Sunday, January 13, 2013

Willie is our January 13, 2013 Pup of the Week

I am not a fan of roller coasters. The ups, the down, the slow, the fast, the certainty of crashing, the beauty of the view from up high. Of course I have never actually been on a roller coaster but I have been taken on some emotional ones in my time.

But no pup I know has been taken on more of an emotional roller coaster than my friend Willie Nillie. Not only has it been filled with great highs and devastating lows but it has gone on for almost three years.

In 2010 Willie told  to us a that he had a form of cancer. He had a tumor on his right leg between the paw and the knee.  The cancer was non life threatening but Willie needed to have surgery. The surgeon removed most  of Willie's tumor, but it had spread from his lower leg into the top of his paw.  It became entwined around his tendons, stuck to his bone and wrapped around a vein.  The Doctor said she had to remove his vein, his  tendons had be removed to facilitate healing, and the tumor would grow back. Willie came home and recovered well from the surgery.

But there was a big downhill on the horizon. A visit to the oncologist. And then the paw began to become a problem. Jessie developed a hot spot on it and a recovery that started before Halloween pushed past Thanksgiving.

They saw the Radialogist who said Willie had a Grade 2 Neurofibrosarcoma. He had 18 radiation treatments over  several weeks. They got interrupted by Christmas and a terrible blizzard. The only problem Willie had was some burning on his paw. After radiation the healing began and there was some problem bleeding and soreness. But Willie, like all pups, was getting sick of the pain and bleeding and began licking his paw. This put him in the cone of shame for three weeks. Over that time his parents thought his tumor coming back but luckily, for now, it had not. At this time what had occurred starting at Halloween had pushed past Easter:  Easter 2011.

And the paw was still not healing right. The doctor thought the radiation used to kill the tumor had also killed lots of Willie’s healthy tissue. Around Memorial Day the paw had finally started to heal, but a few weeks later Willie started licking it again, and he reopened the wound, meaning no beach for him that summer.

The next step was to put a blue wrap on his paw. The doctor surmised that he was licking his paw because the new tissue growing back over his wound felt funny. Then the runaway car that was carrying his family began to speed out of control downhill again. There was another mass behind his back paw on his upper leg. The doctor took a needle biopsy and the pack had to wait a week. The result was not good. The sarcoma had returned.

The doctor told his parents it was probable that they would have to choose between amputation and the Bridge. Then their car began to climb again. The doctor said that the cancer was grade one which meant it had not spread to his lungs.

But the tumor continued to grow. And then the hurricane hit the East Coast. No not that hurricane. We are still in 2011. This was Irene. They survived the hurricane and Willie fought off  a bout of the runs and they kept going.

Then another downhill. The tumor had grown so large they were afraid it had broken Willie’s leg. Another surgery was needed. But instead of surgery the doctor’s decided to put him in a shoulder sling because the bone had not broken. Soon Willie was walking on all fours again.  His paw was healing and hair was growing on his tumor. Things were looking up for Willie as he passed his third year anniversary of his first tumor surgery.

But then things slowly began to take a turn for the worse. Around Valentine’s Day he was limping again But under doctor’s care he started walking on all fours.

By spring it seems like he is on his way to recovery. In June the tumor began to grow again and Willie went to his Dr Kari who was worried that it was red and swollen.

In July the tumor was back to being out of control. It was bleeding, and could not support his weight. The tumor kept growing. It ruptured the skin over it causing bleeding. Also it became infected. Willie soon was wearing the cone of shame as he kept trying to fix the problem himself caused  more bleeding.

They took Willie to a holistic vet to see if he could help. Gradually Willie started to feel better. Don’t know if it was from the antibiotics or the herbal medicine. He was eating, barking, and playing. On August 31 his Mom reported that his infection was going away and they hoped in two weeks he would be back to being healthy.

But the persistent tumor kept growing. In September it grew from 16 cm to 21 cm around in four weeks. His parents began to resign themselves to the fact that the leg may need to be amputated. The doctor disagreed and said that she could cut away the infected part of the tumor and keep Willie as a four legged pup. In October, despite being in pain, Willie was back to walking on all fours again,. He had some stitches in his paw to keep the tumor from bleeding.

Then came Hurricane Sandy. While their home was spared their neighbors’ houses suffered significant damage. They were without electricity for more than a week and cut off from their very worried friends. And then, still without power, a Nor’easter hit, leaving them buried in heavy wet snow. It was not until near Thanksgiving that they got power. Through everything the family went through they still found the strength to give thanks on Thanksgiving for their blessings.

By the first week of January Willie was back to being a three legged dog. His paw was throbbing again. The pain was so bad he was turning aggressive to other dogs in the waiting room of the doctor’s office. The vet determined that he had a broken toe.

On January 7 the news was quite bad. There was a massive infection in the area where he received radiation. The doctor thought the breakage was caused by the cancer. His sad Mom became resigned to Willie never gaining use of his paw again.

And then another doctor said that the break was not caused by the cancer. And Willie started healing. And their car started rising again. Looking at it all, it is incredible what they have been through, and how they have survived it all.

So let’s give prayers that Willie’s and his family keep rising, and after they have been through they deserve a nice long quiet break.

You keep getting better Willie and we will keep praying.



  2. There is no more deserving pup than Willie. He should be pup of the year, not just the week. You can rise above this Willie, we know it and keep praying for you.

  3. We keep Willie and his family in our prayers every night. Since we have come to know them from DS it sure has been a roller coaster for Willie.

  4. We hope things get better. What a rollercoaster life they have all been through. Sending healing paw and good vibes. Have a marvelous Monday.
    Best wishes Molly

  5. We have all our paws crossed for Willie Nillie
    Benny & Lily

  6. Hurray for Willie! He is such a fighter and has an amazing and beautiful spirit. He's my little "bellhop" and like no other dog I've known. Lot's of licks to Willie. See you in the summer. xoxoxoxox Jeannie, Rocco and Buddy

  7. We too pray every day for our dear friend, Willie...

  8. Willie is in our prayers daily....from Romeo, Chipper and Cooper!

  9. OMD, poor Willie! Talk about some major health issues! But I'm sure that he will be back to a happy, healthy pup in no time at all! He and his body are obviously incredibly resilient!! Keep getting better and stronger real quickly Willie!! :-D


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