This is a personal weblog based on my life with Bernese Mountain Dogs. The opinions expressed here represent my own and and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of any clubs, organizations or committees that I may be associated with. Please feel free to comment on any post, but profane, abusive or rude comments will not be tolerated - please be polite, even if you disagree.
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Thursday, April 30, 2009

Berners In The Snow

Maggie and Bosley love the snow.  Luckily for them, we had a big spring snowfall a couple days ago.  They are truly in their element in the snow.

Bosley is sure spring is in the air.

Maggie sprinting across the yard.

Mmmm . . . snow.

Bosley spends much of his time eating the snow or tunneling through it.

Snowball fight.  Maggie loves trying to catch snowballs I throw to her.

Bosley flying through the snow.

Pretty Maggie.

There is nothing like an "I love the snow" smile.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

All I Wanted Was An Oil Change

Today, on my way to take Bosley for a run, I thought I would stop and get the oil changed in my car.  The dogs like coming along when I get my oil changed because they always get a cookie (or two) from the guys who work there.  So Bosley got his cookie, and I was reading the complimentary newspaper and the guy comes over to my window.

The Guy:  "Umm, I just checked your air filter, and well, it looks like it is full of dog hair."
Me:  "Really?"
The Guy - with a look of amazement on his face: "Umm, ya.  I have never seen dog hair in the air filter before."
Me - trying to act surprised and not laugh: "Really!?!"
The Guy:  "Your air filter really needs to be replaced."

Normally, I always think that the service people are just trying to up-sell me with their inflated prices on car parts, but I saw the air filter.  It didn't just have a couple of dog hairs in it.  It was completely stuffed full of fur.  You know how when you get new towels and you put them in the dryer for the first time and the dryer filter is completely full of lint?  That is how my air filter was, only worse.  It was disgusting and funny at the same time.  I bought a new air filter.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Waiting Is So Hard

I am still nervously waiting for the Vet's call with Maggie's final pathology report.  She called on Monday to say that the preliminary results were in and that it looks like the surgeon got clean margins.  That is great news!  That means that Maggie will not need to have another surgery.  They did not have the results on the lymph node.  I thought I would have heard something by now, and am getting more nervous as each day goes by.

Maggie is doing great.  Her incision looks really good and she can get her stitches out in another week or so.  She is off of all of her pain medication and you would never know by the way she is acting that she just had surgery a week ago.  She had lots of fun playing in the snow today and catching the snowballs that I threw at her.  

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Care Instructions

Maggie came home from her surgery with a package of information that included post surgery care instructions.  The instructions say "Keep Maggie quiet for the next 2 weeks".  Uh Huh.  Maggie is obviously feeling much better today because she is not really obeying the care instructions.  She was trying her hardest to get me to play ball with her and was teasing Bosley with the Kong.  
Her incision is looking much better today too.  The bruising is starting to go away and the swelling is going down.  She will need to get her stitches out in a couple weeks (I counted over 30 of them).  

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Maggie Is Home!

Maggie is very sore, but I know she is happy to be home.  Poor girl, she has an incision on her belly that is about 6 inches long, and was sent home with some strong pain killers.  

We met with the surgeon today and he was wonderful!  He spent a lot of time speaking to us about the surgery (he even drew diagrams on a white board) and talking about Mast Cell Cancer in general.  He is fairly confident that he got clean margins as he removed lots of tissue from around the mass.  He also removed a lymph node that was in the area.  The tissue and the lymph node were sent off to the pathologist for analysis.  If the margins are clean and the lymph node tests negative for cancer cells, that will end the treatment.  If the margins are not clean, that will mean more surgery or possibly radiation.  If the lymph node comes back positive for cancer cells, then we would need to discuss the option of chemo.  The surgeon seemed very positive that the results will be good, but made us aware of every outcome that could happen.  He also made sure to tell us that about 15% of dogs that have a Mast Cell Tumor will get them again.  It will be important that Maggie be checked frequently for any new lumps.

We should know the new pathology results by early next week.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Surgery Day

I just got a brief phone call from the surgeon.  Maggie is doing very well and the surgery went exactly as planned.  I didn't get a lot of details, but the surgeon said that they removed all the mass and surrounding healthy tissue, and the tissue is being sent to a lab Colorado.  I was a bit confused by that, since the Pathologist they use is in Saskatoon.  The surgeon said that he will talk to me more when I go to pick up Maggie tomorrow.  I am a bit concerned since he was so brief on the phone and I didn't get a chance to ask him any questions.  Hopefully everything is OK.  

I dropped Maggie off at the vet clinic in Calgary yesterday evening.  Her surgery is scheduled for today.  It is going to be a very long day at work today waiting to hear that she is out of surgery.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

The Easter Hunt

Most people hunt for eggs on Easter.  Maggie and Bosley think eggs are boring.  So what do Bernese Mountain Dogs like to hunt on Easter?


"OK Maggie,  you look a bit worried so I'll get the head and you get the tail."

"Now . . . Pull!!!"

"Bosley, let me try having the head.  I can handle it, I know it."

"Yup, I've got 'em now!"

"Bosley, concentrate on what you are doing, and get your foot off my face!"

"I said, get your big, *&%@$#  foot off my face!!!!"

"Do you think we did it, Bosley?  Do you think we got this snake?"

"Well, Maggie, he ain't movin', so I think we got 'em."

Another successful Bernese Mountain Dog Easter Snake Hunt.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Test Results

The Oncologist called this afternoon with the rest of Maggie's test results.  All of the tests came back normal.  Normal kidney and liver function.  No sign of infection.  Normal bone marrow test.  Everything is normal!  The Mast Cell Tumor has not spread!  I am very relieved.  

The next step is to get her back into surgery sometime next week.  If they can successfully remove the remaining Mast Cell clusters, Maggie has a good chance for a full recovery.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

The Full Meal Deal

It was a long day today.  I dropped Maggie off at the clinic at 10:00 this morning, which meant we needed to be out of the house by 7:30.  Maggie was ready to be picked up at 4:30, just in time to hit rush hour traffic out of downtown Calgary.  We got back home at 7:30 tonight.

Poor Maggie is looking quite pathetic right now.  She is still drowsy from the sedative, and I imagine she is a bit sore from all the tests she had to endure.  She also has a bald spot on her hip, where they did the bone marrow test.  The good news is that all of her x-rays came back clear.  Everything about her major internal organs looks exactly the way it should.  More of the test results should be ready by tomorrow, so the doctor will call me and let me know those results.  The cancer surgeon looked at Maggie today too.  He said that there is "lots of real estate for him to work with".  He is confident that because of the amount of tissue he has access to, he should be able to remove all of the affected cells with surgery.  So, as long as the rest of the test results come back looking good, she possibly will be scheduled for surgery next week.

Things are looking a bit better, but I don't want to breath a sigh of relief until all of the tests are back and she is recovered from her second surgery and we know there are clean margins. 

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Oncologist Visit

Today I took Maggie to Calgary to see the Oncologist for a consultation.  Maggie got a very thorough examination and the Oncolgist could not find any swollen lymph nodes, other lumps, or anything out of the ordinary.  She is concerned about the grading of the Mast Cell Tumor that the pathologist gave.  She thinks that it should have been graded as a Grade 2 tumor, not a Grade 1.  A Grade 1 tumor is a single nodule that has not spread.  In the pathology report there were 3 nodules and clusters of hundreds of satellite cells throughout the sample and beyond the margins of the sample, which is not consistent with a Grade 1 diagnosis.  She is having the slides re-evaluated by the pathologist that they normally use.  We will have the new pathology report back in about a week.

Maggie will definately need to have more surgery.  Before that happens, the Oncologist wants to be sure that the Mast Cell Tumors have not spread internally.  Once Mast Cell Tumors invade the internal organs, the prognosis is grim.  So tomorrow, Maggie goes back to the Calgary clinic for the "Full Meal Deal".  She has to have a full days worth of tests done.  They include X-rays, complete blood and urine workups, a bone marrow test, maybe an ultrasound, and some other things that I can't remember.  If those tests all come back looking good, then Maggie can have more surgery.  The Oncologist seemed fairly optomistic that if the tumors have not spread to the internal organs, surgery should provide a cure for this.  

*** Remember when I blogged about how much it cost to have Maggie's broken toe repaired?  Ya well, that was nothing!  The VISA people are going to love me.

Monday, April 6, 2009

A Happy Girl

We don't have any official agility classes now until the middle of April, so I took a couple of jumps home with me yesterday so that I can do a bit of handling practice with Bosley in the yard.  Today I went to set up the jumps and Maggie went nuts!  She was so excited to see the jumps she was play bowing and bouncing all over the yard.  She is not supposed to be doing anything strenuous since it has only been a week since her surgery, so I set the jumps at 6" and  we "practiced" for a few minutes.  I have not seen her so happy in a long time - she had the biggest grin on her face, so happy to be playing agility again.  

Watch out . . . once Maggie is all recovered, she will be a maniac out there on the agility course.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Agility Fun Match

This morning we had an agility fun match to wrap up our winter indoor training.  There was just a small group of us who could make it out today, so all of the dogs got in lots of runs.  Bosley even ran a Masters Jumpers course!

Bosley did a good job today.  He ran all of  his runs at 22", which will be the AAC jump height that he will jump at.  He only knocked a couple bars and that was likey due to poor handling choices on my part.  He even jumped a spread and double today, and he has never even seen those jumps before. He didn't even give them a second glance, and cleared them with no problem.  He is also getting very confident in the weaves.  He just plows through them now.  He did 2 sets of 12 poles today (we rarely practice 12 poles) and he nailed them both times, with nice speed too.  

After the fun match was over, we had pizza and beer, compliments of the owner of the arena.  We then loaded up all of the equipment to move it back to our summer, outdoor training area.

Maggie must not have been too impressed that she was left behind again.  It has been a long time since she has destroyed anything in the house, but when I came home today, I came home to a mess.  I had a wicker basket that has been sitting on the floor in my bedroom for a year or so.  I came home to find pieces of the basket spread from one end of the room to the other.  Along with that was a nice pile of puke.  All of the eaten pieces were there waiting for me too! I took Maggie for a nice walk to make up for leaving her alone all day.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Pathology Results

It's cancer.  Grade 1 mast cell tumor with no clean margins (there are still cancerous cells left behind).

She just turned 4 years old.   I am devastated.