Toby Has Cancer

Well, I never thought I would be writing those three words on this blog.

Toby has cancer.

I have shared so much of Toby’s life on this blog and our Facebook page. Yet, sharing this, on my personal Facebook page Friday, and writing this post,  has been really difficult. I thought numerous times about whether or not to do it.

Ultimately, I decided I should.

I shared the information on Facebook Friday evening, and then didn’t open the app for a number of hours. For the most part, I didn’t respond to text messages and selectively answered my phone also for hours after.

I kept the update, posted along with the photo above, simple: “We found out this morning that this little furry face has stage 3 lymphoma. He received his first chemo treatment this afternoon. It all happened very fast and I’m still kind of in disbelief. But, he is acting normal, running and playing and being his mostly, typical Toby self.”

There were a lot of questions about how we knew and what the vet said. In many cases I couldn’t/wasn’t ready to go through all that information. I figured writing this would be an easier way to answer all those questions.

So, here we go …

I got back from a business trip to Italy very late on Monday night. As soon as I walked in the door and looked at Toby I noticed his neck swollen on both sides. I thought it was an allergic reaction, but we quickly ruled that out.

Before the vet even opened Tuesday, I called and got an appointment that morning. He was just there a few weeks ago for his yearly, and got a clean bill of health.

The lumps on either side of his neck were symmetrically enlarged. She checked his other lympnodes, and just the one in the back knee was slightly big, but nothing of concern, at that point.

They drew blood, did a needle biopsy, and sent him home with antibiotics, because she said his gums did show a little gingervitis. The blood work came back later that afternoon and showed his white blood cell count was slightly elevated, but nothing crazy.

The pathology test didn’t come back for another two days. I called Friday morning, and knew something was wrong when they said the vet would call me back. As soon as I heard her voice, my heart sunk ~ “We got the test back and it’s not good news for Toby. He has high grade lymphoma.”

There were some other things she said, and then it ended with, “make an appointment with an oncologist as soon as possible.”

So, that’s what I did. We talked to the vet around 10 a.m. and by 3 p.m we were sitting in an oncologists office 45 minutes away listening to treatment options.

As I always say, a good veterinarian is so important. These two new veterinarians, one an oncologist, were great. After staging Toby’s cancer, (Stage 3) they spend time explaining all the treatment options, tests that could be performed, costs, etc. I felt very comfortable that I had all the information I needed to make the best decision – a middle of the road treatment plan that included chemo through IV every three weeks for a minimum of five treatments, plus prednisone at home.

And just like that, Toby was having his first chemo treatment. They said he did great, and part of why I decided to stick with these guys, was because Toby was very calm in the office and seems comfortable with both veterinarians.

My biggest concern is, and always will be, Toby’s comfort.

Everyone keeps asking how he is doing/what symptoms he is/was showing. The scary part is, he wasn’t. The doctor said this can come on sudden.

The other question I keep getting is what’s the prognosis. Althought I’ve said it for what feels like a million times, I’m not ready to write it. I will say, it’s not the greatest. So, please send Toby good vibes.

It’s taken me three days to write this. Maybe I will write more eventually, but for now, this is all my brain, and heart, can handle.

 

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Little Dogs With a Big Bed 

They might be little dogs, but they love their new big bed.

I bought this bed on a great day-after-Christmas sale in anticipation of my friend and his giant German Shepherd coming to visit for a week. Well, the friend and the dog were both no shows, so I decided to finally give Toby and Maddux the “big bed” to enjoy.

And enjoy, they did.

They seriously love this bed.

They cuddle on it together, alone and use it as a wrestling matt, too when they are playing.

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Brotherly Love

Seriously cannot get enough of their cuteness! 
   
   

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Our New Feathered Friends

Toby and Maddux have a new brother and sister. But this time, they have feathers and not fur. 

Yup, that’s right, we have birds again. I say again because when I got Toby I already had a parakeet named Sky, who was the best bird anyone could ask for. He was totally bonded to me and my Dad and quickly bonded to Toby. Toby would rest his head on one shoulder and Sky would rest it on the other. 

So meet Pete and Ree. They are so in love with each other it’s almost sickening. I was instantly drawn to both of them in the store, and noticed they were completely bonded with each other. They were preening each other and “kissing.” 

I thought they were both exceptional, and although I really only wanted one bird, I really didn’t want to separate them. And, I am so happy I didn’t. 

  
 

  
They are so silly and adorable together. I really forgot how much I loved having birds. 

Handling them has become a bit of a challenge because they are so bonded to each other, but I’m working on it. 

   
 
Their colors are spectacular. Pete is had a yellow head with flecks of the color going down his back and chest and his tail and under feathers are a multitude of colors. 

He is stunning. 

She is also beautiful, and I have a feeling baby birds may be in my future. 

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Maddux’s First Agility Classes

For the longest time I have wanted to do agility. Toby couldn’t do it because of his knees, so when I decided to get a second dog, I really wanted one that might be interested in agility.

The day I took Maddux home, he was running through a tunnel and running up ramps. We had a feeling he would be a natural.

A little more than a year later, he is a natural. Well, mostly.

We started taking classes a few weeks ago, and Maddux did great in the beginning. He loves jumps and tunnels, the table and the A-frame. He even does the tire well when told to go through that.

The dog walk, the teeter and the weaves, well that’s another story. Oh, and lets talk about the zoomies.
  
 The past two classes he has just wanted to run the course himself without listening to me telling him where to go. And, the dog walk, we need meatballs to get him to walk it. The teeter, he did OK with but was super scared and nervous.

During out last class we did the dog walk continuously to the point where he would do it without too many issues.

Agility has been a lot of fun, for both of us. But, I have to be honest – sometimes I get frustrated, and feel like one of those “parents” pushing their “child” to do their best.

I do hope to compete with him someday, but I think that might be far off. My Dad came to the most recent class and took some video of us on the course. Hope you enjoy them, because it is pretty cute to watch the Maddux boy running the course. He really does love it.

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My Best Cuddlebug 

Toby really is the best cuddlebug, especially when we get crazy rain like we have right now 
  

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What We’ve Been Up To

If you follow us on Facebook, or me on Instagram, you know a lot of what we’ve been up to, but if not here is a little of what’s been happening. 
A year ago, we moved to upstate New York full time, when I started working for a company in Chicago. It meant adjusting to a new place and people, which we are still struggling with. 

  

We joined a local dog park, as well as our local Kennel Club. Through the Kennel Club, we’ve been taking obedience class, and Maddux is starting agility. We’ve also been trying out Barn Hunt. My goal is compete with Maddux, especially with agility. I’m also hoping to maybe do obedience with Toby. 

  

  
During the summer, Toby and Maddux enjoyed lots of walks and beach time at the lake. 
   
    
   
And, of course lots and lots of snuggeling, and naps …..

   
    
   

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Our First Barn Hunt Practice

Maddux, we believe, is a rat terrier mix. So, one would think he would be a natural at Barn Hunt, right?

Not so much.

Two weekends ago we attended a Barn Hunt seminar with practice runs hosted by our local Kennel Club. It was a lot of fun, but Maddux wasn’t as interested as I thought he would be.

Even when he saw the rat, he looked at it, but wasn’t really phased by it. When it was in the container, he had even less interest.

What he did like?

Running through the hay tunnel and jumping all over.

*sigh*

Apparently, he is a lover and not a hunter.

Actually, I was told he didn’t do terrible, and sometimes it takes them a little while to get into it.

So what are we doing? This weekend, we are going to another day of practice – of course!

Maybe this one will go a little better.

Have you done barn hunt before? I’d love to hear about how your dog likes/doesn’t like it.

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Painting My Dog at Saratoga Paint and Sip

This was so much fun! My friends and I painted images of our dogs last night at a local paint and sip studio. 

It was such a blast. You send them a photo of your pet, they sketch it out for you on a canvas and then you paint it. 

I always knew Toby has unique tones of brown, but until last night when I was trying to replicate them, I didn’t realize how truely unique it was. 

Clearly, it’s not perfect, but they did some adorable. 

  
Here are some photos of the process. 
  

  

  

  

  

  

It was my second time painting at this type of studio. It’s so relaxing and calming, and fun! 

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Stop Shaming My Small Dog

Last time I checked my dogs still had four legs, four paws, two ears, two eyes, a nose, a mouth, fur and a tail. 

Their internal temperature is between 99 °F and 102.5 °F, and their sense of smell is 10,000 to 100,000 times as sensitive as mine – all scientific characterization that do indeed make them, a dog. 

Yet, society says other wise, because at 12 and 13 pounds, respectfully, they, are not a dog. 

After 7 years of living with Toby, I’ve heard it all. Friends have called him “a little shit,” he’s been called, “not a real dog,” and of course anything under 25 pounds is just not “respectable.”  

Stop. Just stop. 

It’s rude, annoying and hurtful, not just to the dog but to me. You’re not insulting the dog, you’re insulting me, and my choices. 

They will still bring you the ball to play with, lick your face and wag their tail when they see you. I, on the other hand, will not be as forgiving. 

I will fully admit that I didn’t want a little dog. But not because it was a “little shit,” but because I wanted a dog for protection, to do a lot of out door activities with and very honestly, because my parents wouldn’t let me have a golden retriever growing up. Instead we had a Lhasa Apso, and I had to get my golden “fix” when I was at my aunt’s farm. 

Call it rebellion. 

Well, I fell in love with Toby and that all changed. And, then Maddux. 

Both of these dogs have their issues, but they are still dogs. They have exposed me to so many experiences, people and places. And, because of their size, they have been able to come with me a bunch of places. From a boat ride in Maine to a first class seat on a flight to Florida. 

And, Toby, he is a little protector. Sometimes to a fault, but if I were ever in danger, I would want Toby on my side. 

Are there specific dog breeds that I am not a fan of? Absolutely. But, I don’t go around calling those dogs names or insulting their owners. They are still dogs. 

Just like everything else, you don’t know what a person is going through or their circumstances. I love Bernese Mountain dogs, would I own one? Likely not right now. Their size doesn’t fit my space and their food bills are a little out of my budget. 

When I got Toby, I was told I was allergic to dogs, plus I was living at my dad’s house – a place that is definitely not set up for a large dog and has my dad in it — someone who is also very allergic to dogs. That narrows down your choices. 

Just because they are not 50-pound mutts, doesn’t mean they can’t do things. My dogs go kayaking with me, Toby has hiked a mountain in Maine with me, Maddux walks several miles with me the mornings and will eventually be an agility dog who is likely faster than you at running a mile. 

  

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