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Layla's Journey

Stay pawsitive. <3

Layla's Journey

A Full Recovery

September 22nd, 2016 · 2 Comments · Uncategorized

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Hello friends,

When I first began this journey with Layla, I was feeling many of the same things that I’m sure the readers of this site are feeling or have felt. Fear, hopelessness, defeat. I had this wonderful dog, this joyful, unbelievably intelligent, funny creature who loved me unconditionally. It was perfect. And then the cancer came and I was convinced that everything was ruined.

It first showed up when she was around three years old. To give you some background, I became Layla’s mom when she was about seven months old, and it was supposed to be a temporary arrangement. She was being kept on her own in the backyard of an empty rental house in north Austin, and when my sister offered to watch her while the owners went out of town, they never came back for her, which was a relief for all of us. I didn’t even want a dog of my own, let alone a pit bull, but I couldn’t see bringing her to the noisy, depressing shelter. She wouldn’t make eye contact or let anyone near her, had never been socialized. She didn’t stand a chance.

She wasn’t housebroken, and she chewed on everything except her bones (including the drywall) and cost me the pet deposits at two rental properties before she finally came into her own when she was around eighteen months of age. Up to that point, we had still been looking for a family for her, but one night, after I was sitting on the couch, exhausted from cleaning up after her and walking her without wearing her out, she laid next to me on the couch and put her head in my lap. And that was that. I was hers and she was mine, forever.

She was an incredibly healthy, energetic dog, with endless case of what I would find out were referred to in the dog community as the “zoomies.” So when the lump showed up on her hind leg in her third year, I wrote it off as some sort of insect bite or bee sting. Only instead of going away, it grew bigger. I had seen dogs who had harmless, fatty tumors, and assumed this was the same thing, but when it grew to the size of golf ball, we took her to the vet to have it looked at.

Fast forward five years and three surgical removals later, and the cancer was coming back faster, and had spread from being isolated to her mid-thigh to the upper leg and her knee joint. It was an ugly, massive thing, and I hated it. It hurt to look at her, and I felt awful, because I knew my pain was imagined, and hers had to be so real. She never let on that it bothered her until (weirdly and perhaps fortunately? enough) the evening before we scheduled her amputation. She began limping on our last walk, and I think if it hadn’t been for that, I might have second-guessed the decision to amputate. But the mass was getting so close to her spine, and after four referrals to different specialists, all of whom weren’t sure what the outcome might be, but all of whom were certain that if nothing was done, it would mean letting the cancer run its course and eventually putting her down in the very near future.

People sometimes tell me that I did something commendable by agreeing to the surgery, but let me be clear–when the other “option” is letting her die, there was no choice about this.

When I first brought her home, it was rough. Her appetite wasn’t great at first, and she was shaking and wasn’t herself. She had been prescribed Carprofen for the swelling and Tramadol for the pain, and thankfully, once they told me to take her off of the Carprofen, the shaking stopped completely. On Day 10, when she stopped the Tramadol, she was completely herself again, like magic.

That was also the day that she went up the stairs for the first time without assistance. Three weeks post-amp, she went on her first run. She insisted, and was even pulling me. And it only got better from there.

By week five, we were back at the dog park, where she was a huge hit with her dog and human friends alike. By week six, she completed half of her favorite off-leash hiking trail at Emma Long Metropolitan Park, and on her eight-week Ampuversary, she completed the full 2.7-mile trail without stumbling once, steep inclines and rocky creek crossings and all.

I want to tell anyone who is facing this terrible situation with their own furry family member that, although there is so much risk and fear that comes with such a serious operation, there is so much hope that comes with it, as well. Without the surgery, Layla would have been doomed to certain death. And with it, she is herself again, only better. Because the cancer’s gone, and the pain with it. I hope you find encouragement in her story, and I hope that anyone reading this finds the same peace and success in their own friends’ journeys.

Love,

layla-collage

Layla and Beth

 


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June 22nd, 2016 · No Comments · Uncategorized

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