Category Archives: Our Puppy

We brought home a golden retriever puppy on August 29, 2003. His name is Bacchus, and he’s changed our lives like we never imagined.

Goodbye to Our Best Friend

It has been a tear-filled day. With unspeakably heavy hearts, it pains me to say that we put Bacchus to sleep today. We have been fearing this day for the last nine months, when he was first diagnosed with lymphoma. The chemotherapy pushed him into remission for several months, which we are very thankful to have. It gave us an opportunity to take him camping and on several hikes again this summer. He was happy and energetic again. Perhaps not quite his old self, but close enough for us all to forget for a while.

His cancer relapsed about three weeks ago. We went through a “rescue protocol” to try to kick it back into remission. It seemed to work for a couple of weeks, but in the end it was too much for him. He completely lost his appetite, and was unable to process any sustenance. The vet did not believe he was in pain, but he was clearly in discomfort. He has been vomiting again for several days now. The oncologist said there wasn’t anything more we could do for him, so we decided to take advantage of a pretty day to take him out for one last walk and a trip to the dog park while the boys were still in school.

It feels as if a light that has brightened our lives and warmed our home for as long as either of us can remember has been extinguished. A lot of people feel that their dog is special. Lara and I are no exception, and feel it as keenly as anyone. He was our family for almost 9 years. He brought more joy to our lives than we ever imagined a pet could do. He brought a smile to everyone’s face. For years, when we walked down the street in our neighborhood, children and adults alike, who did not even know our names, would shout, “Bacchus!”, and come rushing over to pet him.

The boys are taking it pretty well. We let them say goodbye, and dropped them off at a friend’s house so we could both take him to the vet. Clearly, they don’t understand what has happened, but we’ve told them all about “doggy heaven”, and the huge field that Bacchus is now running through and the pond that he can swim in all day. I’m hoping that repeatedly explaining this to the boys will serve as some sort of perverse therapy, and help us to process our grief.

We met Bacchus at a farmhouse in the summer of 2003. He slept under a dog house as we were introduced to his brothers and sisters. We were pretty much settled on adopting his chubbier and more docile sister, but just as we were about to leave, he woke up and grabbed us as if to say, ” What about me?” We played with him for a while, but drove away intending to adopt his sister. Something was eating at both of us though, so when we got home we called the breeder back to say we had changed our minds and wanted to adopt the puppy we knew simply as “Kelly Green” (the color of the collar he was wearing – which by the way remained the color of his collar for the rest of his life).

He was a near perfect dog from the start. The only thing of ours that he ever chewed was a few socks, and he never once even attempted to jump on a piece of furniture. Even house training only involved a few accidents. Before we knew it, he was ensconced in our hearts and we could not imagine our lives without him. He was a constant companion on our numerous backpacking trips. All we had to do was pull out his backpack, and he would launch into a frenzy. He had the energy to hike all day long, and yet was perfectly content to lay by your feet (or on Lara’s lap as she sat on the floor) all day when you were under the weather. He greeted us at the door every day, tail wagging furiously.

He had his quirks, to be sure. We’ll always remember his “puppy crazies”, his love of opening wrapped packages, and the way he would run in endless circles at the feet of any visitor to the house. He would spread his legs out to the side as he slept like some sort of furry amphibian. He would whimper and twitch his legs as he dreampt nearly nightly. He had to be in the middle of any hug. As with many dogs, he  loved chasing bunnies and squirrels, and was passionate about swimming. Most of all, he just made you feel good.

Goodbye Bacchus. You will forever be a part of our hearts, and we thank you for being the best friend we could have hoped for.

Memorial Day

I realize it’s been a while since our last post. With Memorial Day weekend come and gone, summer is now in full swing, and man are the days racing by. We had a busy, if uneventful, weekend. We got the boys out for their first official hike in the mountains, at a place called Meyer Ranch park just outside the metro area. We hiked for 2 miles, and had a picnic lunch. Both boys handled it quite well for their ages. There was of course a bit of whining, which had more to do with wanting to eat or wanting to get to the choo-choo (see next paragraph), so we’re hopeful that we’ll be able to do more in the future.

After the hike, we went to “Tiny Town”, which is really a gimicky tourist trap set up for parents of small children. Its a collection of miniature buildings, arranged as a small town. The main attraction is the train. There are a couple of small scale trains that run a little loop around the town. That is the choo-choo that the boys were so keen on. They had a blast, and OK, so did Lara and I.

There is one picture that probably needs a little backstory. While in the playground at Tiny Town, Alex decided he wanted to bring home some of the rocks. He’s often stuffing things in his pockets (yes, we have to watch him closely in stores), but this time he decided to put them in his hat. He would then try to put his hat on, but he couldn’t keep the rocks from falling out. He was actually getting pretty annoyed, and at one point started yelling “mine!” It was one of those moments that after the fact we wished we had the video camera running for, but at least we managed to get this photo…

As you can also see in the pictures, Bacchus joined us on our excursion. He is doing quite well with his treatments. He has put on much of the weight (back to 70 lbs as of Wednesday), and has a lot of his old energy back. He had a bit of a tough time the last day or so. He’s thrown up three times, although none of it appears as serious as what he went through this winter. We’re hoping he just swallowed something that disagreed with him, but we’ll see.

The boys continue to develop in leaps and bounds. Alex is really working on words, and is starting to string more and more together. It isn’t what I would call sentences yet, or even full words for that matter, but he’s getting his point across. The morning we went to Tiny Town, he said “Me, mama, daddy, Da (Evan), car, park, choo choo.” Considering where he’s been, we consider that major progress.

Evan is really working on his behavioral issues. He had a very rough couple of weeks at school, including being sent home one morning, and I believe he was on the edge of being expelled. He’s coming back around now, with a pretty good week this past week. This weekend, after getting very upset about something at breakfast, he pounded the table and yelled “I’m angry! I need to go in the other room and calm down!” He then proceeded to climb out of his chair and walk into the living room for a minute. When he came back, he was indeed calm. Lara and I almost cried.

Outside of that, not much new to report. We have a couple of additional grandparent visits starting to get scheduled over the next couple of months, and our first camping trip planned in June. We’ll certainly get more pictures out as soon as we have them.

Lymphoma

We met with an oncologist this afternoon to get a handle on Bacchus’ prognosis. She painted a much bleaker picture than the surgeon. He indeed has lymphoma, but based on the fact that it was in an internal organ, she believes that it is probably the more difficult “T-cell” strain. The “B-cell” variety is generally more apparent as lumps under the skin. We’re still waiting for the lab results to say for certain, but we went ahead and started a chemotherapy program today.

Bacchus will be getting weekly chemo treatment for perhaps the next 4-5 months. Oy vay.  We’re well past the point where most sane people decide that they can’t justify paying for that kind of treatment for a pet, but we just can’t make ourselves let go. He is still very much a happy and energetic dog. We can only hope that he battles this thing into remission, and gets back to a reasonable quality of life soon.

If it is indeed T-cell, the odds of success are not all that good. The doctor said that a typical patient could expect to be in remission for about 6 months after the first course of chemo. What we didn’t realize is that “remission” begins from the moment they see the cancer cells pull back, which if all goes well will happen in the first month or so of treatment. That means that Bacchus would be looking at 2-3 months after wrapping up chemo before the cancer comes back, and with T-cell lymphoma, the follow-on treatments are much more difficult.

Apparently, either type of lymphoma develops very quickly. The doctor thought that left untreated, Bacchus would have 2-6 weeks until he was right back in the position he was in prior to surgery, only this time, he is going in with 20cm less intestine. It is entirely possible that Bacchus won’t react well to his chemo course, or that the lab results indicate we’re dealing with something pretty malicious, in which case we may be forced to make “the decision” much earlier.

If we get lucky, there is some chance that Bacchus either has B-cell lymphoma, or that he just happens to fall in a very small group of dogs (~5%) who are able to battle T-cell into remission for a year or more. Obviously, this isn’t exactly the news we were hoping for, but we’re still keeping our fingers crossed for the lab results.

Update on Bacchus

We received word today from Dr. Stubbs that the biopsy of the tumor does indicate lymphoma. For the possible cancer types, this is the best we could have hoped for for treatment. The company that does the biopsy wants to do further special staining which will hopefully help us understand what chemo treatments, and how many, would be needed. We are now trying to get an appointment with the oncologist as she only works Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays.

Chris will take Bacchus tomorrow morning to get the staples out, and we’re hoping we can go to a 2x per day meal offering, and perhaps even allow him to come upstairs at night to sleep in our room.  I’m sure Bacchus would rather know when he can have his first Greenie…