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Rio's Battle with Osteosarcoma

Our day to day life with OSA

Rio’s 6 month post op.

Filed under: Uncategorized — nikkiweber at 5:57 am on Tuesday, October 14, 2014

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When we first got the diagnosis the Dvm said 6-9 months life expectancy. Well… We are almost at our 6 month mark! The 23rd of this month to be exact. I am so proud of my boy but so nervous at the same time, its like creeping up on the ineveitable or plowing through it. I think about it damn near every day. One day I wake up and see the creeping signs of a dramatic decline and just want nothing more than to see what is in front of me but know that it is my sole responsibility to act quickly and know the outcome is not fixable to a certain point. Its hard to look at him and know his time is limited. BUT! 🙂 He is doing SO well!

Brought him in for a good screen about a month ago. Chest X-rays left and right side (hard to do a VD view on a 3 legged dane) and nothing suspicious. 🙂 I was of course thinking the worse that his lungs would show a tennis ball size tumor but they looked great! Did a full work up on his blood; all within normal limits. SO I was very pleased that his chest rads and bloodwork showed a happy and healthy boy for now. We also aspirated a few lumps and they showed nothing suspicious.

A week later we got a call from his other Vet who has been performing his Echocardiograms for the past several years. He was diagnosed around 2 yrs old with sub aortic stenosis ( a narrowing of his aortic valve which can decrease blood flow properly into and out of the heart vessels). We went in for another Ultrasound procedure. Since his last scary visit they believed his heart murmur had gotten dramatically worse so I figured I needed to find out how bad we were talking here…

Well, the good news continues! His heart showed great contractility and proper blood flow! DVM said he may never truly need an echo again! He has had a long on going heart condition which for anyone who owns a Dane knows thats is more than a relief to hear! He shouldn’t need an Echo anytime soon. 🙂 Apparently when diagnosed at a certain age and follow ups years or less later usually define whether or not this will be something that brings your dog down or not. Usually it will occur within years of diagnosis and Rio’s has been stable. SUPER HAPPY! I have to admit I was not looking forward to the expense of heart meds for a 130lb dog!

SO all in all Rio is doing great! Still have not done chemo or any further cancer treatments. He is happy and pain free, maybe a little slower and takes a little bit more to recover from running around the lake but he keeps up! Just like he always has! Nothing makes me happier than to see my boy run full speed into my arm and damn near knock me out and just the look he gives me makes everything worth it and so much clearer for your mind and soul. You’re living day to day with someone (or dog 🙂 who you know is terminal and its an outlook on life that I will never take for granted. I just can’t help but wonder when that day will come when I know he is declining. It will be so hard. And i know that I will face it and I know it will feel horrible but nothing in the world will prepare me to loose the best friend and my rock in my life.

OVERALL- Happy update! He has enjoying going up north every weekend the last month while mama is hunting ducks and has done so well. I have my baby back and I never take that second for granted.

I don’t have any new pictures to share but will be posting soon on our upcoming weekend. He is one true tripod living life to the fullest right now and he deserves every minute of it. I hope he could understand fully, how PROUD i am of him and I hope he knows I love him more than anything I ever have had in my life.

CURRENTLY- snoring on the couch with his nose behind my back, dreaming and twitching those strong 3 legs 🙂 Thanks so much for everyones support! I know this won’t be the last nor the easiest update I feel coming in the future but our goal is Christmas 🙂 which will be our 8 month goal! Crossing fingers!


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Rio’s 3 month post-op ups and DOWNS!

Filed under: Uncategorized — nikkiweber at 5:15 am on Monday, July 14, 2014

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It has been very hard for me to write this blog as it has been quite awhile and Rio and I have shared some very tough times. I am very proud to say that it has been almost 3 months since his surgery. So here goes our last month or so in a nut shell. Bare with us 😉

End of May (1 month post op) Rio’s appetite decreased and the swelling over his shoulder where his right front was amputated became larger and firmer. He seemed great in spirits until he almost stopped eating and his gait changed dramatically from before. I wasn’t sure what a normal “healing” process entails after an amputation and feel horrible for not catching the signs sooner. I figured his seroma would take a while to go away because it was such an empty space left and him being a great dane even adds to that… Since his spirits seemed okay we decided to head up north for Memorial Day. Well shortly after the 3 hour drive I knew Rio wasn’t okay. He laid lateral not interested in anything. I was scared out of my mind. I felt his paws, they were cold, his eyes were sunken and he began this heart-wrenching whine. I took his shirt off to look at the site and it had gotten very large and firm. The picture below is SO hard for me to share because I have blamed myself for letting it get to this point and again it has taken me almost 2 months to write this update. I’ve shed so many tears and have gone through an insane dollar coaster of emotions. I want to post this picture for those who are unsure of the healing process and what to know is ABNORMAL. Rio had an abcess where the surgery was 1 month later that nearly claimed his life.

The swelling at its breaking point, the night at the on-call vet and the journey to a heartbreaking decision

The swelling at its breaking point, the night at the on-call vet and the journey to a heartbreaking decision

This was the day I almost lost him. I found an on-call vet up north at 10:30pm and discovered Rio had a temp of 104.3…very high… We were worried a vessel my have detached and was bleeding into the cavity which could be causing him to become anemic. We obtained samples from the painful swelling and it was mostly blood. The Vet recommended returning to the U the next morning so we did. He was almost lifeless. I thought to myself, “This is my fault, how could I not have known, how could it have gotten this bad, its been 1 month! things are supposed to get better! I’ve let him suffer, I will never forgive myself for being negligent and not doing something sooner…”

Lesson learned if you don’t know…. ASK! ASK everything! Vets deal with emergencies every day, we don’t, especially when its our family.

Fortunately Rio survived the 3 hours journey back to the cities, and when he was admitted to the Emergency Room his temp had elevated to 104.6, he was becoming septic. I had to make a decision to euthanize or put him through surgery again… I had no idea what was the right thing to do and have never fought more internally within myself ever. Am I being selfish? He is just going to die if they do not go back in and drain the infection- he may not make it a day- he may not make it through the procedure the Vet told me… I took a few minutes and asked to see my boy. I wanted him to tell me what to do.

They brought him into a quiet room with the lights off and my boy would not look at me for a second, he could see how much distress I was in and held his head high with ears flat back, avoiding eye contact. So I decided…. I was going to do/try everything I can possible to make him comfortable even if it was in efforts that it didn’t succeed. I couldn’t live with the fact of just letting him go in the condition I let happen…


They called later and everything went well and his temp was normal. They placed a vacuum suction drain that needed to be drained every 4-6 hours. When I picked him up, his side was completely deflated and he RAN to me! I couldn’t believe it, and even though it cost nearly as much as the surgery I don’t regret my gut instinct and that look in his eyes telling me it wasn’t his time.

The day after his procedure

The day after his procedure

I had my boy back. I am so thankful for the oddest reasons… I was ready to let him go that day, I almost lost him, but I got more in touch that my boy isn’t going to live forever and that every damn day with him is truly a blessing and to take that time to stare an extra second in his eyes, watch his eyebrows twitch, cherish every tail wag and smile from ear to ear watching him RUN again! I realized that when it is time I can be more at peace for what he has taught and given me over our 7 years together.  We have not done any further treatment at this time and I found out that his heart murmur has gotten worse so that is going to be my priority right now, ultrasound and routine care, X-rays, bloodwork, etc… I do not think I will do Chemo with Rio because he does have a weakened immune system and I can’t ever hear that heart-wrenching whine from him ever again. And most importantly we are OK, we are happy. I know I can’t keep him in my life forever, and I know even if I did everything possible I could old age is something we all mammals face and can’t deny…

SO those were are downs…. I brought Rio back up north just last week and here are some photos of my proud tripawd 🙂

If there is anyone out there that has been through difficult post procedure decisions or even lost your beloved one I would love to chat with you and help in any way possible. Thanks for reading!

Kisses on the dock! We barely made it to the dock just a month ago.

Kisses on the dock! We barely made it to the dock just a month ago.

My porch lounger

My porch lounger

Happy adventures, keeping up with mama! Hopping on 3 :)

Happy adventures, keeping up with mama! Hopping on 3 🙂

Always loved his sticks!

Always loved his sticks!



Rio’s confirmed Diagnosis

Filed under: Uncategorized — nikkiweber at 10:21 pm on Friday, May 9, 2014

May 5th.

Rio’s histopathology of the amputated leg has came back. Not sure at first what all it meant but quickly went over it with my regular DVM when we stopped in on the 6th (12 days post-op) for his suture removal. Soooo…. (sigh)

Rio was diagnosed with stage 3 (or high grade) Chondrosarcoma.

Chondrosarcoma’s- “tend to be slowly growing tumors and are the second most common type of primary bone tumors in dogs. Metastatic rate of 50% and a guarded prognosis,” 9 months they are expecting.

So of course I googled the hell out of it and it seems that it is a rare form of bone cancer, one of the oncologists at the U of M I talked to said it was “good” that it was that form rather than an osteosarcoma because of the metastatic rate being around 90% in osteo’s, but since his is a high grade it makes it just as bad or likely for the spreading…Apparently only 5-10% of bone cancers are caused by this which makes Rio’s case rare… I’m over here thinking like ” Of course Rio, you had to have the worse of the rarest, good lord buddy ” lol The good thing is the first cause of action is to remove the tumor, which we have done. I’ve read a lot as well and it sounds like because it is rare there are not a lot of studies out there that show Chemo is effective against spreading the disease or at least slowing it down… SO I thought to myself, so that’s it? Thats all we do? I wasn’t sure about that answer. So if anyone has any experience with treating this cancer please let me know I would love to hear you and your animals plan of action. I talked again further with an oncologist and he did recommend doing chemo using carboplatin for about 6 treatments. Sounds like I can move forward with it at any point. Now I love my boy and everyone on here knows this procedure is expensive and I am more than willing to do it for him but I need help here… Right now Rio is sporting a Hanes gray t-shirt and is seemingly comfortable, still doing stairs, laying down and getting up okay. Appetite has increased slightly, although he does still get pretty much whatever he wants. He is currently on NSAID’s twice a day and Gabapentin twice a day, the Gabapentin seems to make him pretty drowsy and little iffy on his feet so I try and give it once a day in the middle of the day. Looking forward to hear from fellow tripawds!

Spaghetti and meatballs dinner (Mama felt bad for me for some reason)

Spaghetti and meatballs dinner (Mama felt bad for me for some reason)

May 3rd 10 days post-op

Filed under: Uncategorized — nikkiweber at 6:45 pm on Saturday, May 3, 2014

Sun shine time!

Everything going pretty smooth the last few days! Slowly decreasing our pain meds (well we are about out) per our reg DVM, should be in contact with the U of M this coming week with our next step. Getting around okay. He spends a good amount of time laying down so I think he is more so stiff more than sore (even though he has gotten more massages than me EVER!) when he gets up. I am walking him around the yard more and he even bolted after a squirrel for about 3 strides before I gave him “the look”.  He is definitely learning that if he doesn’t eat his normal kibble he gets yummier things, go figure, but still is eating so I am happy. I purchased that Natural Pet Select food, they keep in a cooler at the pet store and have been hiding his pills in that and it seems to be working for now. Only thing I have noticed is it seems like he is putting so much more weight on his upper half and I really wish he would start using those powerful hindquarters of his! But can’t ask too much from him, he will get it soon. Until he does I guess I am his personal masseuse. Can’t wait for his sutures to come out any day now!


Nikki and Rio

April 29th 6 days post-op Amputation

Filed under: Uncategorized — nikkiweber at 5:02 am on Wednesday, April 30, 2014

April 29th- 6 days post-op. We have had our ups and downs, mostly at night. Yesterday I removed his soaker catheter and I thought he would be in more pain with me unable to inject medication but I think he feels more comfortable without the long tubing inside of his lack there of shoulder. Changed bandage as well. He jumped up on the couch a couple times and lays down for awhile and then in the middle of the night he lays on the floor. Seems pretty finicky at night still. I’m not sure why. I am not going to give him his 3rd dose of Codeine tonight to see if that helps, he is sleeping soundly right now with an ice pack on his incision and a warm blanket over him. Last night late at night he even tried to go downstairs to sleep in “our” level, which was a huge improvement attitude wise. He even climbed up the stairs on accident! Clearly he is getting around okay but I do think he is still sore. His gait is improving a little bit, he moves very fast! Attitude seems improved and appetite is improved as well. Incision looks great. Sometimes I look in his eyes and I feel like he looks sad, but I just keep thinking that it is just one day at a time and eventually he will be normal dog again just with 3 legs! My Mom is still having a hard time realizing that but my Dad has been a great help taking him outside and not being intimidating by his lack of a 4th leg. Sometimes he just looks up an pants heavily I am sure he is in pain but I either offer him water or take him outside and then he seems fine afterwords. His swelling has gone down I think significantly, I wrapped his whole torso up for 1 1/2 days and I think that helped. On a personal level I am feeling a little cooped up and depressed, I miss my friends at work and I miss laughing and smiling. Sounds really pathetic but I guess I love my job. Tomorrow will be a week since his surgery and I think he is doing great! I can’t wait to get his stitches out, and then start our next journey with chemo etc… I am getting a little concerned with the costs, but we will deal with that when the time comes, I just need to get back to work so I can make money to pay for everything…. Kind of a depressing thought I guess… Still rained all day, I am sure Rio would really enjoy some time in the sun any day now! I have been letting him outside unleashed now I just walk out with him to make sure he doesn’t try and chase anything and to be there for him if he falls etc… but his ins and outs seem okay, so I am pretty pleased with that. Hoping for better weather and better nights!

Rio and I at our land up north, he loves to hug like this- one of my favorite pics

Rio and I at our land up north, he loves to hug like this- one of my favorite pics

April 27th- 4 days post-op Amputation

Filed under: Uncategorized — nikkiweber at 4:57 am on Wednesday, April 30, 2014


April 27th- 4 days post-op. Overall an okay day. He got up to lay on the couch in the middle of the night and let out a big yelp, I’m not sure what happened but I felt horrible and got up to try and fix his bandage a little as you can imagine being a Dane they are not the easiest type of breed to bandage with their deep chest. I gave him an injection through his soaker cathether and another dose of oral codeine. Eventually he laid back down on the floor with me and we slept well into the afternoon. He seemed a little down today- pretty much all day. Not interested in much water, so I did the ice cube trick several times today. Also rebandaged him like twice, he has some significant seromas on his ventral chest so I am trying to keep them bandaged as well as I can. It has been raining all day which doesn’t make it fun to go outside, I placed a t-shirt over the bandage and threw it in the dryer to make it warm and wrap him back up with it when need be. Did eventually eat okay but attitude overall seemed pretty low today and restless. It is hard watching him go through this but I gave him a good massage and he seems to love that. No poops today but he did pee several times, and walked on his own better, even got up from laying down to say hi to grandma on the couch and to eat his dinner. Not too much of a productive day which is probably a good thing, he did get up on the couch on his own as well again. Incisions still look great no drainage. Will keep his Bupivicaine going until I run out. Unfortunately it is supposed to rain the next several days so we will just be battling that. Thats all for now!

Bandage Change! "Lets Go Wild Hockey!

Bandage Change! “Lets Go Wild Hockey!

April 26th- 3 days post-op Amputation

Filed under: Uncategorized — nikkiweber at 4:53 am on Wednesday, April 30, 2014


April 26th- 3 days post-op, Had a good day yesterday, he has a little uncomfortable and started whining a lot last night, we got him out and he finally pooped! He was very tired afterwords and seemed to rest comfortably throughout the night. Pain medication routine seems to be keeping him comfortable. Slept well, until 11am actually! ate dinner, and found out how to eat his kong without an extra “arm” to help hold it. Overall day went pretty well. Decided to change his bandage a day earlier because it was slipping a lot and he started having a large seroma on his chest. His incision looks great! Minimal discharge and a little swelling in spots that I clearly expected to see. His soaker catheter is still in place and will need to come out tomorrow. I am a little nervous to take it out because I think it is helping control his pain a lot. He has gotten up on his own to eat and drink and even during the night he got up to lay on the couch with success! Taking him out is still a chore and he gets pretty tired, I kind of dread taking him out because it is a lot of work so have been trying to time everything and keep everything to a routine the best I can. His appetite seems great so far and has been getting lots of extra treats. So far so good. I was really nervous last night with the amount of whining but I think he really just needed to poop. His stomach doesn’t seem as gurgle today either. I did find one good thing that I think he liked a lot was to mix a little chicken broth with water and freeze them in ice cube trays. He absolutely loves it. I recommend it for any dogs with a finicky appetite and you could always add pedi-sure or something too. So far no stairs, which is recommended, but he will pull me down the small hill in the backyard if I let him. I recommend anyone who has to sling a large breed down through anything but grass to wear boots because between 140lbs of dog feet stepping on you accidentally or small branches you will get small scrapes on your feet! Right now resting comfortably after bandage change… Dinner to come soon. So far our medications are Bupivicaine via his cather every 6 hours. 3 capsules 500 mg Chephalexin (antibiotic) 2 caps Gapabentin every 12 hours and Codeine 50mg every 6 hours, he is also on Rimadyl (NSAID) 1 1/4 every 12 hours as well. I did but him some grain free food, Organix and Merrick mixed together and have been feeding him anything else really he feels like, especially to hide his pills. Going to try for another poop later!


My incision looking pretty good!

My incision looking pretty good!

April 24th- Day after amputation

Filed under: Uncategorized — nikkiweber at 4:49 am on Wednesday, April 30, 2014


Thursday April 24th- Got a phone call around 7:15am from the DVM saying Rio had quite a rough night, I didn’t talk to her specifiaclly but my Mom had told me the news, I felt horrible. I felt like I knew what he was going through and I just wanted him home. I called around 2pm for a check up and the technician say he was doing very well which was a relief. I was hoping time would be on his side and he would be feeling better day to day. The technician said she would call me back in an hour to give me a more updated report. I was a little worried at first but since he pulled through surgery and anesthesia he should be just fine. She called back telling me he was doing really well and think he could go home tonight. I prepped everything up for his arrival and thought everything through. My Dad and I stopped by my work for a beer to calm my nerves and headed back to the U for the 3rd time. We followed instructions and waited in the specified area. Which were to follow the blue paw prints into the cubicles…odd but it worked out really well and I thought this was a great place giving the thought and privacy they had obviously thought through. My Dad had ran to the restroom while I peered down the long hallway waiting for my boy to turn the corner but at the same time feared seeming him as well. At the same moment my Dad came out I saw my boy, ears back, hopping along, assisted by 2 technicians, in a bright teal bandage walking my way. I looked over at my Dad and gasped, immediaitely I began to cry and ran his way finding myself on my knees hugging my boy and crying as if I hadn’t seen him in years. I know he felt the same. We went over a lot of discharge instructions and I learned he loved his injectable Bupivacane medication. We walked out to the car, a long dreaded walk it seemed and I worried about him constantly. We made one stop for him to take a break but at certain points he was actually pulling me out of that place and before I knew it he was jumping into my car and within 2 minutes he was sound asleep. At that point, I knew all he wanted was what he knew all his life. He wanted me, he wanted what we shared together and nothing else than to comfort each other and be within each others presence. As I am writing this right now I am laying on a mat my father “borrowed” from the airport with about 10 blankets and equal as much pillows and towels, taking up the whole 3rd level. We are comfortable though. Rio is snoring and I know he believes in me and I believe in him. One of the hardest days in my life has shown me how having a positive attitude changes your aspect in more ways than you can think. It can change your day to day life, because you realize that every day can drastically change without warning or it can be a blessing. You must take it for what it is and embrace it. I love you Rio and I will always be here for you even through your horendously stinky farts right now!


Rio's first night home ;)

Rio’s first night home 😉

April 23rd- The Big Day

Filed under: Uncategorized — nikkiweber at 4:44 am on Wednesday, April 30, 2014



April 23rd Rio’s surgery day. Brought him in at 7:30am, sobbing the whole way, checked in, took his collar off and waited in the waiting room. Everyone seemed very nice and I trusted what was going to happen. They came over shortly after with a new collar for Rio to wear and I removed his gentle leader. At that point the two technicians clearly saw the welts of tears in my eyes and reassured that they would take great care of my big boy. I watched him walk away in the maroon slip leash, Rio turned and looked at me 3 times and tried to stop and come back with me. I cried almost hysterically. I got into my car and drove home I couldn’t stop thinking about the look in his face when I left him and I imagined what if this is the last time I see him. I know from reading articles many owners feel this way and many owners love their pet as much as I do. They said his surgery should start around 10am. I got a phone call around 1pm that he was in recovery and they were placing a chest bandage on him. Anesthesia went well. They would call back when he was fully awake. Another phone call around 5pm and they had mentioned they did give him more sedation drugs (I’m guessing morphine) because he was very vocal while waking up and I am guessing painful as well. That worried me because I can imagine and just hear my poor boy. I felt horrible. But she informed me that he was resting comfortably and had lifted his head up a few times but will feed him when he is more awake. I am thinking he will probably be home Friday I am hoping and plan on visiting him tomorrow around 5 or 6pm. I didn’t want to go right away in the morning because I feel like he will still be in rough shape and hopefully by later in the day he will be in a little better spirits. I had my Dad bring home some mats from the airport for both of us to sleep on and I think they will work perfect. I am really looking forward to taking him home and taking care of him because I know how happy I will be when I see him wag his big ol’ tail, hang his head low and hop back to his mama. Looking forward to tomorrow. Hopefully he makes it through the night and rests well.


One of our more "favorite" car ride adventures :)

One of our more “favorite” car ride adventures 🙂

April 15th- 22nd U of Mn Oncology Visit

Filed under: Uncategorized — nikkiweber at 4:40 am on Wednesday, April 30, 2014


Tuesday April 15th- Chest films performed at reg DVM, both right and left lateral views and an attempt for a VD view, it was hard on him and being a large breed dog, we were lucky enough to get him to jump on the table willingly… Stopped after a few fights having him lay on his back, I could tell he was sore and getting stressed out, but so far one DVM said chest films looked okay and looked clear from mets. Gave him one pain medication with dinner and he rested comfortably. Still seems awkward in his gait but is completely able to jump up and run without obviously limping afterwords. Consult on the 22nd with oncology.

Tuesday April 22nd, met with several people today. U of M vet students, My Oncology DVM and Surgeon. Mentioned he has some slight knee issues the way the stand inward and a little back sensitivity- but over all he would be a great candidate for amputation. They offered a clinical trial where they could inject something into the bone lesion and it would show oxygen levels but then would need a day to recover from that before proceeding with surgery. They recommended a bone biopsy and went over all other possible causes that it could be. But I knew with his breed, gender and age that it was osteosarcoma and I really didn’t want to prolong anything any longer. I already took time off work so lets do this. Rio got the go ahead and will have surgery tomorrow sometime. I have to drop him off at 7:30AM, and they will keep me posted. No news is good news. He will likely be staying a day or 2 overnight there as well. They mentioned since he still has been using his leg quite well he may have a harder time adjusting to the changes because he is still actively using the leg- not to say he is not in pain though. I made sure to go over pain medication and they opted to leave an indwelling catheter in so I can inject bupivicane injections for up to 72 hours as needed. Total cost today 1,892 + 52.95 for the Ruff Wear dog harness I just ordered to help assist him around. Hoping to get to chuck and dons food outlet today to pick up some new food for him and anything else I think he might like and hopefully can use gift cards for those expenses. The rest of my day will be prepping for him coming home Thursday or Friday. I’m really nervous and scared but I could tell by the look in his eyes that he had to know what was going on and he seemed so relaxed with everyone and did so well being somewhere completely new. It made me feel better and saddened looking in his eyes because I knew I was doing all I could do to help him but all he saw my face, I tried to smile at him and continuously told him he was such a good boy. Right now he is laying in the sunshine on the deck, his favorite thing…. as a 4 legger 🙂 Staying positive. I couldn’t thank my parents enough for being there to support me. Even though I knew my decision and knew the facts and outcomes it helped not feeling alone in the process. Every day is blessing.


"Whats all the big fuss about Mom?!"

“Whats all the big fuss about Mom?!”

Wiping tears on my babies back ;(

Wiping tears on my babies back ;(

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