Indi and the hot dog buns.

Exhibit A: The destroyed hot dog bun bag.

When Brad came home this afternoon Indi did not get up and greet him like she usually does. She wagged her tail and wanted belly rubs, but she would not leave her bed. Brad thought that was strange because when he walked in the door two hours earlier she was totally amped to see him.

He got worried, wondering what could have gone wrong in such a short amount of time. Then he saw it. May the reader please see Exhibit A: The destroyed, empty, hot dog bun bag, lying on the floor next to Indi’s bed, right by the kitchen table.

Exibit B: The new home of the hot dog buns.

May the reader now please see Exhibit B: The dog belly full of six Franz hot dog buns. Brad texted me to tell me what happened. I said don’t leave her, I’ll be home soon. By the time I got home forty five minutes later she was fine. She had a hefty belly ache for an hour, but thankfully it passed.

Indi’s new diet is basically the Atkins diet: meat, veggies, dairy. And she is hungry! She begs more. She scrounges at the park. She drooled at the feet of the painter eating a corn dog in our parking garage when I took her out with me to empty the trash. Even though it was recomended by my vet to put her on a grain free diet, I started giving her brown rice this week. I feel good about that decision, and I know Indi does, too.

Posted in One day at a time | 14 Comments

Welcome to the West Side

Indi sleeps. Brad works.

I have not written in a while, but I have a good excuse. We moved. It all happened so fast– where do I begin?!

Long story short (long, long, long story) our land lady gave us 30 days notice to move out of our house because she is putting it on the market. Then she had the house power washed and a DHS sign appeared in the front yard that read, “WARNING: Lead based paint work in progress. KEEP OUT”. To that I said, we are out of here. Two weeks later, here we are on the west side of Portland living in an art gallery with Brad. That’s right. An art gallery. With Brad.

Our new neighborhood, called Old Town, is very different from our old one, Irvington. Irvington was quiet and residential with tree lined streets, a big park, and houses built in the early 1900s. Our building in Old Town is right on the boarder of the fancy expensive arts district (The Pearl), the downtown business district, and the strip joint- homeless shelter- crack dealer district.

I keep my distance from the drug dealers, needles to say, but I don’t  mind the homeless people. They all love Indi. Just on our walk today one guy said, “She gets around just fine, doesn’t she.”  Another guy said, “You should tell people she lost her leg in a logging accident!” He went on to tell me that is what a buddy of his used to say about his tripawd. It was actually pretty funny.  And another crew that hangs out in the park says, “Hey, there she is!” every time Indi hops by. Indi pretty much ignores all of them.

The biggest challenge about the art studio is the stairs. Downstairs is the art gallery and kitchen, and the loft above is where the bedroom is. Indi can take the stairs just fine, but I want to limit the ups and downs for long term joint health. So far we are working on going  up at bed time and coming down in the morning, and that’s it. She really is doing so well, but I still worry. My days are consumed with keeping her safe and happy.

Posted in One day at a time | 12 Comments


Indi's sister Maile lives in Hawaii

Indi's sister Maile in Kona.

This is my mom’s dog, Maile. She lives in Kona on the big island of Hawaii. Maile and Indi have never met because it is not easy to get a dog to or from Hawaii. I’ve never met Maile, myself, but I know she is super sweet and just a little bit spoiled.

My mom Dana taught me how to love dogs, and I taught her how to let dogs back into your life when I begged her to let me bring Bear home (my first dog– there is a picture of her in the photo gallery). I believe my exact words were, “Please? Just for one night.”

Maile goes on walks every morning around the golf course with mom and her other dog friends. She loves to lounge on the lanai overlooking the Pacific Ocean, and she even gets to sleep on the bed! This is a huge deal in my family. While dogs were spoiled with plenty of walks and treats they were not allowed on furniture. I don’t know how Maile wiggled her way onto the bed, but she has. Permanently.

Indi has started sleeping on the bed, too. And she never used to do that. She didn’t want to, apart from not being allowed. But I have come home a few times now to find her wagging her tail at me from the comfort of my bed. She even hopped up one night between Brad and I. And in case you forgot, Indi weighs 90 pounds, I’m 5’10” and Brad is 6’3″. Oh, the things we do for love.

Posted in Indi's Friends | 4 Comments

Indi gets outa Dodge

A tired dog is a happy dog

Last weekend we all got outa Dodge and went to stay at Megan and Adam’s house in Hood River. They were actually in Tahoe for Megan’s 30th brithday, but Callie was there. (We regretfully had to bow out of the Tahoe trip because of Indi’s surgery.)

Brad and I took the dogs to the field down the street and they played and played. I was keeping a close eye on Indi as she hopped through the tall grasses, ready to lend a hand if she got wobbly. But she didn’t need me at all. When Callie bounded off after a critter, Indi took off right behind her. When we got to the little creek with the plank bridge, Indi hopped across it like it was nothing– after stopping to eat some grass, of course.

Indi taught Callie to eat grass

The dogs got to play in the field and the people got to play downtown. Saturday night Brad and I went out to sushi — fresh Oregon Albacore sashimi! Then we went to a cozy bistro for dessert– chocolate espresso tort, Fonseca port and manhattans. Yum.

Posted in One day at a time | 6 Comments

A gift from Lauren

Indi getting her red vest off, which officially marked two weeks post-amputation, was the perfect occasion to give her the smoked bone from Lauren. (Don’t read into the symbolism.) I thought she might have some trouble chomping on it with only one front paw, but she did great.

The day after Indi’s surgery Lauren stopped by with a gift. My roommate Hannah (Sam’s mom) greeted her at the door and said, “Raina is here, hold on one second.” But Lauren said, “No, no, I’m just dropping this by, I don’t want to be a bother” and she scurried away.

I came into the living room to find a large brown paper bag. On it Lauren wrote, “Here is something for Indi when she feels better, and something for you while you hang out with her.” Inside was a giant smoked marrow bone for Indi– her favorite– and a bottle of wine and some chocolate for me.

Lauren is a new friend who has only met Indi a couple times. But her thoughtful gesture was done with the love of a dear old friend.

Posted in Indi's Friends | 6 Comments

1 red vest and 100 staples

The vest is off!

Today the red vest came off and the staples came out. Indi looks like her old self again. Well, mostly.

Brad picked us up in the cargo van and we drove to Dr Simpson’s one last time.  When it was time to take Indi back and remove the staples I asked if Brad and I could come, too. Dr Simpson said, “Why don’t we  just do it here.” And so we did. She and the tech cut off the red gauze wrap and carefully removed all the staples while Indi lay perfectly still in the corner of the exam room. She has always been so tolerant.

There were a lot of staples. It took over ten minutes to get them all out. Brad studied how the staples were removed with a crimp of the plyers and a twist of the wrist in case we find any in the coming days. (I think he secretly hopes they missed one so he can try his hand at the delicate task.)

When they were finished we practically had to wake Indi up. She just lay there, lulled by the attention and chin scratches we were showering on her. Do other tripawd parents feel like they have a baby now?! Our dogs teach us so much. I sometimes think Indi is preparing me for motherhood.

Posted in Healing | 5 Comments

Great news from Dr Simpson


Yesterday Dr Simpson called. I stood by the kitchen sink and concentrated on breathing as she said hello and asked me how Indi was doing. I was prepared to hear the worst. See, along with the leg Dr Simpson also removed a swolen lymphnode and all week I’ve been waiting to hear how the biopsy went. Turns out I had nothing to fear.  The lymphnode was clear. No cancerous cells were found. I exhaled.

About an hour later she called me back. Oh, god, I thought. She made a mistake. Read me the wrong report. Got Indi’s lab results mixed up with another dog’s. I prepared for another heart break.  But it was good news again! The  margins were clear. For those of you who are new to cancer terminology (as I am) this means that the soft tissue around the top of the leg where it was removed From Indi’s body is clear of cancer. Clear margins paired with a clear lymphnode equal AWESOME news. It means the difference between having Indi with me for a few more months versus a couple years.

Now, cancer, being the beast that it is, can still be there in her body. It could be so small we can’t see it. Or it could be somewhere we have not looked. That said, not seeing any right after surgery is a huge deal and I’m happy. Let the healing continue.

Posted in Healing | 12 Comments

The front left leg.

Indi’s leg weighed 5 pounds. Our surgeon, Dr. Simpson, said it was the largest dog leg she has ever….well, you know (gulp!). On Tuesday, August 31, 2010 Indi went in for surgery weighing 95 pounds. She left the next day weighing 90. At first Dr Simpson didn’t believe it and asked the tech to weigh her again. Indi hopped onto the scale and we all saw it: 90 pounds.

Welcome to 5 Pounds Freer. In the coming posts you will witness how Indi, the 8 year old Saint Bernard diagnosed with osteosarcoma, navigates the world on three legs. And how I, a 30 year old Portlander, learn how to care for the love of my life.

Posted in One day at a time | 8 Comments

Indi’s roommate Sam

Sam’s head stuck in the lid of the bathroom trash can.
Notice that his tail is blurry because it is wagging so hard.

If you look up “Black Lab” in Wikipedia (or the encyclopedia if you
are keeping it old school), you would see a photo of Sam with the
caption, “Happy-go-lucky dog loves food, tennis balls, sleeping on the
couch, treats, bones, snacks, and stealing food off the kitchen
counter.” Sam’s motto is “Don’t mind if I do!” His favorite
past time is scrounging for snacks and he can catch a treat flying
through the air from 5 feet away. He is eager to love and his wagging
tail can be heard from every room in the house.

Last night Indi was up whining every two hours. Whether in pain or
just craving company, she had me feeling like there was a new born
baby in the room. Brad and I slept on the floor to comfort her and Sam
helped himself to my queen size bed. Hey, no one else was using it.
Why not.

Posted in Indi's Friends | 3 Comments

Indi’s favorite captain

Our favorite driver.

I don’t have a car. By choice. (You all know Portland is the #1 bike-friendly city in the country, right?) It does mean getting Indi to vet appointments takes some coordination. Luckily we have Brad. He is an excellent driver and has access to mini vans, cargo vans, zip cars and 24 foot-long Penskes.

Brad was with us when Indi went in for surgery. I wrapped the white long sleeved shirt I wore the day before around Indi’s neck, wiping my tear on it before walking out the door. And Brad was with me when I picked Indi up the next day. He drove us home in a cargo van with a dog bed in the back, helping to lift Indi in and out so she wouldn’t hurt herself. Brad is a strapping lad at 6 feet 3 inches tall. But Indi brings him to his knees. When Brad comes over Indi whines and rolls over untill he kneels down and pets her. Despite declaring, “I am not a hand holder” he is a sucker for her love. And no matter how capable and independant I am, it sure is nice to have a big strong man around.

Posted in Indi's Friends | 3 Comments