Monday, March 28, 2011

My best friend and a new friend

Last week I posted recipes a couple of times but my heart wasn't really in it. In fact, my passion for cooking over this time has diminished as we have been trying to come to terms with some heartbreaking news at home.  

A couple of weeks ago we noticed a sizeable lump on our beloved dog Jasper's hind foot and although we immediately made an appointment with our vet to have it checked out, we didn't really think it was anything to worry about. He is quite an active dog and it was probable that he could have injured himself on a walk, playing in the back yard or that he had been bitten by an insect.

Our vet was very concerned when he examined it and warned us about the worst case scenario - bone cancer. The next day Jasper went back for a biopsy and x-rays of the lump as well as his lungs, this is the first place that this type of cancer usually spreads to in dogs. Thankfully there were no signs of any tumours in his lungs but the vet was rather perplexed with the foot x-ray, stating that he had never seen anything like this type of growth before.   

After a long wait for the results we were finally told that Jasper has an extremely rare form of bone cancer (parosteal osteosarcoma). Osteosarcoma is very common in large breed dogs however the strain that Jasper has is so rare that our vet had never come across a patient with this condition and the pathologist who diagnosed it from the x-ray had only seen 3 cases in her career. The prognosis for parosteal osteosarcoma is better than a standard osteosarcoma as the cancer is slower to spread to other parts of the body.  

We basically had 3 options to consider, the first was to do nothing and to watch this horrible tumour grow, slowly debilitate our baby and in a matter of weeks he would have to be euthanised when the pain was too great. The second was to have his leg amputated, try to rehabilitate Jasper with three legs and hope that the cancer has not spread further. The third was to be referred to an oncologist, where they would probably perform more tests, the amputation and possibly chemotherapy. 

What a decision to make. Do you put your pet through such a huge change just so he can be around with you longer? Jasper is a perfectly happy and healthy dog in every other way. When we asked the vet for his opinion, he said if it was his dog he would have the leg amputated. This was extremely helpful as it was the decision we had been leaning towards but not quite able to commit to. As we were unable to see an oncologist in a timely fashion we opted to have our vet perform the amputation.

It has been a very difficult 6 months for us with our pets. Last September, we lost our first pet ever. Our 11 year old cat Samba died rather suddenly after experiencing kidney failure. In February, our other 11 year old cat Monty went missing for a few days and returned with a severe bladder infection that saw him hospitalised for days. At 8 years of age, we were definitely not expecting anything to go so wrong with our beloved dog.   

When this ordeal started, I immediately recalled a similar story that another blogger wrote about last year, Vaishali @ Holy Cow. I re-read her posts about her dog Lucy and found inspiration in the fact that Lucy had gone through an amputation due to osteosarcoma, recovered wonderfully and is leading a happy life today!

I wrote an email to Vaishali to tell her about Jasper's story and to ask some questions about Lucy and her recovery. I was astounded when I received a reply just over an hour later and as well as answering all of my questions, Vaishali was so sincere and caring in her response. I felt compelled to write again a few days later to let Vaishali know what our latest plans were and to send through a photo of Jasper. Again she replied promptly with further helpfulness. 

On Sunday night, I decided to cook a few things from the Holy Cow blog as a thank-you to Vaishali for all of her support and assistance over the last week. It is so nice to know there are people around that care so much for animals that they are willing to help a stranger out going through such a difficult time. 

I chose to make some Vegetable cutlets (spiced potato and vegie patties) as I knew the boys would like them and Spicy Urad Dhal because I love trying out different dhal recipes. Unfortunately I forgot to buy some coriander so this was omitted. I also subbed a diced carrot for the green beans in the patties. The cutlets were served with an eggplant pickle which was a nice compliment. These dishes were both nicely spiced and it was a delicious meal.

Jasper had a nice weekend, we went for a couple of short walks to some of his favourite haunts, he had a bath, spent lots of quality time with his family and has a nice new comfy bed (which he already loves) for when he comes home on Tuesday night. It will be a long lonely night for us all but at least we have heard that his surgery went well, we know he is in good hands that we trust and he is starting his road to recovery. After so many tears and uncertainty, at the very least we have given our precious boy a chance to live... 


  1. so sad to hear about your cats and poor Jasper. I hope he recovers ok. When I was little our dog had three legs because when our friends were looking after him in the country and a neighbour shot him when he strayed. He was a lovely dog and I have always had a soft spot for three legged dogs since then.

  2. My heart goes out to you! It's been a tough decision for you no doubt - I am sure Jasper will adapt, it never ceases to amaze me the way animals just get on with things and still love life :)

  3. Thanks Joanna, how awful that your dog was shot. Good to hear that he survived and managed to get around with 3 legs.

    Thanks Karla, we are sure that Jasper will adapt pretty quickly. The update from the vet this morning was that he had been back on his feet (paws) already which they were pleased with. Looking forward to bringing him home tonight!

  4. Yes, it's certainly difficult to get very excited about cooking or blogging when you've other troubles. All the best for Jasper's recovery!

  5. Thanks Cindy. Jasper is adapting really well and getting more confident with what he can do every day which is a huge relief for us.