Posts Tagged ‘cancer’

Therapy dog: basset hound helps cancer patients in Appleton, Wisconsin

Fitzgeral William, AKA Fitz, is a 4-year-old basset hound. He is a therapy dog who, once a week visits the ThedaCare Regional Cancer Center in Appleton, Wisconsin. His volunteer ours are 1 to 2 hours.

It’s been shown that interacting with a pet releases the chemical oxytocin, a beneficial hormone also known as the “feel-good hormone.” An infusion nurse at the center claims that the chemical helps decrease the patient’s heart rate, helps lower anxiety, and helps reduce feelings of depression. The nurse also claims that “When Fitz comes, it completely brightens the day of our patients and us as staff as well. It’s fantastic for everybody. People don’t want to be here. They don’t want to have cancer, they don’t want to be getting chemotherapy, we have the daunting task of giving people medication that makes them feel very sick and Fitz comes and makes them feel better.”

Way to go, Fitz. I bet you enjoy the petting as much as the patients are enjoying giving it to you.

Fitz and his slave, Molly Johnson, have been volunteering since November of 2016.

Cancer Kills—Cancer Sucks

I intended to write about my adventures with two dogs with cancer. Today, I’m just pouring my sadness to you.

One of my dogs who had cancer (Dudley) died. He died on New Year’s Day in my arms while we were driving to the vet to euthanize him. He was a great dog. He had an annoying and demanding bark, but he didn’t’ have a mean bone on his body. He got along with everyone. He was my Velcro dog (so is Carrie, by the way). Everywhere I went, he was there with me.

Dudley (January 14, 2004—January 1, 2016)

Single Doghood

Now, my other dog, who also suffers from cancer, is a single dog for the first time since she came to live with us 2005 when she was she was 9 weeks old. For the first time since 1990, I have a single dog and not a pack.

The Bridge and Gasping for Air


I’ll never forget Dudley’s last struggle for air and how limp and relaxed he felt when he died. It took me a few minutes to realize that he was gone. At first, I just thought that he was struggling because he wasn’t comfortable. He had so many tumors and many were so big. Then when he relaxed, I thought that he found a comfortable spot in my arms. But, actually, he was gone.

I hope that there is a Bridge, and I hope he met with Bailey, the dog that preceded him in death. Dudley and Bailey were adopted together. They were a bonded pair that I heard through BROOD. We had a open adoption with their former “slaves.” Their former slaves and us became friends and consider ourselves family.

Life and Sorrow Is for the Living

Life goes on for the living. But there’s definitely a big difference, and we feel that his presence is gone. The house is quieter. There are no demanding barks for food. I now have to look at the clock to make sure I don’t miss the 5 p.m. meal. He never let me forget it. Carrie is quieter. She doesn’t demand. Dudley, on the other hand,  was on my heels at 4:30 p.m., reminding me to not forgetto give them food.

And Dogs Mourn,Too

But let’s not forget that the surviving dog is also mourning. Carrie is morose. Her snout is longer, and looks unhappier than most of the time (bassets always look sad). Yesterday, when I called out for food, she barked and ran in every room, looking for and calling Dudley to come and eat.

Also, the finality came to me at yesterday’s 5 p.m. feeding. Every day, just before each meal, each dog got their own medications for their illness. I covered the meds in peanut butter. One dog got the right hand “treat,” the other dog got the left hand treat. Yesterday, only one hand was needed. I cried. I missed him.

Also, every day, after the meds were distributed, I would pick their bowls to insert their meals. Yesterday, I absently picked Dudley’s bowl as well.

What Dogs Will to Us

Sadly, dogs leave very few properties when they leave: a bowl, a collar, a leash, a bed, etc. However, they also leave a big empty hole in your heart.

I went through so many losses in the 33 years of dog loving and dog rescuing. Nonetheless, I go ahead and open my heart to break again and again. There’s always a needy dog waiting for your love. My heart has an empty hole. A new dog, will come and fill that hole by giving a piece of his or her heart. It’s just like this saying:


Dogs will us their heart. One day, my heart will be all dog, and I’ll be so proud!

Living with Dogs with Cancer

I currently live with two basset hounds. Living with Bassets hound is nothing new for me. I have been sharing my home with the breed for over 30 years. In the past 30 years, I’ve lived with about 8 bassets (and many other mixed breeds, as well). I’ve had single, as well as packs of dogs. So, I encountered all sorts of health problems. This time, I have something new to conquer. I now have two bassets suffering with cancer. I did have two dogs that were euthanized because they were suffering with the final and debilitating stages of cancer. But their cancer was discovered late and there was no longer time for life. This time, my dogs are terminal, but still having time to live out a little bit longer with their disease. I will try to describe our journey together.

Dudley—Spleen and Lymphoma

Meet Dudley. He’s soon 12 years old. He’s his adopted. We have an open-adoption arrangement with his former family. It’s a win–win arrangement. Dudley and his family get to see his each other fairly often. We get so see his puppy pictures and get to know his temperament. And, to boot, a great friendship developed among the humans.

In June 2015, Dudley was diagnosed with lymphoma. His illness started with various blood tests demonstrating anemia and an enlarged spleen. When his spleen was removed, it was a bloody mess and weighed 4 pounds. The lab work came back positive for cancer. Dudley was extremely sick after his surgery. It took him 2 weeks to recover. He had no interest in food, water, and life. Lucky for all of us, on the day we were going to have him euthanized, he perked up. In fact, he was wheeled into the ER hospital for euthanasia, and on the way to the building from the car, his sweet face perked up. He was not ready to go to the Bridge. He received care in the hospital, and 24 hours later he came home to slowly recover.

We chose not to administer chemotherapy. He was so sick just with the surgery. We didn’t want to add more to his misery. We currently give him prednisone for comfort and some homeopathy medicine. We figured that at this stage of his life, it can’t do him much harm. In October, we were told, he didn’t have much longer to go. It would be a matter of a few weeks. Today it’s December 14. He’s still here. We are blessed.


Carrie—Mast Cell Tumor

Meet Carrie. Carrie came to live with us when she was 9 weeks old. Her father was of champion lines. Carrie was going to be trained to be a therapy dog. Life intervened, and she remained a pet. One day, in October 2015, my daughter noticed a hard growth on Carrie’s genitalia. As Carrie loves to sleep outside near the bushes where we had a nest for wasps, we thought that she may have been stung by them and was having an allergic reaction. Unfortunately, once she was checked out by the veterinarian, she was diagnosed with mastocytoma (mast cell tumor). According to PetMD

Mast cells are cells that reside in the connective tissues, especially those vessels and nerves that are closest to the external surfaces (e.g., skin, lungs, nose, mouth). Their primary functions include defense against parasitic infestations, tissue repair, and the formation of new blood vessels (angiogenesis). They are also associated with allergic reactions, since they contain several types of dark granules made up of various chemicals, including histamine and heparin, serving biologically to modify immune reactions and inflammation. Mast cells are derived from the bone marrow, and can be found in various tissues throughout the body.

We chose not to do any surgery on Carrie because the procedure would be from her vaginal area to her thigh, across her belly button, down back to her vagina. The recuperation period was 2 weeks. (Horrors of what Dudley went through crossed our mind). She was given 6 months to live without any intervention, 10 months with surgery only, 14–18 months with surgery and chemotherapy. She was not going to be comfortable during the process. I’m not even discussing the cost ($10,000), which we were willing to meet had she been promised a better outcome and better conditions.

Currently, Carrie is on prednisone. We take each day one at time.

Next entry will be how dogs on steroids behave.

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