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17 Jan 2014, 8:59am


My darling boy

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This is probably the hardest post to make. I’ve been absent for a long time on the site, but I have been enjoying life with my boy. People on this site were so very supportive of us when Gandalf lost his leg, and I truly appreciate each and every person who made the effort to give me advice and assistance. But now I have to write…

Gandalf the Brave passed away on 31/12/13, New Years Eve. He was with me, his dad John, and his best friend Winnie, as well as the most caring vet and nurse.

Last year, in late November, I almost ran over a dog. She happily came with me, this unmarked, no-microchip pup. Noone claimed her. Gandalf loved her, played with her. So she stayed. Winifred Lilliput Ratabago Castleton (aka Winnie, long name for a little lost dog) gave Gandalf a boost in attitude and company.

However. For the past while, I have noticed that Gandalf was walking slightly differently, but he was not showing signs of pain, and was enjoying swimming as usual. It was just a feeling.

On Sunday (29th Dec), he went swimming and had a lovely time. He came home and threw up his breakfast. He wasn’t unhappy, but just in case I gave him some pain relief, thinking perhaps he was in pain. He refused dinner. We were away from home, and we decided to go home–about a 2 day trip. He didn’t want his breakfast in the morning, so we went to the local vet, who thought he was ok. He was drinking water.

I thought he was going down. Very flat. He was ok in the car (he loves the car), but didn’t want to walk about much. Still drinking water.

Tuesday morning (31st) we stopped and went to a local vet who gave him pain relief. I had spoken to my vet, who thought it sounded like a pancreatitis.

My wonderful vets stayed open for me, and by the time we got there, there was obvious fluid in Gandalf’s abdomen. We did an ultrasound of his abdomen and found he had tumours on his spleen and something else lower down. The vet took a sample of the fluid, and found that it contained mainly cancer cells. I was with him the whole time.

I then had to make a choice. The advice was that the presence of the cells suggested a tumour in the intestines. Major surgery would be required, he would have to have his spleen removed, and the outcomes for removing parts of intestines is not good.

It was suggested that exploratory surgery could be tried, and if what was found was bad, then we could let him go while he was under anaesthetic.

The positive could have been that he could have surgery and survive. However, given the presence of the cells, the vet said that he was 95% certain that the outcome would not be good. In his experience, just focussing on the spleen tumours, 4/5 are malignant.

In any event,even in the very best case scenario, Gandalf would have to recover from major surgery, and probably not a very long time. I couldn’t do that to Gandalf. His front paws have been sore, and I know he has been getting slower.

I decided to let him go. He looked up at me, and I reassured him.

I love my boy more than I can express. He has been the most loyal and wonderful companion. I have been so lucky and priviledged to have been able to look after him. There is nothing I would not have done for him.



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16 Apr 2012, 2:32am


Bowled over….ouch

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Poor Gandalf. Yesterday he got bowled over not once, but three times by an exhuberant border collie cross. On the sand. I tried not to panic, and he got himself up and grrrred at her. As she deserved! Luckily the owners called her off.

I didn’t baby him as I dearly wanted to 🙂 and instead threw the thong (the flip flop!!) into the water. He is really a very brave boy.

On the way home he jumped out of the buggy and decided to be a big growly boy at a sweet but a little bouncy black dog. I admit I didn’t tell him off, really. Said the words though. It was almost as if he was re-asserting himself!

And today. Well! Portia the bull terrier was on the beach and freaking out about something…spooked herself and was off and running with her (aging) person trying to catch her. Gandalf and I joined in the run. She ended up getting smooshed onto the rocks by a wave at which point Alan was able to grab her. Gandalf and I then took over. He was a dear sweet boy with her, no naughty growlings or anything, and it was like he knew she was in trouble. I managed to get the shaking Alan to the roadside with Portia and waited with them until Alan’s wife came to pick them up. They’re actually almost-neighbours. I’m just about to go down and deliver a horse lead so Portia can go to the beach again asap to get over her freakdom safely. And so Alan can feel better too!

My darling Gandalf is now resting. He knows I’m going out for a little while without him so I am getting the sad sad sad look.

Happy days to all our tripawd friends…

16 Apr 2012, 1:49am

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And she was happy with Gandalf’s progress.  She says he’s more stable when he runs, and that he’s getting a good band of muscle down his back. It almost looks like he’s put on weight–he’s looking chunkier (if that’s a word!).

He does have a few sore spots (but Emma says, we’re sore too when someone presses on muscle 🙂 ), halfway down his back, on his muscle with his amputated leg.

We talked about whether Gandalf needs one rest day a week (we go swimming every day at the moment), and she thought maybe this was a good idea. But the problem is he LOOKS at me as if to say…huh, come on mom, get your gear on and let’s get outta here! As if we could have a day off.

 Emma is going come back in 3 weeks and maybe go to the beach with us to see how he does in the water. I’ll try and get a video that day!

11 Apr 2012, 11:18am


Is it week 10?

I know, I’ve been silent. Feel like I can’t keep whining…”is he ok”  constantly, but we’re still in that zone.

Yep, still worrying. Gandalf is the dearest boy, and yeah, still trying to do the best for him. In the trolley to the beach, then a bit of a walk, and a swim every day. He just loves the beach. And the river.

Physio on Friday, then maybe we’ll see the vet again. Saw him last week and he thought Gandalf looked good. But he’s started this kinda drop walk thing. He runs like the wind, looks terrific, but the slow walk looks kinda painful.

He’s decided there’s something in the neighbour’s yard under a bush. Spends ages looking…maybe he’s doing too much standing? Maybe.

Sorry to be so down.


16 Mar 2012, 11:31am



Gandalf slipped over on the neighbour’s wooden floor. He’s been so good walking slowly on it, and we’d been avoiding it.

He just lay there and looked at me. I picked him up and took him to the mat on the tiles and tried not to fuss him. He got up and walked off (not on the wood!) but then has had to have lots of cuddles.

There goes the benefit of the physio today?



14 Mar 2012, 12:22pm

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Yesterday, back to the vet….

….to see the wonderful Natalie, who has one of Gandalf’s best person awards (continuing). And of course the other lovely nurses.

(we had to get cat food…yep, the REALLY expensive stuff… one of my boys [Angel Piggy Poggy Poodle] can only have wet food–he gets constipation badly [and sorbitol liquid every night]–and it has to be the urinary stuff–he’s had blockages and operations to help this problem. And because Angel P is not allowed to have the other cat’s food, if I’m not standing supervising Henry Tigger Fang has to have the expensive stuff too. FYI Angel is so called because he turned up, little feral 1yr old-ish, pretty much the same day as my beautiful Neville Tut died. They are so similar in personality it is amazing.)

So, back to the vet visit story. Gandalf “sings” to go in…and rushes into the office….smiling all the way. Accepts pats and admiration from all and sundry, but has eyes only for Nat. He is a rare kissing boy, but Natalie ALWAYS gets kisses. If he forgets himself and licks another nurse, we say “don’t tell Natalie”. Natalie is one of those rare people who has knowledge, intuition, care, and good common sense. She also knows how to empathize to make both dog and human feel better. Even though Natalie has had to do terrible things to Gandalf during visits for the seven operations he’s had over the past year (not counting the amputation), he still loves her dearly. Now THAT is pretty amazing.

(And she gives practical help. With the last operation before the amputation, she even drove Gandalf and me home in her 4 wheel drive and made sure we were ok at home; brought my car back to me the next day. Visited to check on us regularly. Yeah. I’m extremely lucky.)

We weigh in and Gandalf gets a treat. He’s down to 21.6 kg. Pre-operations/amputation he was around 26. He looks sleek and fit now. Natalie says his coat is looking better too. I hadn’t really noticed, but she hadn’t seen him for a week or so. I reckon the new diet is good–more veges, 1/3 BARF patty per meal, steamed chicken.

Gandalf does this lovely “I’m a well trained obedient dog” routine for weighing in. If you’ve ever watched people try (unsuccessfully) to get their dogs on that mat to weigh them, well, Gandalf puts them to shame. He walks up to the middle of the mat, then sits, and waits until told to move. Obviously he’s had a great deal of positive reinforcement for this routine. 🙂

We’ve had huge thunder and lightning storms tonight. Gandalf is sitting at the back door watching. In times past, he’d be either cringing or wanting to rush out and bark at the thunder. Another change.

Physio Friday. He hasn’t been as great this week following last friday’s physio as he was after the previous session. But then, he has been doing a little more. Today, and for the past couple of days, I’ve gotten him to walk a short distance through soft sand. He does this really well. But he does seem at other times to be doing a bit of a kinda leany thing with his remaining back leg, like it isn’t quite holding his weight. Just every now and then.

Of course, this feeds into my big worry that the hip/leg isn’t strong enough (it’s a pseudo joint, he had a femoral head excision on this hip a year ago). Will see what the physio says.

11 Mar 2012, 10:59am


Water water water everywhere

Yes well…I think my video skills are pretty much non-existent 😉

(how do I get rid of the annoying mommy voice? )

It was almost a disaster this morning at the beach. I was trying to throw the thong and take a video at the same time…and then a bloody great wave came in…

gandalfvideo 007



So we went to the river…


gandalfvideo 008


9 Mar 2012, 8:32am


Magical powers

Yes…the magical powers of the cape. Gandalf has been wearing his bandanna with pride. He just seems so much less serious! People have been noticing that he’s, well, happier than he’s been for a long time.

The lovely physio came today. Emma is absolutely amazing. She says that Gandalf’s muscles are definitely developing, changed over the week. She’s noticed, as I have, that he’s throwing out his front opposite amputation leg. She says this is because he’s finding new ways to balance. She’s trying to mobilize his wrists a little (they’re essentially fused…he’s missing a line of bones, poor nutrition as a puppy or just bad design). He was shutting his eyes with the bliss of it when she was working on his  leg and shoulders and neck and spine.

But he’s been tired all day….I can’t decide if he’s sore or just really relaxed. If he’s been wearing the harness all day he seems to just look tired, perks up again when I take it off. I wonder whether he thinks it’s his working harness and so is being a good quiet boy.

Emma agrees that I should keep his exercise to a minimum or at least not overdo it. She agrees with the wisdom given in the downloadable book–that dogs should have the same amount of energy when they finish exercising as when they start. She also suggests that I do a bit of swimming with the floaty on and some with it off, because it uses different muscles.

This morning he used it at the beach because there were some tiny waves, and we went in where there’s a bit of almost undertow. I always put the floaty on when he swims in the river, because it’s deep.

I went today and helped my audiologist move some furniture, from downstairs to upstairs. I left Gandalf downstairs but he was looking longingly at me, and I thought he might attempt the quite steep stairs. I carried him up the stairs and settled him in the beanbag, went back to work. Then I looked over and he was gone….and there he is, sitting at the bottom of the stairs.

I tried not to panic and berate myself for being a bad mom. I have no idea how he got down. I’m hoping the cape enabled him to float downstairs……




8 Mar 2012, 8:02am


Gandalf’s grandma…his friend…

Here’s the boy today, getting pets from his favourite grandma.

Grandma's best dog in the world

We went through the story again today. It’s kinda hard because today she was questioning the need for him to have lost his leg. But I said Dr. P said it’s the best, he’s not in pain any more, it’s all good. It’s almost as if Mom is reflecting all my worries sometimes 😉
And then we went to the studio, and here’s Gandalf again with grandma’s picture…

That's my grandma in the picture...

7 Mar 2012, 10:25am



Gandalf seriously refuses to stay in the car when I take mom somewhere. Like the doctor. Like today. Becoming a tripawd has not changed this! 🙂

I usually go to mom’s to supervise lunch (she has to take pancreatic enzyme tablets with every meal after serious pancreatitis last year), and today when I got there she was in her chair, and I could see the leg wound that should have healed (the nurses who visit every day had said it was fine, sigh) was not. So off to the doctor. Gandalf  was instructed to wait in the car…not gonna happen. So I found his Hearing dog lead and the label that says “hearing dog at work, please ask to pet” and clipped them on to the ruff wear harness that LUCKILY he was wearing.

Sensation boy. And then the (new) practice manager says, no dogs. I say, patiently, he’s a hearing dog. Sorry, she says, only guide dogs are allowed. He’s a service dog, and is allowed anywhere I go, I patiently explain. She went off and came back all smiley. No problem. Duh.

He sits at mom’s feet as if he owns her, and she absolutely loves it. Mom has short term memory loss, and things tend not to go in very well. When Gandalf was having all his operations, she’d say “what’s wrong with his leg, he’s limping!” every day. Now she kinda looks at him and says, “is he better off without his leg?” I usually explain it again, arthritis, Dr P tried very hard to fix, didn’t work, now not in pain. Luckily she knows the vet and loves him (as we all do), and so mention of his involvement makes it ok.

On the harness…I think it might be too big. I’m not sure it’s comfortable. It kinda rucks up and maybe digs in a little. I’ll see what the physio says on Friday.

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