Every year, ten thousand American dogs are diagnosed with
osteosarcoma, a type of bone cancer. This is a number that Morris
Animal Foundation, a nonprofit working to further veterinary
science, would like to change. Even more
devastating than the sheer number of dogs with this terrible disease is that
this type of cancer develops in young dogs—those between two and three years
old. Osteosarcoma does not let up,
either, as this cancer will commonly come back in dogs that have already had
Photo provided by MAF
Owners can often tell that something is wrong when their
dogs start to show symptoms of lameness. At this point, it is highly likely that the cancer has spread to other
parts of the dog’s body. The current
treatments for osteosarcoma include amputation and extremely strong
In order to combat this terrible disease, Morris’ 5-5-5
Project will fund five osteosarcoma studies. This project as a whole will last five years
and will provide the chosen five studies with approximately $5 million. Every year for five years there will be a new
osteosarcoma study bringing hope to dogs affected by this illness.
This study even has the potential to help kids, too. Finding the most effective cancer drugs for
dogs, could potentially mean finding the most effective treatments for children
affected by osteosarcoma. Morris is
continuing the fight against cancer with this new project; join us and donate to
Morris Animal Foundation. Thank you to
all of our donors and those spreading the word about Morris studies!
Author Bio: This
is a guest post by Katie F. on behalf of Morris Animal Foundation. Visit
morrisanimalfoundation.org/ to learn more about the animal health research that
Morris Animal Foundation participates in.
~ ~ ~
With Abby, she was hit even younger by the disease, being only 15-months old when she was diagnosed. As Katie writes, it was the limping that caused us to take her to the vet. With such a young, goofy dog, we figured she'd just overdone it. But when the limp didn't go away, x-rays confirmed osteosarcoma. We opted for amputation (obvi, from the above picture!), and also a lotta chemo (both IV and at-home pills) plus holistics treatments. We had another amazing 15 months with her and lost her at age 2 1/2. But she lives on in our hearts, and now in the character of Maybe in Rescue Me, Maybe. Here's hoping the research funded by MAF can find some answers and bring hope for parents of both dogs and kids who get this horrible disease!
Thanks again MAF for the post and for everything that you do for the animals! #CancerSucks!
Poor Rita! Her Pop had meniscus surgery on both knees on Thursday, so she has not been getting her usual amount of attention. She's been a very good girl through it all, although not shy about letting us know how bored she is. (A lotta heavy sighing going on around here!)
We gave her a bone to try to keep her entertained this afternoon. You can see how put-out she is. (Those are the hubby's knees strapped up to his super-duper ice machine in the foreground.)
OK, it's supposed to be Wordless Wed., and I'm changing it to One Word Wed, but of course I can't limit myself to just one word... But the main word for today is Winner!
Without further ado, the winner of the big giveaway is (do you hear the drum roll??): Baba HooHoo!! (Isn't that the cutest login name?)
Here's how she won... I used Randomizer.org to generate a random winning number which was 23. (I like #23 since it's my birth date.) Baba Hoohoo had the 23rd comment slot, so she's our winner! And now a signed copy of the book, Smooches treats, The Honest Kitchen cookbook, and an adorable pink & brown bookmark hook all tucked up in a cheery pink tote bag will be winging their way to her!
K9 Kampers were left to their own devices this week -- it was Kamper's Choice for our final week. The four weeks have gone by fast. I decided to mix in a little of everything from K9 Kamp into this week:
Friday: I did weights and threw Rita's squeaky toys for her between sets
Saturday: We walked to the park, where we found a tennis ball and played Monkey in the Middle.
Sunday: We went for a nice long, fast walk at the beach
Monday: "Don't Be a Couch Potato Day" - stretched/rough-housed on the floor during the hockey (As you can see by the pics, Rita loves to watch TV.)
"But, Mom, it's Charles Osgood!"
Tuesday: "Make Up a Game Day" - we used to play a fun game at our old house with Abby that we called "Around the Island." We'd run around the stairwell/part of our kitchen and get her to chase us. So, I tried a similar thing that involved running through my office, out the sliding glass door, then back in the other door, and looping around again. It was fun, except that Rita (like Abby used to do) would cheat and just stop chasing and wait. I also tried to make up a game involving burpees, but the burpees were just Too. Damn. Hard. Plus I wish they had a nicer name.
Wednesday: "Two-walks Wednesday" - planning to squeeze in a second walk tonight
Thursday: Tomorrow I'm planning to include a bit of running on our walk, which will be necessary because I'm going to the Del Mar Fair later in the day and want to be able to eat a deep-fried Girl Scout cookie (or three) without a lot of deep-fried guilt.
I can't believe it's the end of K9 Kamp already. It's been fun, and hopefully Rita and I will keep up our extra-exercising ways. (Well, I know Rita will... so the "hopefully" really just refers to me.)
Team Captain in his uniform
The End of Dodge Ball
Last week was also the end of the dodge ball tournament at Mike's work. I'm sorry to say that Dodgey Style did not in fact win the whole thing and bring home the big trophy. But...they did manage to come in 2nd! So at least he came home with a medal.
"Whaddya mean we didn't win?"
"Second place?? Aw, man. That sucks."
Mini Max, next to his pages in the Tripawd Heroes book
Our Latest Creation
My sister, Terry, and I needle-felted a Max. Max was a gorgeous Tripawd who, like Abby, was taken too soon by stupid osteosarcoma. I must say, he's been one of the hardest ones we've done - he had such a beautiful multi-colored coat and those piercing ice-blue eyes. Max's mom was one of the first folks on Tripawds to reach out to us during our cancer journey with Abby and both Max's parents were there for our Tribute to Abby day, so Mini Max was just a tiny thank you for all their support.
In What the Dog Ate news: first of all, I'm working on a print version. Hopefully it will be out soonish - maybe in a few weeks or so?? I'll keep you posted!
Also, I got another really nice review, this time from Roxanne Hawn on her Champion of My Heart blog. She's had a rough go of it lately with her mother-in-law passing away and her pup, Lilly, having a very bad reaction to her rabies vaccine, so I really appreciated her taking the time to read/review the book. She wrote that she started the book...
"...during our recent hospice vigil. The novel held my attention at a time
of great upset and distraction, and, I think, that says a lot about What
the Dog Ate."
I was happy to provide a distraction during a rough time. In other "makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside" news, I got an actual email from an actual reader saying how much she liked the book and is looking forward to the next one. So, that was fun! And... I got my first payment from Amazon. It was a small payment - but still, I got $$ in exchange for WORDS that came outta my wee little head! Whoohoo. Feeling like a real writer.
Better go do some work on my next book - can't keep up the "real writer" feeling if I don't write!
Today is Abby's 14 month ampuversary! And it is also officially one year that she has had lung mets.
We are so happy to still have our girl with us. It's been a little rough since the H.O. diagnosis, but she is still a happy, hoppy girl.
Abby had a great Christmas here at home with her Grandma and two of her aunts.
"Hey, that dog looks like me!"
First of all, she got this very cute Christmas stocking specially handmade for her by her Aunt Kathy. She was very intrigued by it - even when it was empty. If you look closely, you'll see that the one dog on the right-hand side looks a lot like our girl! So cute!
Abby also got this very fine orange alligator in her Christmas stocking. My brother
actually made toys for all the dogs in the family. He bought a gross of
squeakers online (did you know you could buy squeakers in bulk?) and got
some heavy-duty fabric and started whipping up dog toys on my
sister-in-law's sewing machine. He is a very good doggy uncle. (He also made dog treats out of leftover grain from his beer making endeavors. She loves them.)
Her present from us was also an alligator, which (as you can see) she has already turned into a tripawd. (It was the very first thing she did.)
I did not think to squeak it in the store. Big mistake. I'd been looking at some other no-stuffing toys that had recycled water bottles inside, and I thought this was the same sort of thing. I thought it would just make that crinkling, cracking sound that empty water bottles make. Um, no. It makes these crazy noises, as captured in the following video. (Note: the *other* crazy noise is just my sister's laugh...)
"No one can see me..."
After opening her own presents, Abby thought everything was for her. Here she is perusing Grandma's presents:
And she got a bone, that she tried to hide behind the Christmas tree.
The day after Christmas, we took her to the beach and
walked/ran like we used to, where we run for two minutes and then walk for
three. (We hadn't done that in ages because Mike's knees have been
bugging him, but he was ready to give it another try.) Well, even with
the cancer, the lung mets, the tripawdness, the H.O. - she still was
kicking my butt running! She's such a Warrior Princess! Toward the end she started to
slow down and I was able to keep up with her (which was kind of a
In other Abby news, we are sticking with the 1/2 dose of Masitinib. Her GI tract just can't handle the full dose. Dr. V. said he talked to some other oncologists who have dogs on the 1/2 dose, so hopefully it will still be in there kicking some tumor butt.
In other non-Abby news (there's non-Abby news in my life??)... On Christmas Eve, my siblings and I recreated a photo of the six of us from 1974. We haven't changed a bit. No, because "a bit" would mean minor changes... (Note that I had to crouch to try to better achieve the look of the original photo.) The funny thing is that while looking for that original B&W photo, I realized I only have two (!!) pictures of me and my siblings together. How is that possible? Now I have three. :)
In a final bit of news, my sis Terry and I have done some more felting, but I couldn't share the pictures until the recipients had their little felted friends in their hands. Now I can finally share the photo of our latest creations: my sister's Jean's one-blue-eyed Husky, Roxie, and my brother and sister-in-law's sweet Golden, angel Dannie. Now everyone in the immediate family has a felted friend.
That's pretty much all the news that's fit to print. (There is other news re: the zoo -- we went the other night and the swamp monkeys were doin' it. But that is not fit to print.) Anyway, Abby and I already went to the beach today to begin her 14 Month Ampuversary celebrations. Not sure what else is on today's agenda. There will need to be a Flying Dutchman in her future, but that might not happen today. Soon, though, Ab! I promise!!
Happy, hoppy New Year everypawdy!! We wish you all good things in 2012!
Last time I posted that we'd found out Abby has Hypertrophic Osteopathy, or HO. I since learned a bit more about it - like that it usually ends up being the reason a dog ends up earning his/her wings. There's no cure (unless you can control the lung mets) and the pain will eventually get to be too much. Some dogs only last ~two months once the disease is diagnosed. Even in the face of all that, we are still feeling... I don't know that happy is exactly the right word... but considering that we really thought we were going to be putting her to sleep shortly after Thanksgiving, we feel lucky to have extra time with her.
It's strange because even though it's a rare disease, it is not all that rare in dogs with lung mets - especially females for some reason. So since Abby was diagnosed, I found out that 3 of my Facebook friends have dealt with/are dealing with it. One of the ladies lost her dog to H.O. years ago. Another is currently dealing with and it's been a good support to have someone to talk to about it. The final friend (I saved the best for last...) still has her dog, Lily, with her 3 YEARS post-diagnosis. Her dog had 2 lung mets, so sort of similar to Abby with her 3 (remember that I've said most dogs have many mets - little spots all over the lungs; it's not really normal to only have a few, especially after all this time). Well, one of Lily's mets disappeared. (!!) Her oncologists call her The Miracle Dog. She had surgery to have the remaining met removed (they'll only do the operation if there is a Lone Met), and that was three years ago and Lily is now in remission for both the bone cancer and the H.O. Incredible.
I know we are not likely to get a miracle - but, hey, it could happen. Or the masitinib (which we are still slowly trying to get her accustomed to) could work some magic on those dastardly lung mets. Or the artemisinin (which we have added back in with an additional supplement to aid absorption) might work. You never know. We are not giving up the fight.
Cancer, you are a bastard and you don't play fair, but we are not going to let you roll all over us. Nertz to you, Cancer.
To show that Abby is saying Nertz to Cancer, I've included lots of pics of the things we've done SINCE the HO diagnosis. She's still got a lot of spunk!
She still chases lizards in the yard...
She still VERY MUCH ENJOYS a Flying Dutchman (and still counter-surfs)
She still plays with Barney.
She still loves to smell the ocean
She still chases birds at Fiesta Island...
...and plays with her friends there...
...and is still a very happy girl!
We have definitely seen the pain wax and wan. Even though her legs look a little strange and swollen, she still wants to get out there on them, and I think Dr. V is right that moving around helps with the pain. We still have more items in our arsenal - for one thing she just started a new pain pill (gabapentin) and that seems to be helping. There is also a shot which she could get (pamidronate) if the pain starts to get really bad. I talked to Dr. V. about it and we are going to keep that in reserve until she really needs it. Apparently some dogs don't react much to it, but the ones that do show a marked improvement, and it can last weeks or even a month.
Here's hoping for a Christmas Miracle for our pup. (Or just that the drugs will work!) Hope you all are enjoying this hectic holiday season. Be merry, like Abby!
Abby had her xray today and the GREAT news is that the lameness in her remaining front leg is NOT from the cancer spreading. In fact, her bone not only did NOT looked compromised at all - it looked beautiful (just like her outsides... just like she's been saying all along...). But, there was too much of it. Yeah, too much bone, caused by this apparently rare disease called Hypertrophic Osteopathy (HO). Dr. V. said it's so rare some doctor's might not have known what the problem was, but being an oncologist he has seen it before, since it is thought to be caused by a tumor(s) in the lungs.
So, it was not the best case scenario (which would have been an overuse injury) and it was not the worst case scenario (which would have been bone cancer and more or less game over). It's a rare and unique case - just like our girl.
I've been saying all along that Dr. V. says her lung "mets" are not acting like normal mets. Normally, once the disease metastasizes (when will I learn to spell that word? It takes me 7 tries to get it right each time...) the dog's lungs fill with lots of little mets - or "lung mints" as we sometimes like to call them on Tripawds. But Abby doesn't have lots of little "mints." She's got a coupla biggish ones and a small one. So, I guess her not-normal mets have led us down this not-normal path.
Dr. V. says the pain will sort of wax and wane, so we have the okay again to take her on walks, as long as she seems willing (and she definitely does, at least the last couple of days). She can even go back to the beach. He gave us some piroxicam (an NSAID, so that should help with inflammation) and tramadol (to help control the pain).
He is going to discuss possible treatment options with the rest of the oncologists there at Vet Cancer Group and then we'll talk more later.
The other good news is that the Masitinib (which we've been trying to
get her started on for a while now) should not only help with the tumors
in her lungs, but it should also possibly help w/ the HO. So, Masitinib
here we come again. Hopefully this 3rd time will be the charm!
So... like I said, it's not great news because she is in pain from it, but it's not as bad as the pain from bone cancer would be (which probably explains why she's still been trying to get me to play with her), AND she is not at risk for a fracture - which is a huge relief.
Hopefully we still have a lot more time with our girl. I had been thinking we might be down to our last few days and that she might never get to go to the beach again, but hopefully we'll have her a bit longer and she can go back to Fiesta Island soon (just want to try a few short neighborhood/park walks first and see how they go before turning her loose at the beach).
Thanks everyone for the good thoughts. I'll post more when I know more.
Today is Abby's hopefully LUCKY ampuversary #13! So far we haven't done too much to celebrate, as she is still having some lameness in her front leg.
In my last post I mentioned we went to see Dr. V. last week fearing the cancer had spread, but she was vastly improved by the time we got to the office and it seemed like it was just an overuse injury. Well, Tues and Wed last week we went on our little approved 10 minute walks and she seemed to be doing really well. But then Thanksgiving morning she was lame again (because these things ALWAYS happen on a holiday or weekend). At first I was afraid it was a bad reaction to the new pills we'd started (the Masitinib), but we went through the whole long weekend keeping her off the pills and she is still hobbling around - which isn't super easy on only 3 legs.
So, at this point it's either just a nagging injury, or the cancer has in fact spread. We are going for an X-ray tomorrow at 12.30 and then we'll know for sure. Please keep a good thought - or poke a cancer voodoo doll - for our girl. On the plus side: she still has a good appetite (in fact, when we went for the office visit last week she was the heaviest she's been since her amp - over 48lbs! Although their scale is a bit wonky, so not 100% sure that's right...); she gets up and goes outside to do her biz on
her own; she still wants to play with me now and then and will go to her basket and pick out a toy; and she follows me into the
kitchen after dinner at night to "help" with the clean up.
This weekend, to cheer her up, I got out the remaining Barney. You may recall that when we ordered Abby her very own Barney to kill, the nice folks threw in a spare "Beanie Barney" for free. I haven't really wanted to give him to her since he is full of beans (I mean that literally and not euphemistically), and I figured she'd destroy him, like she always does with her toys, and there'd be wee Barney beans everywhere. So far, though, she's been very gentle with him. When I first gave him to her, she got hold of his hand in her mouth and just hung out there with him like that for a while.
Yesterday I took her to the park to just get outside and enjoy some fresh air. She had a good time, but it was unfortunately short-lived as the Parks Dept. people showed up and started spraying pesticide. Nice.
Hope everyone had a lovely holiday weekend. Although I caught my bro's miserable cold, we had a nice Thanksgiving at his house eating way too much yummy food and playing with the "Santa Hat" app on my sister's iPhone:
In other news, we've been felting again. This time we made a Rio for one of my friends from Tripawds.com.
This was my first attempt at adding a mouth/tongue.
Such a good girl to not eat the mini-Rio!
I'll let you know what happens with the x-ray tomorrow. We are worried but trying not to freak out.
Today, Abby took her second dose of Palladia. Like I said, we have to keep a close eye on her, so here's the checklist:
1.Appetite? Excellent! I just bought her a new flavor of dry kibble yesterday (same grain free brand - Blue Buffalo Wilderness formula - but they were out of her usual salmon flavor, so I bought the duck instead). Normally, she's not super excited about her dry kibble, so we mix some really high quality wet stuff in too (like Newman's Own Organic dog food, which she loves). But today, when I poured the new food into her bin, she stuck her head in and started smacking out. Definitely no loss of appetite with this girl so far. (She is her mother's daughter. If I ever go off my feed, you know something is terribly wrong...)
2.Poop? Solid! Sorry - TMI? But it's the reality of my world - gotta monitor the poops now. I'm actually keeping a little diary about her poop.
3.Energy level? Ridiculous! She is Full. Of. It. She was making me nutty yesterday. Took her for 2 good walk/runs in our hilly neighborhood, plus played some more at home with her toys. Then she was still bugging me while I was trying to do yoga. I'm on the ground, eyes shut, hands on tummy - supposed to be concentrating on my breathing - and she comes over and starts corn-cobbing my hands. (Corn-cobbing is this weird little nibbling thing she does where she runs her tiny front teeth back and forth along your arm/leg/nose, just like she's eating corn on the cob. She's so odd.) Hard to relax when you are being corn-cobbed.
As for the process, here are some pics.
I have to wear these oh-so-sexy gloves. Powerful stuff.
As you can see, she is not adverse to this process.
Thanks for reading. Post at y'all soon. (Oh, my sis and her dog, Lou, and Abby & I signed up for this Canine Cancer Walk that's supposed to happen tomorrow. But the weather forecast is pretty dire. Don't really want to drive the 50 min to get there if it's really going to be pouring down rain, so we will probably skip it - but at least the money will still go to a good cause. If we do manage to make it, I'll bring my camera and post some pics!)
After much research and agonizing, we decided to try the Palladia with Abby, so I went and picked it up today at the Vet Cancer Group office. It's the first drug developed specifically for treating dogs with cancer and was only just approved in 2009, so it's still pretty new. It has, and I quote, "direct anti-tumor and anti-angiogenic activity." I don't totally know what anti-angiogenic means, other than it goes after the type of rapidly growing cells that you get with a tumor, but if you meet someone who bandies that type of word about, they are likely either a doctor or have been through this whole cancer crap before.
Apparently it can have some rough effects on the tummy, so we have to keep a close eye on her for the first couple of weeks. I'm hoping she'll do well on it since she did so well on the carboplatin (which was her intravenous chemo). We go back to see Dr. Vancil on Feb 25, so hopefully she'll have a good check-up then. One of the side effects can be weight loss, so today she was just under 48lbs, and we'll see what she weighs next time. (I was pretty surprised that she'd gotten up into the 48 lb range! That's practically what she weighed pre-amp!) If she does well on the Palladia (which she will take every M, W, & F) we might add in Cytoxan (another home-dose chemo that works slightly differently) on T, Th, Sat's. Give that stupid met the ol' one-two punch! Take that YOU STUPID MET.
Anyway... of course, I'll keep you posted on how all that's going. On to funner things: in my last post I mentioned going to Fiesta Island without my camera. Made up for it by taking it along this past weekend and snapping a ton of pics. She had such a great time. We ran a bit and she ran along with us. She had tons of energy and people were very impressed with her! Here are some of the best pics:
I love this one. So cute.
My friend said there are never pics of me on the blog, so here...
She met a super cute beagle!
Action shot! Only one paw on the ground!
OK, not dog-related, but on V.Day-eve there was a big pink heart in the sky. (Squint a little to really make it look heart-shaped...)
. . . the cancer has spread to Abby's lungs. That wee damn spot that the oncologist noticed in her lung x-ray 6 weeks ago has grown -- it hasn't grown super fast (went from ~0.6cm to ~1.0cm), but it's grown and therefore confirmed itself as a "met." Dr. V. says this is not all bad news -- he said we should celebrate the fact that there were no other mets, so we are trying to hang on to that.
But still . . . it's not great to know that it is officially in her lungs. Also, the fact that it's there brings up more treatment options. He sent us home with info on two different drugs we could try: palladia (a cancer drug developed very recently specifically for dogs) and cytoxan (a chemo drug that I believe is also used in humans and has been around a lot longer). We are trying to do some research and figure out what to do. The goal would be to stop that lone met from getting comfortable and growing and inviting friends over to stay. We do not want her lungs to be a nice place to live!
Anyway, in the case of palladia some dogs have seen the tumors shrink or disappear. The problem with the palladia is that it can have some harsh side effects, so she would need to be monitored closely on it. She's in such great health otherwise, and has such great energy, that I don't want to give her something that will mess that up. Not sure what we are going to do. Might try the palladia and see how it goes. Since she had so few side effects with the carboplatin, maybe she would be fine on the palladia as well. And if not, there is the cytoxan to fall back on.
Still trying to decide. The other potentially scary thing is that some folks commented online that when their dogs had bad reactions to the palladia and had to go off it, the tumors came back like gang busters. Don't want to piss the tumor off and have it come back all Incredible-Hulkish on us . . .
In happier news, we are definitely going to enjoy every day with her. Today is a beautiful day here in SD, so I took Abby down to Fiesta Island. I didn't bring the camera along because going by myself and carrying her water and her leash and keeping an eye on her seemed like a bit much to also be trying to snap shots of her. But then, of course, I wished I had the camera because (a) there was another tripawd down there (not that she cared, because he was swimming and she was not interested) and (b) there was this 8-mo-old smaller version of a Greater Swiss Mt. Dog down there that she's played with before and they had a great time racing around.
Abby is so energetic and rambunctious it's hard to believe she is "sick." Dr. V. said that her body really has no idea that little spot of cancer is in there. She's certainly in the envious position of being blissfully ignorant. Of course, even if she did know, I'm pretty sure she'd still be racing around enjoying every minute to the fullest - that's just how dogs are. Definitely need to take a cue from them!
Abby got some new toys this week, which she made short work of. (Guess I should say "of which she made short work" - but does anybody really talk that way?)
This little blue noseless koala came from her Aunt Terry, who brought a bag full of toys over for me to donate the next time I'm at Helen Woodward. Terry opened the bag and offered Abby the chance to select one. Abby, being no dummy, crammed 3 toys into her mouth. In the end, Terry convinced her the koala was enough. Abby immediately de-squeakerized and defufferized him, through the nose. (Looks like he's trying to scream, but that's impossible since his larynx was torn out.)
Also screaming is this little red crazy-looking ball-monster-thing that my friend Gayle brought by for Abby yesterday. At one time, he had a little tuft of hair on the top of his head, but that was the first to go. As you can see in the last picture, she also chewed off one of his feet - think she was trying to make him a tripawd.
Speaking of tripawds, we went to Fiesta Island today and met another front-amp doggy with osteosarcoma. He was a big, white 14-year-old (!) shepherd of some sort and seemed very sweet. He was wearing a life jacket and swimming. His momma said he doesn't get around so well running anymore (poor guy; they were very impressed with how well Abby was hopping about) but she said he still loves to swim. Abby pretty much totally ignored him, so she obviously didn't get that they had something in common. I wish I'd had my camera along as they looked pretty cute. I'd taken my iPod Nano along to take some video, but the stupid battery died, so no video - which is a bummer because she and her friend Dakota were running like maniacs. And, happily, she did not get so worn out today like she did the last time. We went even further than usual and, although she did flop down once to rest, she seemed plenty spunky the whole way. She seems to be totally back to her old self!
I'll post again Tuesday after last round of chemo and her x-ray. Fingers, toes and paws crossed!