I adopted Daggit as a 9-week old pup at a puppy rescue in Colorado. She’s an Australian Shepherd/Lab mix (to the best of my knowledge). Even before I brought her home from the puppy rescue, I knew she was a very special girl. They always say “the dog chooses you” and this was no exception. Although she was still a little puppy, she showed me that she already knew how to play catch and even brought the ball back to me. That’s when I knew she was coming home with me. Not only was she as cute as can be … she was so smart!
Daggit is now 9-years-old. She’s a real sweetheart and an absolute momma’s girl. We’ve been through so much together, including moving across country. Such an intuitive and sensitive soul … and still so playful and fun-loving, even in her ‘older’ years. Daggit has been there for me as much as I’ve been there for her and I want to do everything I can for her to beat this cancer. I need to do everything I can for her. She’s a fighter and I know she won’t quit on me so I know I will not quit on her.
Daggit’s cancer story started in early August ’09. Until that point, she had never been to the vet for anything more than her annual check-up. I’ll start by saying Daggit’s case of osteosarcoma (OSA) is pretty rare according to her vet and oncologist. OSA is usually found in large limbs. Her oncologist, Dr. Courtney Zwahlen at Southern California Veterinary Specialty Hospital, said she’s only seen it in a toe one time. Daggit’s regular veterinarian was pretty shocked that it was OSA when she received the results from the lab.
Her story started with some swelling in her little toe. No biggie, right? I thought she stepped on a bee and got stung (it’s happened many times before). I followed my normal “bee sting” treatment and waited for the swelling to go down. It didn’t. Luckily, I didn’t wait too long to go to the vet – only 3 days. I took her to the vet on Aug. 5th, 2009 to have her paw checked out. Initially, the doc thought her nail was infected and recommended removing the nail. The doc checked it out and did an x-ray and said “there’s some growth in there but we’re not sure what it is without looking into it further.” At that time, she determined it wasn’t the nail. The only thing that was certain was that it was an infection. They wrapped her paw, prescribed antibiotics and an anti-inflammatory and scheduled us to come back in a week.
We returned on Aug. 12th for further evaluation. When the bandage was removed, unfortunately, the swelling was worse. Much worse. The doctor looked at me and I knew what she was going to say … “I recommend amputating the toe.” While that sounded drastic, considering I didn’t even know what was wrong, we did know that there was some sort of growth in there and it was not responding to medication. It had only got worse. I made a swift decision and we had the amputation done that day. She went home later that day and was acting normal about 2 hours after the grogginess wore off. The toe was non-weight bearing and they assured me that she wouldn’t even know it was gone (they were right … she’s been fine without it). Of course, the plan was to biopsy the tumor and the bone … and hope for the best.
Unfortunately, the news wasn’t so good. Daggit’s vet called on Aug. 18th with news that it was osteosarcoma in the toe that was removed. She was surprised that it was osteosarcoma because it usually doesn’t show up in small bones. It’s usually in leg bones or shoulder. She warned me that osteosarcoma is a highly metastatic cancer. It appears that they got it all in the toe and the surrounding margins in the soft tissue were clear and the surrounding joints were clear. They also did chest x-rays, which didn’t show any lesions or signs of metastasis.
Post-surgery and bandage removal, Daggit had to wear a sock (with a rubber band to hold it up) to keep her from licking the area. Since then, it has healed up nicely and the fur has grown back in around her little toe.
As we approach the New Year, we are now over 4 months post-diagnosis and Daggit is doing well. We are meeting with Dr. Zwahlen once a month for additional blood work, x-rays and her medications. Daggit is on metronomic chemo treatments. Metronomic chemo is a low-dose chemo protocol. It will be longer than regular chemo treatments, but is less severe, with hopefully with fewer side effects. Daggit receives four different medications, including a chemo pill that she receives every other day. She has been through many tests in the last few months … so far, no sign of spreading!
In addition to her treatments, I consulted with a pet nutritionist to ensure she’s on the right diet and supplements. My dogs were already on higher-protein kibble and I gave them fish oil every day. Since Daggit’s cancer diagnosis, she receives Nature’s Variety in the morning and a home cooked meal in the evening (protein and greens; low carbs, no sugar). To say the least, she’s eating very well and has actually gained a few pounds despite the chemo.
Before I found the Canine Cancer Awareness, I was putting Daggit’s treatments on my credit card and was approved for CareCredit. With a maxed out credit card and approaching my limit on CareCredit, I figured there had to be help out there for people like me – single and unemployed for 7 months. I feel so fortunate to have found the Canine Cancer Awareness and that Daggit is receiving the financial help we need to continue her treatments.
Daggit’s cancer journey has definitely served as a reminder, that no matter how trivial it may seem, please take your pups to the vet. And get pet insurance before it’s too late. I took Daggit in for what I thought was a bee sting in her paw and it turned out to be cancer. You can never be too careful. We hope that early detection and taking action to remove the toe has saved her.
I’m thankful that I found the Canine Cancer Awareness and so grateful for all of the support and donations my girl has received! Your help is giving Daggit the chance she deserves. Every dog deserves the chance to fight and to keep on living and loving. I’m so grateful that Daggit chose me at that puppy rescue over 9 years ago and I will do everything I can to see to it that she has many more years of playing ball and romping at the beach. Overall, I feel optimistic that Daggit will make a full recovery!
CCA has donated $500 to help pay the costs of Daggit’s treatment. Please also give generously to Daggit. To help sponsor treatment, you can click on the PayPal donate button below or send a check to:
Canine Cancer Awareness, Inc.
44 Devoe Street
Brooklyn, NY 11211
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