Continued from Part 7

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Lena in “The Chariot”

“What the hell!?”

I found her but I couldn’t believe my eyes. She was looking at me with the biggest grin, with a look that I swear was one of smug satisfaction. She was staring down at me from the top of the stairs. Somehow she had managed to climb eight stairs to the landing, turn, and go up two more into the kitchen. Without even realizing it I had walked right passed her. As amazing as that sounds for a tripod, especially a new one, I feel inclined to mention that she had trouble with these same stairs as a quadruped because of her corns. I have absolutely no clue how she managed to do this at all, never mind in the 45 seconds I had been outside. She then climbed back down those two stairs to go outside before I could get to her. It was at that point I realized how much she had been playing me. There would be no more carrying her outside. Though we did start blocking the stairs to keep her from overestimating her own capabilities. Having proved once again that she was a fighter, that evening we put her leash on her and took her for her first walk as a tripod. She only made it to the neighbor’s yard before pooping out, but she was happy. We then dug the stroller (dubbed, “The Chariot”) out of storage we had bought years earlier for Maggie, our 2nd tripod, who needed it as she got older. We started the routine of letting Lena walk as far as she could and then putting her in the Chariot for the rest of the walk.

The following Tuesday (Aug. 23rd) Lena was scheduled for her first round of carboplatin. Since it was going to be an all-day event, I took her by myself and left Suzie home with Petey and Isabelle. As I loaded her into the car she had a screaming contortion fit, but quickly settled down. As I was backing out of the driveway, however, she did it again. It was going to be a long, long two-and-a-half-hour drive. When we got to the parking lot I knew she had to pee so I parked near the grass. As I got her out of the car she had another fit. After doing her business we went inside and she headed straight for the receptionists. Everyone remembered her and marveled at how well she was doing. I wasn’t using a leash, I just had ahold of the harness she was wearing. Not that she needed any help. When they took us back to the exam room she turned and headed toward the door to leave. I guided her back and she ducked into someone’s office to say hi. All I could do was apologize and stand there in the hall shaking my head. She came when I called her, but immediately headed for the door again. Okay, I’ll give her that one — she has every right to not want to be here again. It didn’t go so well the first time.

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Lena’s first round of chemo.

Dr. Couto met us in the exam room and I explained her screaming fits to him again. I picked her up and put her down to demonstrate what I had just done in the parking lot. Nothing. He took her back to give her a full exam. Her incision had healed nicely and she was doing well overall, if still a little underweight. He and I had a meeting with the UVS staff while she was having chemo. All told she was with them for several hours and not once, not one single time did she have a screaming fit. Was she just being stoic for them? Or was I being played again?

Before we left Lena had an appointment with Dr. Ayoob for physical therapy. She showed us some really good stretches and balancing exercises for Lena… Important things for a senior as well as a tripod. Through all of that stretching, manipulation of her joints and repositioning her, Lena never screamed once. So Dr. Ayoob came outside with us and we walked around until Lena did her business. I loaded her into the car and she settled right in. Not a peep out of her. This was ridiculous.

About 20 minutes into the trip, just as we were getting on the highway, Lena suddenly started screaming the loudest G.S.O.D. I’ve ever heard. I about jumped out of my skin. It lasted long enough for me to change two lanes and get off the highway, looking for a place to stop and check on her. While stopped at the light on the exit ramp she quieted down, looking at me like nothing had happened. She must have been saving that all day. So I got back on the highway and we headed for home.

Half an hour later she did it again. At this rate, she was going to give me a heart attack before we got to the Ohio border.

There were no more episodes the rest of the way home. By the time we pulled in the drive I was exhausted. I scooped her up out of the car and set her down on the driveway. SCREEEAAAM!!! More twisting convulsions. More flailing. Lots more screaming. It’s a wonder our neighbors never called the police. But by now I was on to her little games. No way was this anything but behavioral. So I looked her right in the eye and very sternly (and not quietly) said, “ENOUGH! You’ve been fine all day. This game stops right here, right now.” She stopped screaming and with her ears were pinned to her head, looked at me with those soulful greyhound eyes. “No. We’re done. No more of this crap.” She looked at Suzie, who was now standing next to me, confused as to why I was yelling at our fragile little tripod. Still looking Lena in the eyes I pointed to the back yard, “Go potty. Now.” We both saw her demeanor change. She got a little taller, turned, and hopped off to the back yard. Suzie was almost in tears as I told her how Lena had been the perfect angel at UVS, with no screaming at all, and how she’d also tried to kill me on the way home. When Lena came back, I opened the door and she went right up the stairs and ran into the living room to claim the couch.

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Her princess status started to slip when we called her on her BS.

Things changed that night. There was no more screaming, no more fits. Lena would stand in the kitchen waiting for meals with the others, just like she’d always done. I think she got the message. But the other dogs started acting differently, too. Petey was more reluctant to give up his spot for her. Isabelle started to get more playful with Lena again. Was Lena giving off a different vibe now that she knew we weren’t buying her act anymore? Could they sense that something had changed? Or had the little mongrels been in on the act the whole time?

The next three days were relatively uneventful, especially considering the chemo treatment. Lena’s first visible reaction wasn’t until Saturday when she vomited the entire contents of her stomach right after dinner. Normally this kind of reaction happens within the first 48 hours, so we had become complacent about having towels nearby. [Note: washing the dog’s bed cover in white vinegar will get the vomit smell out of it, but the smell will be in your nose for days]. So Saturday and Sunday was more vomiting and diarrhea. She was still underweight and couldn’t really afford this kind of setback. We had her on Flagyl for the diarrhea and Pepcid for the vomiting. That seemed to do the trick and we thought we were in the clear.

But the following weekend it all came back with a vengeance. Dr. Lubold (another one of the doctors that took care of her at UVS) didn’t think it was related to the chemo and suggested we take her into our own vet for blood work. We got her in Monday afternoon. Her BUN was low and her creatinine was high, even for a greyhound. This could indicate a problem with her kidneys. Carbo can have a detrimental impact on kidneys, but it’s unusual. Still, flushing her system and “kickstarting” her kidneys should help. So we left her there overnight for some intensive fluid therapy. They ended up keeping her on a steady drip for three days. Her numbers were behaving erratically: on Tuesday they both moved closer to normal, seeming to indicate that the fluids were working. But on Wednesday the Bun continued to improve while the creatinine actually got worse — an unusual reaction, to say the least.  By Wednesday the fluid was starting to pool in her feet and legs, so we needed to give that a rest and, though she still had a soft stool, she was acting normal and eating just fine, so Wednesday evening we brought her home. Her 2nd round of chemo was originally set for that Tuesday, but we had moved it to Friday when we checked her in at our vet. We had now moved it to the following Monday to give all of her doctors a chance to discuss her case.

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 9 (final)