Sunday, April 17, 2011

Goodbye to Our Friend

I had been putting this off because I wasn't sure if I'd know what to write and honestly just didn't want to have to write it but I feel it needs to be done.  There are many of you out there who have followed Jake's story that I do not even personally know.  As was mentioned in my last post, Jake hadn't been doing well and sadly was out of options to treat this aggressive tumor of his.  Even worse, it was finally affecting his quality of life and poor Jake just wasn't himself.  He was in pain and we could not bear to see him like this.  It was clear last Friday, April 8th, that Jake was not himself and was suffering so we made the toughest decision we've ever had to make and chose to have Jake put to sleep.  Both Jenn and I were with him till the last moment and while it was extremely tough to be there I wouldn't have done it differently today.  I feel as if I've lost my best friend and we miss him everyday.  It has been tough but we are very thankful to our friends and family for being there for us.  There were a lot of people pulling for him and he made an impact in a lot of lives.  He will always be remembered and while our time with him was short, it was truly memorable.  He should be remembered as the crazy, loving and active dog he was.  Even with that horrific tumor he never let anything affect him until the very end. 
In his death I hope he can still help this clinical trial as they study his tumor that even fought back against the gene therapy.  Our thanks go out to Dr. Pluhar and her team for always being accessible and trying their very best to help Jake.  Her optimistic attitude was a pleasant surprise while having to deal with this.  She always hoped for the best.  We are also extremely thankful to everyone at Richmond Valley Animal Hospital, especially Dr. Esposito who went above and beyond her normal veterinary duties.  She truly is one of a kind.  She is what every vet should be and her love for animals is evident in her work.  Please visit the non-profit organization that she helped found, NY SAVE (Save Animals in Veterinary Emergency), which provides emergency veterinary care for low-income pet owners.

Friday, April 8, 2011

2 Month MRI

Its been a while since I updated but during that time Jake was doing fairly well.  He has been very active and all around doing good.  Two days ago he started showing signs that he wasn't feeling well.  A few times he yelped as if in pain but I couldn't narrow it down to what was bothering him.  Then Thursday night we woke up at 4am and just could not get comfortable.  He was awake for an hour and a half trying to get comfortable and shaking so I called the on call vet and he decided to meet me at the office and check him out.  After some blood work and drugs he recommended we get his MRI as soon as possible.  He was originally scheduled to go next Friday but we were able to go in yesterday and get it done.
So I headed to Yonkers with Jake to meet with Dr. Joseph, the doc who initially diagnosed Jake with the brain tumor.  He gave Jake a initial exam and confirmed he was having issues on his right side, opposite the side of the tumor.  This was the first sign that things weren't good.  He then went in for the MRI.
A few hours later I was given the bad news.  Jake's tumor had fully returned and was actually slightly bigger than before the surgery.  In a matter of 2 months it was back.  I was devastated and couldn't have gotten worse news.  I spoke with Dr. Pluhar and she was also amazed with the speed of his particular tumor.  To make things worse, Jake actually received the gene therapy and not the placebo in the clinical trial.  His tumor was so aggressive that the gene therapy and chemo both failed to keep it in check.  Jenn and I are both truly saddened by this and don't know how much longer we have with him but we do know that we will cherish every last moment that we do.

Monday, February 28, 2011

No More Stitches

It will be 2 weeks tomorrow that Jake had his surgery.  He couldn't look better.  He's just like his old self with just as much energy as usual.  He's been jumping completely in the air lately.  Must be the steroids.  So tonight we went to the vet to get his stitches out and do a routine blood test.  If all is well with the blood work he will begin his chemo pills tomorrow night.  As usual he was a little monster when we went to the vet.  From the moment we got out of the car he was barking like a maniac at the dog outside and then all the dogs in the waiting room.  He was very loud and everyone was staring at us.  We were immediately relegated to the storage room where they keep bags of food and loud dogs.  After much whining we were retrieved from their by the doctor.  She carefully removed his stitches and took the blood work and we were on our way.  I am still waiting to hear back as to the grade of the tumor.  I will update when I find out.

 Wishing he was somewhere else

Locked away in the storage room

Back home stitches free

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Finally Home

Six days later and too much driving to count we are finally back.  We left at 8am  from Cleveland and are back in Brooklyn after a pit stop at Jersey City.  Like us, Jake was very happy to be back and out of that car.  I want to thank everyone once again for all their support and well wishes during this past week.  I know a lot of you have been following his progress out there.  I still plan to update the blog here and there as he visits the vets and gets follow up MRIs.  Check back every so often to see how Jake is doing.  Thanks again, especially to Dr. Pluhar and everyone at the University of Minnesota who helped Jake out.

 Back where we started

Happy to see some familiar faces

Friday, February 18, 2011

The Return Trip

Another long day of driving today.  We just arrived at the Sheraton near Cleveland airport.  After spending a week in a Days Inn that left a lot to be desired we decided to upgrade for 1 night.  We planned to leave earlier this morning but wanted to be 100% sure we were ready to go.  We stopped at the hospital before going and asked Dr. Pluhar to view a video we took of Jake twitching yesterday.  She assured us he was ok and we were on our way.  We watched him all day yesterday and every little thing had us, mainly Jenn, concerned.  I tried to be the voice of reason with her but for those of you who know her that doesn't get me very far.  Thankfully the doctor could not be more helpful.  We only bothered her twice yesterday after we left.  It would be our luck that a giant dog was in the room next to us yesterday barking.  We brought Jake to the front desk and Jenn informed the man that Jake just had brain surgery and needed to rest so we got moved to a different room.

The ride today was uneventful thankfully.  We stopped multiple times to let Jake walk around, leave his marks at various rest stops, eat and take all his meds.  Jake is doing great otherwise.  He scares us constantly because we don't want him to get too crazy or jump around so of course he jumped from the floor, onto my back and onto the bed tonight.  He definitely doesn't look like a dog who just had brain surgery but we are trying our best to keep him calm and relaxed.  We'll hopefully get on the road early tomorrow and get home at a decent time.  We are looking forward to getting back home and seeing everyone.

Ready to head home

 Having a drink

One of the many reststops

Not quite the same as the Days Inn

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Leaving the Hospital

This morning we met with Dr. Pluhar and went over all the drugs Jake will be taking.  He's got quite the list of drugs.  She went over everything and answered all ours questions.  Once we were all comfortable she went to retrieve him from the ICU.  When they turned the corner and he saw Jenn and I he got very excited.  He started shaking in her hands and gave us big kisses just like he used to.  We were very happy to see him react this way to us.  Once we got him dressed to go we said our goodbyes, really "see you laters", to Dr. Pluhar and headed back to the hotel where we are now relaxing.

We couldn't be happier with Dr. Pluhar and all the staff at the University.  She did such an excellent job with the surgery and treated Jake like one of her own afterwards.  She stayed with him during the day, even letting him sit on her lap as she worked.  We couldn't be more grateful for this.  Tomorrow we head off back home.  We hope to leave early in the morning and get to the Cleveland area before we stop for the night.  

Leaving ICU 

Kiss Goodbye

In the Car 

Back in the Hotel

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Visiting Day

We just visited Jake a little less than 24 hours removed from surgery.  He looks really good for a dog who just had brain surgery.  Dr. Pluhar was also very happy with his condition so far.  He definitely recognized us when she initially brought him out.  He started jumping in her hands and looked happy to see us.  He is walking fine, eating and drinking.  He obviously doesn't look like he wants to be there but other than that he's doing great.  He won't be making any dog friends still.  Tumor or not he hasn't forgotten that he dislikes other animals.  We decided to let him stay 1 more night even though Dr. Pluhar said we could take him now.  We just feel more comfortable letting him stay in the hospital where he is in good hands for 1 more day.  The plan is to visit him once more tonight, then pick him up in the morning and go over all his discharge papers and medicine.  It was good to see him up and about and I know each day he'll be more like himself.

Wanting to get out of here

Jake and Dr. Pluhar