One month ampuversary and our new Samdog, now with 25% fewer legs!!!

Hi everyone,

Samdog’s Dad taking over posting duties for the one month ampuversary.

“Ahhhh, grass”…
Happy dog, snoozing in the grass after a great swim… nothin better

Our boy is due for another round of chemo this week.  He did pretty well.  Little low energy on week 2, but he’s been a hopping freak for the last few days.

Haven’t gone for any long walks for a week, but he’s been swimming every day and is loving it.

His last staples were removed a week ago and the incision site is basically healed at this point.  He still has a pretty wicked scar, and I guess always will, but it looks pretty healthy and for the amount of retriever they subtracted from our pup, it’s not too bad.


It’s kind of interesting to see how he’s adapted to the whole thing.  He’s still our goofy guy, but there have definitely been some personality changes.

Sam has always had the strongest bond with his Mom.  We’ve joked that he is velcro dog, but lately he’s been super-glue dog.  We wonder if he’s feeling more vulnerable and therefore more eager to cling to Mom.

Were I a little less egocentric, I’d feel a little sad about his bond with Mom over me.  He likes me, but has been inseperable from Mom and moreso than he ever was before his cancer.

I’m sure it’s just a part of his adjustment to new normal.

Exhibit B of change would be his sudden aversion to popcorn.  I know this is strange, but he used to love the stuff.  The sound of it popping in the microwave late at night was always enough to draw him away from bed to the kitchen.  Now, he won’t touch the stuff.  He spits it out.  I guess his right leg was the only part of him that liked it.

All in all, things are good.  His endurance is increasing and he was even able to swim the other day without his float coat for a few minutes (survival skills training).


Mom taking back over…

As I type, our boy is up to his usual shenanigans…  standing by the door with the “I need to go out” face only to back away from the door when we stand up to let him out and give us the “hey, while you are up, there are treats on the counter” look.  I should also add that right after Dad complained about our dog’s new distaste for popcorn, he popped a bag and is currently tossing kernals to the pooch, who is jumping up to catch them.  (excellent core work out, balancing on his hind legs to reach the snack!)

He is back and he feels good.  Here is to hoping the chemo this week doesn’t wipe him out to badly.  We are also consulting with a rehab specialist who is encouraging us to let him swim and play tug of war – activities that encourage him to drop his weight with his front leg extended out front.  He won’t play tug on dry land…  but on the second step of the pool – he is a tugging fool!  He must feel more steady with his weight supported by the float coat.  We are also encouraging him to walk backward in effort to help him practice placing those back feet, and it extends his front leg at the same time.   If you hold the treat under his chest – he has to walk backward to get it.  We are forcing him to walk the length of the runner rugs before he gets that treat he talks us into getting, while we are up. Works like a charm for all involved.

learning to shake as a tripaw is challenging.

One last note about swimming – he is getting much better at it, faster, turns better and has more stamina in the water.  Yesterday, with both of his parents in the pool to support him, we took off the float coat so that we could see if he could swim without it.   We were there to help him learn again if we needed to.   After supporting his chin for a little way, he started using his back feet and ended up with a odd modified side stroke – but he did it!   We did two laps around the shallow end to alleviate all of our fears in case he accidentally fell into the pool.  Our intention is to always have the float coat on him, but now we all know he can if he has to.

week 3 – how ’bout them apples?

Samdog had his week 3 ampuversary on Thursday.  We celebrated by sending dad out for In n out for all.  Yup, another flying dutchman!

We also have started having adventures again and I have learned something that I knew in my head,  but it took awhile for my feet to figure out.  After taking Sam to another of our favorite dog-friendly restaurants earlier this week, we went for a little walk…  just a little one.   I was concerned because we would go about 20 yards and then Sam would stop.  Okay, take a little break….   another 20 yards and another break…  Boy, he sure is tired tonight – maybe the chemo is kicking in…  another 20 yards, another break.  And then I noticed that at every break, he was ahead, looking back at me.  Hmmm, I wonder what he would do if I walked faster.  Sure enough, I double timed my pace and we cruised all the way to the car, with flopping ears, tongue flapping out the side of his mouth and his tail was waggin!  I was going too slow and he was waiting for me! (Here is an experiment – in this video you can see how fast? our boy likes to go.  HINT: click on the words “see how fast” to bring up the video in quicktime.)

Okay then, Mr. Full of Beans, let’s go for an adventure this weekend.


Why are those tennis balls up in the tree?

There is a touch of fall in the air and I found myself thinking about apples.  So, we loaded up Saturday morning and headed out to meet our friend Anna at an orchard about an hour away.  Anna brought a wagon so we could carry our buckets of apples.  We picked Fuji and Granny Smith apples as wells as some asian pears and some peaches.  We ate burgers in the shade of a peach tree and pie with ice cream.

Best part for Sam is he got to join us for all of it.  It was the furthest he had hopped since his surgery and he was hopping fast!

After a while, I noticed he was hopping a bit slower and seemed tired, so we just happened to have his dog bed in that wagon, just in case he pooped out while we were in the orchard.  Yup – we ended up carrying the apples and Samdog rode in style with a smile on his face over to the rest of the fruit trees.

thanks, dad!

I have to say, Sam loves adventures and used to run circles around me when we were out working a search problem.  He would have never agreed to ride in a wagon like this if he had all 4 feet.  But today, after we loaded him up the first time between the apple trees and the peach trees, he was ready to jump in the second time to leave the peach trees and head back to the weigh station.  He was one tired pooch who was greatful to be out on an adventure today.

Thanks Anna for the wagon and to Jason for pulling the 80lb dog down the highroad!!!

We are gonna go find us one of those wagons for ourselves (can we borrow Jason?)




by the end of the day – he was happy to share his chariot with the apples.


Thanks everypawdy!!!

It has been a big weekend so far.   The chemo made Sam very tired on Friday, but on Saturday – he was gung ho!  He was so ready for an adventure that he got loaded into the car to go someplace other than my office or the vet!  A true day out.

First, lunch with some friends at one of our favorite dog-friendly restaurants where he snoozed under the table.  Then, we braved a trip to Petco!!!  We had to return some pet steps that we bought in preparation for our boy’s return, which turned out to be disastrous…  well, maybe not a total disaster, but it wasn’t what he needed to get on the bed.

In Petco we hopped all the way around the store once and bought dad a new fish for the pond.  We stopped a lot for resting and pets from strangers who thought he was very handsome in his t-shirt and harness.  When we got home, he napped – by the evening he was sore, we might have over done the first outing.  But he was so happy!

He is so handsome in his new bandana, don’t you think?

Today, we finally made it to the mailbox and my goodness! There were presents and letters from all sorts of friends and family in there!  Thanks guys!  Our cousins wrote Sam some very nice letters with beautiful hand-drawn portraits of Samdog, (one of which we noticed only had three legs – hooray!).    The letters were so thoughtful, we wanted to share one with our Tripaw family.

“Dear Sam,
I hope you feel better.  Sam, I love you. I hope you can swim. I hope you can run a little bit.  I wish I can see you right now.  Are they taking good care of you? I’ll give you scrambled eggs if you come to our house.  I hope you come soon.  I hope Santa will give you easy toys to play with.
Love, A.”

I read all of the letters to Samdog and promised him that when Christmas time comes back, we will make sure Santa Paws gets the news and finds just the right toy for him.  The letters are going to be tacked on our fridge so we can see them every day!

We also got a wonderful card from our friends and another carepackage!!!  The treats were delicious!  Sam even high-fived to get a second one.  Better yet, he got some new Tripawd fashion.  Hooray!!!  And our friends sent me a beautiful tripaw pendant from the jewelry collection.  I love it and am wearing it now.  Thank you.

I still haven’t been able to get good video of him hopping, but I did get a few pix of him modeling his new bandana.  Enjoy and thanks everypawdy for all your love and support – I think the worst of it is over and now we get to heal together.

Mom, I know I look good but it is bright out here!

Two week ampuversary – day one chemo

Today, Samdog started his carboplaitin (seriously need to learn how to spell these things) and had most of his staples removed.  His incision is kindof like a fried wonton where three points of skin come togther.  The seams have healed just fine, but that point needs just a little more time. Which means no swimming for another two weeks. (dang)

Dr. S suggested 6 rounds of the chemotherapy, one round every three weeks, with blood count checks between the apptst just to be sure his white blood cells are where they should be.  She sent us home with medicine for vomiting and another medicine for the digestive problem that could be messy from the other end.   Those are the two main side effects – if they hit, they will hit in 3-5 days.  Even so, I plan to take him to work with me tomorrow so I can keep an eye on him.  I’m optimistic that he will be fine – but I worry (of course) if he isn’t feeling well and is home alone.  That just doesn’t seem fair.

The lovely ladies who administered his chemo all love him.  (of course)  I guess the way they administer the chemo requires the dog to sit still for a long time.  It seems that Sam didn’t mind just sitting there, which is apparently an oddity.  One of them called after us while we were checking out,  “I would work with Samdog anyday – he is the best patient I’ve had yet!”  (of course, that is my dog!)

We used his harness this time getting into and out of the car – what a difference!  We need to practice a little more (and I need to have less stuff in my hands when we try to load him) but there was no crashing into the garage floor and his confidence getting out of the car was much improved once he realized I was there and able help.  It was like we were partners again.  He looked at me with trust and I wouldn’t let him fall.

Tonight he is bright eyed, seems to be pain free, and is hanging out on the sofa with me.  That makes me one very happy momma.


Meeting with the oncologist Thursday and we will discuss what Sam’s osteosarcoma treatment will be.

Every day we see more signs of our old dog returning.

Today, he showed interest in chasing tennis balls again.  Every Golden Retriever knows that any tennis ball must be placed within throwing distance of the nearest human as frequently as possible.

While he still has flashes of what we assume is phantom leg pain, he doesn’t complain.  He’s happy when we are home, he’s glad to nap when we aren’t and he shows no sign of feeling sorry for himself or angry that he doesn’t have his leg anymore.

Occasionally, you can see some frustration while he’s trying to figure out how to navigate a tough area or solve a problem that was easily handled with four feet.  That said, he’s very proud of himself when he figures it out.

Noted author and Haiku poet R.H. Blyth had this to say about dogs:

“The puppy even more than the mature dog takes each day, each moment as it comes.

It does not

look before and after

And pine for what is not.

When it is warm, it basks in the sun; when it rains, it

whimpers to be let in.  There is nothing between the

sun and the puppy, the rain and the whimper.”

I try to imagine what my reaction would be if  my arm was removed up to the scapula.  I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t be as amazing as Sam’s adjustment.

The tennis ball dropped at my feet by a smiling retriever today reminds me to be glad to live in this moment, right now.

You can learn a lot from a red fluffball with three legs.

-Sam’s Dad.

…. and he’s back!

Unbelievable.  Less than 10 days post-amp and my dog is back.  Velcro to an extreme, but the twinkle is back and I got my first kiss tonight.  We also had a huge milestone in the kitchen.  Samdog is a trickster…  his repertoire of parlour tricks is pretty impressive.  However tonight, as an experiment, Dad was asking Samdog to shake to see if he could (front amp)…  and it was obvious Samdog couldn’t figure it out.   He had a look like – I know what you want, but I can’t do it.   Seeing the frustration in his eyes and Dad’s disappointment, I asked him to give me 10 – which used to involve balancing and putting both paws up.  Tonight – it only involved one paw, but he got it up there and hit my hand.  So, our “gimme 10” is now our “high five” and both Sam and Dad looked really happy!

I took him to work with me this morning. I worry (of course) when he is home alone that he is going to slip or trip and rip a stitch.   We left him alone last night for the first time to attend a going away party for a friend of mine and I worried the whole time.  So, today we braved the car and went to the office, where he sat under my desk and got loved on by the staff who wanted to say hello.  One of our best pals actually sat on the floor with him for about 1/2 hour while we caught me up from my absence last week.  Sam didn’t mind at all.

Getting into the car this morning – he surprised me and just jumped in!  Getting out the car – a little less graceful, but no problem.   This afternoon…  he must have been a little tired because we both ended up crashed on the back seat – a lot less graceful.  Getting out of the car this afternoon, was actually scary.    I need to find a solution and we need to get his harness on him – but it rubs on his incision, so I’m not sure which is worse – the rubbing or the crashing into the ground.   I’m thinking the rubbing is the lesser of the evils.  He didn’t complain, but we can’t afford for him to hurt his ankle, which he has started to turn in so to better center his weight.  He is pigeon-toed!  I can’t imagine dropping 80 lbs onto a crooked ankle – that has to hurt.

Moving in a straight line – he is fast!  I keep trying to get a good video to share with you… but if I don’t keep up he stops and turns round with this look on his face…  “mom, which way do I go?  I’m not going out there and then have to turn back, so you better catch up and don’t point me the wrong way”  So, I can’t get him far enough away from me to pull out the video camera.  But I will keep trying.

Oh, and there are some weird things…  I’d be interested if this experience has been shared.  My dog no longer wants to eat popcorn.  He loves popcorn!  But I gave him a piece and he actually spit it out.   It makes me wonder if he knows that he needs to go on a diet.   Maybe only his right foot liked popcorn?

Thursday we are going to the vet to get the staples out and learn about chemo…  that will probably be the next news to share so stay tuned.


No news is good news…

Samdog’s recovery is hitting its stride.  Each morning we get up, go feed the fish, head out to the chicken yard to say hello to the ladies, do what needs to be done, come back inside and eat most of our breakfast.  Yesterday was his last day on the antibiotics.  Hooray!

He is getting really good at getting himself up and laying back down, even on the concrete floors – though he usually has at least one paw on a rug.  He spent today alternating between napping on the couch and in front of the swamp cooler vent (our version of A/C) while we watched our favorite football teams.  Not a bad day for a dog, even if he didn’t get any junk food.

For the past two nights he has slept on the bed.  He has always been an exceptional snuggler and we have always had a routine…  start snuggling, when Sam gets too hot, he moves down to my feet and I roll over and fall asleep.  We have discovered a problem with this routine since his surgery.  Still an excellent snuggler, however, it is hard to get himself up  to change position while on the bed.  I think the comforter and mattress are just a bit too squishy.  He’s not so stable yet and not motivated to move once he finds his spot, even if he gets too hot.  Which means, panting…  panting…  panting…  while snuggling…  not a good combination for either of us.   To make matters worse – he is snuggling like he has never snuggled before, velcro is his new super power.  We have a king size bed to accomodate our 85 lb dog between us.  I have been lucky to get 10 inches of that king size bed and twice have found that I was lacking enough of the comforter to cover all of me.  He’s panting, I’m freezing and neither of us are sleeping very well.

Tonight, we renegotiate.   If I get him positioned in the smack center of the bed, maybe his increased snuggle power will still allow me 18 inches of bed space and that much comforter.


Before all of this – it would not have been tolerated.  Since all of this – I find myself smiling and making do with the little space I have left.  I’m sure my husband is enjoying the extra room.  It is not the worst problem to solve.

We have our appt to get his staples removed on Thursday, we will also learn about our chemo options.  Hooray for pet insurance! When I called them yesterday to ask very specific policy questions, the woman on the phone set my heart at ease…  8 years ago, we optioned the cancer rider, never expecting to need it.  In her words “you are going to be very happy you have that,” means our chemo options are actually options. We can choose what is best for our Samdog, not our bank account can handle.  Thank Dog!

But all of that is for another day.  I’m hoping that we will just keep on, keepin’ on and instead of daily updates without anything new to share, we will wait until there is news.  So, for those of you checking daily – we love you all, but don’t worry.  If there is news, we will share it.  Until then, feel free to call us – life has slowed down and we are actually back to our normal hectic pace, instead of the vortex we have been in for the past two weeks.