That's how Xaros and I took it.

July 14

July 30 August 13
July 20 July 31 August 17
July 23 August 5 August 24
July 29 August 6 August 25

Monday, July 14

Today, we found out that he is not a candidate for chemotherapy (see Chemotherapy). He's scheduled to go back to the Clinic for a re-check on Monday, the 21st of July.

Sunday, July 20

Xaros is eating great - I'm letting him have all the stuff I never would, and he is loving it! For instance, tonight he had his Eukanuba, a can of dog food, an egg, a beef frank, couple slices of turkey, and mixed vegetables. Later, we'll have ice cream.

I can feel a lump on the back of his neck. He yelps when he moves his head too fast or "wrong." It's probably tumor, I don't know what else it could be.

Xaros seems very active, but he'll suddenly stop what he is doing and just stand for a moment or two. It's like he doesn't know what's going on and he has to "get his bearings" or just rest a moment. I can't quite put my finger on it, but I can tell he isn't quite his old self. He can't maintain an energy level for very long, but I guess that is to be expected.

Tomorrow morning he finishes all his pills! (He got new ones last week). Hopefully, he won't get any new ones tomorrow. His leg is no longer swollen. He might need some mild pain pills for some of the aches and pains he's getting; he had a Duragesic patch last week which seemed to help.

I saw a website that gave an average of 49 -120 days once the spleen was removed, with an average of 65 days. 49 days would be August 14, 65 days will be August 30.

Wednesday, July 23

We went to see Dr. O'Neal on Monday. Xaros's leg is back to normal, he was a bit scared going to the vet, but otherwise, everything was fine. The staff all had to come see him and let him know what a great patient he was. He's welcome to come visit, but I don't think Xaros would be super-thrilled to go visit the clinic again. He did get some more pills (Dr. O'Neal wanted one more week just to be sure any and all infection and his Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever was gone), so I don't think he'll be happy about those!

Dr. O'Neal also said Xaros could take one or two enteric aspirins per day, I'm giving him one 81 mg, it seems to really take care of any of the minor aches he was having.

Tuesday night, he raced around the yard chasing cats. He never catches them, they seem to think it's a fun game - they'll race from the tree line to under the car, then when Xaros sees them, they'll race back to the tree line. After a few minutes, they'll do it again. I sure wouldn't have been able to keep up with Xaros with all that running around!

On Wednesday, he really seemed like his old self. Very active, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed.

I received an email from a lady whose Rottie had recently been diagnosed with hemangiosarcoma. Knowing that Xaros's story is helping others helps me, too. I wrote her back: "The toughest part is days like today - Xaros has been chasing cats in the yard, playing ball, running around the house, just pigged out on dinner, and is generally being a "little toot." These are the days when you just can't believe anything is wrong. But these are also the days I will cherish the most."

Tuesday, July 29

Xaros is eating great, but his energy level is slowing down. He still wants to run outside and chase the ball, but the jump off the porch is slower, the pauses after catching the ball are longer, and he really has to think about coming back up the stairs (only 3) before he commits himself. Instead of laying near the door watching everything for an hour like he did in the past, he'll watch for 10 minutes, nap for 10, watch, nap, etc.

His hip is bothering him, he favors it some, but it isn't hurting him. I can now feel the area where the tumor is.

He did finally finish all his pills! The only medication he still has is enteric aspirin, and I'm giving him only one or two a day for aches and pains. Those pills are so small that I can put them in a hot-dog or another piece of meat and he'll gobble it down.

Wednesday, July 30

Since Tuesday morning, Xaros has really lost energy. If he has to stand for any reason, he'll only stand as long as he has to. He'll lay down in spots he never would lay before. He is tired. Xaros will still eat - he had an entire bowl of chicken and dumplings last night - but he doesn't eat with any energy. He acts like he knows he should eat, or that it just tastes too good to pass up and leave.

He had trouble getting up the stairs after going out this morning; I had to help him up. He immediately came inside and lay down.

I can feel another mass in his left abdominal area; it's either tumor or blood from tumor. His right leg is bothering him also.

It has only been five weeks since his diagnosis. I can't stand to see him suffer any and I won't allow it, but as long as he can get around, is still eating, and wants to play, I'll do what ever is necessary to keep him happy. I don't think he is in any pain; no whining or vocalization (if he got something so small as a little sticker in his paw while playing in the yard, you'd think it was the end of the world. Xaros is very vocal when it came to being hurt in any way). He is just so tired. He would like to play (he took his ball but set it down) but doesn't have the energy.

When I got ready to leave this morning, he was already taking a nap in the back room. As soon as I opened the front door, he got up and came to the front door with ball in mouth ready to play. Bless his heart, he has no idea why he can't play like he used to.

Thursday, July 31

Xaros is still being a little pig when it comes to eating, but he is also still lacking any energy. We go out on the porch, and after a minute he has to lie down. He'll jump off the porch and do his business, but then wants to lie in the grass. I have to help him back up the steps; his right leg is swollen again, and there is some swelling near his left hip.

He'll get up and follow me around the house (I'll tell him "Don't get up, I'll be right back," but I guess he wants to make sure) .

I bought some Swanson canned Chicken and Dumplings and Xaros loved them.

While we were outside, he saw a cat that he wanted to chase, but it was a pretty slow chase. Xaros was ready to go inside after that burst of energy.

Tuesday, August 5

It took several days for the swelling to go down in his leg where it didn't bother Xaros that much. By Sunday, his energy level was starting to go back up and he (for the first time in several days) ran and got Little Baby before he went outside.

Monday night, I heard the doggy-door flapping and Xaros was outside in his backyard pen. He hasn't gone down those steps (they're steeper than the front porch) since the day before he was diagnosed with cancer and had surgery. He had a little trouble getting back up the steps, but he did it on his own. I was very proud of him.

We had planned to attend a Crime Prevention Program tonight, but Xaros wasn't quite up to it. He is still favoring his leg and he can't get around on it as well as he would like. He doesn't want to stand on it very long (except in front of his food bowl).

Xaros received an email from a friend of ours telling us that their dog had just been diagnosed with leukemia. I certainly know how they feel. Our prayers are with them. Good luck, Spike.

Everyone says that cancer patients have "Good Days and Bad Days" and I think that is certainly true. Saturday, he seemed so weak and his leg was bothering him to the point where he could hardly walk - definitely a bad day (it's on those days that I begin to question my motives and wonder if he is in pain or if he is suffering). By Sunday, he was carrying Little Baby around the house and by Tuesday he was playing with his tennis balls - a run of good days (when I can breathe a sigh of relief that I did not act prematurely). He ate a big bowl of food and then wanted more.

Wednesday, August 6

Another good day for Xaros. It's been six weeks, and I am grateful for every minute with him.

Things can happen so fast. Our friend Spike lost his battle and moved on. I wrote to the family that I know that Spike is strong and healthy again, and that Meik is probably showing him around right now. When Xaros joins them, they'll be a pretty tough trio.

Today is dedicated to Spike:

Sir Spike Galahad
Fierce Knight - Brave Guardian - Loyal, Loving Friend
April 16, 1992 - August 6, 2003
In Our Hearts Forever

Wednesday, August 13

Thursday through Sunday were pretty uneventful. Xaros was in top form, felt good, ate good, ran around and generally acted like nothing was wrong.

On Monday, he started favoring his right hind-leg again. Tuesday showed some swelling and limping, by Wednesday it was pretty swollen and he could hardly put any weight on it. Very difficult time coming back up the steps after going out; I had to help him (which he doesn't like. He wants to do it on his own).

Doesn't actively hurt him (movement while he's laying down doesn't hurt) but it obviously doesn't feel good. He doesn't want to stand for very long (he didn't want to eat until I brought the bowl to him so he could eat laying down - ate every bite). Treating the leg with aspirin, heat packs and elevation.

This will probably be a cycle of events: leg OK, bleeding starts, leg swells, bleeding stops, swelling goes down, leg OK.

Tomorrow (the 14th) marks the first date of the average length of survival after a  splenectomy. I don't know if it is a milestone or not. Statistically, it was pretty certain he would survive until now. Except for the leg hurting him, Xaros is doing well: he's bright eyed and alert, but unfortunately, he's now within the date range where he could have a fatal bleed anytime. On average, he has 16 more days. Luckily, Xaros has never been average.

I look at him and I wonder what he is thinking. "What on earth is happening to me? Why can't I run anymore?"

Sunday, August 17

Wednesday evening, Xaros's leg began swelling even more. By Thursday morning, he could hardly walk on it; I decided it was time for a vet visit.

When I had last been at the Diagnostic Clinic with Dr. O'Neal, she said that for most things, I could use my local vet unless I felt I needed to do otherwise. I decided to contact a local vet, but a different one than I had been using (this particular vet had been recommended for his compassion and the way he handled animals with terminal illnesses). I called Dr. O'Neal and filled her in on Xaros's condition.

I called the new vet at the Bridgeport Animal Hospital and they said bring Xaros right over. I gave them Dr. O'Neal's number and they had all of Xaros's medical information waiting when we got there. While in the waiting room, a woman came up and remarked what a magnificent dog Xaros was; she asked how he hurt his leg. I gave her the brief story, and she said "What was his name again? I must get it right, because I want to pray for him." Very touching and from a total stranger.

We weighed Xaros before the exam; he weighed 106 pounds, which is up 10 pounds from his last vet visit. I guess that ice cream is going to make him fat.

Dr. Jeff Williams talked to me and Xaros; he prescribed some pills to help the leg pain and swelling and we talked about the future. Dr. Williams is willing to help Xaros following my wishes. For instance, I don't want Xaros to be so doped up with pain pills that he isn't aware of his surroundings. The pills Dr. Williams prescribed work on the inflammation and swelling, which reduces the pain. We also talked about other things he could do to help Xaros until the fight is over.

By Friday morning, Xaros was walking better. By Friday night, he was walking great, just a little limp. Saturday showed even more improvement.  Saturday night, he was outside in his pen when I got home from dinner; we went out front. He walked around the front yard checking everything out like he always had and was carrying his ball. I threw and he chased the ball, and generally just had a great time.

Sunday, August 24

So much can happen in a week.

Monday and Tuesday of last week, Xaros was great. You wouldn't know anything was wrong. Wednesday started a downhill slide. His leg began giving him problems, but it wasn't swelling really bad, he was just favoring it.

Thursday, when I came home, he had vomited and I could see blood in it. Ate well afterwards.

Friday morning, he was having a lot of trouble walking, he could hardly stand up. He had a bathroom accident in the living room, and when he managed to get into the bedroom where he usually sleeps, he had another accident. He couldn't hold it; he looked like he didn't even know what was happening. Ate well.

Whenever I worked on the computer, Xaros always came into the living room where he could see me or into the computer room. Friday night, he stayed in the bedroom.

Saturday, he ate well, but had another bathroom accident. While cleaning him up, I brushed his abdomen and he hollered.

Sunday brought more of the same. His eyes are tired. I sat with him all of Sunday evening and most of the night and talked to him, petted him, held his paw. He can't stand and can't go out to urinate. He still ate, but only the good stuff and I had to coax him for that.

Monday, August 25, 2003

Dr. O'Neal and Dr. Williams both said I would know when it was time.

I called Dr. Williams, but he can't get out here until this afternoon. I'll make Xaros as comfortable as I can until then. Calling was the most difficult decision I've ever made. It was exactly two months ago that I took Xaros to the vet and the lump was discovered.

 Xaros can't stand up at all; I had placed an absorbent pad under him in case of an accident; he apparently moved from the bedroom into the bathroom (his favorite rug is in there) by dragging himself since the pad came with him. I cannot touch his belly, hips, or move his rear legs; he hollers in pain. His eyes are so tired. He ate a little bit of turkey this morning, but by noon, he refused all his favorites. He even refused ice cream. He barely lifts his head.

I sat with him and tried to comfort him. He looks so tired and weak. I petted him, talked to him, told him what a good dog (guten hund) he was. I told him that soon he would be able to run and play again.

Dr. Williams arrived and we talked briefly about Xaros.

I sat down next to my little boy and lifted his head onto my lap; he was too weak to lift his head himself. I looked into his beautiful brown tired eyes, and his eyes told me he wanted to go. I had nightmares about this moment and it was now reality. I held his paw in my hand.

At around 3:25 PM, with his head cradled in my arms as I softly stroked his face and whispered to him that I loved him and for him to be brave, Xaros was finally able to sleep peacefully.  And I wept.

Xaros Vom Godinghofer Weg Joy went on a journey to a much better place, a place where he had no pain, a place where he could run and jump and play ball again. His time on this earth was precious to me and will not be forgotten. His fight was over.

I will miss my little boy tremendously.



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