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The One & Only #RiotDog: Diggs

Diggs loses a leg to cancer

The One & Only #RiotDog: Diggs

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!

Spread love


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11 Comments so far ↓

  • Super Stu!

    Well hello Diggs, aka #Riot Dog, Yellow dog and Diggery-do, you are a beautiful big boy arent’ you!! and Hello Nick!

    You have written a fantastic introduction for your boy! I am in love already! (I guess I’m just one of those Chickies that fall madly in love just by looking at his beatiful self!) I can see why you were drawn immediately to this fella!

    We are wishing you all the very best for Digger in his surgery and his recovery. Stewie and i will be watching out for your updates.
    Hugs and ear rubs

    Petra, Paul, Stewie and his Pride of Kittens.

    p.s. i love your Mum’s nickname for Diggs!

  • Debra

    My best girl, Layla, had her hind leg amputation surgery on February 28th of this year, so i’m coming to you from within that 2 week recovery period point. She had a recurring and rare type of mast cell tumor that, at the age of 5, had tangled itself up in the tendons and ligaments, was impossible to stage, and would start to cause her chronic pain. I experienced the same emotion as you as I came to this decision and then tried to follow through with it…I felt in my heart that it was the only thing to do, but I let a week go by and then three before finally scheduling the day, and my anxiety grew.

    In that time in between, I watched her strong wiggly butt walk and wondered how I could possibly do this thing to her. Head and heart started to battle. I read absolutely everything that I could read (tripawds messageboard, the books they offer…fantastic tools), looked at endless pictures of incisions in various stages of healing, read all of the advice, watched the videos, and bought a lot of recommended assistance products. Knowledge comforts me and left me feeling less hopeless.

    Layla and I also had “the talk” many times. I needed her to know that I was doing this because I loved her. I begged her to be strong.

    The talk seemed to reach her heart. Her recovery has been absolutely remarkable. She dodged away from the vet at a hopping run when in the yard that first time up and outside after surgery, and she hasn’t stopped moving since. Her strength has rocked me to my core. She has been one hundred percent focused on being as Layla as she can be in new form. She takes the stairs, jumps up in my car, chases the squirrels and the deer, and beats her canine brother up with her cone just because she can. Her walks have been shorter, but I turn her around faster than she wants to turn just to be on the safe side. She still charges forward and pulls me along behind her, and while she might rest a little more after the fact, I know she’s earned it.

    I pray that you have the same experience and that your journey forward is just another thing you and Diggs conquer together. He will continue to amaze you, and your adventures will continue to be as epic as ever. Their ability to overcome…and to push even harder just for you…will blow even what you hoped for from your best friend…out of the water.

    Luck and blessings to you!
    Debra and Layla

    • crunch242

      Debra & Layla,

      I’m not crying, you’re crying! Haha
      Thanks so much for sharing your story with us. I’m so glad to hear that Layla is doing so well. My nerves are shot but we are going to be just fine. He will likely recover faster than I will.
      You are an angel for caring and we wish you both the best.

      Diggs & Nick

      • Debra

        Diggs’ story has just really resonated with me….I can relate so much to the obvious strength of your bond and to the lovely and emotional way that you have described your journey together…and i’ve been following your updates and continuing to send positive energy to your boy. I’m sorry that he has a little more to overcome than you knew at the time of this intro entry, but what a decision of love you’ve made for him, to give him the ultimate fighting chance at life, and I will continue to hope that his recovery is strong and full for your continued journey together!

        Heal well, strong boy Diggs!
        Debra and Layla

    • Jacki

      Hi Debra
      We have a beautiful girl Layla that is scheduled for her left rear leg to be removed next week. I’m at the point now of my head and my heart battling but I know it has to be done. I am really hoping our Layla’s recovery is like yours, she has 2 human brothers that adore her so it’s an emotional time for all of us.
      Thank you for sharing and making it a, little easier for people like me, playing the waiting game Xx

      • Debra

        Much love and positive energy from one Layla and her person to another! My girl lays beside me as I write this, on Day 17, with a soft layer of peach fuzz starting to grow in around her healing incision…and I am just grateful, grateful, grateful that with this sacrifice she made and the strength she has shown, we have hope of many more years together before us. She came into my life when I had lost a lot and filled it up with everything again, and I can’t imagine this journey without her.

        I know how hard this place is that you are in right now…you want the day to come to move forward into new life and recovery, and you don’t want it to come at the very same time, and your fear and anxieties build until you’re exhausted from trying to know how it will be after…I think my best advice would be the obvious, to just surround her and encourage her with love, and to let her guide you. Just take one moment at a time, and trust in her to show you the way. I found that in the tough moments, just being that presence she knows she can depend on is what they draw strength from. So much of what they do, they want to do for us. After surgery, my focus just became about the power of having her with me and helping her in any way that I could. Layla faltered the most if I tried to hold her back too much, so I realized her confidence in rebounding came from being allowed to just be Layla, within reason. I have no doubt that your boys surrounding her with love and just showing up to “still be her pack” will be absolutely everything to her! I’ll be thinking of your Layla now, too, and sending hopes for strength and healing and surrounding her and your family with positive energy. Layla dogs are not dogs that anything can keep down! 🐾

        Blessings to you!
        Debra and Layla

  • jerry

    Nick and Diggs, welcome! We are sorry you had to join the club nopawdy wants to join but we wow, what a story you two have and we know without a doubt you will help others on this difficult but inspirational journey.

    You guys have been through a lot together and there are many more good times to follow. Recovery can be up and down but hold it in your heart that Diggs WILL be a rock star on 3 and you guys will invent great comeback lines for people when they notice the missing leg (we can tell you have a great sense of humor!).

    We are honored to be part of your journey and thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your support. If we can do anything at all for you please don’t hesitate to bark at us OK?

    Good luck with surgery day and keep us posted. We are cheering you on Diggs! xoxo

    • crunch242

      Hey Jerry!
      Thanks so much for the warm welcome! Diggs and I are as ready as we will ever be for this part of our journey but knowing that we have support from the Tripawds community definitely helps take the edge off. If there is anything I can do to help promote Tripawds please let me know.
      Your newest friends,
      Diggs & Nick

  • benny55

    Honored to meet you Diggs Diggery-do fweeter boy! 🙂 You are a very, very handsome boy!!! And clearly you picked the perfect hooman to buddy around with…And he clearly picked the perfect dog to make his life whole! 🙂

    Not sure how much you’ve checked out the forums but if you have any questions at all about recovery, etc don’t hesitate to ask- we also have a TRIPAWD HELPLINE .

    Recovery is no picnic for a couple of weeks. It is MAJOR surgery and it can take some tweaking to get the pain meds dosed at an effective balance.

    If you jave hardwood floors, you’ll want to get non-slip scatter rugs for traction. Diggs needs to take it sloooow and easy for the first two weeks. Just shoet potty breaks, no jumping, no stairs (iff possible), no running…just lots of rest.

    Every dog is different and every recovery is different. Many dogs are somewhat mo ile within 24 – 48 hrs. Some dogs take a bit longer.

    Most dogs spend one night (or more) at an over night clinic. He’ll most likely come home with Tramadol, Gabapentin, Rimadyl and an antibiotic. Some come home with a patch. My Happy Hannah was very restless and vocal the first couple of nights she came home. Some are more zonked out.

    Oh, and when you do go pick Diggs up at the Bet, don’t even bother to look at his incision. He just wants to see your smiling face telling him he’s going home! You already have mastered a strong and confident attitude about this….er….”adventure” and that is important to Diggs’ well being.

    Remember, you are doing this FOR Diggs and not TO him! Once you start seeing his sparkle come back and he starts enjoying his regular routines without that painful leg, you’ll be so glad you were able to do this FOR him!

    Looking forward to cheering for Diggs and all his upcoming victories!!! And we would loooove more pictures of this beautiful dog… handsome!

    Sally and Alumni Happy Hannah and Merry Myrtle and Frankie too!

    PS. We jave several Virginia members. Where abouts did you live in Virginia?

  • Mitch

    Dogs. There’s a reason we call them man’s best friend, in the presence of a dog, somehow, nothing else matters. A dog is handing out pure love, sparing no expense, and asking absolutely nothing in return. There’s consistency, love, and the beauty of life at its finest, and Diggs is by far the embedment of this. It is true that we never know what the days will bring us, there are days filled with laughter, days filled with joy and days filled with overwhelming emotion . The day (almost a decade ago) when I saw Nick meet Diggs was a day of all those sensations. I thought I was the one receiving the gift of my boyfriend moving to VA with the added bonus of a new dog he had so carefully selected but instead I gained a forever comrade and Nick found his best friend. I soon noticed they were inseparable–Diggs was willing to go on any adventure Nick wanted to go on, whether it be to the lake for a day or walking down to the driveway to get the mail, Diggs became Nicks sidekick wagging his tail in delight to be by Nicks side. … For Diggs, every morning is Christmas morning. Every walk is the best walk, every meal is the best meal, and every game is the best game. It has been years since I have seen Diggs through updates I know that Diggs is still the squirrel chasing, love bug he has been since the day he stepped out of the van and his bond with Nick grows stronger each year. I am convinced that after tomorrow nothing will change, he will just be an leg down. Nick and Diggs have two of the strongest spirits I know and I wish you both good luck, and I thank Amy for being part of their family and taking such good care of her boys, you are truly the rock. Good luck – Sending my love and back scratches

  • dougo1

    Me and my Cookie are right there with you Nick, Surgery is Tomorrow and as we recover every day we are going to think about you and The Diggmeister and hope you are doing GREAT!!

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