Happy Birthday Billy!

Today is Billy’s birthday. We wish he was here to celebrate with us, but feel happy to have been a part of his life. Here he is in the beginning, and in the end. Always the the same great boy, and the best friend that there is, was, or ever will be.

Happy Birthday buddy!

Billy_baby 2       DSC_6753


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What a Great Life

DSC_6831 DSC_6651  DSC_6603 We haven’t updated the blog in a while because we’ve been pretty busy – busy trying to make sure that Billy had the time of his life, during the last days of his life. Billy passed away unexpectedly April 7th, ten days before his 6th birthday. He was happy, and he lived – right up to the last day, the last minute. He passed away, quickly and painlessly, while snuggling with us in bed. I don’t think that we or Billy could imagine a better way to go.

Now, in our last blog post, we brought news of how great Billy was doing, so we’ve got some dots to connect here. We found out March 20th that Billy’s cancer had made its way into his lungs, which is the usual outcome for osteosarcoma, and the worst case scenario. His cancer had also begun to metastasize in a more unusual way, popping up in tumors on his skin. Our vets hadn’t ever even seen this type of cancer spread to the skin. (I guess we always knew that Billy was an unusual dog; we’re not quite sure where he got that trait – certainly not from us). Besides being busy spending time with Billy, I think we also had a hard time bringing ourselves to share the news on the blog.

The next couple of weeks we tried to do whatever we could to bring joy to Billy’s life, since we knew his days were numbered. He got lots of treats and canned dog food; we had all day backyard cookouts and took plenty of trips to the park and beach; and, of course, gave him endless love and attention. We’re lucky that Billy was so easy to please: feed me, love me, play with me. By the middle of March – a month and a half after his amputation – Billy was able to run around just like he always did. Boy, did he impress us! He kept going, and going, and going. But as time went on, he began displaying behavior that really worried us – he started turning away certain food and treats. This is something that a healthy Billy would never do; I mean, this guy ate lemons! But he never gave up on food completely, he just got a bit picker. While he used to be happy to eat carrots, now he wanted pork; a dry bisquit used to be enough to activate his salivary glands, now only a soft and smelly treat would do. We thought that maybe, just maybe, Billy was just trying to milk everything he could out of his illness. He knew that we’d do anything to find something that he’d like to eat. That sneaky little boy.

On the day before Billy died, we spent 8 hours cooking a 6-pound pork roast on the grill. We had such a great day, hanging out in the back yard, relaxing in the sun, and drooling over the smell of our flame-kissed meat (yes, even we were drooling). Billy was visited by many of our neighbors, and some even brought him treats. After a perfect day, and one last night of snuggling, Billy must have thought that there could be no better time to go.

When he suddenly died, we were in shock. Although we knew that he wouldn’t be here forever, he seemed to be doing so well, and we thought we still had some time with him. We expected to have more of a warning. But we soon realized what a gift Billy had given to us – not only in his life, but also in his death. Billy spared us the difficulty of having to watch him suffer, and then deciding that it was time to end his life. He was a happy dog right up to the last day of his life. We are so lucky to have had Billy as a best friend.

The day we found out the Billy’s cancer was spreading, we found a photographer who we could afford, and who could meet us that day in a nearby park, to take some some family photos. We’d been talking about doing this for a while; it was about time. This was the first day since Billy’s surgery that he really let loose, and ran around like the maniac that he was. Here are some pictures from that fun day, and soon we’ll follow up with some of our all time favorites from Billy’s wonderful life.


Running boy       DSC_6603


DSC_6651       DSC_6765


DSC_6634       DSC_6682_3


DSC_6650       DSC_6637


DSC_6747       DSC_6576   DSC_6831

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Billy’s MAD!

Billy asked us to update the blog again. He wanted to show the world how mad he was when he heard that his parents were taking a trip to Nicaragua…without him. This is what happened when we told him the news:

Clearly he was very mad. But he would be in good hands. He’d be staying at his Grampa and Gramma’s house out in the country, where he gets to run around outside freely, sniffing whatever and wherever he wants – something he doesn’t get to do in the city. Still, it was hard to leave him!

We'll miss you bud!

We’ll miss you bud!

Fast forward…we went to Nicaragua and returned. It was hot and beautiful. We climbed the Maderas volcano on Ometepe Island, got to interact with a wild, but very friendly spider Monkey who lives on one of the Islets of Granada, and did a lot of swimming and relaxing, both in the ocean as well as in Lake Nicaragua. It was a wonderful trip – but we sure did miss Billy! I’m not certain, but I think he missed us too. This was the greeting we received upon our return:

Billy has been healing wonderfully, getting stronger and more steady all the time, and able to run around like nobody’s business (as can be seen in the last few seconds of the video)! He is sure ready for the nasty Chicago winter to be over, and he’s looking forward to running around on a (non-snow-covered) beach! Billy now lays down on either side, seemingly with little-to-no pain; he still uses caution though. He sleeps in the bed with us now, changing positions a few times, but staying in bed all night (it took a while to get to this point).

In the week after Billy’s first chemotherapy treatment (which happened mid-February), we kept a close eye on him for any signs of discomfort or illness. Luckily, we saw nothing. Billy seemed to be just as comfortable and happy as ever. He got some blood tests done 10 days after his first chemo treatment, and things looked great! In the words of our (brother-in-law) vet:

This looks great.  Billy is a freaking rock star.

We were thrilled to hear this news, and hope that it’s a good sign about what’s to come.

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Chemo anyone?

Well, it’s about time for us to update Billy’s blog. Billy has been doing so well! He really wants to run around and play with us, but we won’t let him play too hard yet. He has been to the (currently snow-covered) beach by our home a couple of times now, and he really wants to take off and have a good time like he used to–we can’t wait to let him! He also has started to lay on his “lack of leg” (as we call it) pretty regularly, but only when he his on the couch or our bed.

On the 15th Billy had his first chemo treatment. The vet who’s treating us, who happens to be my brother-in-law, said that today would be the day that Billy might start to feel the effects of chemo. It seems to have gone well and he hasn’t gotten sick from it yet, so we’re hoping that he will get sick at all. He will get bloodwork done next week Monday to see how his body is reacting to the chemo. Hopefully that looks good and we can continue with his treatment as planned.

Billy is taking the hungry dog thing to the next level now. Here is a list of things for which Billy believes he deserves a treat:
Putting on/taking off his clothes, climbing the stairs, waking up, going to sleep, seeing commercials on tv, being brown, eating dinner, eating breakfast, going to the bathroom, chewing a bone, and eating a treat

Here are some visual updates on Billy.

Pouting after chemo (more fur shaved off)


He likes ice cream as much as we do!


Chewing on his bone


Snuggled up in (our) bed











Billy and his Daddy being bestest friends

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Scooty Doody Doo

Billy is Foot Loose & Stitch Free! Luckily, he didn’t do much damage with his attempt to remove his own stitches, and the vet said everything was healing just fine. We caught him laying on the couch on his incision for the first time this morning, so it must be feeling a lot better!



Life at home keeps getting closer and closer to normal…(and by normal, I mean our normal, which is not a typical family’s normal). Billy has started to show more interest in his toys, and he even chewed on one of his bones the other day. And, yesterday, Billy did one of his favorite things when I was gone…he slept with his heinie on my pillow all day long (at least that’s what Bryan says)!


As is probably obvious, Billy is the kind of dog that sleeps in the bed with us at night.

Last night Billy started to re-learn how to scoot around on the bed. See, Brown-Billy-four-legs had this rather impressive ability to scoot us so far over that the three of us together were occupying just one-fourth of the bed. Bryan ends up about an inch from hitting the floor and I’m squashed between the two of them, sweating and hardly able to breath, with Billy half on top of me. Meanwhile, with cloudy eyes, we gaze toward Billy only to see the vastness that is the other three-fourths of our bed extending behind him. His snuggling capabilities are truly unparalleled. If you were paying attention to that description, you’ll notice that I’m stuck in the middle between the two boys. That’s because Bryan suffers from claustrophobia, as he calls it; I call it is convenient. But I love Billy so much that I agree to take whatever he deals me at night, from climbing on my stomach to laying on my head. Speaking of convenient disorders, Bryan swears he’s allergic to animal poop. I let him get away with all this crap and just think of it as training for motherhood.

Below, you will see a video of the dinosaur game, in which one or both of us stalk Billy while we pretend to be a tyrannosaurus rex. He seems to like the game pretty much and always asks to play it!

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Back at home….again

Since our last post, we have left the hometel to return to our real home…our the third floor apartment. We stayed in a first floor hotel room for the first week+ after Billy got rid of the excess baggage he was carrying around on his back end. Boy, is it good to be home! The hometel was nice and all; in a way, it felt like we were on vacation, and it was definitely the best plan for Billy’s recovery. In fact, we would highly recommend this for any new tripawd families who have a significant number of stairs that must be climbed when it’s time to go to the bathroom.

Billy’s incision is healing pretty well. We’ll be taking him to the vet tomorrow morning to get his stitches removed. He already did half the job, so we’re hoping to get a big discount. Last night, we left him home alone for the FIRST time since his diagnosis on the 16th of January. Since he goes bonkers when he has to wear the plastic cone, we decided to do him a favor and get an inflatable collar that is supposed to serve the same purpose – but not be so unpleasant. Big mistake. It seemed like it would prevent him from reaching his incision. We weren’t all that worried anyway, because he has surprisingly had very little interest in his incision up to this point. So we left for a couple of hours to go see the John Butler Trio perform (one of Bryan’s birthday presents from me). Meanwhile, Billy decided that his wound was healed enough, and it was time for the stitches to go. He managed to reach his incision, despite the inflatable collar. Clearly Billy has not been through vet school, because I’m pretty sure that you are not supposed to lick stitches out. It seems to be alright though – it’s a bit irritated, but it seems to be mostly healed already. We’ll get the verdict in the morning, and hopefully Billy can free himself from the remaining stitches tomorrow. We suggest that if you’re going to use the inflatable collar, use it with caution. It may be good for keeping your pet away from some parts of their body, but it didn’t work at keeping Billy from getting to the spot where his leg used to be.

Meanwhile, Billy is getting around incredibly well. He really enjoys taking short walks around his own neighborhood. (That hotel just didn’t have enough good sniffings!) Since we’ve been home, he’s also been sleeping much better, which has allowed us to start catching up on some of the sleep we lost over the last week. When Billy went down to get the mail for us yesterday, he was thrilled to find that he’d received a get well card from his good friends Savannah, Jeremy and Pip. They really know how to help with the healing process – the envelope was filled with treats! Thanks guys – you made his day!

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Day 8: He is who he is and he’s not who he’s not

Last night was some goooood sleeping for Billy and Maggie. I, on the other hand, was allotted about one foot of the bed, and believe me when I tell you that I am more than one foot thick. Now I would love to blame this on Billy, as it is great fun to point my finger at him, but the this time I’m pretty sure it was all Maggie. She kept squirrelling around and scratching her ears, and finally scooted me over to the edge of the bed. Ok, maybe it was Billy – it’s hard to tell those two apart. Not much sleep for me, but at least I got to hear Maggie and Billy snore in unison.

In all honesty, it was great to have Billy sleep all night long. It is just one more thing that makes him more like himself. In fact, he slept all morning and all afternoon too! These are things that the pre-cancer Billy was often found to do. Besides being an avid sleeper, Billy is also one of the greatest helpers ever (especially in the kitchen). Earlier today as I was lifting him onto the bed, he reached up with his arms and helped me put him up there, and man did that make me feel good. He has been doing that all day!

I know that, based on all of the pictures that have been posted, everyone that reads our posts believes that Billy either sleeps all day, or is stuffed. He does normally sleep most of the day, but we thought it was time to prove that he is in fact living! Here is the proof:

And here is Billy blowing his “feed me” bubbles while we try to have lunch:

Can I have some please?

Can I have some please?

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Day 7: Tired!

We’re all too tired to be funny today (sorry Sally and Happy Hannah). Billy didn’t sleep very well last night, so neither did we. He seems to be so uncomfortable from always laying in the same position, that sometimes he just can’t stay still. Unfortunately, this seems to happen more at night than during the day. To to let us know about his discomfort, he pets us all night. Yes, Billy pets us when we’re not giving him the attention he wants. We have to admit that we taught him to do this, and we usually get a kick out of it…not so much when we’re trying to sleep. Nothing too exciting today – Billy did a lot of sleeping; Bryan did a lot of waking Billy up (we hope that’ll help him sleep better tonight). The boys just passed out while I was busy on my computer (there they are below). Here I go to join them…image

Wondering where I fit into this picture? Horizontally just below the bottom edge of the photo. We wedge Billy into the corner of the bed with a bunch of pillows and we block him from all sides, because we’re afraid that nutty boy will jump off the bed at night (he is NOT ready for that). Oh, how we love him! Can’t wait for things to go back to normal.

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Day 6: Billy Snowwalker

Maggie worked the nightshift with Billy last night, and said that there was not that much that happened. Just like Maggie to always take the easy job. She did have to stay up until midnight to give him a pain pill while I just snoozed up a storm. Everyone got even more sleep than the night before, and that is just what the doctor ordered.

Since Maggie put him to bed, I woke up with him, and this morning started off well yet again! Billy is doing so much better than either of us would have expected after what we experienced the first night we had him home.

For breakfast, the three of us “shared” a plate of bacon that was supplied by the hotel. Billy and I each had 3 pieces and Maggie got to lick the plate. We were all very satisfied with this! After breakfast, Maggie left me and a sleeping Billy to get to a meeting she had scheduled. Immediately after the door closed behind her, Billy began to walk around and act like he had to go outside. No problem, we went out and came back in…a small treat followed. About 30 minutes later he was back at the door, and again we went through the same routine. It was not until after about 7 trips outside within 4 hours that I realized that I had been duped. I always new that Billy was gifted at getting what he wanted by using his cuteness, giving pitiful looks, sucking in so his ribs stick out, or closing his eyes and pretending to be blind while walking into various objects – but this time he just plain outsmarted me. I will get him back, when we go back to our apartment, by giving him one or two pieces of food in a five gallon bucket filled with water…that ought to make him pray for thumbs!

One good thing about Billy’s excessive trickery was that it tired him out. He has been motoring around outside in the snow utilizing his three wheel drive all day, and he looks like he feels pretty comfortable doing it. We took a nap together, and he even gently sat down on his surgery site without yelping (this is the first time that has happened). I am not sure if that was just luck or if he is beginning to feel that much less pain there, but I am hesitant to let him try it again as I simply cannot take hearing the sound he has made during past attempts to sit on it.

Maggie will be home soon…she will tell how the rest of the day goes!

When I got home it was so great to see how excited Billy was – tail wagging, butt wiggling…he’s getting noticeably happier every day. But was he happy to see me, or did he just smell the Mexican food I’d brought home? Bryan wanted carne asada, and I thought that sounded pretty good, so I got it too. Billy was planning to eat dog food, but when he smelled ours, he had a sudden change of heart – he wanted carne asada, too. Well I wasn’t about to give mine up (I’m the one who picked it up, after all), so Bryan swapped meals with Billy. We all enjoyed our dinner together on the floor.

Fun and games aside, Billy just plopped down on his sore side and let out a bloodcurdling doggy scream, the worst I’ve heard so far. He had learned how to lay on his good side so well that he forgot how to not lay on his bad side. It shook him so much that he began to quiver, so I had to cuddle him to sleep.

By the way, we did re-attach Billy’s chin with tape. See…


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Day 5: Return of the Brownguy

As I write this post, I hear Billy snoring away, and it reminds me of last night – Billy slept much more soundly than previous nights. Perhaps it’s his increased dosage of hydromorphone, or maybe the fact that he no longer has to wear that uncomfortable harness and catheter, or a combination of both – whatever the reason, last night also brought us some of the best sleep we’ve had since Billy’s surgery. Being more rested, Billy seemed to have a lot more energy to do the things that make Billy, Billy….like wagging his tail, being very brown, demanding treats when he does anything good, like go potty, and sleeping even more. Sleep, by the way, is one of the things that Billy does best.

Today was Superbowl XLVIII, and with it came a few firsts for us all – it was the first Superbowl that we watched in a hotel room; the first Superbowl that we watched in bed (since that’s all we’ve got to sit on here); the first Superbowl that we watched with a three-legged dog. This would have all been great, except for the fact that Billy was really rooting for the Broncos to win. For the last month or so, Billy has insisted that we sing a song with the simple lyrics “Billy’s got a chin, Broncos gonna win” repeated over and over. Well, the Broncos did not win, so needless to say, Billy was pretty concerned about the whole chin thing. We (ahem…Bryan) may have told him that his chin was gone (and he’s too short to see himself in the mirror). Don’t worry…we’ll tell him the truth tomorrow morning, after what will hopefully be another restful night for us all.

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