Stitch and I are new to My Corgi. I wish I had known about it sooner. I found this site while looking for help for my little Stitchy. Sam's post on Mocha and Vienna came up in my search.
This is our story:
Stitch came to us 7 years ago at 3 months old, as a dog for our children, then ages 7 and 9. I have to admit, when we saw him for the first time, I knew nothing about Corgi's and thought, " How in the world is he going to keep up with the kids with those tiny, little legs?" My husband and kids fell for him instantly and said he looked like Stitch from the Disney movie 'Lilo and Stitch', which happens to be my absolute favorite. I insisted we take more time to research to find the right dog for our lifestyle and was pushing for a bigger dog to look out for the kids. Little did I know, I was about to get an education! In every search we did, Corgi was the perfect breed for us. So, with a very smug hubby & kids, we went back to the pet store to get him. He sat on my lap on the ride home.
That was the easy part.
Stitch came to live with us on a Saturday night and on Monday morning I called the referred vet for an initial check up. When I took him in, I didn't like the way he was breathing and spoke to the vet about it. He gave me some pills and said, "He'll be fine". By Tuesday morning his breathing was so bad that I rushed him back to the vet as soon as they opened. Pneumonia. BAD. He spent the next 7 days in ICU with an IV, nebulizer, pills and no contact with us. So for the first week we had him, technically...we didn't have him. I hate to think what would have happened to him if we didn't choose to bring him home. To our surprise, the pet store where we got him paid for EVERYTHING.
During his recovery, the kids were just back to school in the fall and Stitch initially needed round the clock care. We spent our days together and I took care of him. We have a home based service business, and I run the office, so I am always around to handle whatever may come up.
During our days together, I fell for him... and I fell hard. First a floppy ear bouncing in the yard, then a chubby little paw print in the mud and a rambunctious bark when he and hubby wrestled. I never saw it coming, but he stole my heart and soon we were inseparable. He has been the 'pep' around our house in the time that we've lived here. Wherever we go, he goes. Hiking, camping, picking up the kids...you name it! He's always in our Christmas card photo & our friends and family adore him...I think they come over just to see him! ;) Some even ask when our next vacation will be so they can take turns watching him! How lucky are we?
Training school was fun...he blew through it with flying colors. All except...'lay down'..he has 'short dog syndrome'..it tooks weeks upon weeks and he just wouldn't do it. One night hubby got down on the floor and told him to lay down..that was all it took! :0 Now he dive bombs onto the floor belly up to be rubbed. Just adorable!
He is our sunshine and so incredibly smart.
About three weeks ago I was folding laundry with Stitch and he squeaked. One time. It was odd. Hmmm. I took him out and threw his soccer ball, which he ran after and caught. He was panting harder than usual. Hmmm..that's odd too. Must be the humidity...but I called the vet and took him right in just to make sure. He was acting perfectly normal, had a chest xray..looked good. Swollen lymph node was aspirated & sent to the lab. The vet thought it was probably a local infection.
Hubby had a race that weekend, so we packed up the camper & off we went..Stitch was riding in his booster seat with a smile as usual. We spent the weekend at the race track & Stitch was loving all of the attention. He loves to sit in the pop-up camper on the bed and look out over the kids and keep an eye on the activities.
We had no idea that our world was about to come crashing down.
Stitch was diagnosed with Lymphosarcoma on July 23, 2012. It was a complete surprise and 'devistated' does not even begin to describe what we're feeling. I'm still in shock. When the vet called, I thought..."Ok, let's weigh our treatment options. If he has a tumor, he'll need surgery and then probably chemo or radiation...ok..let's look at this rationally...whatever he needs". I hung up the phone and started researching. It was clear that this type of cancer is not a tumor and I wasn't fully understanding or prepared for what the vet was telling me. This is bad. Very bad. I called my husband and first apologized for telling him over the phone, and told him. I am very lucky to have a wonderful guy that loves me...alot...and knows how much I love Stitch. I didn't want him to see me unravel. He would worry about me and I knew this this news would crush him too. He needed to work through his feelings and do some research before we told the kids. I knew I would be completely inconsolable and had to gather myself so we could handle this as a unit. We told each of our kids and it has been a difficult few weeks.
We met with the oncologist. She was very compassionate, but our options are not encouraging. We had to make some gut wrenching decisions and the DR wanted us to start treatment right then & there. First, we had to talk to our kids, who are now 14 & 16. Stitch is the center of our home and has a unique relationship with each of us. We couldn't make this decision without including them. We brought Stitch home. We each independently chose which option we thought would be best for Stitch and then sat on the floor of the family room with Stitch and had a family meeting. We went from a squeak, to having to choose how to manage the rest of his life in just a few days. We had each chosen the same option, some of our reasons were the same, and some different. It was emotional. We had to put Stitch's comfort level and quality of life before any of our own wants because it is completely about doing the best that we possibly can for him.
We decided that Stitch is not a good candidate for chemotherapy. He is terrified of the vet, but loves to ride in the car...he'll figure out that rides only mean getting stuck with needles vs simply going for a ride with mommy. If we say the word "BATH", he will hide for the rest of the day and is visibly upset on the rare occasion that he has an accident.
We've researched A LOT and this is such a difficult and personal decision. We have our own views on how we see things and they may not line up with another person/family. In our hearts,we know that Stitch has been treated like a King every day of his life with us. We would spend every last cent we could get our hands on to save him in a heartbeat if that's what it took, it's not even a second thought. The money is not an issue for us, but we feel the impact it will have on Stitch is too great. Stitch losing his core personality and spending his days afraid is more than we're willing to put him through. It will only prolong what we know is coming and compromise the quality of his time.
As a family unit, we have chosen prednisone therapy for the pain/swelling and immunity boosting supplements, along with a vegetable & meat based diet (which he is not complaining about... :) ). I've Feng Shui'd him and pray every night for the best possible outcome. Most importantly, he gets all the hugs and kisses he could ever want...and then some.
I can't help but feel a little annoyed. Reading on the internet, some sites say that prednisone is the choice for families that can't afford chemo. That's not the case here. If we thought that it was the right choice for Stitch, we would do it in a second. Our choice was driven by what would make Stitch the most happy & comfortable. He is part of our family and it is heartbreaking. We're not ready to say goodbye, but we refuse to make him uncomfortable for a second. I'm sure chemo is right for some families and dogs. It's just not the best choice for Stitch.
Stitch is in relatively good spirits, but the thought of him not feeling well is ripping me apart. Our kids are doing well and I'm proud of how they're handling it so far. It's been a very long time since I saw my husband cry, but neither of us could initially keep it together. I'm a wreck & trying to be strong, but I'm not handling it well at all. I am desperately trying to control my feelings for Stitch's sake, and that of my family. I don't want any of them sad because I'm sad.
This is painful.
I hope his immune system can strengthen to switch back on to conquer this. Much like when he was a puppy recovering from pneumonia, we'll spend our days together and I'll take care of him for as long as he needs me.
This beautiful Corgi has touched my life in a way I never expected.
He is the best friend I have ever had.
STITCH UPDATE - August 13, 2012
First, we would like to thank you all for your wonderful words of support. I'm not sure I can find adequate words of appreciation. Please know they are heartfelt. Hubby (Jim) was touched as well, he has never seen such a positive forum....thank you. :)
I'm trying to focus on Stitch & being happy for him to keep the mood light. :)
I'm not sure what to make of Stitch at the moment, though. Some moments, I look at his breathing and think "OH NO". It's been so humid, I'm having a hard time figuring out if it's the weather or if he's declining rapidly. Then, out of nowhere, he is running out door and barking at me to throw his ball or blasting past me to get to the car to go for a ride. He doesn't seem like he's ready to let an opportunity pass him by. I think that's a good frame of mind right now, so I'm following his lead. :)
I've changed his diet and I notice significant changes in him. He's eating like a champ and not turning any food away...so that's good. He was originally on Chicken Soup for the Dog Lover's Soul, dry & can. Always has been. Early on we were told it was the best thing for him because we thought he had a food allergy. He licks his paws alot..but he's just a nervous little guy. We didn't overfeed him, because we worried about back problems. I never questioned dry/can food until I started researching Lymphosarcoma. So interesting. Currently (since diagnosis) he is eating K-9 Critical Care mixed with organic chicken, turkey or beef. I cook his food & decided not to feed him raw meat because I am a nervous that if he catches a parasite, he won't be able to fight it. He is also on the Critical Care Power Pack at breakfast and dinner. At lunch I mix ES Clear into his meal. No additional carbs. I researched all of these companies myself and I am not affiliated with any of them..I'm kind of a "Super Sleuth" by nature.
Here's what I have noticed right away since we've made the changes:
1. Stitch's coat is SUPER shiny and his colors are very vibrant. The coarseness to his hair is gone...almost immediately. He is soft.... Sooooo soft. Like a teddy bear. It honestly blew my mind. This afternoon my daughter was cuddling him and said, "Mom, he's so soft now". This is the first thing I noticed and he started the food & supplements first, so without being a specialist, I'll attribute it to the change in food. It's funny, when it came, I opened it and said to Jim, "Oh wow, this SMELLS healthy...wonder if he'll go for it". He's been very good about the changes. Not to be gross, but his poop always had a grittiness too. I never questioned it before, but the more I research, the more I'm understanding.
2. His teeth... they're cleaner. I started the ES Clear second. I'm an obsessive "review reader", and one of the reviewers said that his dogs teeth were better....cleaner, less plaque. I would agree, there is a definite difference. His gums look good. Pink & healthy. I was surprised.
3. His eyes are clearer & sparkly.
4. He's less gassy. YAAY!
I also bought Amazapet for breathing, but it's not something that he gets at regular intervals. Still trying it out. I researched everything & cross referenced each ingredient (holistic & prescription) for any interactions. I couldn't find any.
The lymph nodes are down, likely due to the Prednisone.
He's in good spirits, eating well and lovey.
Yesterday he went to his first Gymkhana. The horses didn't faze him at all...he was too intersted in all of the attention he was getting! He's stuck to me like glue right now...and giving me 'the eyes'...time to make him dinner. :)
Thank you for your love and support.
Stitch & Family
STITCH UPDATE - August 22, 2012
Hope you are all well. Things around here are a little lighter in spirit this week. Tomorrow is one month from diagnosis and Stitch is doing pretty well. Much better than we expected at this date. We're full swing into our new routine and he is adapting quite well to all of the changes we've made to accomodate him. He is very engergetic, even though he has moments when I can see breathing is a little tough. Trying to make him comfortable with the breathing, but otherwise he is our normal Stitchy. The weight loss from the initial change in food to eliminate carbs has decreased and he seems to have 'leveled out'. Right now he looks really good. Maybe all of the hugs and kisses are helping! :)
Overall, we're all doing ok. Some moments are tough, but as we move through the process, we're finding joy in the small things. I had to laugh the other night..I think it was Monday...I was grilling dinner and Stitch was sitting by the front door. I thought it was odd. Usually, he's at my heels..especially when I'm in and out to the grill. The only time he sits at the front door is....OOOOH...Wednesday! My parents come over for dinner every Wednesday and I almost always grill dinner (apparently I'm in a rut..time for a new recipe or two!). He was waiting at the door for Grandma and Grandpa! He LOVES to play with my Dad (and vice versa)..today is Wednesday..so I'm sure he'll be waiting at the front door when I fire up the grill!! He's such a little smarty!
He deflated his soccer ball this week....maybe getting out a little frustration & aggression.
Thank you for your love and support!
Stitch & Family
Stitch Update - August 27, 2012
Stitch is doing pretty well! :) Jim had a race at Pocono Raceway this past weekend, so we packed up the family and hit the road. I was a little nervous because I didn't want to wear Stitch out, but he did great! I was quite surprised at the amount of energy he had. The weather was gorgeous and the lack of humidity in the air made it much easier on him. That was a huge relief.
So thankful that we got to have a great weekend together and step out of our new reality for just a little while.
He is so sweet! :)
STITCH UPDATE - September 4, 2012
Stitch had a pretty good weekend! We arranged a photo session for him, to capture a few moments. He did a great job! The photographer was awesome. If you live in CT, message me and I'll be happy to share contact info. Can't wait to see the final portraits!! Currently, Stitch is in good spirits and by our side all day. Very thankful for the time we have with him. Pretty sure he is loving all of the attention!! :)
It really means a lot!
Stitch & Family
STITCH UPDATE - September 24,2012
Yesterday was 2 months from diagnosis and Stitch is doing pretty well. He still wants to ride in the car and play with his ball. Some trouble getting up the stairs, but I think he kind of likes that I'm his personal elevator. ;) Breathing is on and off. Some days are good, some days are tougher. Now that things are cooling down, he seems more comfortable. Still eating well and ready for attention at any moment. Usually, Stitch and I can be together for most of the day since he comes to work with me, but I haven't been home as much in the past few weeks. My Dad was scheduled for leg surgery, but during preliminary testing, they found that he needed a cardiac stent. The stent surgery could not be completed as the DR found he needed a triple bipass, ASAP. As it turned out, it was a quadruple bipass. Things got very serious very quickly and I've been at the hospital a lot. Surgery went well and he will be scheduling the leg surgery as soon as the DR's feel he is strong enough. We are so fortunate to have the most amazing team of DR's and hospital staff. It's been busy and Stitch has been alone more than I would like, but Jim and the kids have been great about filling in with caring for him. Every night when I get home, he is at the door wiggling his nub with a smile and runs to the family room to snuggle. He is the most amazing little dog!
STITCH UPDATE - November 1, 2012
Stitch is doing well. Things are changing a little here and there. He is still ALL personality, although I can see his body is not always acting like he would like it to. His hind legs are a little weaker and going up stairs is proving difficult. I carry him up the long flights, but going down he has no problem at all. Eating well. Tonight we're trying to reduce his pm dose of prednisone, he's panting a lot. Sam had recommended it a bit ago, so we're giving it a try. We'll see how it goes. I hope it makes him more comfortable. He's sleeping a lot, but when he is awake, he's very lovey. Still loves his 'TV time'...he sits on the ottoman with me in the evening and watches over everyone until Jim clicks the TV off. :)
Enjoying our time together... <3
STITCH UPDATE - THANKSGIVING 2012
Wow! Thanksgiving already! Today I am happy to say that our little Stitch is still here. He made it to today when he gets his little kong filled with turkey...how thrilled I was to be able to give it to him! Today I filled it with turkey & bacon and since his diet has been heavy on the kelp, he was all over it! He was under the table and so noisy, that we all barely got through saying grace without busting up! So incredibly thankful to have our little guy still here and so full of life.
Tomorrow is a big day for us...4 months since diagnosis....he made it!!! I am so overcome with emotion that we were able to get him to his 4 month mark. When we got the diagnosis, everything we read said 4 months was max, likely 3 to 3 1/2 with prednisone treatment. I realize that we are on borrowed time from here, but to know that he is still every bit "Stitch"...and has had only a couple bumps with breathing...makes us certain that we made the right decision for him. I don't know how much time we will have left with him, but tomorrow...we're celebrating!!!
He's an amazing little dog...we are so lucky to have him in our life!!!
Happy Thanksgiving & give your pups a big hug from us!!
STITCH UPDATE - December 31, 2012
Hello everyone hope you are well! Stitch made it to his 5 month mark and we spent Christmas together. Truely a Christmas Miracle. We're headed into the New Year and take one day at a time...he is still happy and eating and getting all of the kisses we can give. He played in the snow a little yesterday and just about knocked me over trying to get out the door to the car for his ride today. When he was diagnosed in July, we felt like our feet were pulled out from under us, it really hit us hard. Sitting here, next to him on New Year's Eve is beyond what we could have ever thought possible. Although we're still facing a rough road ahead, and the road we're leaving behind was really hard, this moment is a blessing...time for more kisses. :)
Happy New Year!
Wishing you peace and good health in 2013.
STITCH UPDATE - JANUARY 28, 2013
Stitch made it past the 6 month mark!! He's had quite a few good weeks and has been eating his bully stick and playing - a little more energy lately. :)
He has had a few bumps in the road too....he took a nasty tumble down the stairs..lost his footing. It was terrible, but he just jumped up as if to say. "whew! I'm ok". He woke the whole house and everyone came running to his aid. Luckily, he seemed ok and since he's with me all day, I kept a close eye on him. No limping or irritation. Thank goodness...
He developed some ulcers in his right eye. I wasn't sure what was going on, so I asked the vet to see him. Turned out to be ulcers, luckily the cancer has not spread to his eyes yet. I was nervous about eye pressure and blindness. Both were ruled out. :)
The night before he was to go back for his eye check-up I was giving him a bath because I had noticed a piece of gum (?) in his coat on his back. All I could think was ..."How in the????" Turned out to be an open sore, about 1" in diameter. Then I wondered if the cancer was presenting in his skin. Since we were to go to the vet in the a.m., I cleaned it out and put some Neosporin on it. At the vet, his eyes were clear...yaay! I asked the vet to check his back..they took him out to shave a little spot. When he came in, he had a few sores and they shaved a spot about 6" x 6"...I was stunned..to say the least. The only thing I could relate it to was the tumble down the steps. He took a course of antibiotics and I had to clean and treat the wound 3 times a day. No problem...keeping an eye on him. He's been looking good...sores have been healing nicely.
Until yesterday. I was rubbing his back & butt and found another small spot - same as before. So I treated it the same way..then I found 2 more on his back this morning. Out of no where...they were not there yesterday when I found the other one..I checked him thoroughly.
Spoke with the vet this a.m. Treating him with anitbiotcs & wound cleaning 3X a day again. Since I research everything I can think of...it was driving me crazy. How do I help him? It looks painful.
I google imaged and a pic came up that look exactly like what we're dealing with under 2 topics:
1. Staph infection
2. Hot Spots
The definition of hot spots is exactly what happens to him. They come on so fast, from out of no where with no warning. But since they're on his back, he's not self inflicting. I wonder if he's picked up an allergy along the way. He's also been on prednisone for 6 months now...it may be predisposing him & he can't fight it on his own.
Has anyone had experience with treating these hot spots &/or making their pup comfy along the way? I would appreciate any suggestions or advice.
He's also had 2 more eye ulcers since the trip to the vet. Treating those as well. They seem to come together - the eye and skin issues.
Through it all..you could never tell. He's playing, eating..acting totally normal.
He really is the best little guy. :)
Enjoying our time together. <3
Spring is just around the corner!! :)
FEBRUARY 25, 2013
We made 7 months from diagnosis!!! Can't believe it....he's so happy & beautiful!!! What a lucky family we are. Stitch has a few hot spots popping up. We're trying to manage them and keep him comfy. So far so good. He's so sweet and still ready to go for a ride and even being really good about taking a "B-A-T-H". (we don't say the word) ;) He's still eating well. We're considering reducing his prenisone again. We're wondering if it is contributing to the hot spots. I read that long term exposure might be problem. Since the vet didn't expect him to live this long, we're now concerned about long term side affects of the prednisone. The intent is to keep him comfortable and happy first and foremost. What a great little guy...I am in complete awe of him!!!
Time for dinner...he's waiting patiently, wiggling that little nub...
March 28, 2013 - Stitch Update!!! :)
WOW!!! Here we are at 8 months from diagnosis. He is amazing & full of life. We do have some issues to deal with - hot spots, hair loss, eye ulcers, but you would never know he is sick by his disposition. He is handling everything so well! His energy seems to be really good this week and the exterior (visual) health issues don't seem to bother him at all. He is finally starting to get some new hair growth where the first hot spots were. Since he has shaved spots and some hair loss, he looks like a little spotted piglet... The cold weather is finally on its way out (we hope) and he's been able to go outside a little longer.
In July we could never have imagined that he would still be here with us and still so vibrant. He is truely a fighter and such an inspiration. So incredibly thankful.
APRIL 24, 2013 - Stitch Update :)
Here we are at 9 months. There was great hope at diagnosis that he would still be here with us, but based on the numbers, it didn't look good. Stitch is doing well. I will post a few pics of him so that anyone reading this blog, that may be dealing with a similar situation might benefit. I desperately searched for information when he was diagnosed and there wasn't much out there that pertained to us. From the front, he looks great. It's not until you see his back that the issues he's been dealing with stand out. The back picture is a little rough, although he does not appear to be in pain. This pic was taken 4-22-13 as was the next. He is acting like himself, playing & running after his ball.
The next pics were taken last night 4-23-13. We have been dealing with the Hot Spots since January. When the sore heals, the skin turns black. I have searched for an explanation online, but haven't found anything that makes sense or explains specifically why it happens. I thought the skin would act like a bruise and return to its normal shade, but it has not yet. His skin also turned black where he lost a significant amount of hair on his backside by his tail, by his 'mohawk'. It's almost his whole backside. In that area the hair literally separated from the skin, without sores. So we just take each occurence for what it is and try to treat it and protect the skin from infection.Now that I understand how the sores act, I can be right on top of them. He lost a lot of hair when the vet initially shaved him for what we thought was an isolated sore. The significant area of black are where the multiple sores popped up. Anywhere that the hair has come away from the skin has turned black.
The little tuft of hair on the right is where the first Hot Spot was. That was about 3 1/2 months ago. The hair is doing pretty well. I'm baffled at why the areas without trauma (pink), that were shaved, have not grown in yet though. Can't make sense of that. It looks pretty bad, but you could never tell they bother him, he just keeps going. :) We reduced his prednisone on March 1st. We have seen a decrease in Hot Spots since then. I hope reducing the prednisone is allowing his immune system to strengthen. We check his Lymph Nodes each day, and so far, they're good. We just take it one day at a time and try to read his body and mood. We have really been so lucky. He's a happy dog.
Jim surprised me with an early birthday gift - a sculpture of Stitch. Beyond adorable. He found an artist online (Kathryn Nicholas www.mypetsculture.com ) and sent her tons of pictures. This picture doesn't do it justice. The details are amazing. I would highly recommend checking out her work on Facebook. :)
Right now, he's happy to be outside and run in the yard, go to work with me and flop down at night for TV time...
and we're just thankful he can. :)
STITCH UPDATE - MAY 10, 2012
BIRTHDAY WEEKEND.....He made it !!!
Sunday (Mother's Day) Stitch will turn 8!
Beyond thrilled that he'll get to see his 8th year. He has so much love to give and is loved beyond words. We did not expect to be celebrating this day when we got his diagnosis in July, but here we are. Thankful just doesn't sum up how appreciative we are that he's still with us. He's a strong little guy!!
Will post some pics.....
BIRTHDAY...BIRTHDAY...BIRTHDAY... :) May 12, 2013
...a few cutie pics!!
Doggles!! So cute!! :)
What a great day!!!