The beginning

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This is a strange journey — from devastation to delight, then despair. Our story begins as all stories here do: with a diagnosis. It’s been more than a year since we learned Sammy had osteosarcoma. I intended to chronicle Sammy’s story on this site, but at first I didn’t have the heart. Then, he recovered so fast I had to hurry to keep up with him. Now, as his journey nears the end, I want to share his story in the hope it might give someone else information and comfort. Most of all, I want to celebrate the life of our sweet, Smilin’ Sammy — who makes us laugh every day.

My husband and I first noted our beautiful and funny golden retreiver limping while we were on vacation. We put it down to too much swimming and chasing his obsession, the ball. After several rounds of an anti-inflammatory drug and some enforced timeouts, we realized he wasn’t getting any better. His first cry of pain sent us running back to our vet where x-rays showed a tumor on his right front leg. She explained the possibilities and I cried. Sammy, his golden eyes worried, gave me a gentle lick.

A trip to the University of Illinois Small Animal Hospital validated our vet’s diagnosis of osteosaroma. Acknowledging that we would have to have his leg amputated, we opted to take part in a clinical study in which his doctors inserted a nano-particle filled with chemotherapy directly into the tumor. Although we knew it wouldn’t change Sammy’s outcome, our hope was that someday some other dog and family might be spared as a result of this experiment.

The next three weeks were a blur as we dealt with our grief and weekly trips to the university hospital. Our friends and family, even the non-dog lovers, rallied around us. His brother and litter mate, Sosa (yes, Cubs fans, Sammy/Sosa), who belongs to our daughter, hovered around his brother.

The grief was so deep it threatened to swamp us. A hairline fracture soon appeared on the x-rays and we worried incessantly that a misstep would cause a break. Once, while on a potty trip to the backyard, Sammy screamed. I didn’t even know dogs could scream. By the time my heart stopped pounding Sammy’s tremors were starting to lessen. When we

reached the end of the three weeks it was almost a relief. We were ready to welcome our Tripawd.

More later …

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