This boy… once again bringing me to tears… 47 days post rostral mandibulectomy surgery and Lager grabbed every size and shape bumper and Wubba we tried in the water with no assistance needed…He’s amazing! I can’t wait to see him competing in his first post-surgery event! Take THAT cancer! Thank you Chrissy and 4 Paws Adrift !
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Ain’t Nothin’ Gonna Break My Stride
Is someone chopping onions or are my eyes just sweating? This boy right here is my hero!
Lager… 35 days post-surgery (rostral mandibulectomy) … and he’s able to knock the bumper down, pick it up off the ground, and grasp it in his mouth while running!!
🇺🇸Truly 𝙐𝙉𝙎𝙏𝙊𝙋𝙋𝘼𝘽𝙇𝙀! Look who learned to eat on his own after he healed from his rostral mandibulectomy! This did not however come without much practice and some failed attempts and experimenting. Thanks to the support of Lager’s oral surgeon, Dr. Jennings, we were able to assist Lager in overcoming his obstacles in re-learning how to eat independently!
… Next step: Over the upcoming weeks I will begin land drills with a dock diving bumper to see how Lager does with grabbing the it from the air and out of a baby pool filled with water…stay tuned!
Giving Thanks with a Grateful Heart
November 17, 2022
For those of you who are
crazy lucky enough to share your life with a German Shorthaired Pointer, I’m sure you are quite familiar with the “oh sh*t” feeling when a veterinarian tells you that you have to somehow do the impossible….restrict your GSP’s activity. Even at 10 years old Lager does NOT act his age. He’s still got that insane-in-the-membrane-never-ending-crazy-high GSP energy. Along with praying that somehow we are miraculously teleported to the “all clear from restrictions” date our veterinarian gives us, my usual go-to for a restricted activity period is stuffed West Paw brand Topl or Qwizl, lickimats, puzzle toys, and snuffle mats. In Lager’s case, however, we could not do any of that due to his simultaneous recovery from his rostral mandibulectomy. Lager’s jaw and chest surgery were on October 31st. He was due to get his chest sutures out on November 11th. However, when his body bandage was removed, there were signs of an infection. Restricted activity and suture removal date was then extended to November 17th while Lager completed a round of antibiotics. Once the bandage was off, Lager began to try and lick the area, so he continued to wear a Suitical Recovery Suit until his chest could be reevaluated. At his appointment on November 17th, the surgical team at Blue Pearl decided that the chest sutures could be removed, Lager’s jaw was healed enough that we could remove the E-collar, AND Lager could have all restrictions lifted …giving some MAJOR thanks for this!
Once home, even with the sutures having been removed, Lager began to lick the area, making the healing incisions redden. We still have him wearing the Suitical Recovery Suit until this area is fully healed in order to try to avoid an infection, giving him a break from wearing it only when we can watch him closely.
Lager does not need to have a follow-up appointment with Dr. Jennings (Dentistry Team) or the Surgical Team in the future unless a problem arises. However, there was a nodule observed on his adrenal gland during his abdominal ultrasound. It was suggested that we may consider reevaluating the suspected growth in 3-4 months, so I will be discussing this with Lager’s medical team to determine if they believe that repeating the ultrasound would be appropriate for him.
“We often take for granted the very things that most deserve our gratitude.”~ Cynthia Ozick
Eight dogs, sixteen feedings per day, and each meal was prepared and presented to our dogs without realizing I should be grateful for the whole process….not only for being blessed with the food itself, but for the fact that all of our dogs could eat on their own. I never thought about how I should be grateful for that…it’s just something dogs do, right?! I took for granted that I put food in front of our dogs, and voilà…They ate it…UNTIL…Brian and I were hand-feeding Lager after his surgery. It was then that I realized I needed to take a step back and direct more focus on being grateful for the daily routines that are in fact blessings as well.
Lager had been doing wonderfully with being hand-fed “meatballs,” (made from a mixture of his regular kibble ground to a fine powder using a food processor wet food, pure pumpkin purée, and grizzly salmon oil) however, he was having a difficult time learning how to pick up food without us having to place it in his mouth. We tried meatballs in a bowl, meatballs on a flat dish, dry kibble that had been put through the food processor, soaked kibble, regular kibble…you name it, Lager had not been able to pick up any of the food. However, Lager’s never give up attitude paid off…It is with an extremely grateful heart that I share the progress Lager had during breakfast on November 20th: Lager was able to pick up meatballs and eat it all by himself! The meatball still needs to placed on a flat dish at an elevated angle, but picking up the meatball on his own is a huge accomplishment! We are so proud of Lager and his motivation to improvise, adapt, and overcome!
Lager has also been doing a phenomenal job picking up soft stuffed toys! He has been enjoying all the toys that he received as gifts!
No One Fights Alone
I added some oral cancer awareness bling to Lager’s collar this week! Canine Acanthomatous Ameloblastoma (CAA) luckily is not known to metastasize if clean margins are achieved during surgery (which was the case for Lager). Even though we are celebrating what we hope and pray is the end of Lager’s CAA Journey, he will still have some challenges to face as he continues to adapt to doing daily activities differently with his mouth. We want to be sure to continue to bring awareness to this type of canine cancer, and do our best to support other families that one day may find themselves on this same journey with their pup.
We have many reasons this year to give thanks with a grateful heart. This week, in addition to the more obvious “bigger things,” I will be focussed on recognizing and mindfully appreciating the smaller blessings in our daily life as well.
May this Thanksgiving be filled with peace, love and happiness for you and your family.
That’s a Wrap!
Today Lager had an appointment for his re-check for the sutures on his chest and a re-wrap of his body bandage. I was relieved that he had an appointment today, as his body wrap was a hot mess after just four days!
The surgical team said both his chest and his oral surgery site look great! They re-wrapped him in red (YAY!).. and said the stitches on his chest will come out on November 11th when he has his re-check with Dr. Jennings, the oral surgeon.
We put a Suitical over Lager’s body wrap in hopes to make it last until his re-check on November 11th. If needed, we will drive Lager back to get a new wrap prior to his appointment.
What a difference five days can make! The huge red bubble of swelling is almost gone !
I continue to be in awe of Lager’s resilience. He proceeds to act as if nothing happened. He’s getting better at eating his “meatballs” and his tail has not stopped wagging since we brought him home! He has also been THE best patient ever… he has not tried to chew his body wrap, he has not bothered with his cone, he lets us check his oral surgical sight, and when we hold up his E-collar, he pokes his head through the hole of the cone and waits for us to secure it. This boy is truly AMAZING!
Lager is definitely feeling all of the prayers, love, and positive thoughts that are sent to him daily! I read each and every comment that is posted – and the kind words bring me to tears. The private messages and check-ins have warmed my heart and have given me strength. Thank you for everything. This week one of our wonderful neighbors gifted Lager this awesome toy for when his restrictions are lifted … a CVS receipt that unravels into the real-life ridiculous long length of CVS coupons ! Hilarious!
Lager’s Rostral Mandibulectomy
Last picture I took of Lager before his surgery
October 31, 2022
On Halloween, Lager underwent surgery for a rostral mandibulectomy at BluePearl Pet Hospital in Levittown, PA with oral surgeon, Dr. Michael Jennings.
Lager was first anesthetized for an oral exam and dental X-rays. These radiographs confirmed the mass centered on his left lower canine tooth had invaded the underlying bone along the back of canine tooth root. Dr. Jennings called us at that point to inform us of the degree of bone invasion. He recommended removal of the front of Lager’s lower jaw at the level of the left 3rd premolar and right lower 2nd premolar in order to hopefully obtain clean margins of normal tissue along with the oral tumor. Dr. Jennings informed us that this also means Lager’s mandibular symphysis (where jaw meets in “V”) will no longer be connected. We agreed to the new plan in hopes to get clean margins for Lager.
Lager received both systemic pain medication and local nerve blocks to help control any discomfort associated with his procedure. His rostral mandibulectomy was performed, and the sample was submitted for histopathology to confirm the tumor type and clean margins. Dr. Jennings explained that it’s rare, but in some cases he has seen the cancer evolve into a different type/stage, so the biopsy will confirm the tumor type and also will dictate if Lager would need further treatment after he heals from his surgery. Dr. Jennings noted that the biopsy results may take a couple of weeks to come back. Lager’s remaining teeth were also scaled and polished.
Lager also had two dermal sternal masses removed. Those of you who know Lager well and have enjoyed his enthusiasm up close/ in person know that he has had a problem spot on his chest since we adopted him that had to be expressed on a weekly basis. Although it was not easy to manage at times, the problem spot was deemed not to be concerning. However, recently the area had gotten bigger and changed in appearance so it was decided that it would be best to have this removed and biopsied while Lager was undergoing his oral surgery. The two masses on his chest were also removed and submitted for histopathology to confirm the tissue type. The surgery sites were closed with absorbable sutures and he was wrapped in a cross-your-heart chest bandage. The biopsy results for this sample should return in about a week.
Dr. Jennings called after surgery was completed and told us that Lager did well during the surgeries and had recovered smoothly. Lager had to be hospitalized overnight so that pain, anti-inflammatory and antibiotic medications could be monitored and managed. Although we knew it was best for Lager to stay the night, we missed him dearly and called every couple of hours to check on him. The staff assured us that Lager was recovering well and in good spirits.
November 1, 2022
We called to check on Lager first thing in the morning and the staff said that he did well overnight. He ate from someone’s hand and was able to lap-up water. Dr. Jennings called around 12pm and thoroughly reviewed Lager’s recovery plan and confirmed that Lager was doing well enough to come home. The drive to Blue Pearl is about an hour, so my parents drove me to the hospital to pick up Lager so that Brian could monitor Porter and Jägermeister while working from home.
Much anxiety had built up with preparing to see Lager post-surgery. Upon arrival to Blue Pearl, my mother and I were escorted to an exam room to wait for Lager to be brought out. Although I was extremely upset at first sight, Dr. Jennings entered the room with Lager happily prancing by his side. Lager’s eyes were bright and alert, his tail was wagging, and he gave me a heartfelt greeting. My heart and mind were so relieved – but this didn’t stop the tears from flowing – what an absolutely amazingly resilient soldier this warrior is! He was in such great spirits!
Dr. Jennings was amazing… I mean REALLY AMAZING…he was so patient, compassionate, and kind. He took the time to explain everything and also to offer support and reassurance that everything was going to be alright and he could already tell that Lager was going to be back to doing everything he loves to do in no time at all.
Believe it or not, it was difficult for me to even get non-blurry pictures on the way home because Lager did not sit down the entire time! He barked the whole way home and actively looked out the window for the duration of the ride. Pictures below to show Lager’s new lower jaw length:
Although alarming in appearance, the large pinkish-red “bubble” you see under Lager’s tongue in the photos below is normal after a surgery like this and should go away on its own in 5-7 days:
Photos below are the best shots I have so far of Lager’s new “chin.”
“Dogs Are a Miracle With Paws” ~ Susan Ariel Rainbow Kennedy
I always say that as humans we have so much to learn from dogs. I am in awe at Lager’s resilience and ability to adapt. As you can see from the photos above, Lager’s tongue was hanging out of his mouth during our car ride home. Dr. Jennings informed us that Lager’s tongue will most likely be hanging out of his mouth for quite some time and that Lager may…or may not… adapt to holding his tongue differently so that it stays inside. Well, by the time our one hour drive home ended, Lager had already learned how to hold his tongue inside of his mouth! When we arrived home, he was able to drink water and was extremely motivated for food.
Lager has not even skipped a beat. He’s happy, alert, and prancing around the house – handsome as ever! Dogs truly are amazing, aren’t they? They don’t look in the mirror or focus on their appearance, and they don’t care what others think either. Dogs remind us to focus on the important parts of others – HEART and SOUL… not physical characteristics or imperfections. They teach us that you shine from WITHIN and that imperfection can impact the world in a positive way….to use your difference to make a difference. Dogs adapt, overcome, and continue to enjoy their journey despite the obstacles that may develop in their path. They don’t worry about challenges – they conquer them. Lager is living proof of this. In my eyes, Lager is an inspiration. I am grateful for the lessons he has taught me, and for the experience he has shared with me. His journey will equip me with the ability to pay it forward when someone else is faced with seeing their dog through the same operation.
Lager has to be hand fed soft food until he heals completely and adapts to eating / drinking with his shorter lower jaw. On November 1st, his first night home, I used a blender to make his kibble into a powder and mixed in some wet food and water to make it “meatball” consistency. I made little meatballs and although I was proud of how well the prep went, I’m not going to lie … our first attempt at properly delivering the “meatballs” to Lager’s mouth was quite a messy situation! The morning of November 2nd, I did a better job of creating the meatballs, and Brian figured out that it was easier to “deliver” the meatballs to Lager while standing behind him and using gravity to help Lager get the meatball in his mouth.
We very much appreciate the continued support, prayers, and positivity sent to our family! The overwhelming outpour of post comments, private messages, and kind gestures have filled our hearts with hope, love and courage during a very emotional time. We appreciate ALL of you beyond what words can express.
Below is a picture of the beautiful Belle…Her wonderful Mama posted this adorable photo in support of our boy:
The pack’s amazing Aunt Jackie sent a care package that arrived on Halloween day… some really cool Halloween dog toys, and an awesome mug displaying Lord Byron’s quote, “The poor dog, in life the firmest friend, the first to welcome, foremost to defend” and featuring her dog, Freya (who we refer to as Whiskey’s sista-from-anotha-mista)! I certainly will need extra caffeine and will get good use of this mug… and once things settle, the dogs will enjoy these toys !
A good friend who I met while her pug, Axl and our girl, Margarita, were battling cancer simultaneously, sent Lager some pre-surgery treats and a Comfy Cone for his recovery!
Lager will have his chest site and bandage changed on Saturday November 5th as long as the bandage holds up. If we see anything seeping through the bandage, or if the bandage is failing, we will have to bring him in sooner. He will then see Dr. Jennings on November 11th for a re-check of his jaw.