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Sasha for the 2014 Calendar Contest

Sasha’s entry for the calendar contest..


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We Bring Our Tripawd Home

Thursday, March 15, was the day that we brought Sasha home after her limb removal.  Read about her diagnosis here.  On the way to Dr. Neuenschwander’s office, Liliana and I were excited to see our girl, but we were also afraid.  We did not know what to expect.  What would it feel like to see Sasha missing one leg?  We had seen other three legged dogs – in photos and on television, but we had never seen a three legged dog in person, and I don’t think either of us ever imagined that one of our dogs might loose a limb.  This was something that happened relatively suddenly, and without much forewarning.  We were also concerned about how Sasha would feel when she saw us.  Would she be capable of understanding what happened?  Not the how or why of course, but would she realize that her leg was gone, or would she feel that it was just restrained under all of the bandages that we surely would find her wrapped in?  Anxiety filled tears filled Liliana’s eyes as we got closer to the vet’s office.  I was ready to see my girl.

After reviewing all of the instructions for Sasha’s care and going over the medications that she was to be on for pain and to prevent infection.  After hearing about how well the surgery went, and how much everyone there loved Sasha and wished her and us the best, it was finally time to see her.  We followed Dr. Patterson (he fills in for Dr. Neuenschwander on Thursdays), Shelly, and a vet tech into the room where Sasha was being kept.  There she was, laying on her left side and obviously flooded with pain killers.  She did lift her head to the sound of our voices, but then promptly let it fall again to the blankets and towels she laid on.

Dr. Patterson opens the door to the kennel.  Sasha lifts her head again and looks around nervously.  She was probably in a great deal of pain even with the medications, and confused about the entire situation.  She may have also been scared about what might be in store for her next, but then she saw Liliana and I.  She knew right then that she was being rescued.  She was going home.

Sasha lets out a scream as she is helped out of the kennel.  Now I’m scared.  She is obviously in a lot of pain, and very sensitive.  We are going to have to be extremely careful with her.  In a courageous effort, Sasha, our stoic American Bulldog, pulls from the doctor and hops over to me.  At once I am filled with pride and joy, and I could see that my Sasha was going to be ok.

Dr. Patterson helps Sasha walk to our car using a towel under her belly to help stabilize her.  Now it’s time to pick her up and put her in.  I’m terrified of hurting her.  With my right arm under her belly, and my left hand contorted under her chest to keep as much pressure away from her right side as possible, I hoisted her into the Jeep. I carefully climbed in the back with her so that I could keep her from getting hurt during the short ride home. Sasha is happy to be with her family again, but there is no disguising the fact that she has been through a traumatizing experience. It will take time for her wound to heal, and for her to learn to be a three-legged dog.

The Diagnosis

Our brave and beautiful twelve year old American Bulldog, Sasha was diagnosed with osteosarcoma on March, 6, 2012.

Liliana walked out through the french doors onto our deck.  It took me a moment to turn around, but when I did, I saw my wife in pain.  She was holding her breath and straining to contain her emotions.  At once I knew who was on the other end of the line, and the general essence of the woe my wife was feeling.

Earlier that day, Liliana and I had taken Sasha to see Dr. Neuenschwander, our local veterinarian.  This was the second time that we had taken her to the vet’s office for lameness in her right arm.  The pain first presented itself  a few months earlier, but then disappeared as quickly as it had manifested.  In hindsight, and knowing what we know now about osteosarcoma, the initial lameness in late 2011 may not have been related to the cancer in Sasha’s bone.  The nature of osteosarcoma in dogs is such that our girl probably wouldn’t have been with us long enough for a positive diagnosis in March.

Dr. Neuenschwander reviewed Sasha’s radiographs, along with Dr. Clary, a veterinary orthopedic surgeon.  Almost as quickly as the film hit the lightbox, both men recognized the cloudy white blotch on an otherwise beautiful skeleton as the most common type of bone cancer in dogs – osteosarcoma.

Liliana could not bear to listen any longer to the doctor’s diagnosis, and Sasha’s prognosis; she handed the phone over to me.  The news was horrible.  Sasha, our baby, had a death sentence handed to her.  Dr. Neuenschwander explained that we had three choices of how to move forward.  He said that we could opt to do nothing.  Sasha would be in ever increasing pain, and she probably wouldn’t live more than two months.  Sasha is a very stoic dog, and she seldom complains of pain, but this tumor already had her so lame that she refused to touch her paw to the ground when she walked.  For me, option one was no option at all.  I was not ready to say goodbye to Sasha, and I couldn’t imagine her in worse pain than she was already in.

Option two was to euthanize Sasha.  While certainly a more humane option than option one, I didn’t want to loose Sasha.  Not yet.

Option three was to amputate Sasha’s arm.  If we took this option, then we could follow up with chemotherapy treatments.  Dr. Neuenschwander explained that amputation would relieve Sasha of the agonizing pain that she was in.  She would have to go through hell while recovering from the amputation, but after a couple of weeks, she would be feeling better without her cancer ridden arm, than with it.  The Dr. told us that we needed to consider Sasha’s age.  He said that she is an older dog and that she would not recover from the limb removal as quickly as a young dog.  He then said, “but Sasha is a strong dog who is otherwise healthy.  She could do very well with three legs.”  If we opted to amputate Sasha’s arm, we could expect to have her with us four to six months more.  If we decided to amputate her arm, and follow up with chemotherapy, she might live six to nine months.  Possibly even longer.  He then asked if I had any questions.  I had many, but I was not able to speak at that time, and so I told him no, and that we would be over shortly to get Sasha.

I will write more posts here in the future, but if you’d like to know how Sasha is doing today, and watch her catch a Kong flying disc with three legs, then please see my wife’s and my blog:  And to read about her enrollment in the ground breaking clinical trial currently going on at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine, please click: Mason Bone Cancer Study.

Also, check out this article on the front page of the Philadelphia Inquirer about the Mason Bone Cancer Study and their first patient, Sasha!

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Sasha for the 2014 Calendar Contest

Sasha’s entry for the calendar contest..  


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