A sad farewell

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So on a beautiful sunny Sydney winter’s day, we said goodbye to Emerson.

It wasn’t the cancer that got him – with the combination of early discovery, rapid amputation, light chemo and the cancer vaccine trial, we seem to have succeeded in keeping that at bay. But some nerve issue started to cause one of his back legs to give out, and within a week he was having trouble – confusion really – just getting from one end of the house to another, and we knew it was time to let him go. During his last week we took him down to the open space of beautiful Fisherman’s Beach, where he was still having the best time lolloping around and sniffing the ocean wind (picture above).

So many friends came to see him and hug him goodbye, and since letting him go we’ve had unbelievable support from friends as we’ve faced a home that is now so quiet and has such a massive hole in it.

I wanted to thank Jerry and the Tripawds team again for such a valuable site, and the community here for all the love and information they share. We had 20 months of post-amputation ‘bonus time’, and I’d reiterate to anyone reading this who is unsure of or scared about amputation that a three-legged dog is a beautiful thing, the most popular pup in the park, and I promise you will love your dog even more than ever. We have no regrets at all with Emerson, who lived a loved and happy life, and gave us so very much joy.

Signing out,

Jez & Deanna in Sydney

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Emerson down at the beach.

Emerson’s osteosarcoma collapsed just before Christmas 2017; we amputated within days, before the cancer diagnosis was confirmed by pathology, which made it a very difficult decision, relying primarily on X-ray analysis. But the pain was clear and awful, and waiting was not an option.

As it was, it came through as a low-grade tumour, no sign of mets, and still no sign of mets.

The post-op nights were bad – we had Emerson at home the day of the op as Deanna was a qualified vet nurse at the clinic where the operation took place, and the vets felt he’d get the best full-time attention at home, which he did, we barely slept in days, taking turns sleeping with him on the floor. The whining, the panting was awful, and it was during that, while Googling around, we came across Tripawds. Some of the nuggets of wisdom we found, from Jerry & the team and from those who had shared their stories, helped immeasurably. One note on the possible effects of a particular pain killer was especially helpfu,. and lowering the dose (under vet advice) seemed to help greatly.

We wrote to the Tripawds team afterwards to thank the whole community, and they made Emerson Tripawd of the Week! https://tripawds.com/2018/01/16/tripawd-tuesday-emerson-the-labrador/

Together with his ongoing recovery, we had a quite joyous 2018. Those slow-motion days before and during, where we didn’t know if he’d make it, they changed my life in focusing on what matters; I’ve not been quite the same since. I spend as much time as I can with Emerson every day, though really, I did that anyway. What’s better time spent than hanging with your dog?

We’ve been fully aware that every day is a bonus, and that life post-op can be cut short at any time by a complication, by metastatisation, by quality of life dropping below the threshold at which an intervention has to be made. We were lucky to be part of a groundbreaking cancer vaccine trial here in Sydney, and to have top-notch vets at our clinic. To all them, and to the Tripawds community, our endless thanks!

So far, he’s done so well. We’re down at the park by the beach dunes (they can swim in the lagoon) as many days a week as we can; many of you will know how popular a three-legged dog can be at a dog park, and how children react, and Emerson is a great dog for them to come and meet – we raised him as a guide-dog puppy, and he failed for being a bit too bonkers, but he’s exceptionally good with people and children. There was even a retriever called Bo, which was another tripawd, with his back leg missing. Can’t say there was any sense of recognition between them, but it was great to meet the owners. Very sadly, I met Bo a month or two back being taken on his final walk, as after six months his cancer had spread. That was a sad sad day.

Our sad day will come, of course, but it comes to all dog owners, and I truly think that Tripawd owners who have been through the near loss already are blessed in becoming so super-attached and ‘awake’ to them for however long we do get. Already 15 months, we are so lucky. And recently when we switched meds he was obviously improved in mobility and was bombing around like a puppy, and started ‘dune-bolting’ again, still going off a lot faster than I can catch him…

So thanks to all, and especially for anyone reading this site during or pre-amputation, don’t think of it as a non-option. It’s humans that freak out about three-legged dogs, they can be absolutely fine about it. The chemo is not like chemo for humans, the side effects are far less severe, indeed we noticed none at all. If you can get on a cancer vaccine trial, so much the better. If they can have a good quality of life, and love doing stuff like Emerson, don’t think twice. Our love to you all!

Vid here, if you can see it!

Jez, Deanna & Emerson

P.PS I forgot to include this pic!