A Super Levi Sized Update

Hi everybody! Super Levi here. Mom gave me special computer privileges tonight, even though it’s after my bed time, because she thought I should be the one to share the terrific news with you.

Today pretty much started like any other day, but when Mom snuck me out into the foyer to put my leash on, I knew we were taking a little trip without my sister. Now, I was pretty excited because sometimes Mom takes me to see my friends in one of the parks around town and we go for a nice long walk. So when we pulled up to the building with all the people in green outfits, I was a little disappointed. While they are all nice and everything, they usually wanna poke around on me and shine really bright lights in my eyes.

This visit was no different, but at the end I heard the nice lady tell Mom that everything looked super good and we didn’t have to come back for another visit for a whole year! Even though I usually get a few extra treats, this news was just fine with me. Seems like my x-ray vision has been almost fully restored, so I guess I’ll be getting back to my life of fighting crime.

Thanks again to everyone who helped me, especially those two really nice people I lived with for a while, E and A. Did I tell you I ran into them a couple weeks ago? I didn’t get to see Miss M or Mr. B, but A took these really cute pictures of me and some of my friends at the Ruff House Halloween Party and Parade. (Find the rest of the photos from that day HERE on the Two Pitties in the City Blog).

And while I have your attention, I’ll share a couple photos that Mom has taken of me and my sister lately. ImageImage

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Ok, even super dogs need their rest. Night night everybody.

Love,
Super Levi

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Levi Does Division

Greta has many, many wonderful qualities – she’s smart, intuitive, a master fetcher, a problem solver, a terrific cuddler – the list goes on. But one thing she lacks is the ability to relax around all types of people and in any scenario. She thinks too much and feeds off of different energy types, and this often gets her into trouble. Because of this, she has never been a great festival or outdoor patio dog.

When we decided to add a 2nd pittie to the household, I had a specific dog in mind. A fun-loving, care-free, silly and relaxed type. One who would be up for anything and not get too worked up with a lot of stimuli. Enter Levi – our perfect summer dog. We’ve taken him to many patios and parks over the last 8 months, but Do Division was our first major festival. And what a success it was! He was the perfect gentleman…and quite the ladies man.

Enjoy some photos of Levi’s first Chicago street festival with us.

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Greta and Levi Do Lake Ronnie

One of Greta’s favorite things to do when we take a trip to St. Louis is visit my Grandparents house. They live in a tiny town in Southern Illinois on a secluded lake and every time we take a trip there, Greta likes to take a dip in the lake. We often let her off the leash for short periods of time so she can chase her tennis ball. She loves jumping in the lake after the ball and bringing it back.

I felt a little sad when we took her there this time because I didn’t think she would be able to swim now that she’s a tripod. But I was hoping she would prove me wrong (as she always seems to do), so I brought along a retractable leash and started in the very shallow part of the lake.

Click HERE to see how Greta did on her first swim with three legs!

Unfortunately, Levi isn’t quite so trustworthy off the leash and he has no interest in playing fetch, so he didn’t get to go swimming. But he had plenty of fun during his own special walk around the lake.

Here are a few pics of both of them enjoying their first trip to the lake together:

 

  

They were so tired on the way home, Greta was asleep sitting up before we could even wind down the long gravel road to leading out of the lake community.

And before long, they were both passed out on top of each other as usual.

Before we hit the road back to Chicago, Levi, Greta and George snuck in one more nap on my Mom’s couch.

Until Levi decided it was time to get on the road!

Another successful road trip with the two pups! Looking forward to the next.

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The Start of Spring – in photos

Well…spring has sprung early and boy are my two kids excited. We are having a fantastic time with this amazing 70-80 degree March and making sure not to take it for granted.

 

Levi was digging the 80+ degree SociaBulls walk in Logan Square, as were most of the dogs. The weather was so nice that the neighborhood was crawling with people and dogs, and all the SociaBully’s did an excellent job keeping their concentration.

 

 

 

At the next SociaBulls walk in Humboldt Park, it wasn’t quite as lovely out…we were back on the earlier Summer hours and there was a strange fog lifting off the city from the night before. Levi spent most of the walk looking like he wanted to go back to bed.

 

I, on the other hand, really enjoyed the walk as Humboldt Park is one of my favorite places in the city to walk. It reminds of my first year living in Chicago…I was unemployed and broke, so I spent a lot of time walking around Humboldt Park taking pictures.

 

 

Other than that, we’ve just been spending a lot of time playing with ropes and balls in the backyard, as well as going on lots of neighborhood walks and jogs. A few pics of Levi & Greta enjoying Spring 2012 so far:

 

 

The best part of this early Spring? All the heightened activity and excitement leaves the dogs exhausted and happy at the end of the day.

     

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A Very Dignified Thing to Do – Part Deux

After my last post, I received a comment asking me to talk a little about my decision to amputate Greta’s leg  and her mental state while adjusting to her new lifestyle. I hope she doesn’t mind that I share her comment before answering her question.

I stumbled across this blog very recently and completely by accident but how lucky that I did. We have a young (4years old) pit for whom amputation has now become a very real possibility. He has some orthopedic issues that make walking painful for him and recently he has gotten to the point that he is no longer able to tolerate the pain meds that made his issue bearable for him. We’ve had a couple of orthopedic evaluations done on him and are awaiting one more to be done in a couple of weeks at our local veterinary college… then we’ll have to make some sort of decision as he cannot go on as he is.

Clearly just living in daily pain is not an option but we’re a little on fence about amputation. He’s young, he’s vibrant, he’s active… I’d rather euth him than have him live life just getting by. It appears Greta may have gone through some mental adjustment to her new tri-pawed-ness and come out the other side a happy girl. I was wondering if you could share some more details about how that period was for Greta. I guess I may be worrying more than I need to… after all if my dog had to have an amputation due to an accident I wouldn’t think twice about it but somehow the situation we’re in makes it feel almost like a “voluntary” (for lack of a better word) amputation and that just bothers me more than I can say.

I want so much to make the right decision for him – the choice that is in his best interest not mine – and I’m almost paralyzed by the fear that I’ll make the wrong choice. Any info you care to share would be much appreciated. Thanks so much!

To put it simply, having Greta’s leg amputated proved to be the best decision I could have made for her. When I first adopted Greta, she was this little ball of energy with the most amazing personality. For the first year I had her, we did so much together – went on runs and long walks around the neighborhood, played countless games of fetch at the school down the street, had playdates and went to doggy daycare. Then, out of the blue, she began limping on her left front leg in late October of 2009.

Over the next couple months, it got worse and she lost that ‘spunk’ that she was known for. She seemed really unhappy and couldn’t do a lot of her favorite activities. We took her to the vet and she even had a biopsy, but the vet was unable to find anything to give a proper diagnosis. She prescribed some pain meds and anti-inflammatories, which helped a little as long as she took them regularly. One random day it just seemed to go away. We enjoyed two pain-free, awesome months together and it made me realize how bad things had been.

Then, the pain came back with a vengeance…along with a hard knot that continued to grow on her shoulder. Soon, there was absolutely zero sign of that fun-loving dog and it grew harder and harder to watch her suffer. She could barely get up and down the stairs and often times we had to carry her because she was in so much pain. Our regular vet was baffled and recommended we see a specialist, which was how we discovered her cancer.

When presented with all of the options, amputation seemed like the logical and ‘best’ option, but it was still an incredibly difficult decision to make. It weighed on me so hard to think of her living the rest of her life without a leg, but I couldn’t bear to see her in any more pain. I asked the oncologist, who had mentioned that she had several dogs herself, “What if it was your dog…what would you do?” She replied, “Without question, I’d have her leg amputated.” Decision made.

The next couple months were rough because of some complications after the surgery – illustrated by some of my previous posts like this ONE and the few that followed. Many of my posts concentrated on Greta’s medical status as opposed to how she was physically and mentally dealing with the loss of a limb. Honestly, after the pain subsided, she adjusted perfectly. She was going up and down the stairs instantly and it wasn’t long before we were able to take short walks around the block. Soon we were back to playdates and fetch and everything we used to do before, she isn’t phased a bit. Everyone who sees her can’t believe how awesome she is doing and how well she still keeps up with all her doggy boyfriends.

The whole process was pretty strange and humbling – in my mind I was terrified that she wouldn’t be able to cope with her loss or it would inhibit her physically, but in reality she has no trouble at all. When Greta woke up with one less leg, she didn’t worry about what the other dogs were going to think of her, she just dealt with what she had…as she’s been doing for her entire life so far.  Dogs are amazing in their resilience…they aren’t self-concious beings, they are survivors. And given that they don’t get to make a lot of their own decisions, our animals rely on us to make the right ones for them.  I cannot tell you how happy I am to have my little G back…this is a decision I would make a million times more.

I hope this helps my new reader with the decision that lies ahead of her. I’ll leave this post with the same quote that I included in my first post on this blog back in August…it made me feel much better when faced with the decision to take Greta’s leg.

“Allowing your dog to live a quality life, no matter how short or long, without pain, is a very dignified thing to do.”

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Every Day, a Gift

Between all of the vet visits and crazy cone adventures with Levi, I feel like this blog has been neglecting a very special little lady. When I first started this site, my main purpose was to keep everyone updated on Greta’s condition, as well as potentially communicate with other dog owners whose babies are also fighting Hemangiosarcoma.

With all the excitement of adding a second dog to the household, especially one of Super Levi’s celebrity status, it was almost possible to ignore what was going on with Greta. Especially since after Levi joined our pack, Greta’s mood, health, energy level and overall quality of life seems to have improved ten-fold.

Because I haven’t updated the blog much with her progress, I am constantly hearing the question “So how IS Greta doing?” The answer, in a nutshell, is fantastic. Over the last few months, she has transformed back to that fun-loving ball of energy that I adopted two years ago, and I couldn’t be more thrilled given the grim prognosis delivered back in August. To illustrate just how well my little fireball is doing, take a look at this VIDEO shot a while back in my backyard.

I am willing to bet that Super Levi and his powers has played a big part in her happiness, and it’s been such a blast to watch them together. They keep us laughing constantly; they truly are best buds and partners in crime.

Greta has so much energy lately that she far outlasts her counterpart and often plays by herself long after he passes out. She usually ends up finally crashing out right on top one of her toys.

The other day I took Greta to a new vet for her yearly exam and vaccinations, and as I was explaining all of Greta’s past medical history, the realities of her situation hit me all over again. The vet explained that sometimes when a dog is diagnosed with cancer, oncologists recommend that the dog avoid vaccinations due to low immunity and other reasons. But given that Greta didn’t undergo chemo or any treatment that would weaken her immune system further, their onsite oncologist recommended to go ahead with the vaccinations.

As I talked further with the vet and the vet students (it’s a learning hospital), my emotions ping-ponged back and forth. One vet student, who had worked with dogs with cancer in the past, mentioned that she saw a case similar to Greta’s where the tumor showed up in a shoulder instead of an organ and a limb had to be amputated. But in this instance, the dog didn’t make it very long after surgery. As I talked more with the vet about how I have been treating Greta (diet only, no chemo or other treatment) she suggested having blood work run on her every 6 months to monitor how the disease is affecting her. I knew she was right, but I was still terrified at what the test results might uncover.

I agreed to the blood work, and a few tongue depressors full of cheese from a can later, Greta was all finished with her vet visit. She was pretty stressed and anxious from all the poking and prodding, so I told the vet to call with the blood results. The vet called as we were driving home, and the news was exactly what I wanted to hear. All of her organs are functioning normally, and her blood cell levels are all normal as well. (YAY!) At the end of the conversation, the vet said this was all good news and to keep up the good work. She also reminded me that the end – when it comes – will be very fast, and that every day I have with her is a gift.

Later that night, Greta began getting sick. She vomited about 10 times in a little more than an hour. It began to resemble blood, at which point we put on our coats and rushed her out the door. A million thoughts ran through my head, and I began wondering if we had made a mistake somehow in giving her the vaccinations. After giving her a second physical for the day, the vet decided it wasn’t serious.

She treated her with anti-nausea meds and a Pepcid AC-like med, injected fluids under her skin for dehydration and sent us on our way – again. Greta got sick once in the car and once more at home. After that she seemed to be on the mend, but certainly not without scaring us pretty good first.

To say the least, the whole day got me thinking again about Greta’s fate. In the last few months, I’ve watched my sweet girl go through so much that I can’t even fathom that this is just the beginning. I don’t want to dwell on the fact that the end is imminent, as that isn’t how Greta, or any dog for that matter, lives its life. But rather, keep the vet’s words fresh in my mind, and remember that every day we have with Greta is a gift.

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Almost Cone-Free!

Well it hasn’t been the easiest couple weeks having an active and semi-clumsy pit bull running around with a huge cone sticking off his head, especially since Greta will hardly come near him when he is wearing it (unless trying to pull it off to set him free), and I couldn’t take him on his normal walks to exercise him.

To get us through the first couple cone-filled weeks, I bought Levi a couple puzzles and activities to keep him busy and wear him out – one a big wooden puzzle with treats hidden inside and the other a ball filled with treats. Unfortunately for him, I failed to realize that he wouldn’t have any hand/eye coordination to master the puzzle and it was hard for him to control the ball as well. On the bright side, Greta LOVED both of the games and the treat ball occupied her for – literally – hours at a time. So when her energy was up, it was a great distraction to keep her from trying to rip Levi’s cone off.

For any of you looking for things to occupy your pups on those snowy and rainy days this winter/spring, I highly recommend both – IQ Treat Ball and Seek-a-Treat Puzzle.

Thankfully, Levi wasn’t too upset that he couldn’t play with them and at his last check-up, we were given the ok to start taking the cone off when we were home with him. He is now going on walks again and even able to play with Greta – as long as we keep an eye on them. Needless to say, he and Greta were both thrilled with this news, as you can see from this video below.

Levi after his first walk without his cone in two weeks

Levi even joined the SociaBulls this morning for his first walk after his surgery in Logan Square. After a few weeks without much socializing and no walks, I can see it will take a little while to get back into the swing of things. But that’s ok because now that the surgery and recovery are almost over, I am excited to get him some proper training!

 

Levi’s next check-up is on Wednesday, and we are hoping we get the a-ok to get rid of that cone for good!

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