Sunday, 22 November 2015

Living for today; The only way;

Last Saturday we took Blue out for a trip in the car, to give him a different perspective, and to see the world around him.

Just after returning the phone rang, that phone call was one we were expecting, but not the news we wanted.

Blue's results were in regarding the mass removed from his abdomen, it is an aggressive cancer that is incurable, Blue was given 3-9 months to live.

Our world had just collapsed, Blue had sensed something had disturbed us, came over to where I sat on the floor laid down and rested his head in my lap, allowing us to comfort each other. How do you come to terms with a bombshell like that?

Blue will continue to receive our love and devotion until the time arrives for our goodbyes to be said, we are all fully committed, to do what is best for Blue.

Holidays to Scotland in May, have now been abandoned, we will more likely go to the New Forest in Hampshire instead, around about January, this will be as long as Blue is up to it.

Medical stuff
Blue has Hemangiosarcoma, which is a cancer that takes different forms in many breeds of dog, also cats. It is not rare especially in large breeds of deep chested dogs, normally found but not exclusively in dogs between 6 - 12 years old. Breeds affected more commonly are German Shepherds,Golden Retrievers, Labradors, and mainly in male dogs.

In Blue's case, his has got into the blood, leg muscle and part of his nervous system, removing the mass will play no better or worse effects in terms of longevity of life.

On Tuesday Blue must return to the Oncology and Soft Tissue hospital in Guildford, where they will be removing his stitches. We have elected for Blue to have Chemotherapy, which will also be administered on Tuesday. To aid further administration of the treatment Blue will have a port fitted just under the skin, which will deliver the medicine directly into a vein. Normally it is fitted up near the neckline, but in Blue's case his will be inserted in his hind leg. No medical reason for doing this, just simply Blue will resist co-operation and handling by strangers, so if you like, put it as far away from his teeth for the safety of others, that's our Blue.

He will be dropped off on Tuesday morning at 7:30 where he will be booked in for treatment, and overnight observation, we will collect him on Wednesday.

It has taken a week for this to truly sink in and come to terms with, Blue Sue and me are now mentally strong to take this path side by side until we reach the inevitable end.

When Blue gives us the signal, we will do the right thing for him, no matter how hard that decision will be, it is about all of us.


  • Metacam - liquid on food
  • Gabapentin - capsules
  • Tramadol - capsules

Twitter and Google plus
We have finally shared this dilemma that faces Blue on Twitter and Goggle+ and the support has been so heart warming, Blue even received a box of gifts, one of which is a monkey that keeps him comforted in his crate "Monkey-Crate-Mate" seen here as a shoulder to lean on

A comforting comment was sent via a direct message to Sue. 

"Blue only lives for today, he has no plans for tomorrow"

We have drawn a lot of strength and perspective from that, and will continue to do so. We know there are divided opinions about Chemotherapy, while Blue shows an appetite for life, we will explore all avenues.

Blue now never sleeps alone downstairs, and it would be too difficult for him to safely negotiate the stairs, weeknights he has Sue for company, weekends it is my turn to sleep on the put-me-up, there is never normally more than four hours sleep, as soon as Blue stirs we have been taken him out to the garden for a wee, and he duly obliges, even though sometimes it is a splash and a dash.

Each day we have been taking Blue across the road to do his business on some openland, each day he longingly looks up the road towards the park.

This morning he got his wish, me holding his rope lead, Sue supporting his back legs with a sling, we went to the park, where unaided but still on a lead he got to sniff and stroll around the park for 5 or so minutes, his expression said it all. When he sat down to admire and survey his kingdom, we knew the time was right to to head back; We are now like the proverbial pantomime horse, we all three walk together attached and in unison.

Breakfast was eaten once again with no fuss, and tablets went down a treat, Blue is now resting in his crate, which he sees as his space, his comfort area.

We have not put our life on hold, and will not grieve until Blue has passed over the rainbow bridge, that day will be hard enough, but we will draw strength from those days past, and the new memories we continue to make.

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Home sweet home

Only 4 days have passed since we collected Blue, and brought him home. Each day is all about Blue, and will be for some time yet to come.

Each day he has become more settled, and his recovery has been helped by the way in which he accepts support,  and works with us.

It is amusing the will power he has, as I write this blog he has herded Sue into the room with me and then settled under the dining table.

Blue is eating and resting, as he should be, exercise is limited to short walks into the garden, supported with a sling, and attached to his rope lead. Once in the morning and once in the evening, we venture across the road to some grassed area, where he likes to do his business, which has been nice and healthy.

Our strategy with Blue when he was first home was to get him into the garden every two hours through the night, to ensure his bladder did not get overfull, that now has already extended to four hours.

Blue remains in his crate at night, wearing his "Procone" a softer version of the buster collar, much more user friendly. Sue sleeps down stairs on an emergency guest bed with one eye on Blue through the night.

Blue only occasionally bears any weight on his rear right leg, though the Specialist did advise, it could be a month or so before he began to use it. At the moment he uses it to balance only, often on tip-toes, and occasionally when doing a bunny hop while walking.

Medication has been a bit of a challenge, especially the antibiotic one, a large pink tablet, that is supposed to be palatable, but not according to Blue. We have tried numerous ways, but he was not taking it, and it was getting more difficult. A lady at work suggested, crushing the tablet mixing it with water and firing down the back of his throat with a syringe, some how I thought no that is not a good idea. However the crushing of the tablet and putting it in yogurt might be a happy alternative, still Blue was not convinced.

This morning we tried to grind the tablet with a rolling pin and bowl, with slightly more success.

Medication twice daily

So for £5 we have invested in a pestle & mortar, ground the tablet to a finer powder mixed in with his main meal and hey presto down the hatch it went without too much fuss.

That is also one of the great things about sharing, and caring, people at work ask how Blue is on a daily basis, and whatever your facing as a challenge, they suggest ways to try and help.

We have no results yet, and live very much one day at a time, I thought it would be nice to share the little milestones Blue has achieved so far.

The scar is significant, but looking clean and healthy, and Blue likes to preserve his modesty, so here he is resting, by the dining room table.

The benefits of crate rest can not be underestimated, the benefit of crate training and the calmness it brings pay huge dividends in circumstances such as Blue is facing.

This path that we walk with Blue has a long way to go,  but each twist and turn along the way, will be met head on together. 

A close friend "Anne" has been very supportive, helping out with Blue, one of a very small privileged few that can get close to Blue, but that might be because she has a female Pug called Daisy, who Blue has a soft spot for. 

Many thanks goes out from Blue, Sue and me for the support, and that is also extended across to America, where "Ash" lives, whom I spoke with on the phone on Sunday. The power of the internet never fails to astound me.

Blue has a growing "Twitter" and internet family that care very much about him and are very supportive, they know who they are and the three of us are eternally grateful; 

@Rod1871 @Bluesmummy @BluetheGSD 

Thank you all 

Sunday, 8 November 2015

Surgery, fear, anxiety, support all in a week.

Today Blue sits safely at home after a traumatic week, that has been who knows how long in the making.

First and foremost it has been without doubt a rollercoaster ride of emotions for all of us, just a couple of days ago, Blue was on the operating table, where a potentially life threatening decision was made, and some of Blues greatest battles for life began.

What every pet owner, has to do is what is right for their pet and them, what every pet owner may not have is the opportunity to take that ultimate decision.

How the week unfolded:
Blue had been on medication, which was increased following a rapid decline in his mobility

Blue was taken to Fitzpatrick Referral's in Eashing, Surrey. He was to have a further assessment with Ricardo, after a brief assessment which culminated in Blue being walked down a corridor crying in pain, as he was assessed by the Staff confirmed a rapid deterioration in Blue's health. We sat in the consulting room where we could hear his cries, he was in absolute agony.
Ricardo moved many things, most of which were behind the scenes, but somehow, he had arranged for Blue to be visited by an Oncologist, at the same time as he would undergo further scans. The rapid deterioration could only be the mass in his abdomen. As the practice was so busy, there were no large kennels available. We took Blue out to the car to wait, the wait was not long, Blue would have to be admitted, but co-operation is not there even if the help was in his best interest.
As Blue could no longer support his own hind legs, we used a support sling, buster collar, and sedatives to prepare him for his entry into the kennels. For all of that he stood stock still refusing to move, my wife Sue suggested I walked ahead so Blue would follow, which he duly did.
We left Blue in the hands of the experts, who were going to carry out the scan and take a biopsy of the mass.
Initially the mass was an incidental find, but spinal surgery would not proceed until the dynamics of the mass had been established.

Blues results were that the mass had grown, and there was a concern a biopsy may cause significant issues. The decision was that the Senior consultants would discuss Blues complex case the next day, as these exploratory tests had gone late into the evening, and all present wanted to review Blues case with others and without fatigue. This was confirmed to us at 10:15 pm 12hrs after he had been taken for his consultation.

Sue received a call to say that a decision was made that Blue needed to attend the Oncology and Soft Tissue Centre in Guilford. Because Blue was not co-operating, they asked if we could transfer Blue, for him to be assessed on Thursday morning first thing. We obviously said yes.

Blue was brought out of the kennels across the waiting room, bounding eagerly with his front legs while the nurses were trying to support and restrain him, he was pleased to see us.

We needed to travel along back roads due to major traffic jam heading up the A3 into Guilford, but we arrived at a brand spanking new state of the art building.

Welcomed, booked in, admiring comments of Blue, a cup of coffee, and we waited to be called.

One of the team called us into the consultation room; where all aspects relating to Blue were discussed ahead of the consultation with the Surgical Consultant, Laurent Findji examined the notes and Blue. Blue still not co-operating even with sedation, but  Laurent found enough for him to make his prognosis, surgery was required, and required today.
Blue was taken to the prep room for surgery, but not without christening the reception area, he started to wee, and not until he reached the other end did he finally stop weeing. Everyone was amazed that amount of fluid could come from one dog. The Staff were brilliant, it was no problem, they just cleared up behind him, no fuss, no bother.

We arrived home and sat and waited for the phone call, because even with all the scans carried out, they were still unaware of what the situation would be once Blue was opened up.

We got that call, late in the afternoon, the mass was significant and was attached to muscle and pressing on his spine and vital organs. Laurent gave us the options, close Blue back up and try to treat with Chemo and radio therapy, or remove as much as possible.
We advised Laurent our decision was for him to proceed to remove the mass, even though he could lose Blue on the operating table. Without doubt that decision could only come from the heart, but we owed Blue the chance for quality of life, we made our decision and began the long wait.

Neither of us are truly religious but in our own way we prayed for Blue to come through. All the moisture left our throats and formed tracks of tears down our faces, very few breaths were taken, we were in suspended animation in the darkest of tunnels, pressure pushing in from all around.

The phone call came; Blue had survived surgery, but had significant blood loss due to the tumour being removed from his abdomen, he was having a blood transfusion, he was not out of the woods yet.

At ten that evening, we were informed that Blue was stable and comfortable and the next twelve hours were crucial, to ensure that there is no internal bleeding.

Sue called the practice, and was informed Blue was fine, recovering post surgery. Our prayers were answered, Blue had overcome life threatening surgery, a blood transfusion, he now needed to rest, take on fluids and nutrition.

Blue had gone into lock down, he was being difficult and unco-operative. He would not allow staff to get close, he was weeing on his bed, but worst of all refusing to take food.
We had previously said that if we were needed we were only an hours drive away, and would assist in any way possible. They said perhaps a visit by us would encourage Blue to eat, so we set off for a 12:30 appointment.

We were ushered into a consultation room where we would wait for them to fetch Blue. They came back empty handed, Blue was refusing to move, could his Mum and Dad go to him?

As we approached a concern was that he would get over excited and do himself some harm. Blue came out of his area, not excitedly, but some recognition was there.

Well we sat with Blue,  our Blue, who had overcome some huge hurdles, what could we do. The best thing we could do was comfort him, through this comfort and acceptance, he eat his first morsel of food since 8:00pm on Wednesday; cooked turkey pieces were offered and accepted, sausage pieces were offered and declined, we stuck with the turkey.

Blues best interests were paramount and the decision was agreed, Blue would come home with us where we could give him the care and comfort to help him, the Nurse talked us all through the medication Blue required, restrictions and expectations.

The next challenge was to remove the lines and canulars attached to his front paws.

These were not removed without a struggle, Blue fought us all the way on removing these, the room looked like a murder scene before we were done.

Blue was taken to the car, and enjoyed an incident free journey home.

Last night was great to have Blue back home, and our joy was shared on Twitter;

This is a new chapter in Blues life, which we will continue to share his progress, he has a long road to recovery, as there are still lots of unknowns;

  • Is the tumour Benign or malignant
  • Is Chemo required
  • Are wounds going to heal without infection
  • Is spinal surgery still required
  • Will he use his back leg unaided
None of the above can be answered now, some may take weeks or months to be answered, we only know that those who prayed for Blue, helped him through these first vital steps.

Our special dog, has become a bit more special.

I can not end this blog without a big thank you to all those that have cared for or cared about Blue
but today I want to give some special thanks to all the staff at

and for the vital blood; 

Blue awaits his "Blue badge" to share that he is a recipient of blood from the PetBloodBank and would like to make others aware of this vital service.