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Apache's Story

I never thought I would be brought to tears of joy just by seeing my dog wag his tail, jump on the bed, or even sit down.  For years I have taken these things for granted and never thought of them as more than just an every day occurrence, until now that is.  My Apache was diagnosed with osteosarcoma in his right hind leg on August 3, 2001.  Just a week before this he had began limping suddenly and with no apparent cause and we thought it was nothing more than a sprained ligament.  His limping only got worse and he began not using his leg at all.  He had lost 15 pounds in one week and, prior to his surgery, was unable to get around at all on his own.

 Apache’s leg was amputated on August 13 in an effort to eliminate the source of his pain.  To everyone’s surprise, Apache was up and around just hours after the surgery and was able to come home the following day. He wagged his tail when we picked him up, sat down in the car on the way home, and ran around the yard marking his territory when we got home for the first time in almost 3 weeks, assuring us that we made the right decision.  Apache did wonderfully with 3 legs, maybe even better than he did with 4 legs.  He got around with no problems and was even jumping up on the bed in no time. In an effort to help him be more comfortable and happy and hopefully keep him as healthy as possible for as long as possible we treated him holistically, had him on a homemade cooked diet, and let him be as spoiled as he wanted.

Of all the many things I learned from Apache and his fight with this terrible disease, the most important are to always be strong and to always appreciate all the cookies you are given in life, no matter what their size, because you never know when life is going to end.  Throughout this entire ordeal, Apache displayed the strength, courage, and loyalty that is the true spirit of the APBT, and that spirit shined through him till the very end. 

Sadly, Apache only survived 2 months and 2 days after his date of diagnosis.  When he first got sick I wished that Apache live long enough for us to at least celebrate his birthday together and for him to enjoy his birthday cake, and he gave me that wish.  One week before his birthday we found out his cancer had spread to his front right leg.  We knew at this point we had to make a decision on when to let him go.  We decided we would wait until after his birthday, unless he got severely worse.  He remained strong until that day, and I truly feel he was doing that for me.  He knew how much we wanted to celebrate his birthday with him.  Goes to show that our beloved animals are such wonderful and loving gifts to us that they will do whatever they can, even endure pain, to make us happy.

After enjoying a wonderful birthday with Apache, we let him got to the Rainbow Bridge the next morning.  That morning, he tried getting up and fell down.  He was crying so much and I just held him trying to comfort him and he looked me straight in the eyes telling me he was ready.  Up until then I kept having second thoughts about our decision, but at the point I knew what we were doing was right.  I stayed there holding him for a few minutes and he just kept looking at me and I know he was telling me how scared he was and how sad he knows this is for both of us but it was for the best.  When Dr. Jezbera was getting ready to give him the shot, Apache actually gave him his leg, which is the one that the cancer came back in and hurt him so bad to move.  He went very quickly, even Dr. J was surprised, but I wasn't as I knew he was anxious and ready to go.  After it was done he seemed so content. 

Although it hurts so bad, I know he is now healthy and happy again.  Someone told me that the hurt will go away in time.  I really don't think it ever will.  I believe we will just learn to cope with the pain and handle it, but the hurt will always be there and always be as great.  Although his pain was now gone, ours had really just begun.

Apache you were more than just my dog, you were my best friend and my family and forever will be.

 

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