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Josie The Greatest Dane

Josie's Journey with Osteosarcoma

Josie The Greatest Dane

She Was Like a Human Trapped Inside of a Dog’s Body

November 8th, 2013 · 4 Comments · Uncategorized

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Tuesday November 5th 2013

Tuesday morning. I used to clean 2 houses every Friday. I quit them about 6 months ago. They had both wanted me to come back, but I decided I was done. I had received a text message on Saturday asking if I would come in and do a quick clean/dusting on any day of my choice….I thought – what the heck, I just bought a new tennis racquet, I could put the money towards that and not feel as guilty about buying it. So I decided to do it Tuesday morning after my weightlifting class. It was my day off from running my Mom and the only thing on my schedule was that 8am class and my “long” walk day with the girls. I had just recently done a walking schedule for them for the entire month of November so that I would never over do it with Josie’s arthritis but still got some long walks twice a week, medium walks twice a week and the other days were all short walks just around our land. The schedule was working out really well so far, so I opted for Tuesday to clean the house.

I left the house at about 7:40am – a bit rushed, knowing I would be pushing it to get to the Y by 8. I had my backpack, a bag of plastic bags for recycling, a bag of tennis balls for my sisters dog and my cleaning caddy…….I asked Marsh to open the door for me and close it behind me since my hands were completely full. In the rush of things I didnt do my normal kiss of all the dogs as I left….I usually kissed them all on the head or the nose and told them to be good girls while I was gone….Josie was usually on the couch or the dog bed on the floor, Gully was usually on the loveseat or on the couch with Josie…and Orra, well she was usually trying to sneak out the door with me, so I usually got her standing. But this day, I regretfully just left the house…..

 I did my class, played a half hour of tennis, showered, changed at the Y and then headed over to clean. I got done there at about 12:30 and drove IMMEDIATELY home….I drove my car in the garage and opened the front door to let the girls go out….I hit the little lever on the bottom of the screen door to make it stay open as I had to pee myself. Orra and Gully were standing at the door waiting for me and Josie was just hopping her way over as I came in. I told them to all go potty and petted Josie on the top of her head as I scooted past her to the bathroom. As I sat on the toilet, Orra came in – I can never have any privacy with her around, so I told her to go out and go potty. I finished up in the bathroom, changed into my dog shoes and we were off….

 Now Josie was notorious for doing a “fake out” as she got in the dog mini-van…she would stand by the house as the other two eagerly jumped in and I would have to tell her over and over to “Come on Josie”, finally she would hop over, get to the door and STOP dead in her tracks….She did this nearly every single time we were trying to go somewhere. And every single time I would say…”I hate that when you do that” and then I would give her a little push on her butt and she would usually jump right in. Tuesday, she hopped right to the van and jumped RIGHT IN! I was pretty impressed, and I think I may have even mumbled something under my breath about how easy that was….

 So we headed back into town….as I was driving I noticed that Josie was laying down… THIS IS WEIRD! I turned back at her and said “are you tired Josie??” I thought it was a little strange but kept driving. I scolded Orra few times for nearly stepping on her sister but that just went in one ear and out the other. We arrived to pick up Daddy which is about 12 minutes away. He came right out and all the dogs were standing at the cage that separates them from the two front seats. They all greeted him and we were off again….This time we headed about 5 minutes away to Jimmy Johns to grab a sub. I asked Marsh if he wanted to eat in the van or inside and we both agreed to eat inside. We split a half a sub as it was kind of late and we didnt want to spoil our dinner.

While we were eating, I asked the sandwich maker for the “guts” of 3 subs (the bread dough they normally throw away) for the girls as they were waiting in the van. I broke them each into 3 pieces as we gobbled down our food and then we headed back to the van. I gave each one of them a piece at a time…and they all waited so patiently for their turn. After they were done, we drove Marsh back to the shop and were then headed down to go for our “Long – Tuesday” walk. As we were driving Marsh back, Josie laid down AGAIN!! I mentioned something to Marsh and he suggested that maybe her arthritis was bothering her seeing as it was kind of a damp rainy-ish day. I brushed it off to that, left him and we headed to the park. As we got closer, I tried everything to get her up, I said all her favorite words and phrases about the park but she just laid there with Orra making circles around her. I warned Orra a few more times not to step on her.

We arrived at the park, I put the van in park and opened the back door. Josie made a motion like she was about to get up and I told her “No, you just stay here, you are too tired already. We will go for a quick little walk and be right back.” I gave her the coveted rawhide I keep in the van incase I need to keep one of them occupied from some strange reason, I locked the doors and we were off. It was cold and drizzling. I had on my small jacket with no hood, so I went back to the front seat and grabbed a clean dog towel I keep in there for any odd use. I locked the doors again and draped the towel over my head and we started walking. I got to one point under the train trestle and looked at my phone…I had only been gone 7 minutes….I thought I would make the quick loop around by the river yet, and that should make the walk about 20-25 minutes, that way Josie wasnt waiting too long. I had NEVER left her in the van like that while taking the other dogs…EVER!! And not that that is a bad thing, I just had never done it and it felt a little odd.

We did the loop, got back to the van and as I walking up, I hit the clicker to unlock the doors. Now, if any of the dogs were ever waiting for me, that was the sign I was there and they would shoot up like a bullet and look out the window. When I hit the clicker, I didnt see her head….My heart sank and I knew something was wrong…..all the other things, I could explain, but this….was WRONG!!!!

I opened the door and she was laying on her side, in the middle of the van….not panting, but breathing kind of hard….She kind of sat up on her front leg, looked me dead in the eye and looked away….It was a look I will NEVER forget, it was the look that said “I am going to die today”……

I sat down on the edge of the door opening, folded up the towel and laid her head down on it. I stroked her body and told her it was okay…..Orra and Gully were both trying to get in the van but I told them no. I called Marsh immediately and told him he had to come and get them, that they could not ride in the van with her or they would step on her as she was sprawled out in the middle of the floor. I dont think he got it, so I said “I am not kidding, this is serious, you need to come now” I think he could hear the sincerity in my voice and said he would be right there. So I sat, and petted her and comforted her until he arrived. As I was, I noticed the small mole between her eyes was kind of pale…not its normal pink….so I checked her gums….they seemed to be normal, but then again, what is normal??? I found myself confused as to what “her” normal color was.

Marsh came and took Orra and Gully. I told him he could just take them to the shop seeing as he was right in the middle of something and bring them home when it was more convenient for him. I was just going to take her to the vet and have them do some blood work on her.

 He left, I left….I drove about 500 yards and decided to see what she did standing up…and if she could. So I pulled over, crawled in back and had her get up, which she did. Her rear right leg kind of shook which was normal with her arthritis, but then, she stood on the top of her foot….and then flipped it back normal….I think that is called posturing??? she did that a few times and I told her just to lay down. Which she did. I knew she was due for her Adequain injection soon, so my mind told me that yes, I would bring her, they would draw blood and then give her an early dose of her med and she would be fine….but…..the back of my mind was freaking out.

I got her to the vet, drove to the front door and parked. Left the van running and went inside. I got the desk and asked of Dr Madden-Heinzen was working and the girl said “Yes, who do you have and whats the problem”… eyes immediately filled with tears, my voice got all squeaky and I said “Its Josie, she cant walk”

She shuffled me into to “BAD ROOM” – the room where people go to say goodbye to their pets, it has a sofa, two comfy chairs and pictures people have sent of all their dead animals…and kleenex everywhere you look. I sat down, grabbed some kleenex and cried….for about 2 minutes, and then I went back to the lobby and said, I need to go out and be with her, I will be outside. Just as I got out, Dr. Madden-Heinzen came to the door, she looked very smart and professional…she had big maroon glasses on along with a very concerned look on her face…..she asked me what happened and I gave her a condensed version our day.

 We opened the door to the van and the tiny little vet jumped right in. As she got in I mentioned the color of her mole, she checked her gums, and pressed on her belly. She said she needed to get her on oxygen immediately. We hoisted Josie up and I put a collar and a leash on her. She got down from the van pretty well, but I wrapped that towel under her tummy to help her walk. We went in the building and they took her immediately to the back – through the lobby….not through a secret door…yes, this is bad.

 I went out, moved my van screaming out the loudest “fuck” I have ever said….I dont swear very often, but this just jumped right from my throat. I composed myself and went inside. They put in me in that dang room again. I sat and looked around. The last time I had been in there was when Josie was recovering from her gastric torsion surgery. I was such an overprotective mother to Josie, I had to be with her all the time, so they set us up in that room. I brought blankets from home and we made a bed on the floor….I played music on my ipod and we spooned…..all day until they let her go home.

But on this day, I sat there alone…waiting…..

Within just a couple minutes, Dr. Madden-Heinzen appeared and sat down on the chair. She looked at me, square in the eye and said “She’s dying”……




I think I died right there and then. I asked if I could be with her and she said they had her on oxygen and they were starting an IV. She was too weak to even take an xray but she would come back and get me as soon as they had her all settled.

Within a couple minutes they walked me back…and there my she was….laying on a blanket on the floor in the middle of the room with the tech holding an oxygen cone on her snout. She looked at me immediately and I smiled at her and said “Hey Baby Girl!!!!” I knelt by her and told her to fight hard, I told her I loved her a million times…..but she was sooo weak she couldnt even hold up her head! I asked to scoot in behind her up against the counter so I could lay her head on my lap and hold the O2. I mentioned that her stomach seemed a little bit big and the tech thought it was due to her leg being underneath her, so we pulled her leg out, but I told her I thought it still looked a little big.

I just loved on her that entire time I sat there. The doc would come in and would check her eyes, her gums, press her belly and various other things. After about 15 minutes on oxygen they took her in the room next door and took some xrays. The doc came back and said she really couldnt see anything on xrays but began pressing more on her belly. She said she would like to aspirate her stomach and explained that consisted of. They were very conscious of me being right there and explaining each thing they did or were going to do. I was fine with them doing anything at this point…..she stuck the needle in and drew back the plunger…….blood….an entire vial of dark red blood………….





I knew……this is bad……she went over the whole….we could open her up….she would more than likely die on the table…..we could refer you to the emergency vet an hour away….same outcome…..cancer…spleen…liver…less than 50/50 chance…..its probably a tumor somewhere in her tummy that ruptured……she wont make it through the night…..blah blah blah…….

 I knew….I knew…..I knew….I was going to be saying goodbye to my precious Josie.
It was now about 4:30. They are open until 6pm…..I have an hour and a half to love my dog…..
During this time I had called marsh and told him what was going on. He ran the girls home and I asked him to bring her blanket from her bed. I wanted her to have something that smelled like home. It was always our plan to have her home for this, the vet would come to the house, we would pay anything for her to be there….but today….we are here….and this is the hand we were dealt. She got in that van for a reason…..Dr. Madden-Heinzen’s husband was in the hospital and she would not be able to come to the house even if I begged…she had 2 small children that she needed to pick up.
So, we moved her from the floor to a cart and then to a bed on the floor with her very own blanket on top. Marsh came in….I told him that I wanted to do this alone with her. She was my baby…..he said a tearful goodbye to her and came home by the girls. I called my daughter and we cried together….there was no way she would make it home in time to say goodbye…this was one of the most difficult things for me, because next to me, Josie loved her Brittany!!! So I put her on the phone and Brittany talked to her….and then we cried again…I told her that she needed to say her goodbyes and that when she was done, she should just hang up. I dont know what she said to her, I want that to be their special time….not mine.
I laid on that floor and kissed her, hugged her, stroked her and told her everything good about her that I could think of.
Dr. Madden-Heinzen came in and I cried…I said I dont know how I can say “okay, do it now” I just didnt know how I could make that decision……I said if you leave it up to me, I will just lay here with her until 6 o’clock….she said, then lay here until 6, I am fine with that…….She is such a wonderful vet.
So, that was the plan, I laid and snuggled with her…I tried to get some reactions out of her, rubbing some of her favorite spots, but she just laid there breathing… I laid there too…I looked at her face….I really looked at her and she looked so tired….her eyes were sooooo tired…….I had never seen a look on her like that, even after all her surgeries, she always had a look of a fighter, but not today…she was spent. I had my iphone laying next to us, with Pandora on…..and right after that…..the song “Smile” by Nat King Cole” came on……I sang the first few words to her…and then I cried!!! We listened to the rest of the song together then I turned Pandora off and laid with her. It was shortly after that, that she got a little restless….she tried sitting up, I got her to lay down again, and then her breathing changed…..She wasnt on O2 in that room….so I think it was getting difficult to breath again. Her limbs, her ears and nose were ice cold….all the blood was in her belly, and even though I had my body wrapped completely around her and we were under a blanket together, I couldnt get her warm…..
I knew……….






 It was time….I didnt want her to suffer in a way, shape or form. Dr. Madden-Heinzen had assured me that she was not in any pain, that she was just tired, and I know that with my heart. She always let me know if she had ANY pain, we had a way of communicating and I really believe that she was just completely tired. Josie also hate being cold……and laying with her, she was cold, she was getting restless and her breathing was beginning to change. I would now allow her to feel uncomfortable in a way. So, I got up, went to the door and told the tech, tell her its time, right now.

Dr Madden Heinzen came in and explained it all, which I already knew….she said it may take longer due to the fact that her circulation is so slow….I told her I understood and then I loved her – I blocked out everything except my Josie, I told her lots of good things and the last thing I said was “Momma loves you, Daddy loves you and Brittany loves you.” and she took her very last breath…….

The doctor listened to her heart…and it was not beating. She told me she was gone, but I knew that, I felt it…it happened right in my arms, right in my body….I felt her leave. I put my head to her chest and it was silent. Dr. Madden-Heinzen said all the things vets say at that time…..I really didnt listen…..I honestly was alone in the room with my very best dog and she was dead.

The techs came in, I had, during the time I was alone waiting to see Josie earlier, texted my friend who owns that pet crematory….I told him I would be bringing in my Great Dane. The techs explained that he would be in later to pick up a few other animals, but I declined….I wanted to be her chain of command. I was going to escort her. They picked her up and put her lifeless body on the cart and I drove to the back door to hide the death from other patients and we loaded her up in the van.

I called my friend the funeral director that would be doing the cremation. We arranged time to meet allowing me enough time to bring her home so that her siblings could smell her and know that she was dead. I wanted them to know that and not wonder when she was coming home and not look for her. It rained the entire night…..the girls came out and smelled Josie’s body and then I drove her to crematorium. I stayed there and smelled her feet, snipped some hair from her tail. My friend and I shared stories about our dogs and then after about 45 minutes I realized I had to leave her.

This proved to be harder than I thought…..but I did…..

When I got home, I walked in the door to 2 Great Danes….not 3…..the house was silent, empty….I walked straight in my bedroom, crawled in my bed and I cried…..I got 2 hours of sleep that night…and they didnt come until I crawled on the floor and curled up in her dog bed…

Mourning….I am in the deep black hole they call mourning….I fear I will lose my mind sometimes. I lost such a big part of me, I will never be the same without her. I loved her like no other and she loved me the same!!!

My daughter explained it best the other day when she said: “She was like a human trapped inside of a dog’s body.”


I was so lucky to have had her in my life for 9 1/2 years….I don’t even know what I did to deserve such a great dog. I will love her and miss her forever and ever!!!

For anyone that is considering amputation, or their pet just had an amputation, I dont mean to scare you. I would do it all over again, but be prepared…going through this makes you bond differently with your pet. I love my other dogs very much, but Josie was special….maybe it was because she was my first dog… maybe she was just really smart….maybe it was the cancer….maybe it was all of the above…I guess all I know is that I have never dealt with so much pain in my heart….but I guess I wouldn’t feel the pain if I at first I had never felt so much love….

Thank you Tripawd nation for the last 3 years and 8 months of advice, knowledge, stories, pictures, laughter and tears….Although I will continue to read them, I hope this is the last post I ever have to write here…..

Peace to you all…Love,

Mia ~ Human mother of:

“Josie-The Greatest Dane” 2/24/04 – 11/5/13

“Miss Gully” 4/18/07

“Orra Ireland” 5/14/12


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4 Comments so far ↓

  • penny4weims

    You just tore my heart right out of my chest! I don’t think I have enough Kleenix in the house. Even though her passing was sudden you knew it was time. She let you know that and your love for her is very evident. It will take a long time for your heart to heal over Josie but it will in time and you will smile when you think of her and your special times together. My dog died 6 months ago and sometimes I cry over her and sometimes I smile but every time a Tripawd passes my heart aches for what the pawrent is going through. Hugs and kisses to your other 2 pups.
    Penny, Blink and Spirit Maggie

  • fourminipups

    Thank you for sharing. My heart aches for you and I completely understand what you say about the bond that develops. It is different and oh so special. Take care.

    Luanne and Spirit Shooter

  • BarretsMomHeather

    Thanks for sharing. I am so sorry for your loss and I, too, am mourning for you. Take care of yourself.

    Heather & Barret

  • greatdaisy


    I’m so sorry that you had to say goodbye to your Josie. Your story has been an inspiration to us as we’ve been fighting Daisy’s osteosarcoma the last 6 months. Josie was clearly one of the most loved and “lucky” dogs ever to walk on 3–or 4–legs. Thank you for being such a good mommy to her and for sharing your story along the way.

    -Craig, Emily, & Daisy

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