Life Is So Unfair.

January 17, 2010

I’m not yet ready to talk, but people keep asking what happened. This will be brief and then when I’m able to, I’ll speak about it more.

A couple of weeks ago, I noticed a change in Barney’s breathing. It seemed slightly faster but laboured, somewhat. I took him straight to the vet who checked him over and said he seemed fine. He checked him well and I was happier when I left.

4 days later, (4th January), Barney was sick after eating so we took him to the vet again, although by this time, I was convinced something really wasn’t right and had to ask Matt to go in with him whilst I waited in the car because I just couldn’t handle it. I was feeling so worried. The vet he saw was our usual vet, the one who found his melanoma in May and he gave him a really good check over. He checked his heart rate, his breathing, his lungs, counted his resps and told Matt what to look out for and if we were still worried, that we’d see about a chest X-Ray for peace of mind. He left with an anti-sickness tablet and some to settle his stomach.

Barney continued to seem a little odd to me. I thought perhaps I was paranoid, but I guess it was mothers intuition. His breathing still wasn’t right so on 7th January, we went back and the vet decided to take blood and then referred us to a cardiologist. We had to go back the following week to another vet as that’s where the cardio worked from. We also had to book in with our usual vet a couple of days before the cardiologist appointment for him to have an ECG so they could send that off.

Barney continued to be sick, although it was very sporadic and happened only a couple of times. He started refusing his usual food, but whenever we gave him cooked chicken and rice, he couldn’t lick the bowl clean enough. We hoped he was just playing us a little and being his usual naughty self.

The ECG was done on 12th January and the outcome wasn’t great. Although the trace wasn’t terrible, it wasn’t as it should be and when our vet called the cardiologist, he said it was possible that there was a mass or fluid around the heart.

We prayed for 2 days that it would be fluid as that could be treated to some extent.

We got ready on Thursday morning, (14th January) and we left the house in a rather somber mood. We did stop to take some pictures that morning, just for the sake of it. Little did we know that they would be the last pictures of our beautiful boy. 😦

We expected to drop Barney off and collect him when his ultrasound and X-Rays (if required) had been completed. He pulled me across the icy car park as he usually did, full of strength. When we arrived, the cardiologist pulled us into the room, shaved Barney under his leg and started scanning him.

He found that Barney’s poor little heart was surrounded by a tumour. Then he told us that the prognosis was very poor. His words were “his heart is still beating at the moment”. He said there was little point in doing an X-Ray but Matt wasn’t accepting it on a scan and requested he did. I could barely breathe by this point and couldn’t speak.

The vet and a nurse went to prepare the X-Ray whilst we waited. The only words that were spoken were me saying “he’s going to say to put him to sleep”. I knew it. But never did I think it would be there and then.

The X-Ray was done a few minutes later and the vet came out and asked us to follow him. He told us to be quiet as Barney was sedated but could still hear us. I could see his eyes flicker when he heard us walk into the room.

There was an X-Ray on the lightbox and he pointed out that he couldn’t even see my baby’s heart because there was so much fluid everywhere. His poor lungs were drowning. Further horror showed that he was riddled with tumours in his chest and he also told us that he had a massive tumour in his spleen.

At that point he told us it would be kinder to let him go whilst he was calm and feeling no pain. Matt asked how long he would have and he basically said “anytime”.

Devastation.

I can’t tell you the rest. This is hard enough, but we were there with him the whole time, stroking and whispering and kissing him.

Barney was put to sleep on Thursday 14th January 2010, at 10.15am.

Our world has collapsed. We miss him more than I could ever express here.

This is the last picture of our strong, brave, gorgeous puppy. He was 11 years, 2 months and 3 weeks young.

Barney Last Picture :(

Thank you all for your kind texts, messages on Facebook etc, they’re much appreciated but for now I can’t reply to any individually.

Another Lump…

December 9, 2009

This week has been harrowing, to say the least.

A couple of weeks ago, Barney had a skin flare up so we took him to the vets and he was given his usual medication to help it clear up. We also bath him as much as possible with a medicated shampoo when he has these flare ups, so on Monday, after finding a few patches of dry, scabby skin, I decided to give him a quick, morning bath.

Whilst rubbing in the shampoo, I felt a small, hard lump in his groin area. I immediately felt sick and called the vets for an appointment. We went down a couple of hours later and saw our usual vet, Martin Cossey.

Martin felt the lump and decided to do a fine needle aspiration there and then. He got very few cells to look at, but what he did get, he said looked mucky. He gave us the option of leaving it, as he thought it might be a mammary duct that was blocked, but, it could also have the potential, as any lump could, to be something more sinister.

With Barney’s history, it’d have been reckless to leave it, so we asked for him to remove it as soon as possible.

He was booked in for today, 9th December. The day had a very worrying start. The thought of a general anesthetic bothers me at any time, but with Barney now being 11, it makes me worry that bit more. I dropped him off at 9am and was told to call at 2pm to see how he was doing.

Five worrying hours later… Barney was confirmed as fine and I could collect him at 4.20pm. Hooray!

I arrived and had a long wait as it was busy. I got talking to a couple of other dog owners, ironically enough, both were there due to having found lumps on their dogs and were worried sick. Been there, done that and oh! doing it again, so I was full of compassion for them, as they were for us too.

Martin arrived to let me know Barney was on his way through and that the surgery had gone well. The lump was removed and he was very pleased to say that he was really suspicious that the lump was a cyst. When he used the word ‘suspicious’ before ‘cyst’, my heart was in my stomach. I thought he was going to say he was suspicious that it was another nasty tumour. I felt such relief. It’s been sent off to be tested anyway, purely because of Barney’s history, but it’s looking good. We’re happy – that’s actually an understatement. Let’s just hope that the histology proves Martin right. I’m sure it will 🙂

Anyway, Barney came bounding through the doors, as usual, looking as though he’d not even had a G.A and spent the rest of the night looking as lively as he usually does. He has an incision which is around 1.5inches long and internally stitched, so should heal pretty quickly.

This dog never ceases to amaze me. He’s a real star.

***Edited To Add*** The lump was confirmed as a small sebaceous cyst and is nothing to worry about. Relief!!

Barney’s story has now been published on the official Dogs Trust website. You can see it here;

http://dogstrustblog.blogspot.com/2009/09/canine-oral-melanoma-mouth-cancer.html

I’ve been trying to get the word out about oral melanoma in dogs, purely because, as I have said so many times, it’s something that a lot of dog owners will never even think about, will never come across or will find out about, often when it’s too late.

I’ve mainly been using Twitter and Facebook to post details of this blog and have made a few friends on the way.

I support Dogs Trust UK and Matt and I also sponsor a dog each through them. We have done so now for several years. I started following them a few weeks ago and approached them and asked if they would be interested in featuring Barney’s story (either on their website or magazine). Alex from dogs Trust contacted the right people and they accepted. They think it’s a good topic to highlight and is important.

I’ve therefore submitted a shortened version of Barney’s story to them this morning with a few pictures and it should be available on their blog either today or Monday.

I’m really pleased about this as it will make plenty of people aware of this disease that leaves dog owners feeling empty when they lose their beloved dogs to it. Being educated on such issues is important. I had no idea about this but if I was, although our outcome has been brilliant and a huge success, I’d have been checking earlier too…

Thank you Alex at Dogs Trust. Keep up your good work!

I’ve also submitted pictures and a short story to the “Puppy Up” website. This site is full of stories, some happy, some painfully sad, but all about fights with canine cancer. They are producing a calendar called “Cancer Can’t Keep A Good Dog Down 2010” after last years calendar was so successful. The site is here: http://www.puppyup.blogspot.com/ and is also linked to 2 Dogs 2000 Miles site; http://www.2dogs2000miles.org/ Please take a look. What Luke Robinson is doing is amazing. He’s walking 2000 miles across America with his 2 beautiful dogs, Hudson and Murphy after losing a dog to cancer a few years ago. On the way he is stopping and talking to people and educating them about canine cancer.

The calendars will be sold and the dogs’ that are featured will all be dogs that have either passed from or survived cancer.

I decided to enter Barney so please go to the page and vote for him. $1 buys 1 vote. A dollar is nothing, so please, go and vote. Think what you’d waste a buck or 50 pence on today!

Thanks for reading 🙂

Vote “BarneyM” http://www.2dogs2000miles.org/Submissions_NAXV.html

Still Waiting..

August 26, 2009

No news is good news and we’ve had no more news since my last post, about Barney’s vaccine. I’m hoping we will hear something over the next few days and perhaps even get a date when we can drive down and take Barney for his first shot.

Barney is doing great still. Back to his cheeky self. Barking at everything, growling playfully and running around like a loon.

Love it! 🙂

Vaccine Update!

August 6, 2009

Lizzie from Dick White’s called yesterday afternoon around 4.30pm. She apologised for the delay but explained that Rob had been going ‘to and fro’ with the Americans over the vaccine for Barney. It turns out that there is so much red tape around the vaccine being administered here because it is not licensed in the UK, that he’s really had to fight Barney’s case and that’s why it has taken so long. It’s all to do with legislation and I already knew that the vaccine can actually only be given by a vet who is under the American Vets Association or the ACVS or something like that, it’s all a bit confusing to be honest. Fortunately the Professor falls into that category so it can be administered by him.

Anyway, she explained that Rob had been fighting. Lots of emails and phonecalls, putting forward Barney’s case and the good news is that that he WON! Barney can most certainly have the vaccine 😀

We’re so pleased. We’re looking at around another 2 weeks or so because the Americans want some more forms filling in by Rob. This is what we’ve been waiting for, another step in the right direction 😀

Here are some pictures of Barney. Some are taken before his surgery, some are immediately after his surgery and some are from the weeks following his surgery. I have also included a couple of pictures before and after the re-suturing took place.

I hope that these pictures can manage to show you that this was a very serious surgery, however, that the effect on Barney was minimal and the cosmetics after the surgery were nowhere near as bad as we had imagined.

I hope that anyone out there reading this blog and trying to make a decision as to whether or not they should go for this surgery for their dog; if they are lucky enough to have that option; will see that it will all be worth it in the end.

This is Barney with our son at our local nature reserve, a few days before his biopsy.

Barney Before Diagnosis

As you can see, he was full of energy as always.

Barney Before Op

Barney Post Op Again

You can see that when he was panting that his tongue hung out rather long anyway.

Post Op Again

Full frontal of his mouth prior to the mandibulectomy.

preop

This picture shows the tumour. It is the black area between his teeth. Easily missed.

Tumour Visible

And another picture of the tumour. Hard to get a very clear snap of it. The majority is hidden underneath his tongue.

tumour2

A tired Barney after his biopsy on 14th May 2009.

afterbiopsy

His mast cell tumour wound.

mastcellremoval

The last picture of Barney taken before his mandibulectomy. This is the last picture ever taken with his “full” mouth in view. Taken 26th May 2009.

lastfullmouthpic

First picture taken post-op. He’d been shaved so it kind of looked worse than it was. Taken 29th May 2009.

postop1

On the way home in the car after surgery. Happy as can be!

postop3

Barney, at home, 3 days after surgery. Looking fabulous! Taken 30th May 2009.

postsurgery3days

Dinner time, post op. Quite messy, as you can see.

dinnertime

Front view of mouth post op. He’s wet because of needing to be washed down after eating. Hence the “trimmed” ears.

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**Slightly Graphic** Picture of burst sutures. Here, you can see the jawbone on display. This was re-sutured under a General Anaesthetic.

barneyburstsutures

Looking sorry for himself on the way back to Dick White’s to be re-sutured.

beebsorryforself

Re-sutured. We think it looked better this time.

resuture

Back home and on very restricted walks with a special lead and a recovery collar.

postopwalk

Post op and healing well…

IMG02456-20090627-1925

How he looks when he is laying down. Pretty much always has his tongue in his mouth.

postoplyingdown

Post op and after a bath, finally! I cut his ears short to stop them getting covered in food but can’t wait for them to grow long again!

postopafterbath

8 weeks post op. Looking so good. We don’t even notice the change anymore. It’s just the same old Barney when we look at him 🙂 Taken 29th July 2009.

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You can see just how nicely his mouth has healed, here. Taken 29th July 2009.

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It’s now 7 weeks since Barney’s mandibulectomy and 6 weeks since he was re-sutured. His mouth is looking entirely normal, well, as normal as it can with part of the jaw missing, but, to be honest, we barely even notice that anymore when we look at him.

There were a few red spots in there for a little while, but they’re now gone, healed and the surgical area is looking fantastic. You’d literally never know he’d had such an invasive surgery. If it wasn’t for his tongue hanging out all the time, you could easily forget what he’s been through.

We think it adds character though.

This week has seen the “old Barney” return. The cheekiness, naughtiness and all the barking when he wants to play. It’s been brilliant. He is such fun. You’d never guess he is going to be 11 years old in 3 months time.

This just all re-confirms that the decision we made to have this surgery done, was for sure, the right decision for Barney. It’d have been a real mistake for us to have ended his life (never an option for us anyway) because the surgery sounded horrific. The truth of the matter is that your mind builds things up to be much worse than they are and when you see the reality of the situation, after the initial shock, it’s really, really, not that bad at all.

I love my fun-loving boy to bits. I’m so glad he is here and so glad he is well. Go, Barney! You’re amazing! 🙂

Getting Anxious

July 14, 2009

It’s been 7 weeks since Barney’s surgery now and we’ve still not head anything more since the Open Day at Dick White’s about the vaccine.

Rob said he had a nag in the back of his mind about cells having broken off and travelling elsewhere, so wanted him on the vaccine as soon as possible, and that nag for me is just turning into something so big now that I can’t sleep at night. It’s stressing me out.

We’ve not heard from Rob. Not his fault, he is a very busy man, but I do wish we could just have a phone call to let us know what is happening and when he’s likely to start the vaccine program.

Will try and call him again tomorrow.

The specialist vets that Barney had his mandibulectomy done at, held an Open Day today. I wanted to go so that we could see where Barney had been during his stay there and just generally have a nose around.

We couldn’t all go because one of us had to stay with Barney, as he is only a week post-op since his second suturing. It’s a shame because I’d have loved for Matt to come along too but he offered to stay home whilst I went with Luke, my sister and my niece.

We arrived at midday and headed straight for the reception area. There were mps available, which were all numbered to show you what each area was and what they did there. All of the practice was set up with stuffed toy dogs to give an idea of what happens at each station. Some were having IV fluids, others were having scans etc. All good fun.

We went into the theatre (surgery) and they had a big screen set up with images of lots of different dogs before, during and after surgery. Some of the before and during pictures were quite shocking, but the aftermath of those was amazing. These people really are talented. I’m so impressed at the skills they hold.

Whilst we were standing watching the screen, pictures of a dog’s mouth came up on the screen and in the corner were the words “mandibulectomy” and I thought, ‘oh, that’s what Barney had done’. The next thing I know, there he is! Barney! Famous! There was a picture of him after his surgery, sitting there, in front of the camera, tongue hanging out, looking a little tired but otherwise fine, with a big plastic collar on. I was amazed. He must have been one of their more challenging or “different” cases. I’m not sure how many of these they actually get to perform because so many dogs have this type of cancer and it’s not found until it is too late. I was very proud to see our boy on the big screen. Even my sister was shocked. He looked gorgeous too 🙂

We continued through the practice, and bumped into Rob. He came over and said hello, said hello to Luke as he did on the previous occasions we’d met and then he told me that the vaccine had been approved and Barney could have it, however, there is a lot of ‘red tape’ surrounding the entire thing so it’d be a couple of weeks before he could tell us anymore, but he would contact us as soon as he had any further news. I was really pleased and called Matt straight away to tell him about Barney being on the ‘big screen’ and also about the vaccine 🙂

The rest of the practice was just amazing, they have their own laboratory, MRI scanning unit and so many different departments, the entire place is fresh and clean and has that “new” feel to it. It’s so, so, impressive.

As we headed outside, we bumped into Professor Dick White. He seemed to know who I was before I’d even spoken to thank him for all he did for Barney. He said it was no problem and asked how he was. He was very much ‘that’s what I do, no need to thank me” which in a way was nice because he didn’t make you feel like you owe him anything, which of course we feel we do. We really do. He and Rob did such a marvellous job with Barney, and so quickly too, that we feel we owe his life to them (and of course Martin Cossey at Broadway).

After a look around, I bought Luke a Moon Bear cuddly toy, which he lost within 5 minutes, so I went back and bought another. The Moon Bears are something that the Prof deals with. He is working endlessly to help end the suffering if these bears in Asia. The lives they lead are just plainly awful. See the link below for more details.

Anyway, all in all, we enjoyed the couple of hours we were there. We saw lots and got a good view of exactly where Barney was cared for, which was nice. Next time, all 4 of us will go. 🙂

http://www.animalsasia.org/