A Dog Lovers Story

Cynthia Bailey, MD|September 15, 2011

Jazz on chemo Yesterday morning I was reading a story in the New York Times Well Blog about one man’s journey with the cancer treatment of his beloved dog.  Boy it brought back a flood of memories for me. Anyone who knows me knows what a dog lover I am. I bring my dog to work, and just about everywhere else that I go.  I decided to briefly share my similar story in a comment on the NY Times Blog and while writing it my eyes started to tear up.  My dogs sure move me and I thought I’d share some of my story here with you, my blog friends.  It's also a great chance for me to show you some pictures of my beloved pets too. The New York Times article is titled Chemotherapy For Dogs.   My comment on the post :

Oh this brings back memories of my first beloved great dane. He developed a 'large cell' tumor at the age of 2 years. It developed 8 weeks after a routine vaccine, at the vaccine site. He had always had some immune issues, suffering from chronic rashes - probably from the genetic fragility you allude to due to breeding. I loved this dog and we did chemo. Well, the side effects included the usual intestinal misadventure and with a large dog that means a big mess. It's also hard to get a large ill dog into and out of the car. We did it for months until he was in obvious pain, his quality of life gone and I know in nature he would have given up. It still brings tears to my eyes just to write this.

My first dane, Jazz was a blue dane.  I raised him from a puppy. He was beautiful, intelligent and all about me;  I was his person, no doubt about it.  His cancer happened young and took him quickly.  We put up a valiant and painful fight. Harlequin Great Dane My second great dane I adopted as an adult.  At the age of 3 he was a retired champion show dog and a true gentle giant.... and I mean a giant.  He weight anywhere from 165 to 190 lbs in his prime, and was stunning.  Anywhere we went we attracted a crowd, and yes, I took him everywhere!  He turned out to be my dog soul mate. He stayed healthy until about age 7 when he developed an autoimmune disease.  We missed that bullet thanks to a brilliant veterinarian, but oh boy his medicine dose was like nothing I've ever seen before! He required 3 times the dose of a human man because at 190lbs his weight combined with the apparent dog super-metabolism meant he burned through the drug. He had another 2 years of vitality until he suddenly developed lumbosacral syndrome and back leg paralysis.  I wasn't going to give up on him though.  We tarped off the kitchen and gave him hospice care, including carrying him outside 3 times a day in a huge sling for months.  Finally the day came when I knew know that in nature he would have given up. He was 9 years old when I had to put him down.  Again, just typing this story chokes me up;  I still miss him dearly. standard white poodle puppy Insanely, I'm still sticking with pure breeds; please tell me I'm not just a glutton for sorrow.  I do know the genetic risks, but even the mixed breeds suffer cancer and the like.  Because I'm at least becoming more practical, I've moved to a breed that weights 100lbs less.  (I'll never again underestimate how hard it is to provide oncology inpatient  and hospice care to the giant breeds!) Oh I do hope my current dog fares well in this life. His name is Rubio and he's a white standard poodle, but a small one at about 50lbs.  In true poodle form he's very fond of himself and oh what a comedian!  I shared some pics of his out of character 'study of mud' in a previous post A Poodle Mud Mask Facial

Rubio goes to work with me everyday just like my dogs have for years.  He's an alpha 'wanna be' so he has to stay in the back office near my desk during patient hours.  If you look down the hall on the left, you'll see him looking back at us during an office photo shoot.  No shrinking violet this dog.  standard white poodle

I’ve had other dogs too, in fact I've had a dog all of my life except for college and early medical school.  I have so many memories of heart warming and hilarious dog stories that still make me smile years later. Yes, their lives our shorter than ours, meaning we're pretty much guaranteed occasional periods of mourning complete with all the Kubler Ross stages of grief.  But oh the good times are sooo wonderful - I do love my dogs!

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