canine osteosarcoma

Otis' Journey with Osteosarcoma

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It got too hard.

We were supposed to travel to Maine on August 21 for a week with the family on Damariscotta Lake but the days without eating started getting longer and the good days were dwindling in numbers, so we cancelled our trip and headed to the mountains.

Otis had a great week up in Tabernash! He was able to hang out on his hillside and look over the world below. He barked at a Moose and her adolescent calf to “GET OFF MY LAWN”! Chipmunk hunts were a daily occurrence with his sister Stella, especially when they were encroaching on Poppa’s truck! We also took a field trip to St. Louis Creek so he could meander around his old stomping grounds. Unfortunately we couldn’t access his favorite swimming hole, but I think he enjoyed wading in his favorite stream all the same.

His appetite and mobility were still waning but he seemed to be content in the mountains. The only downside to our house in Tabernash is the stairs. He needed assistance getting up and down the stairs, which for a stoic and independent pup like O-man was not a desirable thing.

We headed down the hill after a week of mountain bliss so Otis could get rid of the stairs and back to moving around on his own. He definitely was able to conquer point A to point B but each day mobility and appetite were deteriorating and it was obvious to us that the spark was fading.

There had been several times in the last month that we thought he was giving up and the next thing you know he was up and about acting like the Otis we came to know and love. The last time was different. In my final quest to get him to eat he turned down bacon and a freshly baked M&M cookie. This last time he was tired of the fight and seemingly ready to join his friends over the bridge. He was finding no joy out in the front grass – would not even perk up for a passing bunny.

Our Vet was able to come by later that afternoon and help him end the storm that had been brewing within his body. He was in his favorite spot by the window with his sister Stella, Poppa (Barney), Uncle Matt and me by his side. Our last dog we were a day late and vowed to be a day early in the future, so it was a good and peaceful ending.

Alelele. The name means “a path to flight”. A lele is a specific place Hawaiians believe the spirit jumps from this place to the next when the limitations of the human (canine in this case) form are no longer needed ie: in death. This location on Maui is very beautiful in its simpleness and the spot my friend Sooz lost her life. I believe in my heart that Otis was ready for his Alelele. His spirit was ready to fly and be free of all the pain and frustration that have accompanied him over the last couple of months.

Aloha, A Hui Hou. “Till we meet again, Aloha,”

Sheriff Otis you are clear for end of watch. Thank-you for your service and rest easy buddy, we have the watch from here. I love you to the moon and back O-man.

My final offering in this post is a video inspired by the script from the recent eulogy that Joe Biden gave for John McCain:

“The disease that took John’s life — that took our friend Ted Kennedy’s life. That took my son Beau’s life — is brutal, relentless, unforgiving,” Biden said. “It takes so much from those we love — and from the families who love them — that in order to survive we have to remember how they lived — not how they died.”

Otis slayed osteosarcoma, and Otis lived!