Monty Update: Surgery Day

Today is the big day.  Monty and I arrived at the CSU vet hospital bright and early at 7:30am this morning.  I was able to meet with the new team (my previous team, for several reasons, was unable to do the surgery today) and ask any final questions I had.  Monty was typical Monty and shook as if he was a chihuahua once we got inside the hospital.  That pup is too smart for his own good!  The new team seems wonderful.  We have a student vet, a teaching vet, and the surgeon, who is one of the staff surgeons.  It was a difficult morning for me, but I made sure to be calm and collected while Monty was still with me.  Don’t need him knowing I’m a mess!  He was taken back to their prep area around 8:15am to get a once-over, get his blood type, and start prepping for surgery.

I will receive phone calls right before Monty goes in for surgery, right after he wakes up, and a follow-up call before the team leaves for the day.  They do have an overnight team that takes over, so Monty will be monitored the entire night.  They will then call me tomorrow morning around 8am to let me know how he’s doing and if/when he’ll be ready for me to pick him back up.  The vet also said she would take a picture of Monty post-surgery so I can prepare myself for what he’ll look like when I see him in person again.

This will be the first time since I adopted Monty that I sleep in my home without him there.  It will definitely be an odd evening for both of us.  I left a hoodie that I wore most of yesterday with Monty so he could smell home and me, and hopefully know I will be coming for him as soon as I can!

Please send all you’ve got – prayers, positive energy, good juju, etc – to Monty for his surgery today and for his recovery in the days to come.  Thank you ❤

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And for something a little more fun:  all this week leading up to today, Monty and I had as many adventures as we could.  He went swimming at the indoor dog pool, got all the pets at New Belgium Brewery, went hiking and swimming at Horsetooth Reservoir, did our usual walks at the ponds near our house, and had a toy party last night (since he won’t have toys for a month… poor guy!).  Enjoy our pictures from the adventures. 🙂

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Monty – March 9

Yesterday, Monty had his CT scan at the CSU cancer center.

We arrived at 7:15am and he was taken back for the day soon after.  It was a pretty nerve-raking day for me, since Monty had to be put under for the scan and I have terrible anxiety with anesthesia.  Monty was a champ, though, and he did great, although was a little dopey still when I picked him up.  I met with the oncology surgeon around 4pm when I came to get Monty and learned what they saw.  It turns out the cancer has been attacking Monty’s jaw bone (we originally didn’t think it was) and the entire front of his mouth is infected.  Luckily, the tumor does not go past his canine teeth, so our surgery plan that was discussed on Monday is the same:  they will remove the lower jaw bone to just behind the canine teeth (so Monty will be losing his canines, which is a bummer, but necessary).  The surgeon was very confident that this surgery would completely remove the tumor and Monty would be back on track to having a the lifespan he deserves.

I talked a while with the vet and surgeon about Monty’s quality of life after this surgery, since it seems to me to be a major change.  They both said that while Monty may look a little different, it won’t affect his ability to play/eat/chew/etc in any way.

The big day is scheduled for Thursday, March 16.  I will be taking Monty to the cancer center that morning, and they will hold him overnight after the 1.5 hour surgery to ensure everything is okay and Monty’s comfort level/pain management.  My plan is to work from home that Friday, March 17 so I can be available to pick him up when he’s ready and then be with him the rest of the day/into the weekend.

Please send your love, healing thoughts, positive vibes, whatever you have to send for Monty to have a successful and as painless as possible surgery next Thursday.

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Ryan has lovingly set up a donation page for Monty’s surgery.  If you would like to support Mr. Montague, please consider making an investment in his future as a derper dog (due to the inevitable tongue hanging out situation that we will have post-surgery).  Thank you ❤

Monty Update – March 6

Last Thursday, my vet called to discuss the dental specialist veterinarian she had recommended and finally spoke with about Monty.  She informed me that the specialist wants to do surgery as soon as possible to try to eradicate the cancer and avoid issue with Monty’s jaw in the future.  It seems the main concern is that due to the cancer’s location (close to the middle joint of his lower jaw bone) that when the tumor comes back, it could break his jaw by messing with the joint.   The surgery, from our initial conversation, sounds like it would involve taking some of Monty’s jaw bone and surrounding tissue to take out the entire area the tumor was in in the hopes to completely remove it.  There may be some “wiring” involved as well, but I was assured his canine teeth should be able to remain.  .

On Monday, we had our appointment with Colorado State University’s Animal Cancer Center.  I was nervous going into the appointment, mainly because I was worried they would either contradict what my normal vet and the dental specialist recommended OR that they would want to do the surgery themselves and I would have to choose who would be doing the procedure.  Honestly, in all of this, my greatest fear is that I will make a poor choice for Monty.  This road is not clear cut, it’s not “to achieve A, do B” and I’m truly terrified I will make a bad decision and it will affect Monty’s quality of life or length of life.

We arrived at 10am for our appointment and met with the vet, and then the oncology surgeon to discuss Monty and their recommendations.  The CSU team is very optimistic we can get Monty to total remission, and have his length and quality of life not altered in any way once the tumor is completely removed.  They would like to do a CT scan to get a better idea of where the tumor remains, and then use those images to plan out the second surgery that they agree needs to be done.  This surgeon believes Monty will most likely have to lose his bottom canines to ensure we have removed the entire area of the cancer cells.  We won’t know for sure, though, until his CT scan.  The scan is scheduled for this Wednesday (March 8) and Monty will have to spend the day at the hospital, and they will have to put him under.  I believe, after talking with both vets, that I will go with CSU’s surgery team for this second surgery.  Send positive vibes, as I always hate when they are knocked out…

I also reached out to my vet from back home in Wisconsin, as she is a specialist of sorts for alternative medicine options.  I truly want to make sure I am doing everything I can at home to assist Monty in his battle with his cancer.  I’m all for combining modern medicine with alternative medicine.  So, we shall see if she recommends any supplements or diet changes or anything else to support his immune system and help Monty heal.

Please keep Monty in your thoughts/prayers/send him your positive energy/good juju as we move ahead towards our goal of remission!

Fur in Fashion

Don’t worry!  I am not going to share any photos of the grotesque practices of how fur is obtained, because it is absolutely horrifying and disgusting.  Below is just a photo of a farm with the animals still alive at the time; before they are killed and skinned to become an ornament to an outfit or a coat.

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Honestly, it still shocks me that the fur industry exists.  The only reason I felt compelled to speak about it is a friend and colleague recently posted on social media that she was planning on buying a fox fur stole.  I was shocked and beyond disappointed to see someone of my generation think that fur is a fashionable thing.

It isn’t.  And neither is fake fur (it usually isn’t fake, anyways), leather, feathers, or anything else that requires something to die for you to acquire it.  Plus, one item does not equal  one death.  It means many.  According to the Compassionate Clothing Coalition, eighteen red foxes are killed to make one fox fur coat while fifty-five minks are killed to make one mink fur coat.

That is not acceptable.  The millions of animals in fur farms, whose entire life is living in cages until they are electrocuted, killed, and skinned, is depressing and unnecessary.  Please join me in making the life choice to never buy or support any products that require an animal to die for it to exist.  Also, consider avoiding the fake versions as well, since the fake versions could very well be real without you knowing it AND the fake versions still promote the concept of fur in fashion as “cool”.

Let’s make animal products uncool and work towards getting fur (and all other animal products) out of the fashion industry, out of the norm, and make it taboo to wear the skin of dead animals.

Monty Update – February 2017

It’s been two weeks since Monty’s surgery, and one week since learning his biopsy came back that he has cancer.  Monty went in for his surgery follow-up yesterday and his mouth is healing up nicely!  The new tissue looked weird to me, so I was paranoid the tumor had already grown back but it’s just a normal new tissue growth process.  (Whew)  The only problem right now is Monty wants to play like normal, but his mouth is still healing so we are having to get creative to replace his usual games of fetch and chew toys.6c823e4e-7f00-0001-73e2-3d2b860a0bad

I heard back from the CSU Animal Cancer Center – we are off the wait list and have an appointment:  March 6.  I am excited to talk with their specialists and start to move forward with a plan.  My regular vet is also reaching out to her colleagues to find a dental specialist who may be open to taking Monty on (if and when he’ll need a more invasive surgery that could include his jaw bone).

Due to where the tumor was/will be when it comes back (next to his mandibular symphysis), the surgery will be more involved than normal.  The mandible is comprised of two halves joined together on the midline at the mandibular symphysis, which is a fibrocartilaginous joint aka his bottom jaw is actually two bones that come together at the front of his mouth (note the gap shown in this random, not Monty’s mouth xray – if it was Monty, those six little teeth would all be gone!).  So surgery needs to be very careful in this area since it’s not just regular bone and involves a joint.

For now, we are just focusing on healing from the initial surgery and I am doing whatever research I can to prepare for our next steps.  Monty is feeling great (currently barking at a squirrel who dares to be in the back yard) and ready to get his toys back, and also super pumped that we have some snow on the ground again.  We’ll update again after our CSU appointment on Monday, March 6!

Snow Dog on Thursday morning

Monty, the Snow Dog on Thursday morning – no, he won’t come back inside just yet. 🙂

Acanthomatous Ameloblastoma

Those two nearly impossible to pronounce words are the name of the cancer my dog, Monty, was diagnosed with this week.

Last Thursday (on February 9), I took Monty to the vet for a light dental procedure to remove a chipped tooth and to have the vet look at a bump that had shown up a few days prior between two of Monty’s front teeth.  The consult before his dental was jarring, as I learned from my vet that she was concerned the bump was a cancerous mass.  We agreed to fully anesthetize Monty so she could take x-rays of his jaw bones, and fully remove the mass.  His surgery went well, with the vet removing all four of Monty’s front teeth (he just wanted to be like his toothless sister!).  The x-rays showed no sign of cancer and the mass was sent in to be tested.  I learned this Thursday (February 16) that it had come back positive.

From what I can find on acanthomatous ameloblastoma, it seems that if one had to get mouth cancer, this is the one to get.  This type of tumor does not metastasize (spread to other areas), but will attack the bone and teeth in the mouth.  The good news is, according to University of Pennsylvania’s vet school, “The prognosis is generally excellent with complete surgical removal.”  Early detection is also important, and I believe we succeeded in that as the tumor was only about the size of a small pea.

The cause of this cancer is unknown, however “it is thought to be seen more in male large breed dogs (like German Shepherds and Golden Retrievers) and dogs that are of middle to old age (over five years old).”  Monty falls under both of those categories in this case, being 10 years old and a border collie mix with shepherd definitely part of the mix).

Chemo cannot battle it, but radiation does work.  The research I have done shows that the first step is to surgically remove the tumor (we have done that), and then possible radiation treatments to push for remission.  From what I can see, remission is possible and if achieved, life expectancy should not be altered.

Our regular vet is on a wait and see pattern for when the tumor returns (she stated it won’t be an if, but a when) so we can determine how aggressive the cancer truly is.  I also am on the waiting list for a consult with CSU’s canine cancer center to see if further surgery and/or radiation are the path to take to achieve remission, as well as am waiting for a referral to a canine dental specialist (in case Monty needs to have some of his jaw bone removed in this process).   The CSU appointment should be in early to mid March.

I will use this platform to keep record of our journey and battle.  Right now, Monty’s quality of life is 100% and that is what I am focusing on now that I’ve had time to react/process/cry like an idiot.  We will continue to research this condition and it’s treatments, and visit with doctors to ensure we can keep that quality of life as high as possible for as long as possible.  And we will continue our morning games of fetch (once his mouth is healed, of course), our evening walks, our bedtime snuggles, and our weekend adventures.

With Love,

~Jenna & Monty

Monty

Happy 10 Year Anniversary, Monty!

10 years ago, a 22 year old who had less than $500 to her name and had moved back in with her parents after graduating college adopted an under-socialized, emaciated border collie puppy who had scabies.  It was the beginning of the greatest relationship I have ever had.  Together, Montague “The Moose” Riedi and I have lived in three states, traveled over 10,000 miles, hiked/walked countless miles… Monty has supported me through dozens of breakups, snuggled up through several surgery recoveries and many illnesses, celebrated new jobs, and has shared endless adventures from a road trip to the pacific ocean to exploring new trails.

I have shared almost a third of my life with this amazing, energetic, quirky dog.  Thanks for being my pup, Sir Monty, and here’s to many more years to come!