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Griffin's Journey

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Aug 09

Griffin and I spent last week at Beaver Creek Farm Cabins in Lancaster County, PA where my family vacationed for years during the 1980s and where a group of us returned in 2018.  I love the tranquility and disconnected pace at Beaver Creek, but this year’s visit was particularly special due to the restrictions the pandemic has imposed on our ability to visit family, most of whom we haven’t seen in months.  So many of Griffin’s favorite people – nieces, godchildren, and chosen family – were with us last week, and coupled with the freedom to roam and swimming in the pond, it was definitely Griffin’s version of paradise!  Griffin did not let his tripawd status slow him down – he swam for an average of 5 hours each day we were there!

Griffin has always been protective of the kids, especially in the water.  When they yell coming off the diving board in a pool or the pond, Griffin feels the need to “rescue” them.  You can hear him whining in some of the videos as he tries to get close enough to save them while also holding onto his bumper float toy.  The kids became quite adept at throwing his toy far away from the diving board so that they could jump in peace for a few minutes!

I hope you can tell from the photos and videos below how much of a blast we had on our vacation! We hope that you are having good times and finding tranquility in this summer of covid.  Stay safe!  xoxo Stacy

Our cabin is at the end of the road going through the covered bridge.

My dear friend, Virginia, brought her pups, Dewie and Peanut, and Griffin was thrilled to share his vacation paradise with them!

Griffin never missed a chance to cuddle with his kids!

My oldest godchild, Joana, is one of Griffin’s absolute favorite humans because they have grown up together.  The first photo was taken in March 2020 when Joana was 7 and Griffin 8 weeks; the second photo was taken last week!

We are missing a few in this photo, but Griffin and I consider all of these kids “ours” – Valerie (10), Gabriel (9), Hailey (12), Makaylah (10), Phineas (9), Savannah (3), Madeleine (19), and Joana (17).

Griffin was an absolute fish, coming out of the water only when forced to rest or eat!

In the videos of Griffin’s swimming below, I hope you can appreciate the beauty of our vacation home!

Jul 29

Griffin modeling his Ruffwear Jet Stream cooling vest while taking in the view!

Griffin had his fifth round of chemo today (second round of doxorubicin), which was preceded by a rehab session.  The rehab therapist said that Griffin was an excellent patient during massage and stretches, and his oncologist, Dr. Camps, was happy with the results of his blood work prior to the chemo treatment.  The Animal Medical Center has loosened certain Covid restrictions, and I was able to accompany Griffin into the hospital and up to the rehab/oncology floor before turning him over.  And, I finally got to meet Dr. Camps in person – whoo hoo!  👏

Griffin is completely recovered from his wagon accident.  One outcome of the accident is that we have switched back to using the Animal Medical Center for his rehab.  For the last 2 months, we had gone to a rehab place in New Jersey that allowed me to remain with Griffin during his sessions, and it was nice to get out of NYC occasionally.  However, we had to cancel Griffin’s appointment scheduled for the day after his accident and it was difficult to reschedule it due to limited availability.  So, I was grateful that AMC was able to squeeze us in the weekend after his accident and we have set up a schedule for Griffin to have a 30-minute rehab session immediately prior chemo, both of which occur on the same floor of the hospital.  And, because the rehab sessions are conducted by a veterinarian, my insurance will cover the cost.

Griffin has the best smile!

While we had gone to AMC for two rehab sessions soon after Griffin’s surgery, it has been a while since the last one, so Dr. Cherno conducted a comprehensive re-examination of Griffin on June 18, 2020.  He said that Griffin looks great and is moving well.  Dr. Cherno gave me a bit of a scare when he said that Griffin was painful in his front outer toe knuckle and that he could feel a thickening of that joint.  He said that Griffin bared his teeth when that joint was manipulated, so he and Dr. Camps (who happened to be there that day) recommended taking an x-ray to rule out any significant issues.  Thankfully, the x-rays were clear and no matter how hard I pulled, bent, or squeezed that joint once we were home, I could not get any reaction from Griffin, so I’m not sure what was going on. 🤷‍♀️

Another silver lining of that incident is that I noticed Griffin seemed to have more energy and could move more easily once his activity restrictions were lifted, which I believe is a result of being on the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) Galliprant which Griffin  took before and after his surgery.  Griffin’s oncologist recommends the NSAID Piroxicam, which comes in standard doses of 10mg or 20mg, but the correct dosage for Griffin is 8mg.  So, I now know about veterinary compounding pharmacies which create custom dosage pills/capsules.  It was worth the time I took to comparison shop as I found a wide range of prices ($0.47 vs. $1.63 per capsule) for the same exact prescription, and chose Golden Gate Veterinary Compounding Pharmacy.

   

Griffin and I had another great visit last week to Long Island to spend time with Dad and Donna.  Griffin continues to swim with his right leg tucked high, using it only when turning.  Dr. Cherno says it is normal for dogs not to use their back legs at all (hence the name “doggie paddle”), although in videos taken years ago, I can see that Griffin used his back legs while swimming. And while we were on Long Island, Griffin got a much needed haircut, as can be seen in the before and after photos above!

Sunday will be Griffin’s 4 month ampuversary – hooray!  On Saturday, we are heading to Lancaster County, PA for a week-long vacation with family and friends, and Griffin will have a blast with some of his favorite people!  We hope that you are enjoying some summer fun and staying cool under this heat dome that has settled across the country.  Stay safe!  xoxo Stacy

Griffin enjoying life and the cool grass still covering in the morning dew.

Griffin swimming using his own special doggie paddle style.

Griffin checking out the dog trail while we were on Long Island.  He usually runs ahead but always waits for me to catch up.  What a good boy!

Jul 15

It’s been a rough week for us.  On July 8, 2020, Griffin was scheduled for his 4th round of chemo, preceded by chest x-rays.  Unfortunately, his x-rays revealed a growth in his right lung, indicating that the cancer has metastasized.  Griffin’s oncologist, Dr. Camps, suggested switching chemo agents – using doxorubicin now since 3 rounds of carboplatin did not prevent the growth of this lung met.  So instead of his 4th round of carboplatin, Griffin was administered his 1st round of doxorubicin, which will be administered every 3 weeks for 5 or 6 rounds.  We will repeat his x-rays in 6 weeks (prior to his 3rd round of doxorubicin) which will hopefully show, at the very least, that the doxorubicin stabilized the lung met, and at the very best, decreased it in size. I’ve also been researching clinical trials and found one that seemed like a great match for Griffin’s situation, but he is ineligible since he has already had a round of doxorubicin (the chemo drug they will be using).  Dr. Camps has reached out to the lead vet for that trial to see if we can get the information to replicate it on our own – fingers crossed that they are willing to help in that capacity! 🤞

Doped up Griffin after receiving pain meds at AMC.

Then on July 12, 2020, while Griffin and I were out for an evening stroll, Griffin was startled by a motorcycle and leaped out of his wagon, landing hard on his front leg and falling on his right side.  He seemed to shake it off, even walking for the last block home, but after resting on the couch for a few hours that evening, he was unable to get up when I called him to go out.  So, off we went for a midnight visit to the same hospital where he is being treated, the Animal Medical Center.  I was pretty sure that nothing was broken since he was able to walk and bear weight on the leg, but I wanted the assurance of a medical professional.  I also felt horribly because Griffin really didn’t want to go out that evening and I made him.  We’ve had issues with fireworks nightly since the start of June, but that had recently (mostly) stopped and I wanted Griffin to learn that evening walks were no longer scary.  Boy was I wrong!  The ER vet agreed with me that it was likely a soft tissue injury and did not push for x-rays since that would have required sedation.  She gave Griffin an injection of methadone and sent us home with codeine and directions for the anti-inflammatory and pain meds (gallaprant and gabapentin) that we had left over from his surgery.  Griffin’s surgeon, Dr. Spector, continues to be amazing and reached out the next morning to check on Griffin – we are so lucky to have him!  Griffin was clearly sore and seemed to have a dysphoric reaction to the codeine, laying for hours with his eyes open and panting, similar to his reaction to an opiate he was taking after surgery.  With Dr. Spector’s input, I stopped the codeine after only 2 doses, and he has been doing well since then, resting comfortably with just the other 2 meds.  He is on restricted activity for a week, and since the gabapentin makes him sleepy, that hasn’t been too much of a struggle.  I purchased a tether meant for use in cars that I attached to his wagon so that we avoid accidents like this in the future. 🤦‍♀️

Griffin modeling his new chariot tether. Safety first!

 

Despite how difficult things have been recently, there are so many things for which I am grateful.  Griffin continues to be his happy, loving self who, apart from his recent injury, doesn’t show any signs of slowing down.  I know doxorubicin is known for more severe side effects, but aside from a bit of diarrhea on Thursday evening, Griffin has not shown any negative reactions from the round of chemo he received on Wednesday, and we are now past the 3-5 day window when those effects would appear.  His appetite has remained strong and he is content to have me push him in his wagon to enjoy being outside while on restricted activity.  😊

The team at the Animal Medical Center is nothing short of phenomenal.  They are so compassionate and dedicated to Griffin’s care, going above and beyond what is required professionally.  Dr. Spector and Dr. Camps are incredibly quick to respond to my emails and encourage me to fully partner with them in determining Griffin’s course of treatment.  I cannot recommend AMC highly enough!  🙌

And finally, Tripawds Nation has been my rock throughout this entire process.  I know I can ask any question or share any situation and I will be met with nothing but encouragement, experienced advice, and grace.  There is no way I would be navigating this entire process nearly as well informed or as hopeful as I am without the help of my Tripawds family.  Thank you! 💕

The video below was taken this morning.  As you can see, Griffin is well on the road to recovery and sends everyone his love!  xoxo Stacy

Jul 04

In my last post, I shared how much Griffin enjoyed visiting my Dad and Donna, and swimming in the pool!  We also spent some time with Jody and her girls, Bethany and Shayna.  We went for a walk in Belmont Lake State Park where Griffin checked out a few swans!

While Griffin and I enjoy celebrating Independence Day, Griffin is not a fan of fireworks.  I purchase a special drug, Sileo, each year which helps to desensitize Griffin to the noise of the fireworks without sedating him.  This year, however, our neighborhood has been rocked by fireworks every night for the past month (sometimes until 3am!), and so while Griffin is still not a fan of fireworks, he has become somewhat desensitized to them, with a lot less shaking, panting, and drooling than in previous years.  We went for a long walk this morning to enjoy the park and show off Griffin’s festive collar.

From our little family to yours, may this Independence Day sparkle with good times!  Stay safe!  xoxo Stacy

And enjoy this moment of Hudson River zen!

Jun 27

As we are now officially in the summer season, the days are growing warmer and in NYC, that means more humidity as well.  On the humid days, Griffin’s energy is sapped much more quickly, so I was especially appreciative of Rene’s post on Tripawds about cooling vests.  I purchased the Ruffwear Jet Stream vest in size medium, which Griffin is proudly modeling below!  I wasn’t sure how the vest would actually cool him off if after soaking it I am supposed to wring it out, but the vest really did hold onto the water in the gray section.  It wasn’t a particularly hot day when he first tried it out, but he seemed to like it.  I like that his back is covered because he has a dark spot where his hair hasn’t grown back all the way (his oncologist said the dark spot can be a side effect of chemo with light colored dogs) and because his regular harness fits easily over the cooling vest.

We traveled to Long Island yesterday to visit my Dad and Donna.  Since the first floor of their house is all hardwood floors, I fitted Griffin with toe caps on all 4 front nails and on the 2 longest back nails on each of his hind legs to help provide grip.  They seem to be working quite well – he is able to get up easily without scrambling.  The toe caps also are good protection for the pool liner!

As soon as we arrived at the house, Griffin made a beeline for the pool!  So, I buckled him into his life jacket, and off he went!  Afterwards, I was able to dry him off using the special, personalized towel that my dear friend Virginia gifted to Griffin!

I hope your summer is off to a fun start like Griffin’s!  xoxo Stacy