Trial-free Weekends

So no trials for the last two weekends in a row. I feel quite strange…and so not physical in any way…think I better do some serious running this week at training or else I am going to be completely exhausted after one run next trial! Raven is again of the “no news is good news” category this week. She had put on more weight again last week before she started her second cycle of chemo so that was good. Her WBC was also up. No side effects from the Vincristine this time apart from feeling tired – she slept well through the night and was ready to go for training the following night. I had thought (with not just a slight touch of disappointment) that I had felt her lymph nodes come up again. Just the ones in her neck. I was very happy to hear when i picked her up Tuesday after her chemo that it was her saliva glands I was feeling and that all her lymph nodes are back to normal. Fantastic! So far, so good, still a long way to go though. Last Sunday afternoon we took the dogs for a run at our local Canine grounds. Some of the shots didn’t turn out half bad! I was thinking prior to these the the dogs could do with a bath – but these pics have simply confirmed for me that it’s not necessary!

The Raven
Recall Raven!

Raven – she knows when treats are on

Raven circa 2007
Born March 7th 2000
Diagnosed Lymphoma May 11th 2007
Kicking cancer butt since May 14th – 1st Chemo treatment

Why can’t Cypher bring that frisbee back?

He has a tumour that’s why!
Or perhaps I should not joke about cancer at this stage…
ah what the hell, you gotta laugh sometimes!

Spryte is not really tumour-like, but sometimes Cy does close his eyes
in the hope that she disappears

She’s more of your “midget Cypher fan club of one” type

National Geographic may need these pictures

How the domesticated Border Collie brings down larger prey,
Cy’s thinking “You know you coulda left her at home”

Spryte occasionally cuts Cy a break

Raven – missing the prey completely,
but ensuring that she looks the part whilst failing.
At times she’s so darn cute!

Cy’s victory frisbee catch face

Weekly Update

So no news for a while – but that’s a good thing. We went to the trial Sunday and Raven was knocking bars, sliding contacts, barking her head off and face planting after jumps….and I just smiled through all of it! The old Raven is resurfacing and boy does she feel good! She only had a couple of runs (much to her disappointment) but she sure made sure she got her money’s worth out of them. She knocked bars in Masters Agility and then I was slack about handling and put her over a wrong jump. Then in Open Agility she broke her start (bloody fantastic!!…and totally against all our training but at this stage in her life I’m just enjoying the vitality of her) still kept first two bars up and face planted after #2 slid along the ground past the entry to the chute tunnel…so we copped a refusal and then she blitzed the rest of the course. It was a great day and so good to be having the opportunity once again. She pulled up fine, did not seem lethargic….enjoyed a pear before the runs and had a banana snack in between. To keep her fluid intake up I laced her water with a touch of milk which means she drank plenty. A vet friend tried to find the lymph nodes for me and couldn’t so it’s not just me being overly optimistic!

Here’s a pic Tim took at the trial over the last jump of Open Agility.

Monday I took her to Liz Franks – a specialist vet in trigger point, and physical therapy and also nutritionist for dogs. Liz has first hand experience of Lymphoma in both canine and human – her Great Dane Ridge back cross was diagnosed at 10 years with the same type as Raven and lived to just before his 16th birthday. Whilst he certainly had all the chemo treatments Liz also believes that his diet was a key factor in his extra long remission time. So we went to have a chat and she looked Raven over and then we discussed every detail of her diet and her options and what we could do to ensure that her nutrition would help fight this disease.
So her supplements have now increased! She is now also receiving;

Molybdenum

Zinc Picolinate

This tells you what a picolinate is;

and why Zinc?

Vit E

Vit C

Cyto bifidus

Selenium

Liz also mentioned that recent studies show that quite a number of cancer patients are also Vitamin D deficient (that good stuff we get from the sun!). Of course studies have not been done on dogs yet…..but it was interesting to hear. She asked me a whole gamut of questions and also spoke about the importance of filtering the tap water as WA does have high levels of heavy metals and fluoride in our water. I asked about the effects of lactic acid build up and her feeling tired before she even begins to exercises and she promised to look into what we could do about that on the muscular side of things. I told her what I feed and she was very happy with the balance of Raw to kibble and also stressed the importance of the vegetable mash in her diet. Luckily her taste has come back somewhat and I am heating the mash up in the microwave which gives it some stronger scent as well which I think helps. She is still off her sardines though! I’m not too worried now as she has a good coverage now and is far from skinny, I keep varying the meals and she’s usually eating most everything. I took her out for some UD round work today and she is still very keen, very happy, very up, very Raven. Nailed her glove retrieve despite locking onto the wrong one initially but for the first time she took guidance from my hand signal and corrected – this was a big step in the right direction for her! I really should get more regular obedience training in, there is no reason why she cannot achieve her UD title apart from her own handler’s slackness!!

So that’s it for her update for now, she has certainly NOT missed going into Murdoch this week. She will not be confirmed in remission until they take a needle aspirate of her lymph nodes in approximately 6 weeks time now.

Exciting news on the Lymphoma front!

Now I have tried for the last three nights to find Raven’s lymph nodes to assess their size and for the life of me I cannot find them! I keep looking, much to her bored disgust, but I simply can’t feel them – this, I believe, is an excellent sign. Complete remission will not be confirmed until a needle aspirate is taken of her nodes but this has to be a strong indicator of a clear prognosis.
The doxorubicin treatment does not appear to have knocked her around too much, she has eaten every day. Last night she left half of her meal and she rejected sardines. I wonder if perhaps the drugs can have an impact on palate and taste for the dogs as she normally likes them. She is really fond of raw stuff and still likes her kibble even when covered in natural yogurt laced with her supplements. Her current supplement regime includes three fish oil caps, heaped teaspoon of Sasha’s Blend, flaxseed oil, half teaspoon of Musashi L-Arginine and a half teaspoon of Musashi L-Glutamine.
She usually has this mixed in with natural yogurt, our homemade vegetable mash, and either chicken necks, a Billinghurst BARF patty, raw diced lamb, sardines (when she likes them!) and of late a couple of teaspoons of some tinned My Dog which is the beef strips in sauce. I haven’t given her the My Dog more than a couple of times – I use it when I have the feeling she’s not her usual ravenous self. It helps her to eat more.
Her toenail has fully recovered from last weeks accident as well, she is dying to get out and do something. We’ll probably go out for a long, sedate walk tomorrow, we have a trial Sunday afternoon.
I’ve emailed Ken with a number of my initial bone marrow transplant questions and he has certainly been thorough with his replies. The good thing is that it can be done at any point doesn’t have to happen in the next four weeks. So that will give us more time to investigate all the pros and cons.
Things are definitely looking up, but I don’t kid myself, I can see from the struggle of others that I have read about on the web and on lists – this journey resembles more of a roller coaster ride than anything else. I’m not expecting one straight ascent that’s for sure.

Bandanarama!

Got these personalised bandanas sent over from Germany by Tim’s Mum for my birthday. Had to do a spontaneous photo shoot of course. They all are looking a bit too intense – as in “Must stare unblinkingly – treat may disappear!” Might have to try and get one where they’re all looking a bit more relaxed! Spryte, Cy and Raven

Raven wore hers as a good luck bandana for her doxorubicin (also known as Adriamyacin) chemo treatment yesterday, so far (touch everything) it is looking ok. We are more than 24 hours on now and no side effects. Ate a full dinner last night, had some breakfast, just polished off a big chicken neck. Drinking and toileting well. She slept the whole night through. She had a very small upchuck of some yellow bile this afternoon but nothing other than that. She does look tired though, in her face, like her body is undergoing some inner war that she is not quite sure of. Lymph nodes are still decreasing, I have to really feel for them now.
I am in the midst of writing up my list of questions to Ken Wyatt about bone marrow transplant. If she is going to have it done, things will start to happen at her next treatment in preparation for it. There is so much I need to know first!

Small Setback

For the most part this week Raven has been going well. We went to training on Tuesday night and she was jumping out of her skin so I put her over a simple novice jumping course a couple of times. She was starting to show her old self again and was barking at me too. It’s always a good sign when she barks at me, means she’s feeling good. I then put her over a basic agility course once and then put her back in the car. I trained Cypher for a while and then sitting in the back of my car with Raven I wondered if she felt like doing a few more contacts – I like the fact that she loves doing them and that I can get lots of treats into her – I bought the 4legs this week deciding I was being pathetic about whining about the mess this stuff makes (the coconut gets everywhere!!) and Raven loves the stuff. So she came out again (mistake #1) and we went off did the seesaw a few times no problems and then came over to the dogwalk(mistake #2). She did it twice very happily and then the third time (mistake #3…why didn’t I just stop there?!?!?!) managed to catch her toenail in the gap where the up plank joins the flat plank. Well that’s what we think she did, she was completely silent, ran onto the walk fine and I didn’t know she’d done anything till she was standing in her usual two on two off position holding her left paw off the ground. Others went and checked and noticed the gap there was certainly big enough for a dog to catch a toenail. I said a not very nice word and ran over to check it out. There was quite a bit of blood however she clotted well and it stopped fairly quickly after pressure was applied. We wrapped it in a towel and a vet nurse cleaned it up, trimmed some of the hair and washed it in a betadine solution before wrapping it with some gauze and vet wrap bandaging. I of course started running through all the implications for a cancer dog who does this and is in the middle of chemo treatments and then mentally kicked myself up and down for allowing this to happen and went onto to feel like absolute crap about the whole thing for two days. Stupid dogwalk equipment!! Stupid handler…stupid toenail!! I emailed Ken next morning and he said he’d give her half a paracetomol for the pain but did not mention any need for antibiotics as a precaution which is good.
Anyway here we are at Saturday. She’s hardly limping now and I check the nail twice a day. Its quite firmly attached and looks healthy. She’s been crated mostly for the last 3 days and is out today. She’s eating well and apart from being pissed off about not being allowed to run around, play or do any training she seems quite well within herself. I am boosting her fiber intake this weekend (she’s getting a pear each day) in preparation for her treatment Tuesday with Doxorubicin the most toxic drugs of the protocol.
So that’s the latest in Raven’s upates…she can have a rest from anything agility wise for at least a week probably longer (nearly two weeks). At least after this treatment Tuesday she has two whole weeks off from treatment as well.