approximate birthdate: July 1999

    age when diagnosed:  4.5 yrs
    date of diagnosis:  Jan. 2004

    rear leg tripod

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I noticed the lump which was lima bean sized in early Jan. It was located on his right rear thigh up rather high and hard to the touch. I took him in to see the vet and he was mis-diagnosed. The vet said it was a hip bone and not to worry. When this "bone" started to get larger I took him back. This was several days later. Since Bud's last vaccination was Jan. 02, the vet said it was inconsistent with VAS but still needed to be removed. He did the biopsy 3 days later and found that there was another lump, smaller in size, connected with tendrils. We were then referred to NC. State Vet School in Raleigh,N.C.

The biopsy was the first surgery for VAS. At the vet school, we consulted with an oncologist and Bud underwent 19 radiation treatments with one adriamycin treatment the second week of radiation. This was done in four weeks. Two weeks later his leg was amputated and also had a hemipelvectomy by a board certified soft tissue surgeon. He was in ICU for 5 days and came home the fifth day. We had prepared a "safe room" for him with no furniture...just beds and a short sided litter box.

In the days after his homecoming, Bud had no appetite and seemed to shiver constantly. It was in the dead of winter so I would cover him with his down throw and he would stop. I learned later through research that the pain patch on his back...fentenyl, was the culprit. The fentenyl patch tends to lower the body temperature which subsided once we took that off. He managed to get around just fine but didn't bother to do much but sleep. I ended up changing out the litter in his box to the non-clumping kind because inevitably he would hop around after using the litter and hop into a pee patty or poop that would then have to be cleaned off his remaining foot. It was work to get him to eat or drink but we did manage to get enough in him to sustain him. He would also receive 3 other chemo treatments two weeks apart after we brought him home.

Bud has adjusted fine....possibly slower than most perhaps due to his blindness. Mid July, which was almost three months post amputation, I got my Bud back...just like his old sweet self. He plays, he jumps, he runs...too fast I might add. Our initial vet had given me only one other option and that was to put him down.. I will never regret our decision to treat. I hate all that he had to go through just because I chose to follow the law and get a rabies shot. I have to go forward but it's hard not to have the guilt. I do worry every day that it may return, but I try to live in the here and now and cherish each and every day I have with him. This support group has been my salvation throughout this whole ordeal and I'm eternally grateful.


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