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21 Aug 2017

Honoring Nitro….continued

Author: dobemom | Filed under: Uncategorized

Seriously, an hour after I posted pictures of all the thoughtful memorial gifts from friends, FedEx left a package at my door.

From our friend Michelle

Could it be another sign from Nitro, that all is ok with the new addition? Hmmmmmm

21 Aug 2017

Honoring Nitro – thank you friends!

Author: dobemom | Filed under: Uncategorized

Front of card from my co-workers

Just a little post to share all the wonderful remembrance gifts we’ve received from our friends. It truly warms my heart to know that he touched so many lives, and lives on in these memories. He was one-of-a-kind, that’s for sure. I still think of him every hour of every day, and its not always with sorrow; I remember all the love, and the goofiness we shared. Until we meet again, brave warrior….Be good, mama loves you!

Memorial pendant from Donna and Glenn

From his sitter

From my co-workers

card my co-worker made

his 3 paw prints

solar light

beautiful cardinal lamp from Lisa and Linda

beautiful cards from friends

my next tattoo

HE WAS MUCH LOVED BY SO MANY….thank you for that!

Paula and John


9 Aug 2017

A Letter To Heaven….”Dear Nitro…”

Author: dobemom | Filed under: Uncategorized

Dear Nitro,

It’s been 2 weeks since we said good-bye….it seems like an eternity since I heard you hop down the hall, or you’ve given me a hug. I still can’t believe that you are no longer with us; its’s like a nightmare that I can’t wake up from. I know it was time, that you were tired, that you fought the good fight for way longer than anyone thought possible. Knowing it was the right thing to do doesn’t make it any easier. My heart has shattered in a million pieces, and I don’t know if it will ever be the same again. All our Tripawd friends tell me I will be ok, that I will love again, that it is OK to love again; right now, that’s hard to believe.

Days go by, and I think I’m good. Then I break down, and I feel like I can’t go on. This world doesn’t make sense without you in it. I never knew I could love like this, never knew I could bond with a dog like this, never knew what the term “heart dog” meant before this. It’s funny how life throws us curve balls….who could have predicted that a bone cancer diagnosis would have brought us the best friends imaginable, while turning our world upside down. This journey is one I never would have picked for us, but at the same time, it allowed me to experience such a perfect love, that I can’t regret it. I’ve realized that I’ve started to define you as a dog with 3 legs – a Tripawd – but you were so much more than that. You were a Warrior, a fighter, stronger than I ever dreamed you could be. And you showed me that I was a Warrior, a fighter, and stronger than I ever believed I could be.


I’ve been preparing for your leaving me for so long now, for probably a year or better; perhaps this has enabled me to appear to have “gotten over it”. Your daddy, however, is just starting this process. He is really struggling with your being gone, and that is so hard. I don’t want him to think I’ve moved on, that you didn’t matter, because you were the world to me. I’m trying to be brave, for you…..I love you, sweet boy, and I hope you are running free, and having the time of your life. Until I see you again, “BE GOOD, MAMA LOVES YOU!”

28 Jul 2017

Warrior Nitro….A Beautiful Life

Author: dobemom | Filed under: Uncategorized


Warrior at The Bridge

My Warrior has shed his earthly clothes, and is running free at The Bridge….we are beyond devastated, but his story is a beautiful one.

The beginning of the end began, ironically, the day after his 37 month ampuversary – July 18, 2017.  He slipped on the tile floor upon waking, splaying his hind feet; no biggie, it’s happened before. Out in the yard, he was having a bit of a hard time standing up, and when I went to assist him, he let out a yelp of pain. Whoa! This was new. As the day progressed, his mobility worsened, as did his incontinence. I called Dr. Patty (chiro vet) and was able to get him in the next day for an early morning appointment. As she examined him, he began to tremble, so much so that at first she thought he was having a seizure. Eventually she determined it was a generalized reaction to pain, and could find no chiropractic reason for the new symptoms. She also said his “Qi” or life force was quieter than she’d ever seen it.



Heavy Heart

I called my regular vet to discuss…and to make arrangements should they be necessary. She increased his gabapentin to 3x a day and I scheduled several “visits”, one for the next day, one for the following day (both at the clinic) and one for the following Tuesday July 25. By night time, he seemed a little better, so we’d re-evaluate the next morning to see if it was “time”. The next morning, as he’s laying outside and we’re trying to make a decision, he saw a squirrel; he jumped up on his own and went running across the yard! Ok! Cancel THAT appointment! That morning Kodi had a chiro appointment, and we brought Nitro along just in case she wanted to check him over. She did, the trembling was gone, and his Qi was stronger. Ok! Cancel appointment for the next day too.


Laying down eating treats

Now we had to get through the weekend, with both of us working. His mobility still wasn’t great, so John came home both days to assist the sitter with getting him in and out of the house. His appetite disappeared – besides us spooning ice cream down his throat. Now Monday’s here, I’m off, still trying to evaluate for the next scheduled “visit”, which would be a home visit. It was a glorious day in Wisconsin, sunny, low humidity – perfect. We spent over 7 hours outside, he got up on his own all day and hopped around the yard unassisted. My friend stopped over to say a potential goodbye; when she offered him some treats, he ate ravenously! You get the picture, now I’m wondering about cancelling the appointment for the next day.  When I went to bed that night, I prayed for a clear sign, one way or the other, to know how to proceed.


Glorious Day Before

Brother Bonding with Aunt Laurie

Morning comes, we get him outside, and he just wants to lay on his bed; he’s calm, and restfully peaceful, and I know I’ve just been given the sign I prayed for. Sitting with him, waiting for the vet to arrive, I thought to myself that if I saw a cardinal, I’d know in my heart that we were doing the right thing. It was another beautiful day so we stayed outside, in the yard he loved. His transition was the most beautiful, peaceful thing I’ve ever experienced….he truly did just lay his head down and go to sleep. I was draped over his chest, whispering through my tears over and over “I love you, I love you, I love you”. They took clay imprints of all 3 feet for me, and Forever Friends came to take him away.

Morning of…

Morning of….

About an hour later, I looked over to my left, and there was a female cardinal, sitting on my sedum plant. I called to John to come see and was able to get my phone for a picture. Nitro was at The Bridge, and he was fine. <3 <3 <3

Visitor From Heaven –
Nitro at the Bridge?

There is a big void in our hearts right now, but we are at peace….it was not a minute too early or a minute too late, and my Warrior went out on his terms and with all of  his dignity intact. Who can ask for more than that? As Sally said to me, he beat that piece of crap disease, but he couldn’t beat old age. So my final words to him, the words I’ve said to him everyday of his life…..”BE GOOD, MAMA LOVES YOU”


Mama Loves You

17 Jul 2017

3 Years, 1 Month

Author: dobemom | Filed under: Uncategorized


Today is our 37 month ampuversary….I feel the need to make monthly posts now that our journey is most likely nearing its end. I don’t say this to be morbid, or fishing for sympathy, but being practical, its probably true. The arthritis is taking it’s toll on my warrior; I can see it happening before my eyes. Last week we started him on the new drug Galliprant which is an NSAID that works a little differently than the usual ones and has been shown in studies not to adversely affect the kidneys or liver. Of course, these studies haven’t been done on dogs already in kidney failure, but we’re hoping for the best. We had to do something to help his mobility, and maybe I’m imagining it, but it seems to be helping.


cooling off on a hot day

It does seem as if the weather has some bearing on how he feels. If its really hot and humid, he doesn’t move around so well. Yesterday was a glorious day in Wisconsin – low humidity, temps in the lower 70’s – and he had a great day. I was on vacation this last week, and we spent every day outside, from morning to evening. There were squirrels to chase (and he did) and neighbor dogs to bark at (and he did). It was the best stay-cation ever.


Always touching me

He still gets acupuncture and chiro adjustments, and for now, IV fluid therapy every 3-4 weeks. I’m really trying my hardest to “be more dog”, and not obsess about the future, but not always succeeding. If I let myself, I picture the “end game” over and over in my head. Then I snap out of it, knowing that I do him a disservice not to live in the now. Because he really IS still enjoying life, IS still engaged, and IS still making me use the laser light to get him inside at night.


morning hugs


I love this dog more than I ever dreamed it was possible to love, and I know he loves me back. That’s where we are today….wishing you all peace and love from the Ehlers’ ranch.


17 Jun 2017


Author: dobemom | Filed under: Uncategorized


Best Smile Ever

Wow! I can’t believe its been 3 years! It seems like yesterday, and at the same time it seems like forever,  that Nitro has been a Tripawd. What an amazing milestone to experience, after years of amazing milestones. Thinking back to that first week, that first month, that first summer after the surgery…..I’m sure we never thought we’d be here, 3 years later. And it’s a little scary being in these uncharted waters we find ourselves in….even his vet has no idea, being that he’s so far off the osteosarcoma chart of  “what’s next”. Equally scary is the fact that I have ZERO experience in dealing with an “elderly” Dobe.

how royalty eats

so sleepy

Around the first week of April, Nitro appeared to be declining; his holistic vet convinced me to do a re-check of his kidney values (which hadn’t been checked in many months). The values were substantially higher than they’d been, so we scheduled a 2-day IV fluid session. When I went to flush the IV port the first night, I could tell something was wrong because blood was leaking out. Off to the ER vet we went only to find that the connection had come loose, which they fixed at no charge. About 3 am Nitro became extremely restless and whiney; at that point I was mentally preparing myself to say good-bye to him in the morning rather than do the second day of fluids – he just seemed to be telling me the journey was nearing the end. But John’s take on the situation was that Nitro was just over-tired from being at the vet’s all day with no rest; so he laid by him and pet him until sleep finally came. We proceeded with the planned fluids, but shared my concerns with his vet. We decided to see how he was over the weekend, and re-evaluate later. Long story short, he improved, once again bouncing back to “normal”.  The new plan is to do preemptive fluids (just 1 day), every 4 weeks, and not do blood work for kidney values; perhaps another example of burying my head in the sand, but I don’t need to obsess on numbers. Since then, he’s been doing extremely well despite all the challenges he faces; his arthritis is progressing, and he tires easily, but we just strap on his harness when he needs a little boost. He’s eating well, is happy and alert, and insists on chasing the laser light every night before he’ll come in the house. All things considered, we are in a good place right now.


bonding with dad in the garage

celebration treat

Can’t leave Kodi out


With all that going on, I had serious doubts that he’d be with us when I went to Virginia, and was apprehensive leaving home, but everyone survived (and probably thrived) without me. The East Coast Tripawd Party was one for the record books! The Puppy Up gathering last September was just the tip of the iceberg as far as the feeling of “coming home”; I can’t even put into words how it felt to spend 4 days with people who have come to mean the world to me. We laughed, we cried, we shared our hopes and fears, we healed,  we bonded for life. I can’t imagine a time when these friends, this family weren’t a part of my life.

first night together

Angel Sally

Tribute Table

So this is where we are, 3 years later….21 years in dog years. We’ll just keep on taking it one day at a time, one crisis at a time, because what else can we do? We’ll keep reaching for, and celebrating every new milestone…..looking forward to reaching his 12th birthday in October and also hoping some of his “aunts” might be able to swing by for a visit this summer. My greatest wish is for all of you to meet this amazing Warrior, while he still wears his earthly clothes. One can hope! For now, wishing you peace and love from the Ehlers’ ranch.


*************IN LOVING MEMORY OF MURPHY**************


We lost our friend Murphy this week….he was our mentor, a fellow Warrior, who showed us the way on this journey we travel. We looked up to him for guidance, as we moved into uncharted territory as cancer survivors. We will miss him terribly, and mourn his loss; until we meet one day at the Bridge – run free, brave Warrior! <3 <3 <3







17 May 2017


Author: dobemom | Filed under: Uncategorized


Today is 35 months since Nitro became a Tripawd….just a little teaser of what’s to come next month when its 3 YEARS!

This journey has been full of ups and downs, especially lately. We’re still experiencing  the highest highs, and the lowest lows, but at least we are still on the journey. Every day is a blessing, every day is uncertain, every day I love him more. This dog is the ultimate warrior, a cat with nine lives.


In less than 2 weeks I will be in Virginia to attend the “International Pawty of the Century”.  And while I’m beyond excited, I’m apprehensive leaving home; I know John will take great care of my boys, but a mother worries. Not that long ago I didn’t think Nitro would even be here when I  headed east; but he’s proven me wrong so many times, too many to count. I hesitate to even write these words, for fear I will jinx things. So instead, I will send out the most positive vibes this universe has ever felt.

ribbon for the Tribute Leash

Until next month, when we celebrate “3 ON 3″….peace and love from the Ehlers’ ranch.

15 Mar 2017

Kodi’s 13th Birthday!

Author: dobemom | Filed under: Uncategorized

It’s hard to believe that this guy is 13 years old already! It seems like yesterday that we brought home this little 4 pound bundle of energy; boy did he kick our butts! I remember holding him up one night, looking into his eyes, and saying “why are you doing this to us?!?” when he wouldn’t settle down and go to sleep.  But what a treasure he turned out to be… easy going, laid back, stubborn with a mind of his own. He didn’t seem to mind (too much) when all our attention and energy went into taking care of Nitro throughout his cancer journey; in fact, at times, he just seemed to melt into the background – I’m sometimes ashamed to admit how often that happened, and am trying to make it up to him.

Through the years he’s made me laugh, made me cry, frustrated me, tried my patience, grossed me out, and taught me that life is on his schedule, not mine. So without further ado, get ready for some Westie cuteness overload, and join me in wishing him the happiest of birthdays, with many more to come!

first day home

No small amount of self-esteem

introduction to big sister Harley

One of his trophy’s

Pumpkin for lunch

Love you to pieces, White Knight!

12 Mar 2017


Author: dobemom | Filed under: Uncategorized


Or “Apparently Nitro wants my hair to be gray”…..

When I got home from work this past Wednesday night, there was a pile of vomit and 2 piles of runny diarrhea waiting for me. Ever since the issues of kidney failure started, one of the questions I get asked by my vet is “is he throwing up?”. I didn’t jump into full-blown panic mode just yet, but I was uneasy. The next day I gave him some Cerenia, didn’t make him eat anything, and called my vet with concerns about renal failure, and “the end being near”. She said, “he’s fooled us before, let’s give our boy the benefit of the doubt and treat him for his diarrhea”. I texted my sitter to let her know he was under the weather. When she got there, she texted me that he wouldn’t get off the couch, just laid there, not moving. THAT sent me into full-blown panic mode! When I got home, he got up for me and went outside; I gave him his diarrhea med, and we went to bed. I’d eaten nothing that day (due to worrying), so I brought a piece of cheese with me….he sat up, looked at me like “what do you have there?” I offered him some – and he ate it. The next day he seemed a little perkier, and ate some canned pumpkin with slow roasted chicken. When my vet called to check on him, she told me when she heard “diarrhea”, that put his issue back to a GI condition, not a kidney one. That night my friend told me 3 of her coworkers had dogs that had the “doggy flu”; this would’ve been good to know sooner so I could have avoided spinning out of control.

A few weeks ago for some reason, I brought up CBD oil with his holistic vet; she thought it was worth looking into. She has a contact at UC Davis who is “scary smart” and has a lot of experience with this – and even uses it on her own dog. She recommended a product to try, so I ordered some.

Ever since I started thinking about this remedy, I’ve been seeing signs of it everywhere….John talked to a patron at work who has family in Colorado who gets them CBD cream for her mother’s arthritis and swears by it; my California connection (Alison) has friends who are knowledgeable with it, and also feel it works; the State of Wisconsin is close to passing legislature to make it legal here; and finally, the book I’m reading mentions its use for pain management in cancer. It seems EVERYWHERE I look, I see signs that this is the path we are meant to try. (Thanks to Rene, for sending me a book, “The Secret”….it seems it really does work!)

We are on day 2 of the Canna Companion…I am hopeful it will help….I am out of my tailspin of doom….my Warrior takes a licking and keeps on ticking….I am grateful for my Tripawd Family for grounding me once again. Peace and love from the Ehlers’ ranch.

16 Feb 2017

Update On Da Bros

Author: dobemom | Filed under: Uncategorized





So I was thinking I should post an update on how things are going for Nitro and Kodi…….then I thought if I did, maybe I would jinx things somehow; then I thought I was over-thinking things (like that never happens, right?) So here goes:


Kodi is just over a week out of being on his Cushing meds. I think I can see signs that they’re relieving his symptoms a little. The potty pad I leave out for him has been dry and  the water bowl still has water in in when I get home. He still wants to eat, but isn’t throwing a fit if he has to wait a bit. We’ve been walking just about every day, and now he’s gotten to where he’ll sit outside, staring at the house, and bark until I grab his leash and we go. There is a small hill near us, and we’ve been going up and down it several times to work on his “core” (he’ll never have 6-pack abs, but we’re trying). He goes back to the vet next week to have his blood tested to see if the dosage he’s on is where it should be.

As for Nitro, he’s still playful and happy, and seems to be feeling pretty good. I’m still on pins and needles when it’s time for lunch, stressing if he’ll eat or not, but he’s eating – after a little bit of “priming the pump”, he will eat his full meal. I’ve given him a dose or two of Mirtazapine when he gets really fussy, and then he’s back to eating (and I truly don’t know if that was necessary, because he does like to play me and would rather eat treats than his bland Hills K/D food). Two of my co-workers just lost pets to kidney failure, and it seems like every other patient who’s labs I verify has the diagnosis of “acute renal failure”. It’s hard not to obsess about this disease when I see it everywhere, but I’m trying.

So for the moment, things are going as well as can be expected. I’m excited for 50 degree weather to hit our area this weekend…I forsee longer walks and steak on the grill (and perhaps a glass of wine or two) as I strive to live in the moment and enjoy every bit of it with my boys. Peace and love to you all from the Ehlers’ ranch.

P.S. Tomorrow will be Nitro’s 32 month ampuversary!