Tuesday, June 12, 2012


Riley.  Dear, sweet Riley.  In many ways our first child, the only dog I've known since she was a puppy.  Die-hard retriever, giant lap dog, crumb-fetcher extraordinaire.

Around Easter this energetic dog started losing her pep.  She would fetch a ball a few times, but then stop bringing it back.  She'd yelp in pain after doing certain things.  We knew something was wrong, but we couldn't find anything.  Arthritis?  She's eight years old, middle-aged for a dog.

The night before taking her to the vet we finally found a laceration on the pad of one of her front paws. Finally an answer! But once that healed Riley was still moving a little slowly, not wanting to lower her head, prefering to stay on the sofa a lot.  Back at the vet a more thorough exam indicated a neck muscle/disc issue.  Had she somehow injured herself internally when she cut her paw?  Pain meds and an anti-inflammatory helped immediately, but after 10 days the meds ran out and Riley was not better.  So the vet referred us to a chiropractor. 

That's right.  A chiropractor for my dog.  (The vet suggested acupuncture if that didn't work.)

I am not a chiropractor person, and I'm not entirely on board with alternative medicine, but I hate to see my dog in pain so I was willing to try it.  The chiropractor couldn't find anything wrong with her neck and speculated that she might have Lyme.  So back to the vet we went.  We started a course of antibiotics in case of lyme.  This vet (who has an orthopedic background) found an issue with the tendons/ligaments/vertebrae farther down Riley's back.  He showed me how to massage the area, but by the time we got home Riley could barely walk.  Anti-inflammatory meds helped with that, but another massage a few days later yielded the same results.  When Riley didn't improve with rest the vet suggested an MRI and referred us to a neurologist in Leesburg.

That's right.  An MRI for my dog. 

Steve took Riley in last week, but it was like when your car makes "that noise" until you bring it into the mechanic.  Riley was still on anti-inflammatory meds, so it was hard for the neurologist to find anything wrong with her and he didn't want the meds to affect the MRI so he sent Riley home and we took her off the meds to get a clear diagnostic.  Bloodwork came back negative for a bunch of things, which was a relief.  We confined her in the baby fence and watched as she got worse and worse by the day.  She could barely stand up by herself, and when it was time to go outside she'd take tiny, limpy steps.  So finally today I took her back for the MRI and the neurologist was guessing it would be some sort of injury like a herniated disc. 


Riley has a tumor growing on her spine, compressing her spinal cord.  The neurologist suspects that it is an osteosarcoma and we can expect Riley to live for a matter of weeks/months, maybe a year if we treat it really agressively.  I'm relieved to finally have some answers, but this is not what I was expecting and it has been a sad, rainy day. 

But we're going to enjoy Riley as long as she's around, spoiling her rotten and trying not to think about life without her.  Please feel free to stop by for a visit and see her (while I try not to dissolve into a blubbery mess).  She's on meds to make her comfortable, so her tail is wagging again.

Big shout-out to my parents; Mom played with Olivia for hours and took her to gymnastics while Dad came with me to the specialist to help with Riley and Bowen.  I'm so thankful for them, and Riley loves her grandma and grand-paw too.
Buddies (2010)


tHOMASp said...

Oh, sis! This is heartbreaking. I am relieved, albeit not as much as you, that you found the source. I had prayed for a curable issue. But God is Sovereign. I know this is going to be a hard time for you. If you need a therapy dog, you may borrow ours. Anytime ;-)

Love ya, sis!

Carol Nicolet Loewen said...

Anne, I'm so sorry to read about Riley's cancer. Our dogs become so very much a part of our families. Kelly is to us. We love her dearly and so I can appreciate how hard it is for you to receive this news and to watch Riley get worse. I pray for comfort for you and Steve, and for Bowen too. She is beautiful! Hugs to you.

Anonymous said...

Poor Riley! That's so sad...and especially hard with kids! S. keeps praying that my parents' former dog, Ginger, will get better and come back to live at their house :( Jill