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She Was a Friend of Mine

Filed under: Uncategorized — biffngab at 8:59 pm on Sunday, March 9, 2014

Gabby passed away today, peacefully, after a precipitous decline the past few weeks. For the benefit of readers not already familiar, here is Gabby’s story, in mostly full, given to inspire those who come after. She was a friend of mine!

Gabby was four-ish when we adopted her from a county shelter. She was to be my wife’s first dog, she having for years kept two cats and a secret desire for dogs. Gabby proved to be a Daddy’s Girl. She treated my wife with love and due appreciation for who provides the food, but she always had special “hearts popping over her head” when she looked at me. I was similarly afflicted for her. The greetings she gave me upon returning home were brimming over with affection and exuberance. My wife knows and understands, it was absolutely the best part of any trip to come home to Gabby.

She was with us just two years when we noticed the tumor on her front left leg. It was a nerve sheath tumor (neurofibrosarcoma) and had very little tissue around it to cut out for margins. We had it excised. It turned out to be stage 3, and it promptly grew back. We chose amputation over radiation, and we remain happy with that choice. She was amputated almost six years ago, endured a round of chemo, and was cancer free for four solid years when she was diagnosed with lymphoma. We opted for a second chemo regime which gave her another 15 months with a clear majority of good days and well-worth-it outings. She outlived all the other lymphoma patients at our local vet and enjoyed doing it.

We believe that her 5 good years were made possible mostly by the amputation, that having the highest probability to get the whole cancer. We remain unsure whether the lymphoma was a foregone conclusion on its own or could have been induced by the first chemo. We chose the first chemo because the tumor had been stage 3 and we were concerned about it having spread prior to amputation, even though there was no evidence of it. Very small pockets of cells can evade detection. Looking through hindsight, I might have more carefully researched the risks of the first chemo, but that is a big “might”. It was likely a bigger risk that small pockets of cells can evade detection. Anyway that die was cast, and I write it here for people to use in their research.

Eventually Gabby had had enough of chemo, enough of prednisone, enough of my hectoring her to hop around the block, enough of everything. She had been on metacam for her arthritis, and very successful with it, during her remission.  She had to switch to pred for compatibility with the second chemo. Pred was certainly rougher on her, but with the chemo it gave her a year of good walks and three months of little old lady walks. Eventually, though, she wanted no more of any of it, and her lymph nodes swelled up and she lost interest in food and all those sad things.

We thank Tripawds for many things, not least the confidence to go ahead with amputation, which was a big hurdle. Also through this site, we found a great book “Help Your Dog FIGHT Cancer”. We supplemented her food based upon that book and we think it extended her life. We also found here the Ruffwear harnesses that are invaluable for the tripawd on the go. This place is a real valuable resource for people who really need one and we can’t say enough good things about it. Using the knowledge here along with some commitment and foolhardiness, we were able to enjoy 5 strong years together with Cancer Survivor Gabby, and even more importantly, to see her off peacefully before she really suffered. There just aren’t enough thanks for those things, but we try.

Today, Gabby got to have a good solid snooze in the sun while I invented some yard work to do. She hopped a little bit to get some fishies, and that was clearly the best we could hope for, and we took her for the last ride, the last damn i.v., the last treats, and all that. She went peacefully, so peacefully that I fancy she knew what was happening and was glad. She’s herding Angels now.  She and I hope that her story helps other dogs to have good lives. RIP Gabby and Godspeed!

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13 Comments »

  1.    benny55 — March 9, 2014 @ 9:07 pm   

    I jist want you to know I’m not coherent enough to respond and shall do so more shortly. You and Gabby have touched every corner of my heart through my tears.

    This is jst such a touching tribute and I am so moved by this whole journey. I want to go back and review her whole inspirational story when I have my wits about me.

    It took such courage to write today…but, then again, I’m sure Gabby has been your role model in courage for years now.

    I shall write more later. Thank you for being here today.

    With love to all,

    Sally and Happy Hannah

  2.    willowsmom — March 9, 2014 @ 10:28 pm   

    Gabby was a lucky girl to have been so loved and cherished.

    I’m so very sorry for your loss.

    Hugs,
    Carol

  3.    Michelle — March 9, 2014 @ 10:30 pm   

    I am so sorry for your loss. RIP Gabby. Run free little girl

    hugs
    Michelle & Angel Sassy

  4.    biffngab — March 9, 2014 @ 11:13 pm   

    Thanks!

    https://archive.org/download/gd70-03-21.early.aud.5315.sbeok.shnf/GD700321EarlyElT12_vbr.mp3

  5.    Christine — March 10, 2014 @ 10:56 am   

    My heart breaks with you…. No one knows the pain that we feel in our hearts when we let that leash go for the last time. There is something about a Tripawd running for the bridge that just hits home deeper… And it is because they have been fighters.. they lived life to the fullest on three legs.

    It just does not seem fair at times… I wish that all doggers that lose their leg to amputation had many ,many months or years to kick cancer’s ass as a tripawd!! I wish… I wanted that to happen for my guy too.. but sometimes we just don’t get what we wish for.. and that sucks… big time and it hurts…. But you did!!! You were blessed with over 5 years!!!! I know there were ups and downs that we all experience fighting this damn disease.. but Gabby did it!! Gabby had an incredible life as a tripawd.. That is awesome that she kicked that “Cancer’s” ass around for that long!!!

    Gabby is still with you.. she’s lying right beside you so peacefully and quiet… she’ll follow you where ever you go. She’s leaning against you while you weep. She’ll always be around you. You see… she is waiting for you to open your heart and feel her.. she’s there… always will be.. and nothing can take that away.. not even that nasty “C” word!!!

    You Know What Cancer Cannot Do???

    Cancer is so limited
    It cannot cripple love
    It cannot shatter hope
    It cannot corrode faith
    It cannot destroy peace
    It cannot kill friendship
    It cannot suppress memories
    It cannot silence courage
    It cannot invade the soul
    It cannot steal eternal life
    It cannot conquer the spirit.
    and most of all.. it will never, EVER destroy that bond that you had with that sweet girl!!!

    Christine…. with Franklin in her heart♥

  6.    jerry — March 10, 2014 @ 12:02 pm   

    Ohhhh guys, our hearts just sank when we saw this, we are all so very very sorry she’s an angel now.

    What an awesome life you were able to give her, what loving care and companionship you provided. No dog could ask for more.

    No doubt that all of you are going to miss her tremendously, a dog like Gabby doesn’t just disappear though. Her spirit will surround you with love for all time as you continue to walk your earthly journey without her physical presence, until that day you can all be reunited.

    Until then, may she romp and roll and play with all of our angel dogs. I know that our Jerry G. has already greeted her, and introduced her to his GD namesake (imagine!). Great song you chose to honor her, it’s one of our faves.

    Thank you so much for the kind words about this community. It’s the wonderful resource that it is because of folks like you who take the time to blog, to share the journey and remove the fear and preconceived notions about life on three legs, both with and without cancer. So THANK YOU for creating the magic. We look forward to more news from you as Gabby watches over her pack.

    Lots and lots of hugs coming your way. We are so sorry.

  7.    Angela — March 10, 2014 @ 6:14 pm   

    I’m new to your story (and tripawds in general) but I’m so sorry to hear of your loss. What an amazing journey Gabby had and what an amazing life you gave to her.

    Hugs to you and your pack

    Cody and Family

  8.    elizabeth — March 10, 2014 @ 7:56 pm   

    I’m so sorry about Gabby. What a beautiful life story. We are the lucky ones aren’t we? To be loved so greatly by these wonderful souls. Run free Gabby!
    {{Hugs}}

  9.    Linda Morrice — March 10, 2014 @ 8:30 pm   

    I’m very sorry to hear about the loss of your friend, Gabby.

    Thank you for sharing her story with all of us.

    Many hugs

    Linda and Tucker

  10.    benny55 — March 10, 2014 @ 9:16 pm   

    And you were Gabby’s best friend and nothing can break that bond.

    Gabby lived a life of purpose and inspired everyone she met. t
    That kk d of legacy lives on eternally.

    Sendinglove tomyo and all your pack. Gabby’s endless grace will be with yoj always.

    I’m i absolite awe of your victoriojs and lovi g journey!! Love is always the best medicine…bjt Gabby already knows that!

    Sending love..

    Sally and Happy Hannah

  11.    fourminipups — March 10, 2014 @ 10:15 pm   

    Thinking of you during this difficult time. How lucky Gabby was to have you for her person.

    Take care-
    Luanne and Spirit Shooter

  12.    biffngab — March 10, 2014 @ 10:36 pm   

    Thanks everyone! Gabby would be licking all your faces for the kind words.

  13.    Shannan — March 11, 2014 @ 12:19 am   

    What a lovely tribute to your sweet Gabby! I’m so sorry to hear of her passing, she was obviously loved beyond measure.

    We too, said goodbye last Saturday, March 1, to our beloved Dottie. While she was a tripawd for just 6 short months, it was 6 months of unconditional love and bravery. She would have been 14 this year.

    May Gabby and Dottie run free and live on in our hearts forever.
    Bless you.
    Shannan

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