Thursday, March 23, 2017

They call it the Silent Killer

Saturday, my sweet dog Ike died of hemangiosarcoma. Tragically, we had no idea he was seriously ill.

In fact, he'd had his senior exam not long before this. We were constantly alert to Ike's daily health, and probably nothing would have changed the sad outcome. I'm sharing these details in the hopes it may help someone else...although sadly, there is very little that can be done to prevent or treat it. At the end I will list a few suggestions.

Ike's symptoms (*this may not be the way it is for all dogs):
1. Ike was 10 years old. Over the last several months he seemed excessively tired at night, preferring to remain on his pillow in the living room rather than climb the stairs to join us. We'd mentioned it to our vet who surmised multiple possibilities for this. Maybe it was joint pain. We even considered that he wanted to be downstairs to stay with our other dog, who had started sleeping downstairs as well. Maybe it was just part of aging. Looking back, it was the cancer we didn't know was in his body, making him so tired.

2. One day a couple weeks ago, Ike had diarrhea with a little blood in it. You never like to see blood in the stools. In the past, I've taken my dogs to the vet the moment I see this, and almost always it has turned out to be something benign that improves in a few days. We decided to bring him to the vet the next day...but the next day the stools seemed okay so we figured it was nothing serious.

3. Over the course of a few weeks, Ike vomited twice. Maybe he ate too fast. Once was in the car. Maybe he ate too close to riding and the motion made him sick. He had a sensitive stomach. I wasn't overly worried.

4. A few times, Ike refused his breakfast. Once we had started mixing in a new food. Maybe he didn't like the food. And he always readily ate treats, and ate fine by dinner time.

5. This up and down pattern of feeling off and then feeling better, eating then not eating, gave us a false sense that he was getting better. Looking at his overall trend, however, we had decided that he should be checked out soon to find out what was going on.

6. Saturday he came upstairs to wake us up, as had been his pattern. He then trotted downstairs and we let him outside and he seemed fine. When he came inside, he refused his food. I called the vet and made an appointment.

Moments later--and I mean just moments--he was lying on the front porch, very still. I got his leash and asked him if he wanted to go for a walk--something that usually elicits elation--and nothing. He didn't respond at all. Immediately, we rushed him to the emergency vet.

There, in a very short time, the doctors did bloodwork, xrays and ultrasounds and gave us the diagnosis-- hemangiosarcoma. A tumor on his spleen. And blood in his stomach. It had ruptured. The vet was very, very clear. Ike was in bad shape. Surgery to remove the spleen could be done, and was the only way to tell for sure if the tumor was benign or malignant. But of all the cases she's seen that presented themselves like Ike's, and had ruptured like Ike's, they were almost always malignant. And if she removed the spleen, the cancer came back in a very short time. One time it was only 10 days. Other times it was a couple weeks to two months. Even with chemotherapy after surgery, the prognosis was poor. And the surgery would be around $5000. I don't have $5000, but I would have done it. I would have, for Ike. We asked the vet if there was any chance it was benign. She said no. Given that there was really no hope, we had no choice but to do the one very difficult almost impossible thing that we were totally unprepared to do. I won't go into details about that, and many of you know from your own experiences how devastating it is to go through. We held him, loved him, cuddled him, told him he was a good boy, kissed him and said goodbye, run free, see you at the bridge.

Here are some facts ***not intended to substitute for your veterinarian's opinion***
1. Not all masses on the spleen are cancerous.
2. Hemangiosarcoma is very invasive and there may be no clinical signs until the dog suddenly dies.
3. Golden retrievers, along with other breeds such as German shepherds, Boxers, English setters, Labrador retrievers are more likely to get hemangiosarcoma.
4. The up and down symptoms we observed are due to the fact that the mass is bleeding, and then the dog recovers temporarily as new blood cells are made.
5. Symptoms include:
slight lethargy
loss of appetite
nose bleeds
mild anemia

6. Upon rupture, symptoms include:
pale tongue and gums
rapid heart rate

7. Treatment options include:
blood transfusion
but prognosis is poor and life expectancy even with treatment is about 3 months.

8. Prevention includes:
Breeds that are predisposed to this may benefit from yearly ultrasounds.
The vet may routinely palpate the abdomen to check for masses.
Routine bloodwork in predisposed breeds may help identify possibility of tumor.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Goodbye, Ike. Run Free.

It is with the deepest sadness that I have to share that we had to say goodbye to Ike on Saturday. He was 10 years old. He was a good boy.

Ike's Purpose
Ike had many jobs to do here on earth, and he did them all without us asking. We adopted him when he was seven years old, and he knew that in order to stay with us, his first job was to get along with Kelly, our bossy female spaniel. From the start he was a gentleman and always let her have her way.

His next job was to help my husband Mike recover from a life-threatening illness. When Mike came home from the hospital after 41 days, Ike provided TLC, the most powerful medicine around, especially when administered by a warm and furry canine companion.

On a daily basis, he kept me company as I worked from home, and was the best office-mate ever. Then he became a certified therapy dog, giving unconditional love to all he met.

Finally, as our 16-year old Kelly became blind, deaf and in the throes of dementia, he stepped in and guided her every step, slept beside her, and became her therapy dog. Kelly-the-boss-dog depended upon Ike's gentle support.

But most of all, the job he did best--and the job he loved the most--was walking with us, sitting beside us, letting us scratch his ears, and just being with us. And oh, he was so good at it.

Run free, Ike
Crossed over rainbow bridge March 18, 2017 (10 yrs old)
Ike died of hemangiosarcoma--a ruptured bleeding tumor on his spleen. This article calls it "the silent killer."
Here are some pictures of Ike doing what he did best--loving us every day.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

The ARK pet oasis for pets taking planes

If you have to fly, the thought of transporting your pet in a crate in the cargo section of a plane may be disconcerting...but some airlines are taking more consideration for the welfare, comfort and well being of pets traveling by air.

Photo from

 A particularly encouraging improvement is the ARK at JFK--an airport lounge for animals. The ARK offers (or will offer when completely functional):

* more than 100,000 sq ft, 14.4 acre facility
*Pet Oasis features 47 kennels for dogs and 12 for cats
*round-the-clock 24/7 animal care
*Zen-like environment
*dedicated outdoor relief area for dogs
*quarantine area
* pre-flight and after-flight walks
*baths and/or brushing
*healthy meals
*cleaning of travel crate

*48 climate controlled stalls and 24 additional export stalls for horses
*aviary with special habitats
*vet on premises
*transportation to connecting planes
*airside location for direct access to planes

Have you ever experienced this kind of lounge or treatment when flying with your pet?

Monday, February 20, 2017

Ike Sums it Up #ChewyInfluencer

Ike here!
I've been spreading the word that my mom is a Chewy Influencer. That means that she gets cool things from, and writes a review. And I get to sample the food! This month I've been telling you all about Rachael Ray Nutrish Peak turkey, duck and quail Northern Woodland Recipe.

All month long I've been trying this new food, and Mom has been keeping tabs on how I'm doing. As lots of you know, different food can affect our digestive system, skin and coat, energy level and more. I can be a bit sensitive to new food, so Mom introduced Peak gradually.

I'm happy to say that I love Rachael Ray Nutrish Peak food! Here is my evaluation form:

Did it smell good?  CHECK--almost as good as dirty socks.

Did it taste good? CHECK---I licked my bowl clean every time.

Did it agree with my tummy?  CHECK--no bellyaches, no vomiting, and everything looks okay on the backyard patrol.

Did it help make my coat nice and shiny? CHECK--you can see for yourself, right?

Did it taste good? CHECK-- Oh yeah, I did that one already....but really that's what counts to me!

Mom said she'd buy it again. And I would recommend it to all my friends out there. It also comes in Natural Open Range formula for all you lovers of beef, venison and lamb.

So what do you think? Did you like my review? Would you try it yourself?


Full Discolosure: We received one bag of Nutrish Peak dog food in exchange for my honest review. This in no way influenced my opinion. Opinions expressed here are 100% my own.

Monday, February 13, 2017

This is What 16 Looks Like! #HappyBirthdayKelly

Today is Kelly's Birthday!!
She's 16 years old today. Kelly has been struggling with her health a bit lately, so we just want to make this birthday a time to celebrate the good girl that she is.

She's been with us through many happy times, the empty nest, she's welcomed (at times, tolerated lol) new dogs in the family and loves the new grandbabies.

 Happy Birthday Sweet Kelly!