Sunday, 31 July 2016

Living without Blue

We will never live without Blue, he touched our hearts mind and soul so deep, not a day passes when he is not in our hearts and thoughts.

In all sorts of media there are thousands of images of Blue, in the many places he loved to be, so reminders are never far away.

I was hoping to write about Blue's life, that has not progressed too far, I am still unable to read out loud some of the things I have written, but they will keep, and rather than rushing, it is better to wait until the moment is right.

To honour Blue, we set up a Just Giving page to raise funds and the profile of Pet Blood Bank UK who provided the blood at the time Blue was having his tumour removed at Fitzpatrick Referrals back last November, at the time of writing this blog donations have exceeded our original target of £600.00 it is currently standing at £677.44 with some remaining pledges to collect we hope to exceed £700.00

Pet Blood Bank have contacted us, and will be doing a small article on their newsletter about our collection and Blue.

Sue and I also decided to ascend Snowdon in tribute to Blue, which also swelled the monies donated to his just giving page.

Last weekend, we travelled to Snowdonia North Wales on the Friday afternoon, stayed overnight in a local hotel, where we were booked in for two nights bed and breakfast.

Saturday morning we set off for the summit, walking the Llanberis Path, four hours later we set foot on the summit.

To mark our visit we took a framed picture of Blue, a squeaky ball from his toy basket and his Kong Kozie who has spent many a holiday with Blue.

Several pictures were taken of our visit but what we enjoyed the most was placing his ball on the summit trig point, sitting down with his toy and picture, saying how much we missed him, finally we lovingly kissed his squeaky ball before gently rolling off the eastern face into the cloud shrouded abyss below.

While at the top we could only see a few yards due to the low cloud and height of the mountain or a combination of both.

This did not matter, as in honour of Blue we had ascended the highest mountain we have ever walked previously to pay our tribute.

After descending to an overnight meal and stay at the hotel we returned back to our home in Berkshire, on Sunday morning with even more memories fresh in our mind of Blue.

Two months have now passed, the pain and loss are balanced with fond memories and eternally grateful to have shared a life with one so special.

Blues story has touched many and inspired others, for those that believe, he is still with us in spirit watching over us, certain things have happened which could not just be coincidence, we will keep watching out for his messages and trust we can understand them when they are there.

As Blue helped fill the void left when we lost "Shep" our Collie/cross, he has also shown us that it is not right to close doors and mourn lost ones.

Blue showed us what companionship, caring, sharing, dignity and courage  is truly about.

Our home and wherever we go will be full of memories of Blue, just as they were of Shep.

This blog will remain active for any Blue related updates, such as testimonial and Just Giving Pages etc

We have decided to bring home a new puppy, currently five weeks old, he is called "Solar" like Blue he is a pedigree German Shepherd, but there will never be another Blue.

For now below is Youtube of our trip to Snowdon

Blue's Just giving page will remain open at

Picture on my bank card
Inspiration behind the trip to Snowdon
One of many beautiful memories we shared together.
Thank you for all the kind thoughts and support


Rod Sue & "Blue"

Sunday, 29 May 2016

A story to be told

Blue has touched many hearts and with good reason, he came to show us a better way of looking at life, he took on a big challenge, and he did remarkably well.

He taught me about being a more caring person, the joy of sharing happiness, not to hold onto sorrow and when the times are really tough, love will help you through the toughest of times.

Blue will never be forgotten, many have followed and shared his challenge of living with cancer, the sorrow expressed by family, friends, work colleagues, neighbours, Vets, Doctors, Nurses and the many who never met him but followed the character known on twitter as @BluetheGSD

I have now been inspired to share all of Blue's short life, it will be my first attempt to write his story.

Today we have set up a "Justgiving page" for the charity that gave Blue the life saving blood during his recent operations, we hope Blue's need for blood donations raises some funding, but just as importantly the increased profile of Pets donating blood, without which, Blue would not have survived his operation in November last year.

There are many people who helped both Blue and us through a difficult time, some we have thanked in person, others through media, and others we are yet to thank.

Blue's blog will remain open, there is still so much to share.

Our tears are always close to the surface, and as we stood on the beach at Milford on Sea yesterday, watching the flowers and squeaky ball launched in his honour, drift out to sea my tears flowed and added to the waters at my feet.

Thursday, 26 May 2016

Goodbye dear Blue


Folkvang Good as Gold

11th May 2008 - 25th May 2016

There is no easy way of saying this, we said goodbye to Blue yesterday, the cancer that he had battled so bravely, it would not respect all his love and efforts to stay with us.

I have spoken, written and shared this hard and difficult journey with so many, it is only fair that I  share what a huge loss Blue's parting has made. 

He has inspired many, brought tears of sadness to faces of people he had never met, but more than that found places in hearts and admiration across continents

Blue defied so many odds, and we always knew, that Blue knew what was best for Blue, conventional he was not, Blue was a one off who did things his way.

Both Sue and I are honoured to have shared every step of the way with Blue, who we fell in love with before he was too young to leave his siblings and mother, just a tiny ball of dark fur.

Blue has met everything thrown at him with dignity and honour,  defying odds, and helping us to care for him.

There are so many people we would love to thank, for the support, care and compassion in following our journey. 

Blue has grown a following on Twitter as @BluetheGSD bringing out others stories of courage and sadness, poems, people using an image of Blue as their profile picture, could there be any greater honour to him.

Through his life he has had close links with Fitzpatrick Referrals, they gave Blue his chance to let the world know what value there is in life, quality of life was all he ever wanted, as he lived each day for the moment.

Blue was a German Shepherd, who looked like a shepherd, lived like a shepherd but most importantly loved like a shepherd.

Thank you Blue for sharing your days with us, the memories will be forever special and etched deep into our hearts;

Sunday, 15 May 2016

Decision time....

On Tuesday we were given an update on Blue's condition following his spleen removal two weeks previous. We were advised that Blue required further chemo, but only if he was well enough.

We had to make a decision by Friday, and with all things being equal, the decision was made to move to "Carboplatin" which is new to Blue.

Our other choice was "Doxorubicin" which Blue had been on previously. There were two down sides to the "Dox" it had probably attacked all the cancer it could, continued use could cause a heart condition which could be fatal, although if administered with an antidote this could help neutralise the effects on the heart.

Continuing the conversation with Dr Kelvin Kow, we were made aware that our choice should not be influenced by cost, we were told that if we spent a million pounds, the outcome could not be altered, where Blue was going, it would be where 99% of all dogs with this position ultimately go.

Our decision was made and confirmed on the phone Friday evening, Sue discussed this with Dr Kelvin Kow, when he called.

Where we go with Blue now is unchartered territory, but once more he has returned from the brink, we won't hold out for him being the 1% he has already surpassed many expectations, it is as always about quality of life.

Blue does only a fraction of what he was doing this time last year, but he still shows a zest for life, and while that is there, we will be there with him every step of the way, he still has that mischievous side which is why we adore him so much.

Part of the drain pipe taken off, as always, for attention not destruction.
Last week Blue had an appointment on his birthday, next Wednesday his appointment for new chemo is on my birthday, so we have changed a few plans but nothing major.

In Blue's last blog I touched on his birthday, he was 8. Blue has packed a lot into those 8 years, spinal surgery at 7 months, gave him a disadvantaged start to life, a challenging dog in the early years grew into a great companion typical of the breed that is so special, the German Shepherd. For anyone that is fortunate to bring one into their home and lives, be patient with them, understand them and the reward will be beyond what you could ever imagine.

Back to his birthday, the slideshow below captures his interest in unwrapping goodies, some of which travelled from far afield, as part of his followers on social media, namely twitter and Facebook, where he has a dedicated page of his own.

You can keep in touch with Blue on Facebook, by leaving him a message, scan the code below.....

Created with flickr slideshow.

We have to keep a watchful eye on Blue, and any changes we make such as introducing supplements or treats, if they affect his well being or digestive system, we rein back to where we were before.

Blue was enjoying the outdoors yesterday, although we were busy doing the garden he was content to rest and watch.

Until next time here is Blue enjoying the garden yesterday

So this week has been eventful, but once again a rollercoaster for emotions, but in all of it there are a lot of comforts, Blue has drawn in people that care and flourished with their involvement, those kind words, messages of support have meant a great deal to all three of us, and in its own way has helped others share their own experiences with us.

Wednesday, 11 May 2016

Birthday Blues, stitches out, hard news.

Blue is 8 today, a remarkable feat after what he has gone through, not only these last two weeks, but since September last year.

Blue has attracted a lot of attention on twitter and other forms of social media, he has gained a lot of support and admirers.

Blue is having a "birthday week" because he is a special dog who through no fault of his own had a double booking today, the other booking was to return to Fitzpatrick Referrals to have his stitches removed after his spleen removal two weeks ago.

Those two weeks have been a little difficult, as he gives an indication that he wants to play, but tires very quickly, his walks have been no greater than 10 minutes, more often shorter. The removal of his spleen seems to have hit him harder than the original operation to remove the mass, and today we were not feeling too confident of the visit.

Blue had a bit of interest in opening a couple of gifts, more often more interested in the wrapper than it's contents, he is very interested in the treats, but they can only be given in moderation.

Blue was given 5 sedatives today, and seemed more restless on the journey to Guildford.
As we arrived the sedatives were really taking hold, barely able to walk, walking headlong into anything in his path, he barely noticed the joyful birthday greeting of the receptionists as we walked through the lobby of the Oncology department.

We made it into the consultation room, where Blue soon laid down partially on the weighing scales inset in the floor.

Shortly after our arrival, Dr Kelvin Kow came in, to discuss Blue, we explained how Blue had been since his spleen removal. For the first time there was a change in our discussions, it would be hard to avoid the inevitable discussion.

The discussion was honest and open from both sides, Blue had done remarkably well, he had reached 6 months and one week since his initial operation, survived 6 sessions of chemotherapy, had a port inserted, had his spleen removed and several blood transfusions.

The fact is Blue has surpassed what few dogs can, only 50% make it through the early stages of Chemotherapy, to have gone 6 he was now where only 1 in 5 dogs reach.

If we were to spend a million pounds, nothing would change, the big question was, had Blue hit the wall that could not be beaten, options were now becoming limited and we could soon be at a crossroad, but before we spoke any further it was important to remove Blue's stitches and take blood samples.

Blue was very weak, and Dr Kelvin seemed concerned at the change, though as he led Blue away, Blue summoned the strength and will to show he was not yet beaten.

Sue and I had an honest discussion, that for now will remain between us, it was not a cheery discussion, the emotional rollercoaster was in full swing, but in all of this we would put our thoughts to one side and do what was best for Blue.

Dr Kelvin returned alone, there was a problem, the machine needed to analyse Blue's blood was out of action, they had to rely on a back up one. His mood did seem to give mixed signals, he then explained that Blue's blood count had risen since his spleen removal, which was contrary to what we had described, he explained how positive this was, compared to what he was expecting.

This does change very little remarkably, it means that Blue must continue to gain strength and weight before he can receive any further treatment, and the treatment is our decision to make by the end of the week.

  • Return to the original chemo, but risks of heart problems and less impact
  • Chemo that requires an antidote to protect the heart
  • Chemo of a new lesser strength without risks to the heart
None come with any guarantees, namely because who knows where the wall is for Blue.

Given what we had just sat through, talking it through with Dr Kelvin, Blue had given us the sign that he was not ready to leave us yet.

Bouyed, we waited for Blue to return in one of the reception pods, he came through, with Dr Kelvin and a nurse with renewed strength. As he laid at our feet the nurse gave him a cuddle, while Dr Kelvin proudly showed a photo on his phone, Blue being cradled and cuddled in the lap of the nurse, so the dog that would not stay the night or let anyone approach, was now giving out cuddles, amazing.

Blue was put in the back of the car, where he made himself comfy ready for the drive home.

Traffic was an issue due to an accident on the M3, but we picked a route home, where we arrived an hour later. We opened up the car, and this is what we were greeted with.....

But Blue soon perked up when his lady-friend came walking by

Blue is welcomed home by Daisy

Birthday kisses
While I have been writing this, Blue has been sleeping quietly in his crate, he is just stirring, so we will be back soon to tell you all about his birthday week.

Oh I forgot to mention, on Saturday he helped me in his own way, when I put in a garden pond..

As seen on Youtube

Sunday, 1 May 2016

Home is where the heart is;

Our emotional rollercoaster has been on overdrive this week, a quick recap, Monday Blue required surgery to find an internal bleed, which resulted in his spleen being removed.

This is likely part of the battle he is having with the hemangiosarcoma (HSA).

Blue was admitted around noon, operated on late afternoon, and due to the amount of blood entering his abdomen, required a blood transfusion until 2.00am the following morning, much of which was his own blood, that they harvested.

Blue was required to stay in Fitzpatrick Referrals Oncology & Soft Tissue centre Guildford (FROST) for a couple of days. However this was to change the next day, Blue had developed an irregular heart beat, meaning difficulty in regulating breathing, common effect of spleen removal and so required to go on a drip to administer a drug to regulate his heart.

As you would imagine our phone was our constant companion for any developments or updates, it was no surprise that Blue once again declined any offers of food. Sue, who works part-time, left work and travelled to Guildford to encourage Blue to eat, this proved a worthwhile visit, Blue took the chicken, that was offered. But was very groggy, but was able to go outside for a wee.

We were planning to return in the evening but decided,  that due to Blue needing to rest and give the heart drugs chance to work, we decided not to return to Guildford.

Wednesday came and after a call to check out how Blue was doing, it sounded like he had a bit of a restless night, so Sue planned to return straight after work, this time all attempts for Blue to take food failed, and he was looking more distressed. Once again the plan was for me to go in the evening, as I was missing him just as much as I hoped he was missing me.

I called Sue for an update, and heard that Blue was not eating, unlike we planned, I sought permission to leave work half hour early and go to see our precious Blue. Less than an hour later I am sat in the consultancy room with Blue and Sue, though in his own way he was pleased to see me, not a single morsel of food passed his lips. They had given him some pain relief and Sue was told he would be more subdued, which he was until it was time for us to go.

We advised the reception desk, who summoned a Nurse to collect Blue. Then Blue reluctantly got to his feet, and I encouraged him to the door, and with all he could muster, he resisted, managing to jolly him up a little he entered the corridor, until he realised that Sue was not following.

His front feet spread and sought all the grip that he could muster, but he could not fend off our pulling him along, then all four feet were firmly planted to the floor, and he would not budge until Sue was along side us, at this point he relaxed enough for the nurse to get him through the door to the kennel area. We all found that hard, but we knew what was best for Blue.

Our journey home was in separate  cars, arriving back in Reading around quarter to seven within minutes of each other. Sue prepared dinner.

Around twenty past seven, Sue received a call, there was a problem with Blue, he was not co-operating with any of the staff, and had had a go at one nurse, it required four members of staff to enable them to sort Blue. The caller Laurent (The Surgeon who had operated on Blue) explained to Sue that Blue was getting himself so worked up, the medicine used to regulate his heart would become ineffective. They felt it in Blue's best interest for him to be discharged.

Less than an hour of being home, we were back on the road to Guildford, where we arrived at about twenty five past eight.

The nurse who Blue had a go at, is a lovely lady who is familiar with "Shepherds" talked us through what we needed to know and be on the watch for.

As we walked out across the car park, Blue had the longest wee I have ever known a dog to have, not biblical but substantial.

In the past we have lifted Blue into the back of the car, but with what surgery he had just undertaken this would not be wise. So out come the folding ramp, which Blue dislikes, but decided to go with it on this occasion.

Blue sat very regally in the back of the car, with a contented look, the Nurse and receptionist came over to give us his remaining bits, and I am sure Blue gave them a knowing smile.

Our journey home was around an hour, but Blue refused to exit the ramp, plan B was required, we lifted Blue out laid on his duvet, once on terrafirma he stood up and walked to the front door.

Just coming up to ten o'clock in the evening Blue was laid contently in his crate, a long day, all we needed to do now was have our long awaited dinner, as a family of three once more.

The next day Sue took time off work to keep an eye on Blue, who was now the model patient, resting as he should, drinking and eating as he should, perhaps Blue knows better than all of us what is best for Blue.

Blue must remain on lead for the next two weeks, unless he is in the same room as us or in his crate, this he has no issues with, his appetite has returned, the sparkle in his eyes glistens ever brightly, we are so blessed.

Blue has had a fresh area shaved, he has more stitches than any gangster, but he remains adorable.

Here are just a few images captured during the last week.

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Our hero suffers a major setback

Last Wednesday Blue enjoyed his usual swim, but as each day followed there was deterioration in his energy levels.

As first we thought he overdone the swimming but each day he dipped a little more, we consulted the Oncology team, and were advised to withdraw his medication, and monitor him closely.

Each day he would show signs of renewed enthusiasm, only to slip into lethargy worse than the previous day.

Monday morning Sue rang Fitzpatricks, as Blue could not even make it across the road for a wee without full support with his sling, he could barely stand, and was now refusing all food.

We arrived at Fitzpatrick Referrals at 11:30 and by 12:30 we agreed that Blue should undergo an operation to find an abdominal bleed.

Yesterday afternoon, Blue had his spleen removed, and required a blood transfusion until 2:00am the following morning.

Blue will be monitored closely over the next few days, dependant on how he responds to surgery, we all know he is not a good in-patient, and will be keen to get back home.

Blue had been doing so well through the chemo, this has really shocked us, as it will many others.

We don't know how much this will take out of him or whether his remaining time is measured in hours, days, weeks or months, but we will make sure he gets the best of attention.

Forgive me for not going into all the details, it has been hard to share, but the support we have received has been brilliant.

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

Blood test today

Blue attended Fitzpatrick Referrals today for his follow up blood test. This is following two weeks of medication in tablet /capsule form.

We are all becoming anxious with each visit, but in truth Blue continues to pull us all through, continuing to prove what a remarkable character he is.

Today he had 5 sedatives, to take the edge off ahead of his visit, these make him wobbly, but aware of what is going on.

Leaving home just after 2.00pm we were being guided through reception into the consultation room, to the welcome greetings from the ladies on reception, who instantly recognise Blue as we enter.

Weighing in at 50.8kg Blue soon settles and waits, the sedatives doing the job, even when a curious dog stands the other side of the door looking in through the viewing glass, Blue remains calm and comfortable.

Change occurs when Dr Kelvin Kow enters with a nurse, but soon subsides to a few sighs and puffs of his cheeks, Blue that is.

We talk through how Blue has been, namely less energetic, more sleepy, but with bouts of energy bursts, appetite is fine and with credit to Sue, not one tablet missed. (Thin chicken slices or ham wrapped around each one soon sees them down the back of Blue's throat).

Dr Kelvin explains that once the blood tests are done, he will have a better idea of if the dosage requires increasing or decreasing.

As Dr Kelvin held out his hand to take Blue's lead, Blue objected, but accepted a split second later, they were building their bond of trust with each other, that on it's own should not be underestimated as a significant change.

No sooner had Sue and I settled in the reception pod, and Blue was back, his paws scurrying across the floor, but not with the Dr, but the nurse, either those sedatives are working abnormally well, or the hard work and patience of the whole "FROST" team was paying dividends. In my opinion it has taken both, but the FROST team have really begun to win Blue's trust, even to the point where the Nurse said that she had stolen a kiss on the top of Blue's head, we all smiled.

We had to wait longer than we should have for the blood results, and during this time Blue even allowed a dog in the next pod to look at him without reacting to protect us.

The results as always are delivered in person by Dr Kelvin, this time the white blood cell count was slightly down, no anaemia, but it was still too early to tell if the dosage is causing the periodic lethargy or it is his body getting used to the new medicines. 

Blue will return in two weeks for another blood test, and dependent on the results, if all is well his visits could be extended to a month interval, looking further forward he could have two of those, and in two and half months from now we will have a decision to make. That decision will be whether to have a CT scan to see what is happening inside of Blue, but it is not a decision that we have to make yet.

We have heard the phrase #frostfamily and we are in no doubt all the staff that work there are like one big extended family, that welcome you all, and share every moment with you. Dr Kelvin is viewed as a friend of Blue, and us too. He explained that the day Blue laid on the operating table, he was consulted on his condition, and is so genuinely pleased to see where Blue is today compared to that dark afternoon in November last year.

Blue is a reward to all those that have helped along this journey and those that will ensure to see him get the best he can, from life.

Tomorrow Blue will be swimming at Aquadoggies, last week it invigorated him so much, he did not settle until 3 hours after getting home.

On a lighter note, Sue and I have been set a challenge, to get a wee sample for his next visit;

This will take a bit of strategy and a steady gloved hand!

Thank you for following Blue's story

Sunday, 3 April 2016

Scotland 2016

Who would of thought it would have been possible, given everything Blue has gone through since the car accident last September, and the discovery of the cancerous mass in his abdomen, but in Scotland we shared what could be Blue's last holiday away, but who knows what is around the corner....

To put some perspective to it, our journey from Reading to the Highlands of Scotland, some 650 miles or a 12 hour journey is not for the feint hearted.

Below is a google map of our journey, and  a couple of images pinned on the map which are clickable. Feel free to zoom in to see the location of the images, on the top left is menu for specific selection. (If you lose your place, simply refresh the page).

Our journey was without incident, and as always, Blue travels well, there are times you have to remind yourself he is in the car.

Whenever we indicate, Blue pops up to have look, are we there?

The main reason for the holiday at this particular time, Blue's Chemo injections were completed, and three weeks later he was to begin chemo in tablet form. This was a chance for the three of us to recharge our batteries before we commenced with the new chapter.
Two weeks in Shieldaig, located on the West coast of the Scottish Highlands, affectionately well known and loved by us all.

Our holiday in pictures;

Our home for the next two weeks, with the red car outside.

These are but a few, more will follow and some more will be added to the google map.

Two weeks after setting off we returned home, rested and relaxed, ready for the next chapter.