Happy, Alive, and Built to Survive

Week 11 Recap, and Oncology Visit #12

“A positive attitude gives you power over your circumstances instead of your circumstances having power over you.”

Week 11 Recap

We don’t have much to report this week other than Margarita had a good week so far and is officially moving into her last 3-week round of chemotherapy!

The sky last night was pink for Sweet Reet!

Oncology Visit #12

This week was Rita’s “off-week,” where she just had to visit the oncology office for blood work.  Her test results revealed no abnormalities, and another CBC will be repeated prior to her treatment next week.

This Week’s Treat 

Brian and I took Rita to Rita’s Italian Ice !

Rita waited patiently in the truck as her Pop was in line ordering her a yummy treat.

Margarita enjoyed some licks of a peanut butter milkshake!

YUMMY !!!!!!!!!

***REMEMBER***

Early detection is paramount. Stay informed, remain observant, pet your dog often to check for abnormalities, and take your pup to your family veterinarian regularly. If you are not sure how to check your pup for the more obvious cancer signs, click HERE for a comprehensive guide. Please also remember to take into consideration any other observations that may be out of the ordinary such as:

  • abnormal swellings that continue to grow
  • sores that do not heal despite antibiotics by mouth or an ointment applied topically
  • weight-loss that cannot be explained by a weight-loss diet
  • loss of appetite
  • difficulty eating and/or swallowing
  • bleeding or discharge from any body opening
  • offensive odors
  • reluctance to exercise or loss of stamina
  • persistent lameness or stiffness
  • difficulty breathing, urinating, or defecating

 

As always, thank you for joining Margarita in her journey to take a bite out Lymphoma.

When Cancer Bites, Bite Back

Week 10 Recap and Oncology Visit #11

“There will be roadblocks, but we will overcome them.” ~ DJ Khaled

Cancer tried to take another bite out of Reet this week, but she bit back!  The dogs were outside enjoying the beautiful weather this past Memorial Day Weekend on Saturday evening.  Margarita was laying in the grass when she suddenly popped up and nervously began to pace, pant, and spin.   It quickly became apparent that she was straining to urinate.  We knew the drug used in her last chemo treatment (Cyclophosphamide) causes sterile hemorrhagic cystitis  in approximately 10% of the dogs.  Symptoms include straining during urination, urinating small amounts frequently, incontinence, or blood in her urine.  She had this same treatment during week 2 of her chemotherapy, and did not have any complications.  However, what we were observing was exactly what we were cautioned to look our for.  We followed the protocol and called VSEC to share our observations, and their suggestion was to bring her in to the emergency room for evaluation.

On the way to the ER

While Rita was at VSEC, they performed the following:

  • Physical exam
    • No concerning findings
  • Ultrasound
    • Revealed that her bladder was slightly inflamed
  • Blood work to check her kidney and liver values
  • Urinalysis
    • Results were normal

ER Treatment:

Know What to Expect

Nice try, cancer – but this was just a hiccup, and won’t hold Margarita back in her progress. I had prepared my self each week for Rita’s chemo treatments by reviewing the side effects for each week’s drugs with Rita’s oncologist, Dr. Risbon.  Each week I show up with a notebook and pen ask what side effects to expect, in what time frame we should see symptoms, and what to do if Rita begins to feel poorly.  I also often refer back to the “What to Expect” list I was given during our first oncology appointment. This keeps my mind from racing and reduces my anxiety if I happen to see something out of the ordinary.

More Ways to Help Your Fur-Kid Take a Bite Out of Cancer:

Chemotherapy kills the cancer, but also is extremely harsh on the body.  During chemo – especially during the “hiccups” that may arise – we wanted to be sure Margarita’s body was as equipped as could be to fight these little “side battles” if needed.  After speaking with others who have been through chemotherapy with their fur-kid, Rita’s primary veterinarian, and her oncologist, we chose a special diet and specific supplements to best prepare Rita’s body for it’s best defense against the chemotherapy and possible side effects.

Diet

There are many articles that suggest certain diets for canine cancer patients (most are carbohydrate-free / sugar-free diets).  However, Margarita is a unique, complex case, and therefore is on a special prescription diet due to her intestinal disease. Other than her weekly “cheat day” after her chemo appointment, we stick to her special diet as close as possible.  Every dog’s nutritional needs before, during , and after cancer and through chemotherapy are unique,  and should be discussed in detail with your primary vet as well as your pup’s oncologist.

Supplements

We chose to add supplements to Margarita’s diet to help strengthen, support, and balance her immune system.  Just like the main diet, supplements should be discussed with your primary vet and your dog’s oncologist as to which ones are appropriate for your pup’s individual needs and diagnosis.  Also be sure to ask your oncologist about a schedule of administering these supplements, as some antioxidants and ingredients will decrease the effectiveness of the chemo if given too close before or after your fur-kid’s treatment day.  Here are the supplements we chose for Margarita:

  • Fish Oil
    • Shown to improve survival times slightly in dogs with Lymphoma by helping to boost the immune system
  • CAS Options
    • A powerful blend of four functional mushrooms: Maitake, Reishi, Shiitake, and Turkey Tail,  combined with antioxidants to provide extra strength immune support. Formulated to support and balance the immune system to promote overall health and well-being for pets, especially during times of stress
  • Nupro Silver
    • Holistic product, it will provide your dog with the full range of vitamins, minerals, enzymes, amino acids, and essential omega fatty acids which promotes optimal overall health and well-being
  • Natural form bee pollen
    • Known to help reduce side effects of chemotherapy
      • Be sure to choose unprocessed
  • Probiotic
    • Beneficial bacteria that can exhibit anticancer properties.
    • Margarita also has an intestinal disease so the safe and effective strain of beneficial bacteria in a probiotic promotes and restores normal intestinal microflora for her.

Oncology Visit # 11

Margarita’s physical exam was normal, and her blood work displayed appropriate levels to continue chemotherapy.  Rita’s oncologist, Dr. Risbon, suggested that we continue the Rymadyl and Oxybutynin Chloride until next week’s visit to help with her bladder issues.  Dr. Risbon was not overly concerned about Rita’s elevated ALT value.

Treatment

During this week’s treatment, Margarita received Adriamycin intravenously.

  • We are to monitor the site for any inflammation, oozing, or discharge.
  • Side effects of this treatment may cause nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, and/or diarrhea.
    • As  a preventative, we were sent home with:
        1. Cerenia 24 mg
          • To be given (2 tablets) once a day for 5 days to prevent nausea/vomiting
        2. Metronidazole 250 mg
          • To be given (1 tablet twice a day) at the first sign of loose stool/diarrhea

This Week’s Treat

This week’s cheat day was a visit to Wendy’s !

Margarita enjoyed a few bites of a bacon cheese burger and a couple of chili cheese fries!

As always, thank you for joining Margarita in her journey to take a bite out Lymphoma.

 

Scooby

Scooby is a 9-year-old German Shorthaired Pointer.

His owner contacted GSP Rescue of NJ because he wanted to surrender him.  Scooby’s owner no longer could dedicate the proper time to him after he and his wife had a child.

Brian visited Scooby at his home and did the initial evaluation for the rescue.  Brian also drove back to the home to pick up Scooby to take him to the vet so that Scooby could get neutered and receive necessary shots and veterinary care before he could join the rescue.

Brian and I then went to the vet to pick Scooby up after he was ready to be discharged.  Here he is leaving the vet office.

Scooby is as sweet as can be! We got to spend some time with him at the vet while we were waiting for his discharge papers.

Brian drove the first let of Scooby’s transport.  I couldn’t go since the drive-time would be longer than we are comfortable leaving our dogs without a potty break.  I was glad I got to meet Scooby and wish him well in his new adventures!

Brian left to drive Scooby up to North Jersey, where another GSP Rescue of NJ volunteer would do the second leg of his transport.

Brian said Scooby was a great passenger!

Scooby was handed off to our fellow rescue friend, Michele, who drove him into NYC so he could meet his Foster Mom!

Here is Scooby meeting his foster mom in The Big Apple!

Welcome to the start of your new life, Scooby!

Agatha: GSP Rescue of NJ Foster

Agatha is a three year-old German Shorthaired Pointer who was found as a stray in Northern New Jersey.  GSP Rescue of NJ stepped in to help this sweet girl.  Agatha was on stray-hold for a week, and then was spayed by the rescue’s vet in North Jersey.

 

On November 16th, we drove north about an hour to a turnpike rest-stop to meet a fellow rescue volunteer who offered to transport Agatha so we didn’t have to drive as far to pick her up.

Agatha had a stuffed monkey to help her heal from her surgery.

Once we met her in person, we quickly agreed that Agatha looked more like an English Pointer than a German Shorthaired Pointer.

 

Another fellow GSP Rescue volunteer who had seen our pictures of Agatha on our Facebook, fell in love, and decided to adopt her!

One of my students fell in love with Agatha and drew her picture as a gift to her forever family.

Just a few days later, on the night before Thanksgiving, the rescue volunteer and her husband came to meet Agatha, and took her home!

Happy Thanksgiving, Agatha and Family!

 

 

Margarita’s Therapy Dog Workshop: WonderDogs in Berlin, NJ

Brian and I think Margarita would make a great Therapy Dog, but we were unsure of the requirements, OR if Rita would truly make a good candidate for this type of work.

Last night we took her to a Therapy Dog workshop at WonderDogs in Berlin, NJ, where we have taken both Limoncello and Hooch for obedience training when they were young pups. (Click HERE to see Limoncello’s graduation from Puppy Head Start class at WonderDogs, click HERE to see Hooch’s graduation from Puppy Head Start class, and click HERE to see Hooch’s graduation from the Terrible Teens class at WonderDogs!)

Jenny and Rita getting ready to start the first activity at the Therapy Dog Workshop:

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Margarita lovers her “place” mat, and was a well-behaved, attentive student:

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The instructor, Judith Azaren, focused on a variety of skills, including:

  • Greeting/Disengaging on cue
  • Working calmly around other dogs
  • Handler engagement techniques
  • Moving exercises
  • Distraction work including dogs, people, wheelchair, walker, etc
  • Physical handling
  • Stress signals

We feel as though Margarita did very well for her first time being presented with the tasks that were covered in this workshop.

Margarita quickly learned to look at me to earn a reward when she discovers staged piles of treats on the floor.  Therapy dogs come across many items on a floor, such as medication/pills accidentally dropped on the floor.  It is imperative that the dogs look to the handler rather than ingest what they find:

Here is Margarita weaving past other dogs, and not engaging:

Rita practiced loose-leash walking:

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Margarita did well working around distractions such as crutches, wheel chairs, walkers, and a vacuum cleaner:

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Margarita picked up on the “touch” game very quickly!  Each time she touched my hand with her snout, she earned a treat.  That was a fun game for her!

Here she is working on “touch” while not engaging with other dogs as they walk by:

Working on “touch:”

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We have already contacted several Therapy Pet Registering organizations in order to start the process of Margarita’s evaluation and registration.  We are hoping that with some additional training and practice, we will be able to have Margarita certified as a Therapy Dog so that she can help provide affection and comfort to those in need!

Do you think  your dog or pet may be a good candidate for becoming a Therapy Dog?  Each organization has different requirements, so be sure to do your research.  Here are some of the most well-known for therapy pets (click on the names below to be directed to the organizations’ website):

Penelope, The English Pointer

The rescue we volunteer for, GSP Rescue of NJ, covers all of New Jersey, parts of New York, and assist other recognized out-of-state GSP rescues in urgent situations. In addition to rehoming GSPs, they also work with owners to help them with any issues they may have with them.  In emergency situations, the rescue will also reach out to help English Pointers.

GSP Rescue of NJ offered to help a female English Pointer, known as Penelope.  Although the rescue was willing to help this poor girl who was found as a stray, our foster homes were full, and there was no one available to foster her.  This meant that Penelope could find herself in a shelter.  Although we do not usually foster, we decided that we just couldn’t let this skinny pretty girl end up in a shelter. On March 3, 2016, we committed to fostering Penelope so that she could begin her road to recovery.

She was transported to the rescue’s vet, and was examined.  Penelope was emaciated, appeared to have had many litters, had a lump on her neck, and severely damaged and rotted teeth.  She also had a cut on her tail and her belly.  While at the vet, she was supposed to have dental work done, and also be spayed.  The dental work took so long, that not all needed teeth could be pulled, and the spay could not be performed due to the length of time she was under anesthesia.  She had a total of 6 teeth pulled.  The vet set her up with a future appointment for continuation of dental, her spay, and removal and biopsy of the lump on her neck.

Another rescue volunteer, Mandy, was nice enough to pick Penelope up from the vet and meet me half way to cut down on my 2 hour drive-time.

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Penelope was a great passenger, and rested calmly for her ride to our home.

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Once home, we introduced her to each of our fur-kids individually on lead by meeting out on the street and taking a short walk together.  After the initial greetings were over, we gave her some time to explore the yard on her own before we settled her down in a crate.

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In just the first night and day that we spent with Penelope, we got her to sit for a treat, and sit-stay for a picture.  She does not appear to know basic commands, but is very food-driven and eager to please.  She did wonderfully in her crate, ate well, and slept soundly.

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We introduced her to our cat, Loki, and she seemed to be just fine with him.

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We also introduced her to fellow rescue friends Jen and Grace’s male English Pointer (Penelope LOVED him!) as well as our friends’ two GSP puppies.  She did amazing with all the dogs, and had a very fun-filled, exhausting day!

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We will be fostering Penelope until she has her vetting complete, and can be adopted.

Click HERE to view a public photo album of Penelope!

 

Update!  Penelope has been adopted – by US!  Meet Señorita Margarita!