Thursday, November 09, 2006

I don't need no steenkin leash!

Well, two days off the narcotic painkillers and Rukh is almost acting like his old self. He is perky, alert, wagging, and just seems so much happier. He's still pretty quiet around the house, only getting up a few times to shift around or go outside, but he's having a much easier time of it and is moving around the yard so much better. He's still on the Rimadyl (anti-inflammatory), but he seems pain-free from the amputation.

We dumped the leash on our forays outside, since it just seemed to piss him off to be tethered and watched while he did his business. He's shy, apparently, and doesn't want anyone standing there whistling idly while he takes a dump. He hides around the corner of the house now so we can't see him, and seems much happier. I haven't had any repeats of the 'lay down at the end of yard' episodes, so I'm sticking with it. I do worry that someone will walk along the back fence and he'll try to chase them like he's used to, so one of us is outside with him all the time.

We did drag him to our vet this evening, mostly to assuage my worries that his "good" leg is still good and that he is doing ok. Lisa was so pleased to see him, and said he looks just great. The specific gravity of his urine is still too low (which probably means that he is simply drinking too much water because of the drugs or anxiety) but she wants to wait a few weeks to see if it resolves on its own now that he's off most of the meds. His hock is fine, although he needs time to build up strength, and he was a fine example of cute-and-playful dog at the appointment.

The vet office sent us a Doggy Gift Basket today with biscuits, a ball, and a stuffie toy for Rukh. That was really sweet. We love our vet.

While I'm still paranoid and using the sling each time Rukh gets to stairs, he's really doing well and I might actually be more of a hindrance than a help. I'm just so nervous that he'll slip or fall, but he seems to be balancing so much better now, and he's fast. Speed is the friend of a tri-ped dog, I've been reading -- think about using crutches: hopping slowly is actually harder than getting a good rhythm and swinging along. Same thing with the beast. When he runs, most of his weight is on his front legs and he just has to push off with the back leg (and he's way more stable). Scares the snot out of me, but I assume that he'll be back to running in the yard in a few weeks. At the moment he looks like an oversized rabbit.

Uulaq is having a hard time, though. She really, really wants to PLAY and so far has been rebuffed (either by us or by Rukh himself). It's just about killing her. She is so confused when we don't allow her to pounce on him, and she doesn't understand when he just ignores her. I hope that in the next week or so he feels good enough to at least engage her a little. In the meantime, we've set up a playdate with our neighbor's dog (a 7mo-old Golden) to see if that takes the edge off a little. Otherwise, she's going to be extra-neurotic until things settle back to normal.

And, of course, she's convinced that we just take Rukh in the car so we can stop at some tasty-food place and not give her any. We always stop at Arby's or McDonalds with the beasts when we go to the vet, so each trip out, Rukh comes home smelling like roast beef or cheeseburger. She's getting extra attention to make up for that one!

Chemo should start next week. We haven't heard back with a 100% confirmation of the type of cancer, which will affect which type of chemo we do. I've been reading a bit about chemo for dogs with osteosarcoma and there are quite a few options, ranging from least toxic to more toxic and least expensive to how much? One of the primary drugs can cause serious heart problems, another is kidney-toxic, while the least toxic of the group is the most expensive (> 1K per dose). Ouch. Different combinations of things are used depending on the specfics of the cancer and size of the dog. Dogs do, however, tolerate chemo pretty well -- most don't get sick or nauseous, and at most are a bit "off" for a day or so. They see to sail through it. Chemo is critical in cases of bone cancer since it always metastasizes to the lungs, whether you see it in the initial xrays or not. So, the chemo proactively attacks any cancer cells in the lungs and hopefully keeps them from growing. With chemo, there's a very good chance that he'll make it a year or more. Rukh is otherwise healthy, although he is nine, so we are very hopeful. As long as he's happy and seems to be pain-free, well do what we can.

We did have a rather macabre laugh about things though -- Akitas, being a giant breed, don't have long lifespans; we have gotten used to the idea that we will lose them somewhere around 10years old. When I got so upset about possibly losing Rukh (who, out of all of our dogs has been my favorite) early, we suddenly thought that it would just be fitting irony if Uulaq (who out of all of our dogs has been my least favorite, despite being a sweetheart) would live to 17 or so. It's not really funny, but in the stressed-out situation around here, we did get a laugh out of it.

So, news from Chez Phouka is pretty dang good this week. So far, so good, knock-on-wood, etc.

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