Wednesday, August 15, 2012

R.I.P. Mojo

It's hard to believe that it has been 2 months since my last update about Mojo. So much has happened that I don't even remember all the details. In a nutshell, he kept going in and out of remission but we kept him feeling fairly good with some Prednisone, LDN, Cycophosphamide, and an occasional round of chemo.

On Thursday August 2nd I dropped him off at Bluepearl for IV chemo. I think he got Doxy but it may have been Vinc. It's all kind of a blur now. That Sunday I dropped him off at Bluepearl for boarding because DH and I were going out of town for 3 days. We were SO glad they kept him for us because they are open 24/7 so we knew he would not be alone in case of a thunderstorm.

When we came back to pick him up Wednesday August 8th the lymph nodes in his neck had actually gotten bigger. We talked to Dr. Johnson who said she would like to "ride it out" a bit longer since otherwise he was feeling pretty good. She said to call Bluepearl if anything at all changes.

Saturday the lymph nodes seemed a bit bigger and he was posturing again. We called Blue Pearl and they said to bring him in if he is in distress. He wasn't really in distress, but we noticed he was limping slightly. So DH took him to McCormick Animal Clinic, our regular vet, and Dr. McCormick checked him out thoroughly. He said that there was something going on with his left shoulder but the limping could be due to the weather change or arthritis and to give him Tramadol for the pain. I gave him three Tramadol when DH came home with him and he seemed fine the rest of the day. Actually, DH said Mojo had stopped limping by the time he got to McCormick's.

That night we had people over for dinner and Mojo was his usual self - happy, loving, and enjoying our guests. He was playing with Pepper, eager for food, and seemed fine. Sunday morning when I woke up around 5:45 he was still sleeping and snoring rather loud with short breaths. That was unusual. When I went downstairs he just stood at the top of the stairs and looked at me and I had to coax him to come down. Also very unusual. Ordinarily Mojo would run down the stairs ahead of me, run outside to do his business, then run back inside because he knew he would get a treat after he comes back in. I could barely get him to go outside and when he came back in he just laid down on a towel on the floor and stayed there. He didn't even get up and come over when I got the dog treats out. At this point I was concerned. I woke DH up and then called Blue Pearl to tell them we were bringing him in.

We hadn't given him anymore Tramadol the night before and at Blue Pearl they thought maybe he was "just" in pain, but I had a feeling there was more to it. I wanted it to be his shoulder or "just" pain but I know my sweet boy. He looked awful and I knew he felt awful and that's not how he used to act when he was in pain. In addition, the lymph nodes in his neck seemed even bigger.

The doctor working that day was Dr. Lisa Martin and like everybody else I have met at Blue Pearl she was incredibly nice. They ran a CBC which was fine and took his temperature which was slightly elevated. Her recommendation was to admit him for IV fluids, IV antibiotics, and a round of chemo (l-spar). They also pre-treat with Benadryl when they administer l-spar because it is synthesized from e-coli and can cause an allergic reaction. While we hated leaving him there we wanted to do what was best for him medically so we reluctantly left and went home. DH had to go to work and I packed up some of Mojo's food, a towel, and his meds and brought it back to Blue Pearl. I got to see him again and hang out with him for about 10 minutes and he was just so miserable. His eyes were droopy, blood shot, and really small and it was obvious he was not feeling good. I broke into tears as soon as I walked out.

DH went to see him in the afternoon and said overall he looked a bit better but that he had a huge lump on the side of his neck. Apparently that was an allergic reaction to the l-spar so they were giving him more Benadryl.

We called around 5:30 PM to talk to Dr. Martin and to see how he was doing. She said he was a little better and his fever was done. He was interested in food again so she fed him some of the chicken breast I had brought for him. However, because of the swelling in his neck he had a hard time swallowing and spit it back up. I asked if we could come back to see him and she said that would be great and if I wanted to I could bring some low-sodium chicken broth. So I boiled some plain, skinless, boneless chicken breast in water, filled some of it in a jar, then pureed some more of it with the chicken breast thinking that would be better than just plain broth.

When we got there his neck was really swollen and DH said it was worse than in the afternoon. However, his eyes looked almost normal again, he was more alert, and he drank his broth with pureed chicken breast. That made both of us very happy. We stayed with him for a while, sat in his cage, and just loved on him. We weren't happy about the swelling in his neck but felt good about the fact that he was interested in food again.

The next morning we both went to see him again and he was about the same, but the swelling in his neck actually seemed bigger. We fed him more broth with pureed chicken and Bob went to work while I went home. I actually felt fairly good and confident that he would get better. I figured the l-spar would still work on the lymphoma despite the fact that he had had an allergic reaction to it. I had a feeling he would have to stay another night but that he would come home the next day. But we were in for a huge surprise at 1 PM that day when we came back for our appointment with Dr. K. She explained that the swelling in his neck was NOT an allergic reaction after all and that it was his lymph nodes getting bigger. We were not prepared for this at all or for the fact that she wanted to know if we want to try more chemo or put him to rest. We discussed all the options, his quality of life, possible outcomes like taking him home and him going into respiratory arrest in the middle of the night, and how to proceed. Since he didn't seem to be in pain we decided to give it one more shot so he got an injection of Vinc, an injection of some other chemo drug, plus we took some vials of that other chemo drug home with us. Dr. K said if anything happens during the night and we feel that it's time to give her a call and she would come do it herself. We were all crying because they loved Mojo so much as well.

So we took him home, moved the couch and coffee table out of the way, spread blankets, towels, and sleeping bags on the floor and hung out with him on the floor all afternoon. We were praying for the lymph nodes to go down and Dr. K had said if the chemo would work then we should see them go down by that evening. When we first got home Mojo slept some but his breathing was pretty labored whenever he had his mouth closed. When he wasn't sleeping he was mostly just panting. He was interested in food and we fed him more pureed chicken and I also pureed some of his canned dog food into it. Later in the evening we fed him some small pieces of boiled chicken and were excited that he was keeping it down, but that only lasted a few minutes and he threw all of it back up.

At 10 PM I gave him another chemo injection and we tried to go to sleep. It seemed like his breathing was getting worse yet at times I thought the swelling in his neck and mouth were smaller. Other times I looked at him from a different angle and it seemed just as big or bigger.

Around 2:30 AM he wasn't sleeping anymore because he just couldn't breathe with his mouth closed. He kept holding his head up because his only mode of breathing was panting and he was so tired. We knew it was time but still we were doubting. It is incredibly hard to make this decision and I have never had to make a decision like this before. We decided to give him some more pureed food to see if he could keep it down. He did mostly but vomited a little bit. At 3 AM we called Dr. K because he was just not doing well. It was so hard to watch him panting the entire time and looking so tired and worn out. The confusing part was that he didn't seem to be in pain, he was walking around, and he was interested in food.

Dr. K and her assistant N got to our house close to 4 AM and Dr. K said it was definitely time. When they walked in Mojo barked at first then got up to greet them and was wagging his tail. That made it even more confusing and harder but both Dr. K and N kept assuring us that it was time to let him go. I think we probably asked her 10 times if she was sure and she said that the lymph nodes had actually gotten bigger since we had taken him home the day before. So we decided to go ahead with having him put to rest and Dr. K explained what she would and exactly what would happen. She said there would be no pain and that it would only take 8 to 10 seconds. They put a catheter in his leg and then we had to give the final ok. It is probably the hardest decision DH or I have ever made in our lives but we told her to go ahead. Bob was in front of Mojo, I was right by his side, and Dr. K and N were at his back since they were using his back leg. N injected a sedative and then she injected the medication. For a few seconds his head perked up and so did his cute, floppy ears and his eyes looked alert and normal, and then his head sank into DH's hands and he was gone. It was so hard but it was peaceful and DH and I both feel so grateful that Dr. K and N came to our house, that Mojo had a few hours with us at home loving on him, and that he was surrounded by people who loved him when it happened.

DH and I pretty much fell apart and were just crying, still petting him and talking to him. It was so hard to let go. Dr. K had brought some clay and took a paw print for us. Then the four of us loaded him into Dr. K's car and she and N took him to a place that cremates pets. I don't even know where they took him or how much it will cost. We were just glad that they took care of everything for us.

Now my sweet boy is gone. I am relieved that he is not struggling anymore, I am relieved that I am not worried about him anymore, but I miss him SO much. The last few months have been rather stressful with him going in and out of remission, all the meds he was taking, the special food I was making for him, and all the trips to the vet, but I would gladly do it all again. I have never bonded with a dog like I bonded with Mojo and he just had something special about him. He would light up a room just by walking in, he would walk up to strangers and just lean on them, and he was such a happy boy, always ready to live each day to the fullest. I still can't believe he is gone and I can't believe it has been less than 48 hours. Yesterday was a long, long day. It was close to 5 AM when Dr. K and N left and I was unable to go back to sleep. It's hard to be home without him here and today of all day's DH had to go on a pastor's working retreat. Talk about bad timing.

In about a week we will get Mojo's "cremains". Dr. K said it comes in a beautiful wooden box and it will have his name on it. We decided to plant a tree on our property in Hanging Limb and sprinkle some of the ashes with the roots of the tree. Mojo loved running around on that property so we figured that's a good place for him. There's another place we may sprinkle some of his ashes, and we will keep some of them as well.

Here are some picture of Mojo from happier times. :)

 I will always love you Mojo and you were THE BEST.


  1. Re this and your other posts about Mojo: Beautifully written and such a great tribute to Mojo. You were all lucky to have each other for those years.

  2. Thanks Cass. It has been both fun and tough to write about him and post pictures and videos.