Showing posts with label osteosarcoma. Show all posts
Showing posts with label osteosarcoma. Show all posts

February 12, 2014

Guest Post from MAF: Help Save Dogs and Kids!

As you know, we lost our angel Abby to osteosarcoma. 
Pamela Anderson had nuthin' on our beach babe.

It was while Abby had cancer that we discovered Morris Animal Foundation when we participated in their K9 Cancer Walk with our girl. We also entered her in the Orvis Cover Dog contest which raises money for MAF. We've been supporters ever since, and attended their gala, and I've pledged to donate a portion of the proceeds from Rescue Me, Maybe to them. 

So, when MAF contacted me about doing a guest post, I was happy to agree! I asked if they'd specifically write about a new project they recently started. Thanks very much to Katie and MAF for sharing this info with Pooch Smooches' readers! 

Take it away, Katie: 
~ ~ ~
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 this ailment.
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 chemotherapy drugs.

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 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!

Thanks to Heart Like a Dog and 2 Brown Dawgs for hosting the Thursday Barks and Bytes Blog hop. 

March 5, 2011

Rock Star!

Today's post is about a bunch of random things. (Well, not really random, since they are all related to Abby, but you know what I mean.) 

#1) This week Abby started up her M/W/F Palladia routine again. All went well until Friday afternoon, when she was not exactly a "solid citizen" (as her Uncle Jon says) on her walk. So, this was sorta like last week only better - better because this time it took 3 doses before her tummy got upset (compared to only 2 last time) and also because this time she was fine by this morning (last time we had 24+ hours of...issues). This time Dr. V. had given me some medicine to give to her, so a couple of doses of that and she was back to normal. She should be fine to start up the Palladia again on Monday.
#2) Despite the minor blip of tummy trouble, she's as full of energy as ever and has a great appetite. We went to Fiesta Island for 90 minutes this morning and she had a great time. We met another tripawd there - named Ted. He is a tripawd due to an accident though, or so his parents presume. (He was already a tripawd when they got him.) He's a handsome boy, as you can see. Like Abby, he darts around a lot and was tough to get a good pic of. As you can also see, he's a back leg amp, which is supposed to be easier on the dog, but Abby certainly does fine with her missing front leg. Ted's parents were impressed with how she was darting around.

#3) My sis, Jean, got a new iPad and has been playing with a "painting" app. She sent me the two paintings of Abby, below. (They are super cute and this makes me totally want an iPad, just so I can 'paint' too. So much easier than dragging out all the paper and paints and cleaning brushes!) The first is a recreation of the Stubs & Stilts photo, which you may remember. The second is from the photo I sent in of Abby for the Orvis Cover Dog Photo Contest. Speaking of the contest, Abby is doing really great - she is FOURTH out of over 11,700 dogs (!!) in the "Most Unique Voters" category. If you would like to VOTE FOR ABBY, maybe we can get her up into 3rd place. (Mike hopes she'll "make the podium"). All the money goes to the Morris Animal Foundation (MAF) Canine Cancer Research org. (As a side note, there is a scientist studying canine osteosarcoma on the "bone cancer dogs" Yahoo! group that I'm on. She said that MAF is funding a research project in her lab, so the money you donate really does go to trying to find cures and better therapies.)

#4) This woman stopped her car in the middle of the street the other day while we were on our walk, rolled down her window and said, "I just have to tell you how much we love your dog. We see you out with her a lot in the neighborhood, and every time we say, 'There's our dog!'" Yes, she has a following. She's a rock star. An adonis. She has tiger blood running through her veins. (OK, enough with the Charlie Sheen references...)

That's it for now. Thanks for reading! (Some day when we FINALLY have our furniture, I'll post befores/afters of our construction project...)

February 28, 2011

Back on Track (?)

Abby started back up on her Palladia today, so hopefully we won't have any tummy problems this time. Keeping an eye on her, so we'll see how it goes. Last Friday she had a check-up with the oncologist and he said her lungs sounded great, so that was good. I had mentioned that we'd need to keep an eye on her weight, and she'd only lost 1/2 pound so that wasn't too bad, especially considering the 24-hours or so of tummy troubles she had. 

This weekend we took her to Fiesta Island both days and interspersed her walking/playing with bits of running. On Saturday, she was still spunky enough when we finished (after over an hour there) that she tried to take off, running down the beach away from us. She did NOT want to go home yet. So the next day we really tried to wear her out and walked/ran/played for 90 minutes! Here's a little video of her running, and leaving Mike in her dust:

And here are some cute pics I took of her. 
"How cute am I in my new collar?"

"Do we have to go home?"

"After a run, I recommend a recovery smoothie."

Today I took her to FI again by myself and ran into two women back to back, about 2 minutes apart, who had both lost dogs to osteosarcoma. The first woman sort of rubbed me the wrong way. I guess she must have had a bad experience, so she was giving me advice I didn't ask for - telling me to research everything (Hello, librarian here. Used to get paid to research everything...) and not let my oncologist talk me into anything. Anyway, the second lady was much nicer, but she had me in tears. Her poor doggy got bone cancer after she'd only had him 7 months (she adopted a 'senior' dog - I think she said he was seven). But she had him another 18 months after his diagnosis, and she said he was a "special gift." Just like Abby is our special gift.

Oh, one last thing... Abby is doing well in the 'popular vote' for the Orvis Cover Dog Photo Contest - she has made the first page (out of over 500 pages - not 500 dogs, 500 pages, with 21 dogs per page) for "Most Unique Voters," so thanks to everyone who voted. [The dog who is winning for "Most Money Raised" looks like she was a very sweet baby. A sweet baby who had some very rich friends.] I think the voting is open until end of March, so if you still want to donate/vote, click here: Vote for Abby There's a minimum of $5 to vote and each $ = 1 vote and all the money goes to fight canine cancer.

February 20, 2011

Canine Cancer Walk

On Saturday, Mike, Abby and I as well as my sis, Terry, and her corgi, Lou, all participated in the Canine Cancer Walk in Walnut Grove Park, San Marcos. Funds raised are going to the Morris Animal Foundation Canine Cancer Campaign. We were a little worried we might not make it, as the forecast was not good and we didn't want to drive the 50 min. to get there in pouring down rain, but the weather held for the most part and it ended up being really nice during the walk.

The walk itself was pretty short - only 1 mile on a flat path, so definitely not enough to wear our girl out - but there were a lot of dogs there and lots of vendors handing out goodies for the dogs. Mike and I scored some free T-shirts that say "Cancer Bites" which were really supposed to only be for the team from the Veterinary Specialty Hospital. We offered to buy them, but she said they were just extras and gave them to us. (Technically, they were not free since we easily spent about five large there when our last dog, Bailey, got sick...) Anyway, the organizers said they'd hoped to have 100 dogs and raise $15K, but they ended up with ~250 dogs (I think that's what she said) and raised $23K! Our family has lost many great dogs to cancer, so we were happy to take part.

I'll let the pics tell the story (if you want to see any of them larger, just doubleclick):
Lou on the way. Silly boy hates car rides, so we were surprised and happy that he came along.

At the start, the organizer said 25% of dogs will get cancer and 62% (!) of Goldens!
Our familial unit.

The walking hoards

Lou and Abby on the trail

Abby bursts into the lead!

Left this one a little bigger so you can see the crowd streaming along waaay in the background

Celebrity sighting: Chopper!

A hoard of happy Goldens

We met another tripawd!

Lou, happy & tired, on the way home.

"I got this cool ball and a bandanna!"

"Here's all my swag."

"The Blue Buffalo folks gave me a frisbee! (Not everybody got one. They thought I was special."
The best thing would be if Abby's able to go again next year...

February 9, 2011

It's Official . . .

. . . 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!

January 21, 2011

Not-So-New Toys

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!

November 15, 2010

Photo Gallery (& A Side Effect of the Side Effect)


You can see where the wall's all wet
We took a ton of pics of Abby this weekend, so let's get to it. First of all, Abby had to have a bath, due to a side effect of a chemo side effect. We've been really lucky and it seems the chemo has only affected her appetite. She still has one, but it's hard to know what she'll eat on any given day, so we've been feeding her different, odd things everyday - wet food, salmon, cottage cheese, pasta, whatever she'll take. Unfortunately, that meant that when she went to do "her business" yesterday, there was a bit of the "business" on her leg when she came back inside. So into the bath she went. (Which she hates. Truth be told, this was only her second bath since we got her almost a year ago - although we do hose her down post visits to the beach. She's funny - she loves the water, but hates a bath.)

When we were done, she ran up and down the hall, leaning into the wall. Not sure if she thought she was drying herself off or what (maybe just paying us back for the bath treatment), but we had nice little wet streaks along the walls. We took her for a walk to air-dry a bit, so below is a photo of her looking oh-so-happy on her walk. I was rubbing her to facilitate drying, and you can see that I came away with a mohair hand. (If you double-click the pics you can see them full size and see the hair really well.)

I'll do a separate post of some super cute pics of her.  

Action shot: in mid-hop

My hairy hand            

Taking the air to air dry

October 28, 2010

The Rollercoaster Ride to Arrive at a Decision

It's been a crazy couple of days. I thought people might like to know how we arrived at our decision to have Abby's leg amputated (I prefer the phrase "have her updated to a tripawd") and undergo chemo. 

Everything kind of fell into place after a quick roller coaster ride as follows:
  • Monday afternoon: find out dog has osteosarcoma (via bone biopsy performed the previous Thur). Vet says she'll be in terrible pain and dead in under 6 months if we do nothing. (OK, he doesn't say "dead" - he uses one of the euphemisms like "won't make it," like she's a contestant trying out for American Idol or something.) Says he'll talk to the oncologist and call back Tuesday with survival odds for surgery/chemo route. Mood: very black.
  • Tuesday: find out odds are not great, but misunderstand odds and think they are better than they really are. Mood: charcoal gray.
  • Wed morning: dog gets chest xrayed at vet. No sign of cancer in the lungs! Great news as the lungs are the first place the disease metastasizes. Mood: pale gray. Feeling some hope.
  • Wed morning, late: call for consultation with oncologist. Can't get me in until Wed, Nov 3. Mood: darkening. Worrying about aggressive cancer being given one more week to attack my dog. Call back to ask if I can be on a cancellation list. She says it's not really an option, since the doc will be out of the office the next four days for one reason or another.
  • Wed early afternoon: call vet, worried about one week delay. He says it's not ideal. Also explains how stats are more grim than we thought. Mood: heading to black again
  • Wed mid-afternoon: while looking for an alternative oncologist, the office calls - there's a cancellation! Rush over with the dog. Oncologist is super nice, knowledgeable, answers all my questions before I can even ask them. Abby hugs and kisses him. Repeatedly. He says her xrays look really good and we seem to have caught it early. Seconds the recommendation for amputation/chemo. He explains we may have caught it early due to the location. Most cases are in apparently in the radius bone - the bigger weight bearing bone of the front leg. Hers is in the ulna - the smaller bone that runs alongside. He explains it's such a thin bone, the lump was obvious early on. Just to fully explain our options, he said we could also do a "limb sparing" procedure. Her leg would have been saved - but it would mean 8 weeks of total rest. 8 weeks! For a puppy! He said some surgeons even suggest 8 weeks in a crate. No way would we consider doing that to her. In contrast, most dogs recover well and adjust quickly to becoming a tripawd. And as soon as she recovers from the surgery - hopefully in the 10ish days range - she will be 100% pain free. This is huge, as she is in a lot of pain right now. So, amputation to relieve the pain, plus chemo to hopefully extend her life. Mood: MUCH improved. Feeling kinda hopeful.
  • Wed late afternoon: call vet to get info on last piece of the puzzle, the estimate/scheduling for the update-Abby-to-a-tripawd procedure. He says he'll likely call back Thur as he has to call the surgeon. Calls back within the hour and says the surgeon (usually booked 3 weeks out) has had a cancellation. She can come in Friday. Mood: almost giddy. Everything's falling into place to get on this quickly!
  • Wed night: we make the GO decision. Commence freaking out. Mood: panicked. What the hell are we doing, willingly cutting off our dog's leg?? Friends and family weigh in and scrape me off the ceiling. 
Ultimately, it's really the best option, and I think we are doing the right thing for her. Doing nothing would mean fighting her pain until the end, which would be in sight on the horizon. Now we are hopefully going to end her pain and extend her life. Our ultimate goal is to get her back to Fiesta Island, the huge dog park/beach here in San Diego that she loves. It's her favorite place. If we did not do any of this, she really couldn't go back-not just because of the pain but also because of the risk of breaking the weakened bone. 

I am envisioning a future post that will be entitled: Fiesta Island!! (Mood: hopeful. And maybe still just a little bit panicked.)

Yes, just what the world needs. Another blog.

OK. I'm starting a blog, which is something I've been thinking about for a while. After all, I'm supposed to be a writer. (OK, well, I am a writer if you consider that I sit around and write at least a little bit almost every day - but I'm an amateur writer at the moment since no one wants to pay me to be a pro - yet.) Some people say writers need to have blogs. I don't necessarily buy into that line of thinking. After all, people might love your books, but hate your personality, so maybe your blog would be a detriment to your writing career. So, I'd been resisting the whole blogging thing. Even though my family is suddenly sprouting bloggers left and right: like my niece and her excellent fashion blog, Waitin Round 2 Be a Millionaire, or my sister and her fun blog about Garage Sailing, or my brother and his amusing Gumbatarian blog which is mostly about food. These folks have a passion, and they blog about it. But what was my passion?? And how did that relate to would-be writing career? 

Of course the subject of dogs occurred to me. I'm a big dog lover and most of my writing includes dogs as main characters. I've had dogs for most of my life, and I volunteer every Monday at Helen Woodward, a wonderful animal shelter where I play with the adoption dogs. But I didn't know what I would say about dogs. I mean, a weekly post about how much I love dogs? That would probably get old...

Unfortunately, the subject matter presented itself this past Monday, in the form of the dreaded "C" word. That was the day we found out our dog Abby, a mixed breed pup that we adopted from Helen Woodward the day after last Thanksgiving, has bone cancer. 

We were shocked, angry, devastated. We'd just lost our twelve-year-old beagle only a year ago to cancer. How could our 15-month-old puppy, so full of energy and spunk (don't you hate that word?) be sick?? And not just sick, but dying. How could that happen?? She'd started limping a few weeks earlier. We thought it was just a sprain at first. But after two weeks of sedative-induced rest, it was no better. In fact, by then we could see the lump on her leg. The vet biopsied the bone one week ago today, and warned us it might be a week before we'd know anything. But by Monday he already had the bad news: osteosarcoma. A wild two days later, spent researching, calling the vet multiple times, meeting with the oncologist, etc. etc. and we already have her booked for an amputation of her right front leg. She goes in for the surgery tomorrow. Oh how things change in a week.

I'll post more on the whirlwind 48 hours that it's been later. For now, just wanted to get started. 

Thanks for reading.