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The house feels empty without Merlin, no slobber to clean up from the floor, nobody following you round waiting for his lunch, no big eyes staring at you, willing you to refill the bowl when he’s already wolfed down his dinner in 2 seconds.

Holly is doing ok, we let her see Merlin in the vets after he had gone to sleep and she gave him a sniff and that was that. The neighbours did say she was  more noisy when left in the house on her own, but apart from that her behaviour has seemed normal. A few weeks ago when we walking Holly in a local park, there was a black lab in the distance, he looked remarkably like Merlin – long legs, big head – it was sad because Holly got quite excited and was staring with her ears pricked up and tail wagging. Obviously when he got closer she must have realised it wasn’t him but she still played with him all the same.

We can’t believe that this time a year ago little did we know that Merlin wouldn’t be around anymore, it all happened so fast, from diagnosis, to amputation, to the end. Amputation gave him extra months of normal life – swimming, running, slobbering, eating, lazing, playing ball, being tickled, it’s amazing how dogs can adapt.

Thank you for all your kind words, we think about all you other tripawds and pawrents often and send our best wishes in your direction.


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Merlin is February’s  ‘special dog’ in  ‘Your Dog’ magazine…

(click to enlarge)

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Merlin had the fluid drained from his thorax on Tuesday, they removed nearly one litre! Initially his breathing became a bit slower and he was able to stretch out on his side again comfortably. During his walk on Wednesday he tried to play with his ball in the snow but then appeared to have an episode of possibly cramp/discomfort and wanted to lie down. Once he’d recovered we decided to abandon the ball play and continued our walk taking things gently.

Over the next couple of days walks seemed to become more and more difficult as he was having to stop more often to catch his breath and cough.  He was showing less and less interest in his evening chews and by Friday even food wasn’t appealing – a very worrying sign for a Labrador! His left eye had also become very droopy – the vet thought it could be Horner’s syndrome, possibly caused by a tumour compressing the nerves to his face.

The vet suggested that we wait and see what happened over the weekend,  we were hoping he might feel better on Saturday, but by then he didn’t want any breakfast, even when we tried to hand-feed it. He was looking very sorry for himself, sometimes he seemed disorientated and  stood around uncomfortably not knowing what to do.  His breathing was very laboured again and the coughing worse.

We talked again with our vet, feeling that perhaps the time had come to help Merlin one last time.  His life finally ended on Saturday afternoon with us all around him.  It was sad but very peaceful and hopefully he knew how much he was loved. We feel hugely priviledged to have known such a loving, gentle soul and just wish he could have been part of our family for longer. Life seems very bleak at present but we’re trying hard to focus on all the happy times we all had together. Throughout his illness Merlin was an inspiration, he coped so well with all the treatment and did his very best to live life to the full inspite of the difficulties. I think he’d want us to try to follow his example.

You’ll never be forgotten Merlin, our beautiful boy.

Hermitage 005

RIMG0036Hope you all had a happy holiday season! Father Christmas brought Merlin a ball shaped liked a Christmas pudding and lots of yummy biscuits and we’ve been on lots of walks in the snow (although it’s more like ice now).

Over the past week we’ve noticed Merlin’s breathing has become more laboured, he’s breathing very fast even at rest and at the beginning of walks he sometimes coughs. He has also started squealing whenever we lift him out the car, we’ve tried every which way, with harness and without but nothing is making any difference. Despite all this he still wants to eat (I don’t think he ever feels full!), go for walks and play with his ball…his tail is always wagging in a frenzy!!

We took him to the hospital today for the routine xray to see how his lungs were looking. Apparently he now has fluid within both lungs (whereas 4 weeks ago it was only one) and fluid is also collecting in the cavity outside the lungs meaning his lungs have become much smaller and can’t expand to fill his chest cavity. The vet said this probably explains his breathing problems. He also has a new mass pressing on his trachea which may be making him cough. The vet said there’s no point giving him any more chemotherapy and suggested draining the fluid that’s collected outside of his lungs. Depending on how quickly it reforms it may give Merlin some relief and make his breathing easier, we’ll just have to see.

We didn’t know whether to have it drained or not, we don’t want Merlin to be messed around any more than he has been already, especially because its not going to make any difference to the long term outcome.  However, if anything can make his breathing easier then it seems worth a try. He’s going back again tomorrow morning to have it done. We’re all keeping our fingers crossed it helps him.

Anyway hopefully better news soon. Wishing all you other tripawds a Happy New Year.

Merlin is doing well but a bit concerned as he seems to be losing weight, 2kg in 3 weeks, we phoned the hospital and they recommended giving him an extra meal a day. He’s still  full of life and really enjoying his exercise, we have a really good video of him playing ball but I can’t seem to upload it, it says there’s a ‘IO error’ or ‘HTTP error’ whenever I try?!

It’s been very chilly here recently, the dogs have enjoyed playing in the little bit of snow we’ve had.

holly&merlin winter09

We found some more photos from Merlin’s first Christmas, we particularly like this one…

Merlin & Holly Dec 2006 018Thanks for all you comments on our previous post, we really do appreciate all your kind words. Hope all you tripawds out there have a very Happy Christmas, filled with treats, toys and cuddles!

Unfortunately Merlin’s chest xray showed the cancer has spread, he has 2 nodules and a shadowy patch in one of his lungs. They think the shadow is maybe inflammation from another nodule they can’t see. It’s so sad, I suppose part of us thought and hoped  maybe he would beat the odds.

The vet gave him a different chemo to the carboplatin he’s been getting, apparently it’s an older drug but it might have more of an effect. So Merlin’s going back to the vets in a month for another xray to see if its stopped them growing. In the mean time we’ve been given some tablets to help with the possible fluid in his lungs.

We have to try and enjoy every day we have with him, although it’s difficult because we don’t want to  to say goodbye to such a gentle, loving boy. This is a photo of Merlin’s first Christmas, we’ll just have to make sure this one is extra special!!

Merlin's First Christmas

RIMG0019

Hi all,

Today is Merlin’s sixth and final chemo, he’s having a chest xray too which we’re all a bit nervous about. The last one, at his 3rd chemo, showed a white nodule but they put it down to overlying vessels. We’ve just got to keep our fingers crossed that it hasn’t grown and that nothing else is visible.

To you other tripawds who have had chemo, is it the norm to have six sessions and then stop? We’ve been told he’ll have  xrays every so often but no more chemo.

In other news, Merlin’s very much looking forward to Christmas, this year he got his very own advent calender (made specifically for dogs, don’t worry) with paw shaped doggy treats each day…yum!

He’s also going to be famous (well within the doggy world)! We sometimes buy a dog magazine and one of the features they have is about a member of the public’s  ‘Star Dog’, so we entered a piece  about Merlin and they accepted him, so he’ll be appearing in April’s issue!

Merlin in the Lake District

Sorry it’s been such a long time since we posted .
Merlin is doing well. He’s had his 4th chemo session this week and as always he had no reaction to it,which is good. During his 3rd session he had to have a chest x-ray, we were nervous about what it would show. There was a ‘nodule’ but after numerous experts looking at the x-ray at the vet hospital they said they thought it was maybe just a few vessels lying on top of each other that had produced this white shadow.
We have been having a few problems since the amputation with Merlin yelping very suddenly and sometimes jumping up from lying down. It was happening a few times everyday, lasting from a second to sometimes 10 seconds. It was horrible to hear. The vets weren’t really sure what it was but wondered if it was phantom limb syndrome. We were wondering if anyone else out there has experienced the same thing with their tripawd? Merlin was put on Gabapentin to try and help and it has decreased in frequency, but we don’t know if this is the drug or just the healing process.
It’s much better now, only happening about 2-3 times a week so the Gabapentin is slowly being reduced.

Last Friday we celebrated Merlin’s 3rd birthday! He started the day by going on a romp in the local woods with Holly and a friend’s dog Millie, it was very exciting to have another canine pal come along! Merlin received a brand new collar and a Ruffwear harness for his birthday and in the evening he wolfed down a special treat, a layered doggy ‘cake’ with some of his favourite things….tuna pasta, carrots, cheese and tomato…yummy!

We took the dogs away for the weekend to the Lake District, on the Saturday Merlin’s dad (Richard) and Merlin’s aunt/sister (Amanda) were taking part in the Great North Swim in Lake Windermere. It’s a one mile open water swim with 6000 people taking part over the two days, many in aid of charities. The sight of all that water made Merlin wish he could get back to swimming, something he hasn’t done since before his diagnosis.

Merlin’s sister Holly has been away with us many times before but this was the first time Merlin had stayed in a hotel.  Amanda, who was sharing a room with the dogs, discovered that Merlin was a very vocal sleeper, lots of grunts, slurps and snuffles! The dogs had some fun walks and particularly enjoyed the breakfast sausage they received every morning….what a treat! We haven’t let Merlin swim yet and despite our efforts he managed to immerse himself in a boggy pond with his brand new harness on…. he looked very pleased with himself!

The day after we arrived home, inspired by all those swimmers in Windermere, Merlin finally took to the water most succesfully in our local lake during his morning walk. It was almost as if he hadn’t lost a leg!

Merlin’s next chemo session is tomorrow, fingers crossed it goes well again and he doesn’t feel poorly.

Merlin's BirthdayThe woods

Merlin post op

One day about 3 weeks ago I was taken again to the animal hospital, I was a bit worried when my pawrents left me alone in the care of this big man called Tim but before I knew it I’d gone off to sleep. When I woke up things were not the same, I felt very groggy and couldn’t quite put my paw on what was wrong. Over the next few days I learnt to stand and walk on three legs instead of four and cope with a funny bandage which was wrapped around my chest. I stayed in hospital 3 nights and was so pleased to see my pawrents when they came to collect me to take me home, that I jumped up onto their shoulders! Once I’d been home a few days things settled down and I began to enjoy very short walks up the lane. The stitches were removed 2 weeks after my operation and I also had my first chemo session, they were worried it might make me go off my food (which is very unusual for me!!) but I was ok. In order to keep me lean, Mum hasn’t been feeding me as much because I haven’t been getting as much exercise, I’m not very impressed with this plan.

I’m going on proper walks again now with my sister Holly, I even went up to my armpits in the water!! The best thing is being able to play with my ball again, I can’t tell you how much better this makes me feel! It’s my 3rd birthday next week and I cannot wait for the suprises in store, life’s beginning to look good again!

Running with balls

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