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Discussion Starter #1
Sor's movement has really gotten worse very suddenly. In the beginning of this year he was hiking fine (5 miles, flat) and playing with Brae with no issues. Towards the end of spring, he could still do things but would be a little stiff the next day, then right as rain the following. This summer the stiffness would persist a little longer, and there was a slight dip in his step if he went on a longer walk.

Within the last month or so, there was a slight limp that never quite went away. He'd yelp and hold up his front left leg if Brae bumped into it. He could still do neighborhood walks but was very slow towards the end. About a couple weeks ago I did Xrays, bloodwork, and a round of carprofen+gaba. He was better on the meds. The meds were finished a few days ago and his limp is worse than it's ever been in his life. He moves like he's crippled, and any movement is a huge effort.

Xrays showed nothing but surprisingly good joints for a 12.5 year old. Bloodwork had slightly elevated kidney levels but nothing extraordinary for a very senior dog. Appetite is great, drinking adequately, mind is sharp, bowel movements normal, exceptional stool, and he can easily go 10 hours between potty breaks (his choice, we offer more chances).

Here's a 30 second video from tonight. Warning, it's pretty sad to see him move like this:
https://youtu.be/zCM8VlA4bSA
I am shocked that nothing turned up on Xrays. In fact, looking at this video it seems like his entire left side is failing.

I have a chiropractor appointment for him tomorrow afternoon. I am not holding my breath that it will fix anything. But I am hoping the chiro may be able to feel something the Xrays aren't showing. For the last few days (since the meds ended) I've been trying CBD, but I'm probably going to put him back on the meds to see if it makes him comfortable. I am debating whether or not to do more Xrays. It was very, very stressful and even painful to get him on the table and twist him around. Honestly, if it was bone cancer (which is what the vet suspects) I would not put him through surgery or chemo. I wonder if they can sedate and do Xrays. But with his age, I'm sure everything is a risk...

As difficult as this is for all members of my family, and as devastating it will be when Soro is gone, I am a practical person. I accept that things can get better or he can be gone in the blink of an eye. My partner and I will do whatever it takes to keep Sor happy and comfortable to the very end.

Here's also a photo from tonight :)

 

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Poor Sor. I know our vet did a sedated x-ray when we brought Sam in with hind end pain a few weeks ago, but it's always going to be riskier with an older dog. I'd absolutely say chiro and/or acupuncture are worth a shot since the normal methods aren't helping much, and if painkillers do give him some relief, I'd prioritize that over any long-term harm they might do at this point.

Sending him lots of luck, handsome old man that he is.
 

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Oh no, I'm so sorry to hear. Hopefully you are able to make him more comfortable.
 

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He is a very handsome dog, I can tell you love him very much. I send my best wishes to you that you may find a solution.
 

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Of course you have tested him for Lyme. Assuming you have, I would ask the vet about Rimadyl if you have not tried it. I have used it.. and it gave an old dog I had quite a long time relatively pain free (in that case I think two years and she passed just shy of 14 which is ancient for a GSD). Yes.. NSAIDS have side effects and I get that, but we know that as much as we love them, (and each other) none of us get out of here alive. If the Rimadyl gave Soro relief and he was happy.. even for a week.. or a month.. then no harm was done.

I also suggest Accupuncture done by someone who really knows what they are doing. Massage (which you can do) of the left side to help loosen his muscles may also help quite a lot. You can couple this with heat on his joints. I know.. a lot of stuff.. but you know, we do a lot sometimes. Massage and heat will not harm him and if it is arthritis, it will feel good (it does for mine!!).

I know all about the reality as do you. A little more time with as little intrusion as possible and as much comfort as can be had is likely worth it to you.

I wish you and Soro the very very best.
 

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Oh Soro, buddy, I'm so sorry to see this. I hope you find some relief soon.

Canyx, your posts and stories about Soro & Brae are stuck in my memory as some of the first I really read here. i'm wishing you the best.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Thanks all.

I have good news and bad news.

The good news is thanks to carprofen, gabapentin, and maybe CBD (and I have some hydrocodone I need to pick up from the pharmacy as well, for severe pain), Sor is moving much better and is acting as normal as a 12 year old can act.

The bad news it's bone cancer. The vet cannot make a definitive diagnosis without taking a biopsy. But even I, with my untrained eye, could see the discrepancy on the Xray before the vet even pointed it out. The edge of his humerus on his left left just looks "fuzzy", as the vet put it. My vet has been in the field for decades and lost one of her own dogs to bone cancer. She also said nothing else she knows could cause this level of pain. Basically, she's sure it's bone cancer without putting it down on paper. It's crazy because in 3 weeks it went from 'clean Xrays' to 'wow that's definitely bone cancer and it has likely metastisized at this point'.

So now is the hard part, the evaluation of his life and judging when the "correct" time to euthanize is. My options are: amputate his leg and put him through chemo. Radiation from a specialized vet a few hundred miles away. Palliative care. As of right now, I am opting for the last option. My thought is to make him comfortable until he shows us he is uncomfortable (not eating, depressed, harder to move around). Then I'll probably put him on the hardcare narcotics and schedule the appointment to end things. But it's so hard... I mean, tonight he's tromping around the house, eager to train, bright eyed, and he's gnawing on a bone as I write. He played with his kibble dispensing toy and is in such great spirits. I look at him right now and think, "he's got so much life in him, the rest of his joints look amazing, he is in great health except for the one leg, maybe I should go the amputation route." But there are moments when he's hobbling, and the vet's projection is half a year even with amputation and chemo, as the cancer has likely spread to his chest. And then I think, he's twelve and a half. To put him through serious surgery would be inhumane... I am trying to separate what I hope for, and what is realistic. But really, there are no easy answers. And I need to live for the rest of my life with whatever decisions I make.

But the good news is, tonight Soro is happy and hungry and eager to be here with us. And like I've said for... has it been 7 years?... on this forum, this dog has had an amazing life and has made my life amazing. My largest goal is to keep him comfortable and dignified till the very end. I owe him at least that much.
 

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I'm so sorry Canyx. That's an awful diagnosis to be facing. But as you said, you take great care of him and he's had a great life - and at least you have a little time to prepare things. I hope he has a really bright, enjoyable last few months with you.
 

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I'm so sorry. It's not my place to say but I agree that I wouldn't put a 12.5 yo through surgeries or chemo. I'm glad to hear that he's happier now though.
 

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Sorry to hear about Soro ... Make some more videos now.... I think your decision for palliative care is a good one. That's probably in his best interest, rather than trying to prolong his life. Having gone through some cancer surgery with Shep, I found that recovery was a minimum of a month, and rehabilitation to get back to walking was another 2 - 3 months. Plus, if the cancer metastasized, even a few extra months might feel like wasted suffering for minimal life extension and reduced quality of life.

You might talk with the vet about other options in addition to narcotics. Steroids can sometimes reduce the effects of cancer at the cost of the immune system. It's not a good solution to extend life, but it can work well for reducing suffering and improving quality of life. When the cancer grows too much or the immune system starts to suffer, you can choose to euth with Soro in comparatively good spirits. If you add narcotics, ask the Vet about side effects, such as constipation. And, in all cases, if he starts to lose his appetite, ask the Vet if there are methods to improve his eating ... or if he is now suffering ... and ready to go. I can't tell from the video, but it looks like Soro may have some hip weakness ... ask the Vet if Gabapentin might help?
 

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I am so sorry. This is hard, and any decision you make will be a good one.

And yes, Jack's quality of life improved dramatically with steriods. I don't know that that works for other cancers, but it certainly made him *feel* good - basically the same as your thoughts on narcotics. When they stopped making him feel good, it was time.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
What steroids are you guys talking about? Right now, he does limp but he does not seem to be in any pain.

I figure when he starts to decline further than what carprofen+CBD+gaba can do, I will give him hydrocodone (in my mind, the last drug and something that won't make him feel much of anything) and make the call to the vet to come and euthanize him. That seems to me like the most reasonable path of least suffering. But if steroids can make him feel even better, I will certainly talk to my vet about it.

The other thing is, although I want Sor to be comfortable I don't want him to overconfidently use his leg either. The vet said his bone could shatter at any moment. Soro still tries to CHARGE down the three steps outside. We either carry him or I get out ahead and support his front as he goes down.
 

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Just pred. Nothing fancy or expensive. Again, I don't know how much it would help in osteosarcoma, but it did Jack a lot of good in shrinking tumors and giving him basically a kind of euphoric high. No pain killing properties, just generally made him feel good. Also had him eating like a horse and peeing like one, and the peeing was kind of annoying but the really happy dog eating everything was lovely.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Hanksimon, thanks for your thoughts. Sor's hips are actually great. That's the sad thing, is the rest of his body is in superb condition for his age. They Xrayed all of him to be sure, and all his other joints are tight with not even signs of arthritis that you'd expect to see with a 12.5 yr old dog. Maybe genetics. I'd like to think that his lifelong glucosamine supplements, and adequan injections later in life, helped him out.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Ah, prednisone. I will ask my vet about it. She may have even mentioned it and given me my current drugs over that for some reason or another. But I can check.
Thanks!
 

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One of the 'tests' for some cancers is that prednisone will reduce inflammation and may decrease tumor sizes, temporarily. Dosage is usually low and for a short period of time, due to all of the side effects. But, ask the Vet what it will hurt as an end stage palliative. Ask the same about narcotics, and comparison.... After the Vet explains those issues. Make it clear that you are not trying to prolong his life, but instead to improve his quality of life .... Use those words, because 'prolong' and 'quality of life' are buzzwords that most Vets will understand to mean that you realize the implications and accept the inevitable. Ask about comfort vs. overconfidence.

Also, I know you've read it, but Vets hate to do a euth, just as much as we do. That is not why they went into the field. But, for the most part, they will perform a well-reasoned euth when time, and try to be compassionate about it.
 

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FWIW the reasons that vets sometimes don't immediately go there is that it can, if used for more than a little bit, take chemo or radiation off the table as treatment options and complicate surgery due to the immunosuppression.

THAT SAID, it is still entirely possible it doesn't work at all for osteo. Your plan of asking ans listening is the best one.
 

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I am so very sorry Canyx. I know this is very hard. Good Old Dogs are the best dogs.

Wishing you the very best on your continued Journey with Soro.
 
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