Running is not easy. At least not for me. I started maybe four years ago and at that point I had a hard time running even half of a mile. Sunday we ran 9.5. We’re in full on training mode. Sunday’s run was tough for me. Teasha and I agreed to run Wissahickon since it is not as hilly as Valley Forge and the soft dirt would be better for my achy knees. What I didn’t think about was how we spent Sophie’s last day running around Wissahickon. It didn’t hit me until I past the first section where we were taking pictures. It stayed with me for the rest of the miles. For me, running is a very mental game. Push through the pain, push through losing my breath, don’t quit… my usual mantras. Sunday had those thoughts along with all of the thoughts of that day. After the run we got in the car and Teasha asked me how I felt. I replied “a lot of things” and tried not to break down. Running is hard. Not giving up in order to honor my best friend makes it a little easier. There are plenty of times when I just want to stop and I get sick of running but I just try and remember the reason I’m doing this.
Please consider a donation in memory of Soph, of any dog you may have lost, for someone you know that’s gone through something like what I have, for anything. Any amount helps and every bit is appreciated.

http://www.wearethecure.org/friends/sophiesfight

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So it has been about a month since Sophie has passed. Not a day goes by that I don’t think about her. I miss her like crazy. I am in the process of adopting a new little friend so I can use all the information Sophie has taught me and give all of the love and kisses and cuddles that I have left for Sophie to another deserving dog. She really has taught me so much.

I was thinking about ways I can honor her and pay it forward; something I can do to continue being an advocate without having a little one to advocate for. I decided to run a half marathon in order to raise funds for the National Canine Cancer Foundation. My best friend/roommate, Teasha and our friend Amy will be running and fundraising as well. We are combining efforts in order to raise $5,000. The race, The St. Luke’s Half Marathon in Allentown, PA, is on April 28th. If you would like to donate, and I hope you do, please visit our donation page. 100% of your donation will go to NCCF in hopes that it will help fund research to find better treatment options and a cure.

Last night, Saturday December 15, 2012 around 7:45, I lost my best friend. Tonight will be the first night I am in my bed completely and utterly alone. I just feel numb.

She’s been declining pretty quickly ever since her medicine needed to be reduced because it was no longer working.  The tumor inevitably grew and the symptoms worsened as new ones showed up.  The worst was sporadic paralyses. At any time, completely randomly, either her front legs or back legs would stop working and she would crumble to the ground like someone stuck in wet sand. In my research of all the symptoms, this was not one I was expecting. It was the hardest to witness. It happened the first time on Wednesday with her back legs. Then on Thursday with the front. Friday she was sitting on my lap at work, I answered a call and she somehow lost balance and fell to the ground.  She didn’t/couldn’t even try to get up and my heart broke. I knew it was time.  I had originally scheduled for her euthanasia on the 21st.  I knew she was getting worse and I never, ever wanted her to suffer. At that moment, I knew while she could have continued to fight for as long as she could, she didn’t and shouldn’t have to continue this. There was no chance of a cure and to prolong this would have meant she would inevitably suffer. That afternoon I called her doctor and told him tomorrow would be the day Sophie would end her fight.  I left work and promised myself and her that we would have the best remaining hours possible. We did.

Our afternoon in the park.

Our afternoon in the park.

We went to the park near my house and I let her off her leash.  She took off, little legs locked and prancing as though she was in a dog show. She ran around in circles as I took a million photos and ran alongside of her. She leaned her head back to catch every bit of sun the day had left.  I could tell her was getting tired so I put her back on the leash and let her lead the way.  She took me to the tennis courts where we used to play games of fetch until I was the one who got tired.  She never lost energy.  I sat on the cold concrete while Soph ran around in circles.  She had lost interest in games of fetch and all toys in general over the last few weeks. I ran around with her a little more and knelt down.  She came over and game me a bunch of kisses and I started to cry.  We walked home and I sat on the couch and she cuddled up next to me and went to sleep.

Love.

Love.

Later that night I went out and bought a filet mignon.  She had about three dinners that night.

Last walk in Wissahickon. One of her favorite places.

Last walk in Wissahickon. One of her favorite places.

The next day, my boyfriend, my roommate and her dog, Sophie and I went to Wissahickon Park. Soph has been going on walks there since she was a lil pup. She never displayed many pug characteristics and I attribute her sense of adventure to her Boston side.  We walked along the path, Sophie leading the way again.  She led us off the trail by the stream where I let her off the leash again. (Illegal, I know. I really didn’t care right then.) She pranced all around the sandy trail leading the four of us wherever she wanted to go. She was the boss. We walked four miles.  She was having a good day and seemed to be having a great time.

We came home to relax and spend our last few hours together.  She took turns cuddling everyone and the hours flew by. It was time to go. We drove down to the city and I let her sit on my lap.  She perched her little paws up on arm rest and pressed her face against the window.  Halfway there, I put the window down so she can stick her head out.  Never quite being a fan of that, she did it but faced backwards instead.  Such a goof.

We made our way in to the building as I tried to remain as calm and collected as possible.  I had decided a long time ago that when this awful day would come, I’d donate her remains to the neurology department at Penn. Due to the location of her tumor, a biopsy was too risky and not possible. I always saw this awful death sentence with somewhat of a weird silver lining: the hope that from studying the tumor once she passed would be able to help another pet, family or even human. She would be helping someone which gave some peace to this disgusting, unfair illness. We made our way up to the private rooms where we would be explained the procedure and what to expect. The doctor took Soph for a few minutes to complete his exam and returned her to us.  We held her and told her we loved her. I spent a few minutes with her by myself and told her what I needed her to hear. Everyone came back in the room and I knew I couldn’t delay having this done.  I would’ve sat in there forever. The doctor injected her with a sedative to relax her.  It set in and she nuzzled her head into my arm. She looked up at me with those big, round eyes. I felt she knew and, with that look, she was telling me it was going to be ok. She rested her head on my arms and I held her.  The doctor gave the second injection and within a few seconds, she was gone. With my heart heavy and my face soaked, I told her I loved her and that she was ok and she was going to help someone else. I kissed her head and the doctor took her away.

My last picture of Sophie. Sticking her head out the window; feeling the cold December air.

My last picture of Sophie. Sticking her head out the window; feeling the cold December air.

I spent the car ride home in silence. I didn’t have anything to say. I still can’t really talk to anyone; only those that were there. My heart hurts. My whole entire body hurts. I miss her more than I ever thought was even possible. I would give anything to have her back but I know that’s not the way this thing works.  Sophie was my best friend.  She was a terrible, little brat at times. She was hilarious.  She made most of the people who saw her smile.  She taught me that I’m going to be a great mother someday. She taught me unconditional love. I was so incredibly lucky that she picked me that day that I just went to look at some pups. She loved me and I loved her more than I ever knew I could love anything. She may not have been cured and even though this disgusting disease took her life, she beat cancer in a way.  I am so proud of her.

I will miss her. Every single day.

This is going to be a tough one to write. And a forewarning, it’s depressing. Soph is getting worse and it’s undeniable. She is still having good days and bad so it makes it very tough to know what to do. Yesterday was the worst. She had an episode where she just hung her head and then continued to stumble around my room as though she had a few too many (also known as ataxia.) This lasted around 20 mins. I decided she would be safest in her crate while I was out and when I returned (with plenty of bones; her favorite thing as of late) she seemed back to “normal.”
The doctor said this is the last time we can adjust her medicine. The prednisone does a number on her liver but he said that is a secondary concern right now. Today is day three of the increased medicine. She had been experiencing small focal seizures lasting seconds but unnerving nonetheless. Her medicine had been increased for that as well. The seizures aren’t as frequent now, maybe once a day, but the circling is still constant. It
is my fear that the increase in medicine will not make a difference. This is tough.
I told myself yesterday that I will give it this week to see if there is any improvement. I don’t ever want her to suffer. Trying to do the right thing and not be selfish is probably the hardest thing I’ve ever done. She is so tough… such a fighter.

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Times are getting tough around here. Soph’s symptoms have gotten really bad lately. Her circles have been hairpin turns. If she was a little kid she would just be spinning in a circle, only this doesn’t end when it’s time to come inside or a new game is about to start.
A week and a half ago we were talking about how well Soph is doing and how it’s kind of funny because everyone guessed otherwise. We were gone for the weekend. When we got back, within days it seemed like the symptoms got so much worse. It’s not just the circling; she can no longer go down the stairs because her vision is compromised on her left side, she’s unsteady on her feet, and she’s grinding her teeth. But she still loves to play, loves to warm my lap, loves to eat treats and loves to be loved. She’s not getting annoyed with me for constantly smothering her with kisses.
I had just intended on posting this picture taken at work the other day but now I’m writing and I don’t even know what about.

She’s been coming to work with me everyday. I wasn’t bringing her for awhile because our office moved and I didn’t want her to be stressed. But all is settled and you can either find her on my lap, in her crate or click click clicking around the office. We have laminate floors and Soph has been compared to a Rockette. I actually tell people why she circles now instead of just nervously laughing and saying “yeah, she does that hehe”. I feel bad for the recipient of that news because it’s always a little awkward. I don’t tell everyone. Just the people the matter.

Since I don’t even know where I’m at with this post, I’ll end it here

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She actually made it to 5. Yes, I understand that sounds bad but really, no one thought it was going to happen. I threw a little party which doubled as
a Memorial day cookout: burgers, hotdogs, veggie skewers, adult beverages and, of course, birthday cake (don’t worry, one for dogs and one for humans.)

We busted out the kiddie pool which Macy laid in more than once. Sophie usually just walks around in the pool for about 2 minutes and hops out.

She received a whole bunch of toys and treats and she is still playing with them like it is Christmas morning.

It was a really (really!) good day. Fingers crossed for another year.

No news is good news, right?  I haven’t had much desire to write this lately.  Not because things are bad but the opposite.  I’ve always been a better writer when I’ve been upset but I can’t complain about this.

January hiking

Sophie is doing much better than I had anticipated… really, than anyone has anticipated, at this point. She has been going for chemo every two months which is what her liver has allowed.  It’s a battle because she needs the chemo to remain “healthy” but the chemo damages the liver so much especially since she has been on prednisone for almost a year now.

It’s been almost a year since she has been diagnosed. Around this time last year I noticed she was bumping into things, being clumsy. At the time I thought she was going blind. I was devastated.  “How am I going to live with a blind dog?! Poor thing; it’s going to be so tough!” I remember crying in the vet’s office when she said she thought it was glaucoma and would eventually lead to blindness. Can we do a tradesies?  It’s been quite a year.

And honestly, I know it sounds horrible but I didn’t think we would make it this far.  I should’ve known my pup is tough. The chemo has been keeping her symptoms under control and she still circles miles a day but she’s doing great.  She is still hilarious.  She comes to work with me almost every day.  She’s made an appearance on Forbes  and even ABC News which made me have a proud momma moment (yes, I printed them out.)  She may have a lot thinner hair now and a lot of it has turned white but some of it has grown back since it was shaved. She has developed a few new symptoms. She shakes every now and then which is from being in a little pain so she is on pain medication now.  She gets aggressive from time to time with Macy, my roommate’s dog, and the neurologists have said it’s either from being afraid of getting hurt or just being grouchy. The pain meds seem to be helping but she wears a harness now, just in case.  She grinds her teeth which is really bizarre sounding but I’m the only one who was really concerned about it. And she loves to not let me sleep in; beginning the bathroom parade every hour beginning at 6 a.m. which is a real treat for me on the weekend.  Other than that… she’s the same sweetheart she was and has been.  Her ears fell after she got sick and every now and then, mostly in the morning when she’s just waking up, they stick up and it makes me so oddly happy.  I take a picture every time and it still think she is so different looking that it makes me laugh a little.

Ears

She’s sleeping right now, right up against my leg. She always has to be touching me.  While it creates a difficult time in the bed and we fight for who gets more room, I love it. And I don’t mind the snoring one bit.