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The One & Only #RiotDog: Diggs

Diggs loses a leg to cancer

The One & Only #RiotDog: Diggs


March 17th, 2018 · 14 Comments · Uncategorized

Yesterday was crazy difficult but…

At 3:30pm we got the call that Diggs handled the surgery like a champ!

The leg was removed without issue, he handled the anesthesia just fine, and they were able to remove the spleen and biopsy the liver with zero complications! I would’ve updated last night but I wanted to get him home before I started bragging about how well he did.

I called the vet last night at 8:30 and they said he was doing fine. He was resting comfortably on a big cozy bed and he had a nurse assigned to him all night. I got a halfway decent nights sleep but I was up at 6am checking my phone to make sure I hadn’t missed a call. I called the hospital again at 9:00 today and they said the were very happy with his recovery and that I could come get him whenever I was ready. Needless to say, I’m stoked! I jumped in the car and hauled ass to go pick up my slightly modified Yellow Dog.

When I arrived, I paid a hefty fee and anxiously waited to see my dude. There is no amount of preparing yourself for what you are about to see. The hospital was empty for the most part so I could hear the click of his nails and the thump of his cone bouncing off of things as he fumbled his way towards the door. In just the same way that he disappeared yesterday morning, he reappeared to me today, only this time he looked like Frankendiggs. His fur is shaved in all sorts of odd patterns, he can hardly hold his head up from the cone and the drugs he’s on, and the scar is massive. He is very unsure of the walking part but I’m sure he will get it together soon. He’s alive and that’s what really matters.

All he wanted to do was leave. He didn’t care so much that I was there, he just wanted to go. He got outside and was able to pee, although he mostly peed on his front leg. Poor guy. We were able to get him in the back seat and he immediately laid down. He looks pitiful. The drive home was as quiet as the drive to the hospital the day before, minus the sound of the plastic cone scraping around as he tried to move his head. We pulled up to the house and he immediately stood up but couldn’t quite figure out how to move beyond that. I was able to scoop him up out the car and place him just outside the door, but he immediate wanted to lay back down. Luckily he went down on the padded sling that the hospital had provided us with, so he didn’t get his belly dirty. I helped him back up wth the sling but he just wasn’t having it. I picked him up in my arms and carried him to the front door. I know he has to learn but today isn’t the day. I got him inside and he went right for his water dish. He plopped down on the kitchen floor looking a bit defeated. I ran around the house grabbing clean sheets to cover his beds and then dragged one over by the back door so that he could have a comfortable place to lay down and enjoy the warm sun. He hobbled over with a little assistance from me and has been there ever since.

A lot of what I read and have heard from others was that he was going to hop up and walk out of the hospital. Had the surgery been just the leg removal, he might have. The poor guy has been through so much that I don’t blame him at all for not wanting to do much of anything today. Maybe tomorrow will be a different story.

I can’t tell you how awesome it is that so many people (and pets) from the Tripawds community took it upon themselves to reach out to us and send love and well-wishes since this little adventure began. Facebook has been getting the updates just as regularly and I had multiple people reach out to me last night saying they were on the edge of their seat waiting to hear how he did. To all of you I want to say, “I love you”, and want you to know that we both have felt more love than we ever have before. I am very sure that he wouldn’t have done half as well without your support. You mean the world to us and are all officially part of the #RIOTGANG for life.

I’m so proud of Diggs for staying brave through this challenge. My day is so much brighter today. He is resting peacefully in his bed and listening to the sounds of the neighborhood while he heals. He’s such a sweet guy.

Meanwhile, I am taking some well deserved deep breaths and learning to adjust to my new heart. It has more than doubled in size and I attribute that to all of you.

We are eternally grateful.

We love you all.

Diggs & Nick



March 16th, 2018 · 11 Comments · Uncategorized

Well… Yesterday didn’t go quite as we had hoped.

As I mentioned in the last post, Diggs was at the vet yesterday having a chest ultrasound, just as a routine measure before today’s surgery. The phone call that I got was not so good. The ultrasound revealed that he had developed 3 new spots. 2 on his spleen and 1 on his liver. It was crushing.

After a few good cry sessions, some advice from friends and loved ones, and about a million questions for the surgeon, I decided to go through with the surgery and also to remove the spleen and the affected portion of the liver all at once. What started out as a big deal to begin with has now become overwhelming. The conclusion that I came to was that if this was a human family member, I would make the same decision. Diggs has been a beloved member of my family for more than a decade. He deserves the same treatment. Had I left it alone, he would have likely only had a few months left. At least this way he gets a fighting chance.

This morning I woke up at 6:30. I sat outside one the porch with Diggs for a while. We just stared at the dark street, enjoying being in the same space. I fought back tears as I got dressed. He climbed into bed with Amy and she spent some quiet time with him while I got ready. I met them both at the bed, eyes full of tears, and had a long conversation with him about what was going to happen and why. I tried to reassure him that I was doing it because I had to, but I know the reassurance was just for me. He licked the tears off of my face. He loves the salty stuff. Let’s be honest, he licks everything.

Amy stayed home with our other dog Chance, and Diggs and I made our way to the car. The ride was quiet. Diggs pressed himself against the rear passenger side door and stared out the window, watching the sunrise in the distance. I don’t know if he was still tired or maybe groggy from the procedure yesterday. Either way, he seemed content.

We pulled into the parking space in front of the clinic. Like always, Diggs was ready to face the day and explore the new space I had brought him to. I was trying to keep it together. We walked inside and sat down. I just needed to spend a few extra minutes with him before I handed him over. I asked the woman who came to get him if she would mind taking a quick picture of us. She was happy to. Just as we had our pose all set, a man walked through the door with a small dog, and I was no longer of interest to Diggs. I was able to drag him outside and pin him down just long enough to sneak one more picture. I had brought with me one of my t-shirts with the #RIOTGANG logo on the back. I handed it to her as she took the leash from me and asked her to keep it with him. Then, just like that, he disappeared through the doors and I found myself standing there, staring at my reflection in the closed door.

This surgery was a big deal when he was just losing a leg. Now it’s much more. I hope I’m making the right choice. I hope he makes it off of the table today so we can spend more great days together. I hope he knows how much he means to me. I hope he felt loved. I hope he never felt like he disappointed me. I hope he can forgive me for what I had to do.

I love you Diggs. See you on the other side.

#RIOTGANG for life



Amputation-Eve: I’m a mess

March 16th, 2018 · 5 Comments · Uncategorized

Today is Thursday, March 15, and tomorrow (I wrote this yesterday) Diggs goes in for surgery. I was fine when I woke up but today we went in for the surgery consultation. If you had asked me 2 weeks ago how I was feeling about the whole thing I would’ve told you, “It is what it is” without much emotion at all. Today is very different. I was OK during the consultation but as I signed the documents approving the surgery things got a little bit emotional. On the document, they have a portion where I had to mark YES or NO as to whether or not I wanted them to attempt to resuscitate him in the event of cardiac arrest or some other complication. I lost it in the car.

I had no idea I would be this emotional about the whole thing. Granted, I have had a rather interesting start to 2018, aside from the news about Diggs, but I am just beside myself with emotion right now. I am quite sure this is harder for me than it is for him. He was a complete gentleman at the doctors office. Everyone falls in love with him immediately. I’m a lucky dude.

I wanted to show you exactly what has been happening with his leg so you have an idea of why this is the right decision for him.

No, that is not him flexing. This picture was taken within the last week. That mass on his arm started out to be about the size of a tennis ball at the beginning of 2017. Now it is softball size and growing at an alarming rate.

It is so big now that when he is laying down on his right side…

…his arm sticks up in the air!

The surgery is very expensive. Without pet insurance we paid $3800 which is the low end cost. If there are any complications that price will go up. Again, my advice is GET PET INSURANCE!

Whatever. He’s worth it.

So, now it’s just a matter of waiting and asking the universe to send him some love. They held on to him today at the vet to do an ultrasound of his chest. They want to make sure that the cancer hasn’t spread into his lungs before we go through with the surgery. I’m anxiously waiting for them to call me back. If there isn’t another post today, the ultrasound went fine.

Instead of boring you today with how they recommended that I care for Diggs after the surgery I will save that for future posts. I will, however, show you the new leash and harness that I ordered for him now that he is about to become a Tripawd.

As I was doing my research on the surgery and other 3-legged animals, I stumbled across a photo that made me feel really good about not only the surgery but also about whether or not Diggs could still be a proud and happy dog in days to come.

What a little badass this pooch is!

I know that Tripawds recommends a few other brands of harness that I am quite sure work equally well but I fell in love with the one in this picture and just had to have it for Diggs. So I ordered from Amazon a OneTigris tactical Service Dog Vest in Black. I also ordered a OneTigris Tactical Dog Training Bungee Leash with Control Handle Quick Release Nylon Leads Rope. They both arrived today, just in time to fit him properly before his surgery. Here it is…

It is fully adjustable and comes with a full chest pad that goes under the belly. It is covered in hook and loop pads so I started buying “Morale patches” which I can add to the vest to give it a little personality. I should note, I fully respect our military so I went with patches that were comical instead of adding military insignias or something that could be deemed disrespectful. I got him patches of Pickle Rick and pizza instead. He’s gonna look awesome.

I have had so many people reach out to me in the last 2 days to send love or share a favorite memory of Diggs. To all of you I am so grateful. It’s good to know that we are loved by so many and have the support of so many more.

Tomorrow is going to be difficult for me but I know that Diggs has all of you pulling for him and that gives me strength.

I will update tomorrow to let you know how the surgery went and then we will hopefully have an amazing post for you on Saturday when all is said and done.

Thanks for reading!

Spread love.

Diggs & Nick

(Oh btw, Diggs is definitely getting a bath tonight. Who knows when I’ll be able to give him his next one!)



Allow me to introduce Diggs, a.k.a. #RiotDog

March 14th, 2018 · 11 Comments · Uncategorized

This is Diggs. I know you think your dog is really great but Diggs is, without question, the best dog in the world.

I’m Nick. I have the pleasure of telling the story of this incredible guy since I have had him by my side for almost his entire life. Here is how we met…

In 2007, I was living in FL and preparing to move back to VA where I grew up. The girl I was with at the time had her heart set on getting a dog and we had been searching the adoption websites looking for the perfect pup. She wanted a little dog like a Pug but I was insistent on something bigger. 2 weeks before my trip home, I came home from work like I normally would and decided to take a peek at the adoption website. I hadn’t looked in a while since it seemed like they hadn’t been taking in many new dogs in the past few weeks. I type in the link, hit the return button, and there he was.

(This isn’t the adoption photo but it’s around the same year. I’ll find that photo and post it as soon as I can.)

The adoption page said his name was, “Dingo” (that was getting changed immediately), and just from his picture I could tell he was the one.

I called her immediately and made sure she was the very first person in the parking lot on the day he was available to meet. Thanks to a few alarms and some well timed phone calls, she got there so early that she actually beat the adoption van that was bringing the dogs to the location. As they were unloading the dogs out of the vehicle, she inquired about “Dingo” and they allowed her to hang out with him while they handled the rest of the dogs. I was on the phone the whole time. She was immediately concerned about his size but said that his temperament was incredible. Just as she sat down with him, 4 other families approached to inquire about him. 4! Sucks to be them. As you can imagine, our efforts granted us the right to put in the first application for him and on the day before I was to arrive back in VA, Diggs came into our home.

My entire drive back to VA was filled with phone calls inquiring about how he was settling in. She was concerned that he didn’t seem as lively as he had been when she first met him. Once I pulled into the parking lot, all of that was about to change. We were immediately locked into each other, and we have been ever since.

As tends to happen, relationships end. Ours was no different. Diggs came with me and he has been with me through everything for the last 10+ years. We’ve lived in multiple states and lived with multiple people and other animals. Everyone we come in contact with falls immediately in love with him. Every girl I dated would immediately flock to him and I was always left alone, on the couch, to answer the millions of questions everyone asks about him. It’s totally worth it.

For the last few years we have been living in FL (yes again). At the end of 2016 we were residing in Sarasota. Diggs has been aging gracefully. He doesn’t look or act like a 10 year old dog, but he is getting a bit more fragile. He is also getting a bit more skiddish when it comes to loud noises. Suddenly thunderstorms, fire alarms, etc. have become a big deal. It’s cute in a way, but I feel bad for him. On New Years Eve of 2016, I went out with some friends and left “yellow dog” at home. Florida is a big fan of their fireworks. Not snakes and sparklers. Big fireworks. Bottle rockets and mortars can be purchased in the parking lot of every grocery store in town. This is not a complaint at all but it did turn out to be a major oversight on my part. I shouldn’t have left him alone.

I arrived home, a bit tipsy, to find my house turned upside down. As I closed the door behind me, Diggs came limping out of my bedroom with a massive knot on his front left elbow. It was about the size of half a baseball and soft to the touch. I took him to the vet. They x-rayed and biopsied the mass but said it was nothing. He limped for months. Fast forward to 2018. By this time we have moved to Saint Petersburg and changed veterinarians. At the new vet I mention that the mass on his arm appears to be getting bigger and more firm to the touch. She recommends we x-ray and biopsy again. I agree. The call I received from the vet the next day was more than I had bargained for. The biopsy came back clear. The mass is most likely a fatty tumor. Dogs get them all the time and this one doesn’t appear to be complicating his movement, for now anyway. Pee-Wee Herman once said, “Everyone always has a big BUT”. Here is how our “but” went.


“Nick, we went ahead and did the x-ray of the elbow. Everything looks fine, it’s mostly cosmetic, etc, etc. BUT, we happened to get his left “ankle” (do dogs have ankles?) in the x-ray. While I was focusing on the elbow, one of my vet-techs noticed a spot on the ankle. It looks to us like Diggs has bone cancer.”

I am going to avoid using expletives on this blog but just imagine that I probably had every one that you’ve ever heard, plus a few that I made up, run through my head. I was crushed.

Fortunately, thanks to that very observant vet-tech, we caught it early. They checked his chest to make sure it hadn’t moved into his lungs and he appears clear. Now I’m left with a decision. Leave him with a mass on his elbow and potentially aggressive cancer in his leg, or amputate? It’s ultimately a no-brainer, but it has proven to be a very difficult thing to for me to pull the trigger on. After much deliberation (and a few conversations with him knowing that he doesn’t understand me) the time has finally arrived. Today is Wednesday, March 14th, 2018. Tomorrow we have our consultation with the surgeon and Friday is the day.

If I had to offer some advice at this point in the process I would say this…

Get your dog insured and don’t hesitate when the time comes. Every person I have talked to, and every article I have read, says the same thing. Just like us, they adapt. Dogs, however, do it better and faster. I still do not have personal experience to base this advice off of…but it’s coming. This is why I have started this blog page with Tripawds.

Stay tuned for the play-by-play as Diggs, a.k.a. Yellow Dog, a.k.a. #RiotDog, a.k.a. “Diggery-do he’s my fweeter boy” (thanks mom), takes this challenge head on and proves to all of us that he will not only conquer this obstacle but overcome it, and remain the same loving, regal, and goofy dog that we (and soon you) have grown to love.

Wish us luck and we will see you on the other side!

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