B&W Sunday: Tale of Tails: Becca Pt.2

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Becca, waiting for me to toss the ball.

Becca, waiting for me to toss the ball.

Last Sunday, I posted a picture of our Becca getting a laser treatment for her fused spine & arthritis. I thought this Sunday I would wrap up our Tale of Tails series on Becca. You can read Part 1 here.

Picking up from Part I, we had just received a diagnosis that no pet parent wants to hear – osteosarcoma. What we thought was maybe just Becca’s arthritis acting up was something much worse. This poor girl, a fused spine, atrophied back legs, two ACL injuries, terrible arthritis and now osteosarcoma – a merciless and fast moving cancer.

We were lucky enough to get an appointment with the oncologist that afternoon. I went home, told Steve and drove back to meet with Dr. Ayl. The prognosis wasn’t good. The main treatment for osteo in dogs is removal of the offending limb – that’s the optimal way to remove the cancer. Unfortunately, Becca’s other orthopedic issues wouldn’t allow us to do that, so our options were limited to chemotherapy and/or radiation.

The chemotherapy was intended to slow or stop the growth of the tumor and next to amputation was the most aggressive treatment option. Radiation was obviously less invasive, but was only for pain management and intended to restrict the growth of the tumor. She would need to be sedated and have a series of 3 treatments.

I wasn’t crazy about the idea of chemo even though our vet claimed that it was not the ordeal that humans go through as the dosage is much lower. He claimed very few dogs react negatively to it. But at Becca’s age and her somewhat frail condition we opted to try the radiation first, she how she reacted and then revisit the chemo.

After the 2nd radiation treatment, we did see some improvements in Becca’s mobility. We had built a ramp so she didn’t have to navigate stairs anymore which helped, but she was once again picking up her favorite soccer ball for a few games of fetch. After the third treatment and continued improvement, we decided to go ahead with the chemo.

It may be true that some dogs don’t react to it, but Becca did almost immediately. She stopped eating, got diarrhea and basically took to her bed. She was miserable and very sick. The chemo was in pill form and we stopped it as soon as she showed signs of being sick. I won’t go into the gruesome details of the several days it took to get that medication out of her system, but it was a very difficult time for her and for us.

Once it was out of her system, she did come back to herself a bit and enjoyed a few good days. But she was noticeably weaker and more frail and we knew it was only a matter of time. We kept her warm and comfortable, well fed with her favorite treats, walks when she felt up to it and just enjoyed whatever time we had with her.

We were once again faced with that decision of when do we let her go – when is our sadness at losing her overshadowed by the need to relieve her of her suffering. We knew when she stopped picking up her ball on the way out the door that it was probably time. I went to visit our Dr. and remember his wise words to me “when a dog has a terminal illness and is in the final stages as Becca is, you can never be too early, but you can be too late”. Looking down at sweet Becca as she lay at my feet when he said that, I knew she was suffering and I knew it was time to let her go and for us to say goodbye to her.

We gave her a big send off on that weekend – took her down to the stream near our house and let her wade around in the water, one of her favorite things. We gave her a big steak dinner and one of her favorite bully sticks and lots and lots of love.

On Sunday, our vet came to our house and sent Becca on her way. We cried and mourned losing her. She was a warrior that Becca. Spent years and years in service of her owner and then got to come to us for her last years. We tried to teach her she was retired and didn’t have to work anymore but it was so ingrained sometimes I found her just standing next to me…waiting for me to give her a command. She was a trooper and a sweet, loving dog. Her ashes sit on the shelf of my office along with our Sally & Tino. We miss all of them everyday.

Here’s a little movie of our sweet Becca doing her favorite thing – playing fetch. Even at her worst of times, she always wanted to play a game of fetch.



This video is from fall 2011, before Becca was diagnosed.

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  1. What a sweet girl! We are teared up, mom so dreads that day when one of us reaches that point. She tries to focus on the now like us dogs do, but as we get older she worries about us much more and thinks about her last dog that she lost. Hopefully we have many more good years. Beca looked like quite the happy pup and we know she knows how much she was loved. Sorry for your loss.
    emma recently posted…Help Me Send Mom To BarkWorld | GBGVMy Profile

  2. We can see she was limping on the video. Precious video to remember Becca’s love to play fetch. We had friends that their dogs went for chemo. Chemo on dogs is 50/50 result and can’t determine the effect till after. Golden Thanks for sharing Becca’s story. Golden Love. Lots of Golden Woofs, Sugar
    SUGAR: Golden Woofs recently posted…Buon Appetito on Black n White SundayMy Profile

    • It was a tough choice, I’m just glad we were able to stop it and get her feeling better from it. Probably would never choose to do it again.
      mkob recently posted…B&W Sunday: Tale of Tails: Becca Pt.2My Profile

  3. That’s a lovely tribute to Becca.
    Clowie recently posted…A sit in time saves nineMy Profile

  4. I’m so new to blogging and don’t know everyone’s story. I wasn’t sure last week if Becca was with you now or if you were just now sharing your story. I’m sorry you had to go through that type of cancer with Becca, I am now faced with going threw that with Norman and thank you so much for telling your story. I will never forget this line that your vet said to you near the end: “when a dog has a terminal illness and is in the final stages as Becca is, you can never be too early, but you can be too late”. That is SO true and more should say that to ease clients minds. Clients always have such a hard time making that very hard decision to let go because they don’t want to say goodbye yet and they always think they will be judged and feel guilty for letting them go when they did. It’s nice that your vet said that so you could ease her suffering. Clients always want their love one to pass in their sleep so they don’t have to make that decision but I tell you that doesn’t happen very often. The last act of kindness for us to them is to make that decision for them. I hope I can be strong when Norman is suffering to make that decision. Bless her and you for the life you gave her in the end. Take care, Hugs!
    joann stancer recently posted…Black And White Sunday ~FireworksMy Profile

    • I’m so sorry to hear about Norman. He’s a tough guy, I hope he does okay. Do you have a treatment plan? I agree, those words from my vet just cemented what i knew in my head was the right thing, but I was letting my heart rule. Becca was always so stoic too, it was hard to tell when she was hurting. We gave her a nice retirement and a good send off. Best of luck to you and Norman. (PS. I tend to write about all of our dogs – Sally, Tino & Becca are all passed – Jack & Maggie are the current pack).
      mkob recently posted…B&W Sunday: Tale of Tails: Becca Pt.2My Profile

  5. Your send off was beautiful and so respectful! I’m sorry for your loss.
    Jane recently posted…Black & White Sunday | First Time in the SprinklerMy Profile

  6. Becca was so sweet – thank you for opening your home, lives, and hearts to her. I also was in tears as I read Part 2.

  7. In the end, whatever the timing, it will always break your heart. Becca was a beauty!
    Coralee and Finn recently posted…Black & White Sunday: Sad EyesMy Profile

  8. Oh dear, I’m so sorry to hear this. Many tears. You did everything you could for Becca… bless you for being there and giving her the best last years you could; and for being able to let her go when she needed to go on. Chemo didn’t end up being the right thing for her, but you’ll never have to think about the what-ifs. “But what if we just tried treatment??” You did try. And then you knew to pull her right back off of it. You gave her lots of special love and a great send-off. You really did right by her… bless you for that.
    Pam recently posted…Black & White Sunday 07/07My Profile

    • You are right. I don’t have any regrets…well, maybe I wish she could have gotten in a few more games of fetch since she loved it so much, but at least she got plenty when she was here!
      mkob recently posted…B&W Sunday: Tale of Tails: Becca Pt.2My Profile

  9. I am so sorry you had to go through this. Becca is no longer in pain and she knew she was loved with all your heart. I am sending you cyber poodle hugs in your time of need.
    Carma Poodale recently posted…B/W Sunday – Sunday SunMy Profile

  10. My Lab Murphy spent her very last day doing triple water retrieves…She was a happy dog till the very end…Becca’s story & video brought tears
    GizmoGeodog recently posted…Indignity on B&W SundayMy Profile

  11. Made me tear up so much I couldn’t even read the rest. Dabbed my eyes and watched the video and dabbed again. She was so lucky to have owners like you. Wow.
    What is it about Labs that just makes them steal our hearts. I am so sorry for your loss. Becca was beautiful.
    MelF recently posted…Black and White Sunday #42 – Herding SheepMy Profile

    • She was a sweet gentle soul. Gave so much in the line of service, but still a Lab at heart. I’m with you, love the Labs.
      mkob recently posted…B&W Sunday: Tale of Tails: Becca Pt.2My Profile

  12. The toughest part of having a pup is to let go! This was sad and beautiful.
    followingroy recently posted…Black and White Sunday #10 I need a trim!My Profile

  13. Her eyes were so sweet in that video and she looked like she had such an eagerness to please. You made so many difficult but loving decisions for her, right up to the end. You were lucky to have her, and she was lucky to have you.
    Miss Harper Lee recently posted…Black and White Sunday: BlissMy Profile

  14. I’ve had to have way too many dearly loved dogs put to sleep … I wish a vet had said those words to me at least once. There are always feelings of guilt and helplessness even when you are sure it’s the right time. You wrote a lovely tribute to Becca and made her last years the very best possible and then gave her the kindest, yet most difficult, act of love. Bravo.
    Greyhounds CAN Sit recently posted…Black And White Sunday – Jumping For JoyMy Profile

    • I will certainly remember those words. They were a comfort and helped us really see what was best. Thanks for your kind thoughts.
      mkob recently posted…Tale of Tails: Tino & the DeerMy Profile

  15. Becca was just so sweet. I loved the video of her.
    2 brown dawgs recently posted…Monday Mischief–Who Left That Bird There?My Profile

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