Thursday, March 18, 2010

Grandpuppies are Priceless

Back in September, my dad called.  I couldn't quite figure out what he was saying, because he was only able to utter a few words mixed in with gut-wrenching sobs.  I finally understood what he was saying "Camshaft broke her leg and the vet says she has to be put down."

Cammie, an 8-year-old very overweight lab is my dad's life.  This dog (his grandpuppy) is more important to him than anything.  When the vet said they couldn't help her, he just couldn't accept that.  They sedated her and the next morning we took her to a specialty animal hospital.  They took better x-rays and determined that the break happened the length of her leg bone, rather than breaking it in half down the middle.  

The vet agreed that with damage like this, it is definitely a case for putting her to sleep.  But...with enough money, yes, they could fix her.  Did I mention that Cammie is Dad's life??  They gave an estimate of $3,100 to place internal screws and rods and straps in addition to having two "external fixators" that would give extra support.

The problem was that the break was unusual (she was just standing up from a sitting position when it just snapped) in presentation and it usually happens from bone cancer, which is prevalent in her breed.  They wouldn't know if she had osteosarcoma until they got the path reports back...two weeks after the surgery.  

Dad readily whipped out his checkbook.  She underwent surgery immediately and we went back in the next morning to pick her up.  

It amazed me that she was able to walk (and was happy!) just hours after surgery.  That Fentanyl patch they slapped on her was a miracle!  The best news was that the surgeon saw no evidence of cancer.  Woo hoo!  The bad news was that the $3,100 estimate somehow went to $4,000.  But oh well.  When you see the picture of Cammie as she looks with adoring eyes at her Grandpa, it was worth it.


Two weeks later, she went in for a re-check.  Bad news.  The path report said that it was probable osteosarcoma.  We were looking at a two- to three-month lifespan.  It was just devastating.  Dad said "then she'll have the best three months of her life."

We had to keep going back to the doctor every two weeks or so for x-rays. (Which were not included in the price quote. Hmmph.)  She was able to hobble around fine, but she wasn't allowed to do any stairs.  So how exactly are we supposed to carry a 120-pound dog?  My dad always says "Where there's a Wood, there's a way."  He attached a ramp to his house and made a portable ramp to get her in and out of his van (that has the license plate "CAMSHAF" because he bought the vehicle just for the dog!) and even transfer her from one van to the other.  


So, she was very happy and obviously nobody ever told Cammie that she only had three months to live.  Apparently they never told her she has cancer, either.  Because it's been six months, she just had her final vet visit and he said "she's a miracle.  There are no signs of tumors, she doesn't have cancer.  Let's get this fixator taken off of her so she can be happy." 


And she is.

Oh, and final tally - nearly $6,000.  Worth every penny.


  1. I've known the story from the very beginning and yet I'm sitting here with tears in my eyes. Cammie is such a sweet tempered dog that you can't help but love her. If she were mine, I would have done the same thing. Hats off to Larry!(Ask him about that song).

  2. I neglected to mention that my dad has not slept in his king-size bed since September. He bought an air mattress so he could sleep downstairs with the dog. And built a ramp for the air mattress so Cammie can climb onto the bed without getting hurt. Yeah, really. He'd do anything for her.

  3. I love this post, even though I read this with tears in my eyes. I totally understand how important a pet can be, how they fill a part of our hearts no one else can. I'm relieved that things seem to be okay with Cammie right now. But my God, all she did was stand up and her leg broke?

    So your dad - Larry - is he going to help Cammie lose some weight? I love how he's rearranged his life for her (and I totally understand that because I did the same thing for my Pooky Boy).

    Tell your dad I'm thinking of him and Cammie!


  4. Although she doesn't look like it, she actually did lose quite a bit of weight. She was 121 pounds when she broke her leg (yep - was laying on the ground, stood up and yelped and then just kept crying). When he thought she was going to be fine (right after the surgery but before the path report), he said "I'm gonna get her to below 100 pounds."

    She lost about 5 pounds in those first two weeks. Then, when he thought she only had 3 months to live, he said "she can have anything she wants" (which I totally agree with). But she really didn't have much of an appetite. So, she still lost some weight and was 110 pounds about a month ago. Her appetite is back, though, so he thought she would have gained this last time, but she lost 3 more pounds, down to 107. She doesn't look like she has lost, though, and we think that is because she just has so much loose skin. She's still plenty overweight, but at 8 years, I doubt she'll ever be at a healthy weight. But he's still looking at getting her back to the double digits.

    I definitely thought about you and Pooky and the IVs while writing this. If there is any pet owner anywhere who understands, it's you.

  5. Yeah, I figured she'd lost some weight during all of this, but she still looks big in that photo you posted of her. And those legs she has are so skinny and with her bone disease...well, I just had to know if he was going to help her lose weight. I'm nosy like that.

    And I would've felt the same way about letting her have whatever she wanted, when she wanted it, if she only had 3 months to live.

    How is she doing lately? Are she and Larry still sleeping on the air mattress? How is she doing at moving around?