Took Gizmo to see his doctor today. I want to have his teeth looked at.
He doesn't want to play ball (something he lives for!) and I'm thinking
maybe he has an abscessed tooth or something. He also doesn't vocalize anymore.
He used to look up at me and go "AaaaRRROOOO!!" but now it's just a high
pitched "Yip!". No other barks or vocalizations at all. We make an appointment for
Friday the 12th to visit his vet, Doctor Scott Shuler. He'll have to put Gizmo
under to examine his throat and teeth.
Dropped Giz off at 08:00 and went to work. Didn't get much done because it's too hard
to concentrate. I'm worried about him. Went to pick him up at 16:30.
Gizmo did well under anesthesia for an 11 year-old dog. Seems he didn't want to stay under. Is alert for the most part when I come to pick him up. He had a couple molars removed that needed to come out, but they are on the other side from where the problem seemed to be. There is a mass near his larynx that is engorged with blood, but nothing is showing on the x-ray. The doctor is going to send the x-rays to a radiologist for closer examination. There is also some strange looking tissue on the soft palate and a ridge on the left side of the tongue. Biopsy samples have been taken from both spots. We're hoping it's nothing serious. Doctor Scott gave Gizmo a big injection of steroids to reduce the swelling in the meantime.
Doctor Scott calls me at 21:15...pretty late, but that's our doc! Bad news. (My heart skips a beat.)
The biopsy report indicates that Gizmo has anaplastic carcinoma on his tongue and could account
for the mass near his larynx. From the samples they took, it appears to be a very aggressive tumor
which will eventually cut off Gizmo's ability to eat, then drink, then breathe.
Doctor says that there are several options: chemotherapy, which would make him sick and uncomfortable, radiation, which, since it would be focused on his larynx and pharynx might result in swelling of those organs, effectively doing the same thing as the tumor, an experimental treatment by a researcher at the University of Washington, or we could just keep him comfortable. I'm going to take a couple days to think about what to do. Needless to say, I'm devastated by the news. Gizmo is like a child to me, and while I realize he's not human, he's still a very important part of my life.
Well, I've thought it over. I talked to the doc this evening and for the amount of time Gizmo has
versus the intrusion and discomfort he would have to endure just for the gain of a couple extra
months, I'm opting to just keep him comfortable and happy as long as possible. Sure, the financial
part is a factor (it would end up costing thousands of dollars just to let him live for a little
longer and we'd both end up losing), but not as much as the quality of life he would lose by
exposing him to radiation and experimental procedures. And I want it to be quality time. I want
him alert and aware that he's loved, not a dog who's so full of drugs he can't experience
anything or having to deal with air tubes and stomach tubes, etc.
Gizmo actually played with his Kong this evening. Apparently the steroid injection has helped a little. He hasn't even attempted to pick it up for some time. He fetched it about a half-dozen times. I told the doc about this and he suggested trying some prednisone once a day for a week to see if that will help keep the pain and swelling down. So we'll start that on Sunday.
I'm spending a lot more time with Gizmo, holding him on my lap and letting him sleep on the bed. He's drinking tons of water (the steroids do that) but it will help keep him flushed out, too. I guess he doesn't have to have diet food anymore, either. Why not let him enjoy his food?
Shadowdog knows something's wrong, too. He's been acting strangely and hiding in the bathroom. It will be difficult for him to lose Gizmo. They've never been apart for any length of time since I got Shadowdog at 8 weeks, now he's 10. He always acts jealous, but I watch them and know that he's very protective of Gizmo. I'll have to make sure I don't leave him out of this process. When the time comes to let Gizmo go home, both me and Shadowdog will be there.
I can tell it's getting harder for Gizmo to breathe. He sounds like he's wheezing with each breath he takes.
I don't know if it's just the way he's laying or what; sometimes I can't hear it at all. He sleeps on the
left side, as if it hurts to put the right side of his face down. He's still alert and likes to eat. Still
drinking lots of water. Started on the prednisone this morning (I hid it in a piece of hotdog!) I sure hate
to see him distressed, but he's not acting like he's uncomfortable in any other manner. Wouldn't pick up
the ball today, but a tennis ball is a lot bigger than he can open his mouth. Maybe I'll try another toy,
just because he WANTS to play.
I've fashioned a toy for Gizmo out of a plain piece of 3/4-inch nylon rope. He likes that a lot better
than the kong-on-a-rope that he usually plays with. This one he can actually pick up and carry. I'm glad
to see that he still wants to play, of course, I'm sure he would want to play if he were on his last legs.
He's still on the prednisone, once a day, and I've added a quarter tablet of a morphine derivative called Torbutrol for pain. Gizmo has seemed uncomfortable lately, especially at night. I've noticed a considerable loss of bulk in his head. His skull is quite prominent, especially on the sides.
He was in good spirits today and we went out and played today, Shadowdog was being his usual rambunctious self, and Giz steadily retrieving the rope. Nice that it was sunny, too. That helped all of us.
I find more and more that I'm dreading the inevitable. Makes me appreciate the pain and suffering that others experience at the impending loss of a loved one. Many people would argue that "it's just a dog," but when you share your life with any creature on a daily basis, unless you're made of stone, it's difficult to be stoic and indifferent. Besides, God made dogs, too. Why should they be less worthy of concern and compassion than any other creature, especially one that would willingly lay down its life for its caretaker without a second thought?
Well, sad to say, I think it's about time that Gizmo goes home. I wish there were something that I could do
to make all his illness go away, but it just doesn't work that way. He can barely eat and drink, the tumor
has made it nearly impossible for him to stick his tongue out of his mouth. He can't lick his nose, pant
like he should, barely lap water, and eating anything much bigger than crumbs is impossible.
What a joy this marvelous dog has been! Almost every day for 11 years, he's been my companion. Always greeting me with a wag and his wonderful 'Arrrooo!' (I miss that so much). From the trials and tribulations of puppyhood to the daily rituals of an adult dog, I've never regretted one moment I've had to spend being his 'dad'.
I'll talk to Doctor Scott on Tuesday and arrange things. This is probably the most difficult thing I've ever done. I will also have to let his friends know so that they can say their goodbyes. He's go a lot of friends and it would be unfair if they couldn't get to share one last time with him. How terribly hard it is to weigh the choices between what we want and what is best for someone we love. I'd love to keep him for the rest of my life, but that danged mortality just rears its ugly head and ruins everything.
Good news for now. Gizmo is responding well to the doubled dosages of medication. He's perked up and is actually
playing again. He still can't lick his nose or pant normally, but he doesn't act like he's in pain like he did.
He's sleeping well and eating like a proverbial pig, but as we all know with cancer, you can never count on anything.
I'm accepting what I'm given and enjoying his company. Watching him, I still know he's not his old self, but
there are a number of things that he just can't do anymore.
I enjoy those times when I'm in front of the TV and he comes up and asks for 'loves'. He then walks in front of me and backs up to my legs. I pick him up onto my lap and just cuddle him. He lays there and just soaks it up. Such a joy.
Thanks to those people who have taken the time to send notes with their best wishes for Gizmo. He listens intently when I read them...and wags his tail. Shadowdog is still being a bit of a tweak, but he's settling down. He still gets his attention, but I think he realizes that he can't pick on Gizmo like he did.
I want to take the Boys to the beach. They love it down there, and maybe the salt air will be good for him.
That Gizmo. He never ceases to amaze me. I got home Tuesday and you would think he wasn't going to make it
five more minutes. After a ride in the car to visit some friends, and a trip to see his doctor, he's doing
just great. Silly boy.
Tonight when I got home it was the same thing. He wouldn't even attempt to eat his medicated hot dog. I blended it all up into a lap-able concoction, but he wouldn't even try that. Poor little guy must be hurting. I got some new pain medication to try. The Torbutrol ($24 for 7 pills) seemed to work ok, but I had to increase the dosage from a quarter pill to at least a half. Doc conferred with some of his colleagues and suggested we try some Morphine ($20 for 20 pills) to see if Gizmo would do better with that.
I gave him one this evening. Had to force him to swallow it. I even had it masked in butter, but he wouldn't have anything to do with it. I figure his throat or tongue must hurt, so he just lays there and bears it.
Talked to the doc about euthanasia, what we would do and such. That was hard. It's difficult not to start crying when talking about such things - as much as I know he's going to a better place, there's still a certain finality about the end of mortal existence. I plan on having Gizmo cremated and putting his ashes in an urn. I have a couple statues of Australian Cattle Dogs, one red, one blue, and I'll mount the red one on top of the urn and add a brass plate for Gizmo's name and dates. I'll do the same with Shadowdog when it's his turn. Then, when it's my turn, I'll have their ashes buried with me.
Wow...that morphine is strong. The one pill I gave Gizmo on Friday really knocked him for a loop. He wouldn't eat
or drink on Saturday morning (for Gizmo NOT to eat is saying a lot!) and I was worried that maybe his system was
shutting down. I laid on the floor with him for a long time and just stroked his ears and rubbed his back. Those
are his favorite attentions (well, except for rump scratches). Around noon he seemed to be getting more alert and
I got out some of that really thin sliced lunch meat. He wandered over and I offered him some. He gobbled it
right down. That told me he was doing better. He then went to his bowl and stood there and lapped the water for
about 10 minutes.
I decided to give him hydrocodone instead of the morphine. He seems to do quite well on that and I've doubled the prednisone again. Today he was more peppy and almost playful. I took the Boys up to the Rose Garden at Washington Park, then up to Council Crest to see the view of the city and surrounding mountains. We could see Mt Hood, Mt Adams, Mt Rainier, Mount St Helens, and the tip of Mt Jefferson. What a beautiful day. I'm sure glad I got to spend it with my Boys.
Tentatively, this coming Saturday is the day I've picked for Gizmo's journey. The tumor has grown quite large and restricts his breathing more and more each day. It depends on him. He'll get lots of love and attention, food, water, and anything else he wants, but if he acts like he just doesn't want to bother, then I'll know it's time. Even now he has no enthusiasm. Look at this, I'm STILL trying to talk myself out of it. How hard it is to let go.
Looks like it may have to be tomorrow. I came home this evening and Gizmo looks like he was hit by a car. The tumor
has pushed up behind his right eye and makes it point out and down, and the white is all red. He's not interested in
eating or drinking, so it's unlikely he'll take any medication tonight. Fortunately, his doctor is back tomorrow.
Hard to believe it's only been a month since he was diagnosed. Doctor said it was fast, but wow.
I tried coaxing him with all his favorites but he's just not interested. All he wants to do is lay down on the cool floor and rest. I feel so bad that he has to endure even this. Just looking at him makes me cry. He looks so unlike my Dingo Dog. No tail wags, no hopeful looks, just an almost vacant stare.
I called the vet office and made an appointment for 15:40 tomorrow. I got the doctor's last appointment so as not to bum him out early in the day (he's attached to Gizmo, too) and it will give me enough time to make sure everyone can say goodbye to Gizmo before he leaves.
God, I love this dog. He's been such a source of joy and happiness for so long. I feel so bad that I wasn't a better 'dad' - I could have walked him more, played longer, brushed him more often, just the little things that made him so happy. I certainly don't regret one single moment I've had him in my care. Boy, this hurts.
I guess Gizmo didn't want to wait anymore. He left early this morning. He was asleep on my bed and I was sleeping next
to him when I suddenly realized that he was awfully still. I'm glad it was naturally rather than having to use a chemical,
but I'd prefer he wasn't in so much discomfort. But, he is in a better place now. Playing and running and having a good
...Later in the day...
I've spent the day sending e-mails and making phone calls and thinking about what I might have done to make his end days more comfortable. It was tough having Gizmo's shell there on the bed after his spirit had passed. When I first noticed he wasn't breathing I attempted to perform CPR. I worked at it for a couple minutes, then realized that I would just be bringing him back to send him away again. That wouldn't be good for either of us.
Come to think of it, turns out that he was a considerate dog in other ways, too. By leaving early he eliminated the stress of ending his life on me, our good friend Debby, who was going to take us to the clinic, and Dr. Shuler, Gizmo's doctor. I especially was glad for Dr. Shuler that he didn't have to end Gizmo's life. That must be so very hard to do. I'd like to thank him here for the wonderful care he gave, not only to Gizmo, but to me as well. A heck of a good man with a big heart and an awesome spirit.
I took Gizmo to the clinic about 15:30 and left him there. They're going to have him cremated and return the ashes to me. Now I have to find a suitable container. I'm thinking a beautiful wooden box with rounded edges and maybe multi-colored woods. I have a statue of a red Cattle Dog to put on it and a nice brass plate.
Shadowdog's been very brave through this whole ordeal. Today he's been calm and almost subdued. He sniffed at Gizmo a couple times after his passing, and I think he knows Giz is gone. I've been showing him lots of love and attention with hugs and scratches and ear rubs (he loves those). This day has been stressful for him, but right now he's asleep next to my bed and snoring away!
I'm pretty much cried out, but it doesn't take much to get the tears going again when talking to others about the incident. But, now it's time to sleep and dream of my boy.
Thank you to everyone for sharing their thoughts and prayers for Gizmo. He was a good, good dog.
Hard to believe it's already been a week since Gizmo left. The ache is so strong to see him come running through
that door when I get home, to see his tail wagging away and hear his sounds. It used to be that when I got home,
Shadowdog would always bolt out into the yard and Gizmo would always stop and wait until he got petted. Now
Shadowdog actually stops and waits when I open the door. I think he's pretty lonely waiting all day. I know I
I found a craftsman who will make a custom urn for Gizmo's ashes. I wanted someone who could make something and understand what it was for, and how very special this dog was to me. I saw the ones on the web, but they seemed so common and cold, not a very fitting remembrance for a loved one who brought so much joy. I picked cherry wood for the urn. It's a beautiful color and will darken with age. Once finished, it should be quite a fitting memorial to an awesome friend. When it's Shadowdog's turn, I'll have one made from a darker wood, maybe one with a bluish/gray tint if possible.
I found a picture of Gizmo that, when I first took it, I didn't give it much thought. Now I look at it and see him watching me, I realize how much this dog thought of his 'dad' and how lucky I was to share his companionship. This is a dog who would have waited forever for me to come home.
I got Gizmo back last week. They put him in this really nice urn that was kind of a creamy white color. That will
do until his wooden urn is completed. It's good he's home again. Wow, do I ever miss my boy. I never realized just
how much of my life revolved around him until he wasn't there anymore. Shadowdog does what he can to fill the gap,
but even he realizes there's something missing.
I was sitting with Shadowdog the other day and I looked at him and asked: "Hey, Shadow, do you miss Gizmo?" He looked up at me and then put his head back and howled - a long woooo-woooo-woooo howl, made the hair on the back of my neck stand up. No one can tell me that dogs don't feel or miss their loved ones.
I've been looking for a companion dog for Shadowdog, too. One a few years younger, who is still free from bad habits and needs a good home. I know Shadowdog will adjuct and most likely even welcome a new addition. I'll keep looking until I find just the right one.
I got a couple pictures of Gizmo's urn today. It's beautiful. I should be able to pick it up tomorrow. A very special,
unique resting place for a very special, unique friend. Dave did a wonderful job on it. Dave's site is:
http://www.woodnheart.com if you'd like to take a look at other creations
he's made. Thanks, Dave!!
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