of blood-curling agony.

It pierced through my sleep-addled mind and sent me on full alert. I’m a mom. It’s in my genetic code to Move-Assess-Defend.

I catapulted out of bed and took two quick steps.

And that’s when the Tilt-A-Whirl started, and I thought to myself, “Self? How in the hell did you get on a Tilt-A-Whirl at 3 in the morning?!”

And the next thing I knew I was falling face first. My knees skidded along the floor. My shoulder rammed into the door frame. I landed hard on my wrist and felt a large pop in my bicep.

But nothing was gonna stop me. I started crawling. And yelling. “OHMYGOD! OHMYGOD! OHMYGOD!”

OK. I’m usually calmer under pressure. But that scream had scared the you-know-what right outta me.

I dragged my battered body across the hall and into our bedroom. In the darkness, I could make out the outline form of my husband sitting up in bed. He shouted, “Are you OK?!”

I reached over and grabbed Gabe. “Answer Daddy!”

A pause, then my husband pointed at me and clarified, “I’m talking to you!”

That’s when I noticed our son had already fallen back asleep. Oh. Guess we’ll mark this one up to a bad dream and move along.

I sighed in relief then shrugged my shoulders and answered sweetly, “Why? What did I do?”

He snorted in response and said, “Out there. Across the hallway. What the hell happened to you?”

“Oh.” Pause. “That.” Another pause. “I ran into a little trouble.”

My husband asked, “What kind of trouble?”

Sigh. “My feet.”

I reached over and clicked on the table lamp. I closed my eyes and asked my husband, “How bad is it?”

I heard him shuffle a bit closer, followed by “Ewww!”

I cracked one eye slowly open and peered down. My right knee didn’t look too bad. Already swelling like I’d taken a baseball bat to it, but no blood. That was good.

Then my vision shifted over to the left leg and - !

It looked like I had raked it with a cheese grater then smacked it with a hammer then finished it off with a hot iron set to steam.

And it was oozing something that probably could be used for some whacked out Voodoo ritual involving a skinned chicken.

I flopped back onto the floor, landed on my busted shoulder, dropped the F bomb then gently rolled onto the other side.

“Are you just gonna sleep there?” my husband asked.

What a stupid question. I was never going to sleep again. I ignored him and asked, “Am I gonna need a skin graft or something?”

“No,” he chucked. “It’ll be OK.”

I didn’t believe him and gestured toward the knee of nastiness. “Seriously? I’m gonna need a skin graft. Maybe I’ll get lucky and the doctors will take it off my rear.”

“You won’t need a skin graft, and they won’t take it off your rear,” he muttered, grabbing his pillow and covers and obviously planning to go back to sleep. Oh. I don’t think so.

“Why not?” I asked. “I’ve got a lot to spare back there.”

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Gentle Giant

Our Chaser was a perfect example of a Gentle Giant.

She had no clue how big she was. Leave a door ajar in the house? She'd sit there looking through the crack until someone opened it wider. Thunderstorm approaching? She'd (attempt to) curl up under the desk and wind her furry body around my feet. I don't think she ever realized that 70 of her 100 pounds never made it under the wood.

And she was so sweet with little kids. Never once did she growl or bite or lunge toward tiny hands reaching for her fuzzy ears or tail.

Our Gentle Giant.....

Title: Good night, sleep tight, don’t let the bed bite (originally published October 2008)

Death by hide-a-bed.

I always figured there were a million other things that would lead to my demise. High cholesterol. A plane crash. Using the hair dryer in the bath tub while shaving my legs.

But never in my wildest dreams – or nightmares – did I imagine this moment. My legs sticking high in the air. My torso sinking into a giant chasm.

Time froze as I opened my mouth to scream and only managed to eke out a quiet, “Oh. Dear. God.”

It began as an innocent trip with my in-laws. A camper packed with four adults, one busy toddler, two large dogs and a brand new puppy. Do the math and you’ll discover that’s a whole lot of bodies to share one small space.

But we managed just fine. That is, until night came. The dark, dark night. When the moon rose slowly into the inky black sky to bathe the world below in an eerie glow of white…oh…whatever. It was dark, OK?

Chaser, our golden retriever, had already claimed her spot at the end of the tiny sofa bed on which my husband and I would be sleeping.

“Are you comfortable, Your Highness?” I mockingly said to her as I moved her golden tail out of the way and crawled between the sheets.

My husband, Jon, poked his head out of the bathroom, took one look at the 94 pounds of dog taking up the rest of the bed and simply said, “I don’t think so.”

As usual, I ignored him. “Where’s the television remote?” I asked, patting down the mattress around me. “It was just here a second ago.” I buried my hands under the covers and began searching the area around Chaser. Her low growl told me I was invading her space. I poked her in the rear just for fun.

“Better be quiet,” Jon warned as he walked in and pointed down to the sleeping baby snuggled in the playpen set up next to the table. “You’ll wake up Little Big Guy.”

I doubted it. Like his dad, it takes a sonic boom to get him moving once he falls asleep.

Jon stopped at the kitchen counter, deciding it offered a little more space to remove his contacts than the phone booth-sized space of the camper’s tiny bathroom.

He looked down at Chaser, who was suddenly faking a deep sleep. When he turned his back, I noticed one chocolate brown eye crack open.

Just because he’s blind without corrective lenses doesn’t mean my husband can’t see. Without turning around he ordered, “Move it.”

I muffled a laugh as Chaser slowly stood up and stretched. First her front legs, then her back. She yawned. Gave a shake that started at the tip of her black nose and ended with her tail. Sat on her haunches, lifted a back paw and scratched at her ear for a bit. She was stalling like an 8-year-old avoiding bed time.

“Come on, puppy,” I said softly and smoothed the covers next to me, “there’s plenty of room up here by me.”

And that, my friends, is what is called a tragic flaw in literary circles. An error of judgment, if you will, that leads to a person’s demise. The point of no return. Elvis has left the building. The Fat Lady is singing and it ain’t a pretty song.

As she made her way up the bed, Chaser’s bulky frame joined forces with my own dainty poundage (insert snort here) near the head of the bed and gravity took us the rest of the way.

The foot of the bed shot straight up in the air.

And not just a few inches off the floor. No way, baby. This sucker shot up a good five feet, sending me and the dog sliding down toward the rapidly widening crevice that formed at the head of the bed.

Then time stopped.

And that’s the sight Jon saw when he turned around. The black metal of the bed’s undercarriage as it sat high in the air, only the tips of my toes visible over the top edge of the mattress.

He peeked around to see me clutching Chaser tightly around her neck in a pathetic attempt to prevent her from being swallowed by the dark pit under the sofa. Or maybe I was just trying to save myself.

Jon quietly walked over, but before reaching the bed he pointed to the floor and said, “Hey, you found the remote. Cool.”

He picked it up and switched the channel to a college football game. Almost as an afterthought, he reached over and pushed the bed back down to earth. Our hero.

I looked at Chaser. She looked at me. Bonded forever by our near-death experience, she leaned over and gave me a big smooch with her floppy pink tongue.

And that’s when I pushed her off the bed and onto the floor.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Community isn't just a word...'s a way of life around Maryville. And that hasn't been more apparent to our family since we lost our beautiful golden girl.

The outpouring of prayers and condolences has been amazing. Many from my readers, those who never met Chaser but felt they knew her personally through my column. They are all wonderful people who understand pets aren't just four-legged creatures. They are part of the family, with souls full of unconditional love that bring us such joy.

Here's a sampling of the heartfelt wonders that have helped us the past few days:

Fred, also known as the store greeter at our local HyVee, sent my husband home with a red rose after learning about Chaser's passing.

 Chaser's Rose

Cards from neighbors and our amazing vet, who wrote about our sweet girl who earned her angel wings "too tragically soon."

An elderly neighbor - who upon learning about Chaser - made a donation to our local animal shelter in her honor.

The Maryville Daily Forum, the flagship newspaper for my column, ran a photo of Chaser in today's issue: (Obviously my column was written earlier...I temporarily lost my sense of humor in the meantime.)

As for us....we're hanging in there. The abrupt change in routine has been heart-wrenching. My husband gets up in the morning...then wanders around aimlessly. No puppy to let outside to start the day. He mowed the yard yesterday, struggling with the fact his 'supervisor' wasn't out there with him. After finishing dinner last night I just sighed and looked at my husband. He sighed in return and said, 'I know exactly what you're thinking. There's no Chaser here to lick the plates.'

Yep. EXACTLY what I was thinking.

No Chaser to climb the stairs with us before bed at night. No Chaser to bark when the doorbell rings. No Chaser begging to be sprayed with the garden hose when I water the plants.

No Chaser to snuggle up with on the floor. Or give belly rubs to. Or put my arms around and bury my head in her golden fur after a really hard day.

Everything is so friggin' quiet.

Someday. Life will feel a bit more normal.

Someday I'll stop listening for the jingle of her collar.

Someday I won't cry each time I see a tennis ball.


Just not today.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Teaching new dogs old tricks

This one is from 2008. If  I had known Chaser would be gone in less than two years...I would have gladly let her eat the thing.

I screw up.
A lot.
As a wife. As a mother.

As the person responsible for buying the clog remover for the upstairs bathroom sink before it flooded over and destroyed everything within a 12-block radius.

But once in a while something special happens that makes me stop and think, “Wow. Maybe I’m not so terrible after all.”


“You’re going to Time Out!” I heard a voice say.

The voice wasn’t mine or my husband’s, so I was a little curious about its source.

I turned around to see my three-year-old son march down the stairs with his brand new toy, an animatronic puppy that promised to perform a variety of tricks to amaze and astound even the most jaded of toddlers.

It had arrived Christmas morning, fresh off Santa’s sleigh and eager to perform a variety of stunts. He could stand on his head, pounce forward, play tug-of-war and sing.

Chaser, WonderMutt of West Edwards Street, was less than impressed. As the little dog performed his bag of tricks, her big brown eyes narrowed.

Can he give a high five? No, I don’t think so. Can he roll over? Nope. Can he hump the sofa pillow until it’s a useless lump of polyester stuffing?

Not unless he wants to fight me for it first.

She let out a small grrrr and prepared to perform her own pounce, so I quickly grabbed her collar and said, “You’re still Number 1. And leave the pillows alone. They don’t love you in that kinda way.”

But it was too late. Perhaps the little dog had sensed some bad voodoo from the 94-pound Golden Retriever with an attitude and decided it best to employ that age-old survival trick to ensure he’d live to see another day.

Play dumb.

Suddenly his tricks turned into bricks. Ask him to shake his paw and he stood on his head. Tell him to sit and he’d lie down and go to sleep.

It took my son two seconds to realize that the little doggie was having a canine meltdown.

“Mommy,” he whined, “What’s wrong with him?”

OK, time to start making stuff up. Isn’t that what parenting is all about?

“Oh, he’s probably just tired from his trip,” I said. “The North Pole is a long way from here. He just needs a nap.”

The little guy digested that bit of information and decided that yes, a nap was a good idea and headed upstairs with his new best friend.

However, I was already onto Plan B.

B was for Batteries.

While the North Pole bit worked for now, I needed to perform a Christmas miracle sometime during the next hour. And that miracle must involve a fresh set of batteries.

During the next 57 minutes, I tore the house apart searching for four new batteries with enough juice to power up the pup, then sneaked upstairs, slid the toy from under my son’s tiny arm without waking him, discovered the battery compartment would only open with a screwdriver tiny enough to build a ship in a bottle, ended up ripping the entire thing off anyway, replaced the batteries, secured the gaping hole with a generous strip of duct tape, gently slid the toy back under my son’s arm and prayed for the best.

But the puppy had it out for me. New batteries didn’t make a lick of difference. He was just stupid.

Cute. But stupid.

I heard my son shout, “You’re going to Time Out!”

I inquired as to why the little dog was being punished and my son snarled, “Because he’s not LISTENING to me!”

Gee, sounds familiar.

He set the toy down on the bottom step and said, “You sit here and think about what you did,” and walked away.

After a few minutes – because apparently he was using his own past punishments as a model here – he walked back over to the dog, sat down next to it, put his arm around the dog’s neck and leaned over to say, “Are you going to listen to me now?”

Apparently the dog answered “yes” because my son smiled, picked him up and carried him off into the sunset.

Maybe I’m not such a terrible parent. After all, he seems to have the punishment thing down. That’s half the battle.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Wild kingdom

In her honor this week, I'll post a few of my columns that featured our beautiful golden girl. This one is from July 2006....

I heard the snoring loud and clear early one morning. Technically it wasn’t yet morning. I call it morning simply because the hour blinking on the alarm clock beside my bed was still in the single digits. I groaned. God wasn’t even awake.

But there it was. The heavy breathing, the sucking sound of an inhale, the slight whistle of an exhale. Just before I threw a sharp elbow into my husband’s unsuspecting side I heard a low “grrr” noise after one particularly annoying snore.

I froze, arm in mid-air and bent at a locked and loaded 90 degree-angle. Wait a minute. Jon doesn’t “grrr” in his sleep. Even when dreaming he’s Danny to Olivia Newton John’s Sandy in “Grease” he doesn’t make a sound like that.

Then I heard it again. This time a little louder but originating from somewhere off the bed. That’s when I realized the true culprit was Chaser, our golden retriever, who was sacked out in the middle of our bedroom floor.

On her back. All four legs reaching high up in the air. Paws twitching. Head flopped to one side. Long tongue hanging out of her mouth, with drool dripping onto the carpet. With another snore and “grrr” her long fringed tail jerked up then smacked down again, adding a muffled thump to her symphony of sounds.

She was deep in sleep, perhaps dreaming about the previous day’s adventure and the important lesson she had learned: Birds are evil.

I walked into the family room the day before to see her lying in the middle of the rug, head up, staring intently at the glass doors that lead out to the deck. Only her eyes moved, twitching back and forth as if she were center court at Wimbledon.

I glanced over to see what had her attention. And there it was. A tiny blue jay hopping around on the deck. Her deck. Chaser’s deck. Innocently bouncing around, chirping a morning song, oblivious to the 90 pounds of hulking beast lying in wait only mere inches away.

I looked back at the dog. She was completely still, frozen in sphinx-like fashion.

I looked back at the bird, which was not so sphinx-like. He kept bouncing around, wings flapping like he was on crack.

Chaser shot flames of death from eyes that said, “Stupid bird. Enjoy it, this last moment on earth. You are about to become my breakfast.”

The blue jay bent down to pick up something with his little beak. The little guy was practically wearing an “Eat Me” sign.

With his back to Chaser, she made her move. She inched her way closer to the door. To the casual observer – and to the bird – she barely moved. Her front paws crept forward. She stretched out her long body, leaned up, then followed with the rear end like a furry accordion.

The closer she moved the louder the bird sang. He twirled and jumped from chair to rail and back to chair. Chaser froze. It was like watching “Wild Kingdom” in my own living room. I looked around for the old guy with white hair. Was he even still alive?

Then the bird jumped back down to the deck, turned toward the door and puffed out his chest in a “come and get me” kind of way. Intriguing. Perhaps he was smarter than I thought, this tricky bird.
But Chaser was too wrapped up in the battle to suspect the blue jay had something up his sleeve, er, wing. Apparently she hadn’t watched enough battles between Tweety Bird and Sylvester to understand the subtle nuance of fighting winged warriors.
She was all systems go. She tensed. Then sprang into action. Her golden body leapt through the air, claws armed and ready. She let out a loud “WHOOF!” for a war cry.
Which was quickly followed by a huge SMACK. The vital piece of information Chaser had neglected to take note of was that the large glass door to the deck…was closed.
She hit the glass face first, slid slowly down to the floor and crumpled into a heap of golden fur and legs. Just like Sylvester. So sad.
And I swear the blue jay gave her the finger as it casually flew away. Blue jay – 1. Chaser – 0.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Goodbye, golden girl

Chaser passed away unexpectedly this morning.

She sailed through the surgery very well. She had been up, hopping and walking around, seeming to adjust rather well to life with three legs. We were prepared to bring her home later today, but God had other plans.

Our thanks to all who shared their support, love and prayers.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

So far, so good


Chaser made it through surgery OK today. No complications. The vet called at 5 p.m. to say they had her sitting up, and she didn't seem to be in much pain. Of course, that's probably due to the pain meds. Hah!

Gabe did remarkably well this morning (even asking to take a picture with Chaser and her polar bear before heading to the vet's office). Then he had a moment of weakness in the car. As I was trying to wrestle Chaser from the floorboards after she'd dove there when she got wind of our destination, Gabe cried out, "If they take off her leg, won't that kill her??!" Then he proceeded with the crocodile tears.

So there I was. Manhandling 100 pounds of stubborn golden retriever out of the car while attempting to explain to a five-year-old that one of God's creatures can survive peachy keen without all its limbs.

It's reason #1 for a person to begin drinking hard liquor before 9 a.m.

After putting Gabe's fears to rest, I headed inside with Chaser. I sat down to wait for the vet, and Chaser immediately tried to jump on my lap. For the record, goldens do NOT make good lap dogs. But I understood her fear. The last time she was there, they knocked her out for X-rays.

I'm thinking she's a little slow to forgive and forget.

So it was with a heavy heart - but with confidence - I handed the lead over to our wonderful vet. We look forward to bringing our golden girl home soon. Once she recovers from the surgery, we know she'll be pain-free and feeling better than she has in several weeks.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010


It ain't pretty...but it should get the job done.

I put down an assortment of rugs to cover the hardwood floors in our home in preparation for Chaser's post-op, three-legged life. Current owners of tripawds suggested we cover the floors to make it easier for a new amputee to navigate. I begged, borrowed and stole rugs from all over the house and from friends.

Thought I'd put these down now, so she wouldn't freak out later. She's already taking a nap on one of them, so she's taking everything in stride.

I'm off to tape down the rugs. Trying to keep busy; not think about tomorrow and the dangers associated with major surgery.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Preparing for a new beginning

Baby Chaser

Chaser today

I've spent the past couple of weeks looking at the multitude of photos we've taken of our golden girl over the years. It's easy taking pics of God's gorgeous creatures. Looking at them doesn't make me cringe like I do when viewing my own from - say - the junior high years. Awkward.

And we've taken so many more pics this week. Wanting to capture the moments, the changes, the nuances. Or maybe it just makes us feel like we're doing something, rather than just waiting for her surgery. Jon took the second photo while she rested in the back yard, contemplating the chase of a robin or a rabbit. Or maybe someone just hollered, "CHEESEBURGER!" Who knows?

We've also spent the week preparing the house. Making sure we have enough rugs to cover the hardwood floors, pulling Gabe's old baby gates from the basement, stocking up on rags to use for swelling. We also changed her diet this week, from plain old dog food to a gourmet mix of chicken, ham, veggies and beef. I have to admit - I actually enjoy cooking for her. Jon chuckled, "It's only because you know she'll eat anything you give her." Point taken. I tried to make BLTs the other day. Burned the bacon and forgot the lettuce.

I am sooooooooooo not a cook.

Gabe has taken so much of this in stride. Of course, he doesn't know life without Chaser, so I don't think he's as scared or as anxious as Jon and I are. When I explained about her upcoming surgery, that she'll have three legs afterward - making her even more special than she already is - he quickly asked, "And then her leg will grow back, right?"

I admit, it made me smile. Oh, to be five years old again. After I explained that, no, she'll always have three legs he nodded wisely and answered, "That'll be cool!"

In any case, this decision was made after long talks, much reading and talking with vets, and prayer. More than anything, it was made with our golden girl's quality of life in mind. I suspect she'll adjust more quickly than we will.

The cancer will still be there, lurking, waiting for another day to rear its ugly head. Doesn't matter. Each day that dawns will bring a new opportunity to run, to play, to swim and to love. We'll count those days as extra blessings until the sun sets on our life with Chaser. 

Happy accidents

I’m sure a lot of things sounded like good ideas at the time.

New Coke.

Pet Rocks.


And updating old bathroom vanities so they’ll look brand new. Or at least like they weren’t purchased from a garage sale in 1972.

“I’m gonna paint the cabinets,” I announced to my husband one day. Mind you, I wasn’t asking for permission to do so. When it comes to home decorating, my husband does what every hot-blooded (and hetero) American male does when the topic of redecorating is broached: heads for the hills with a case of beer beneath each arm and a promise to return after the dust has settled.

So I really wasn’t expecting a response beyond the usual thumbs up and a short lecture reminding me of the importance of properly securing the top of the paint can before moving said paint can farther than two feet in any direction.

‘Cuz...well...let’s just say that’s how we got the new tile in the laundry room.

Jon called it a horrific disaster. I optimistically termed it a happy accident. Because that’s just the glass-is-half-full kinda girl that I am.

So I began my project that day with my head full of sunshine and dreams of beautiful new cabinets.

Thirty minutes later I had been interrupted no fewer than 147 times by my 5-year-old son demanding everything from a peanut butter sandwich to the location of his favorite race car to wanting to know why Squidward from “SpongeBob SquarePants” doesn’t wear pants.

I was kinda curious about that last one myself but wasn’t in the mood to worry about it that very second.

After he approached me for the 148th time...I admit, I got a teensy bit upset.

“For the love of God! I love you, but will you please just go away and play in traffic somewhere?!”

OK, so I wasn’t proud of myself. But any parent knows there’s a place a kid can drive you that will make your brain turn inside out and you will lose all sense of reason.

For some, it’s the candy store at the grocery aisle. For others, it’s a movie theater on a Saturday afternoon when the latest Disney movie has opened.

For me, it was a tiny little bathroom on a Wednesday.

After I hit the reset button on my temper I reminded my son that my hard work was on his behalf since it was, after all, his bathroom I was redecorating.

He nodded in agreement and answered, “Good. I don’t like having an old lady bathroom anyway,” then turned and ran away.

I stared at his retreating back in shock. Old? Lady? Bathroom?

I looked around at the Americana wallpaper, cream walls and navy rugs. I sniffed. I thought it looked pretty. Not suitable for a growing boy (hence the reason for a makeover), but it certainly did NOT qualify as an Old Lady Bathroom.

That label is reserved for anything pink.

With plastic seashells. And crocheted tissue covers.

In other words, my grandmother’s bathroom.

So I spent the rest of the day painting in a tiff, determined to show the males of the household that I could be chic. And hip. And a whole bunch of other one-syllable words that I couldn’t think of at the moment.

My husband, having drunk all his beer and returned home in search of more, asked a while later, “Why is this sitting in the middle of the hallway?” He pointed to the large fern placed near his feet.

I smiled and answered, “It’s this new Feng Shui thing I read about. Don’t hide your plants near the wall. Bring nature closer to you. And...uh...I think it makes the air cleaner because — you know — plants make oxygen. And with this fern in the middle of the’re...uh...closer to the goodness of the oxygen than if it was up against the wall waaaaay over there.”

I paused then added, “What it is NOT doing is hiding a big, brown paint splotch from a happy accident two hours ago.”
And then I ran.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

They're Family

Chaser takes a snooze on the way home from K-State yesterday.

We’ve returned from seeing Chaser’s oncologist at K-State. She confirmed the diagnosis of osteosarcoma. A second set of radiographs confirmed Chaser’s lungs are clear and her heart is strong, making her a good candidate for the upcoming amputation.

Without chemo, we have about 4-5 months (on average). With chemo, we have about 12 months. Followed by a 20 percent chance she’ll survive 24 months.

For chemo, we’d have to drive either to Kansas City or back to Manhattan. 4-6 treatments, three weeks apart. Before each treatment, blood would be drawn to make sure her white blood count is high enough for a treatment. Also, while on chemo her immunity will be compromised. Meaning she’s an easy candidate for infection.

The oncologist was still hopeful and optimistic about Chaser's ability to tolerate chemo, explaining several new drugs on the market. We loved the folks at K-State's Veterinary Medicine Teaching Hospital! A great group of doctors and students who really care about patients and their owners.

But - short story long - we will not pursue chemo. This cancer is nasty and incurable. It’s like pancreatic cancer for people. If we were dealing with a less aggressive form and knew the chemo would give her 3 to 4 years, we’d do it. But choosing chemo means possible side effects, extra trips to the vet's, long car rides. Seems unfair to our golden girl who's been so wonderful to us.

We want to concentrate on her quality of life, not quantity. We want these last few months with her to be full of playing fetch, going to the lake, hopping along on three-legged walks. Not spent in a vet’s office, vomiting, lethargic, etc.

The oncologist told us if it gets to her lungs, she won’t know it. It won’t cause her any pain. If it does metastasize, then we’ll let her go. Chaser will let us know when it’s time.

We’re devastated but holding up. Fortunately, the only pain she has right now is in her leg. We can take care of that. She's scheduled for surgery next week.

We thank each of you for your prayers, blessings and support. For some, they're just dogs. For the rest of us, they're family.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Like a Yo-Yo

I never thought I'd have to start tagging my blog posts with words like Cancer. Osteosarcoma. Chemotherapy.

Life sucks.

My emotions have been swinging back and forth the past couple of weeks regarding Chaser and the thought of chemotherapy.

Chemo is ugly. It's poison. It's terrible stuff that makes us all question what in the hell are we doing this for??! But it has a purpose. Chaser's cancer won't be vanquished by an amputation. She'll need the chemo's shock-and-awe effects to have any real chance.

But it still won't kill it. It's - literally - in her bones. Her time with us will probably be shorter rather than longer. So there's a war in my conscience about putting her through chemo. If she only has a few months we really want to see her spending the next three months vomiting, lethargic with no appetite? And that's AFTER weeks of rest and rehab from major surgery.

We owe this beautiful creature so much more than that. We owe her car rides and swimming at the lake and fetching tennis balls and hamburgers. Making the final moments as special as all the previous years before this horrible diagnosis turned our lives upside down.

This decision would be so much easier if (heaven forbid) it was our son instead. We'd move mountains, go bankrupt, travel the earth, work for a miracle to fight cancer. Sigh. Chaser is so special too...but the odds simply aren't in our favor with regards to canine osterosarcoma.

Doing one round of chemo is an option. See how it goes, then make the decision whether to continue or not. There are no easy answers to the endless amount of questions. Bottom line - we love our golden girl.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

One day at a time

Sunbathing at lunch

It's been all about Chaser the past couple of weeks. After learning of her osteosarcoma diagnosis, we are preparing for the big adjustment coming soon - the amputation of her right foreleg. Thanks to an awesome website - - we are learning all about this brave new world!

In the meantime, we're doing all we can to keep Chaser from fracturing that fragile leg. That includes ramp training. She learned VERY quickly that treats were involved. So - short story long - she now uses the ramp to get into the SUV and up on the bed. Smart girl.