Good News In The Fight Against Canine Cancer

by Houndstooth on

We have had canine cancer touch our lives twice in our lives since we began sharing the journey with Greyhounds.  One theory is that Greyhounds get cancer more often because they’re less prone to some other genetic diseases that do other breeds in, but whatever the reason, we know we’ve been lucky to only have had to deal with it a few times. The first time was with Treat, our first Greyhound.  She was so full of life and spirit, I thought she’d live to be really old.  Then, just a month or so past her tenth birthday, we learned she had a spinal tumor.  We only had five weeks together after that.  It wasn’t nearly enough time and I wish that we’d had more money to put towards the fight, but honestly, I’m no sorry that we didn’t put her through surgery.  I’ve never talked to anyone who had spinal surgery on their Greyhound and had it go well.  She left us with the dignity she deserved even if it was much sooner than we were ready for. We also had two trips to the cancer rodeo with Blueberry.  The first time was neurofibrosarcoma, a knot that looked like a mosquito bite that popped up on her head in literally a matter of hours.  Mr. Taleteller was home for lunch and she looked fine.  When I got home after work three hours later, there was a knot on her head.  All night, I kept looking at her, thinking it looked bigger and it worried me.  We took her to the vet the next day and our fears were confirmed.  Within a week she was in for surgery to have the tumor taken off her head and she never did have a recurrence.  That type of cancer, I learned, rarely migrates.  It often reappears in the same place where it started because it’s a thready type of tumor and difficult to completely remove.  Other Greyhound owners who’d been through it with their dogs told me that often the dog passes away due to old age or other complications before the cancer ever returns.

Blueberry Overcomes Adversity -- Tales and Tails

Blueberry Overcomes Adversity

Our last experience with it was last June when we took Blueberry in for a suspicious limp.  In my heart, I had a certain level of dread and I was right.  They sedated her to take x-rays and look at her leg.  The bone looked like Swiss cheese and it was already starting to stress fracture.  Even though she had to be in an incredible amount of pain, she’d been playing coy with the vet while we were in the exam room.  Her other leg had always been a little shaky, and I just could not put a thirteen and a half year old Greyhound through amputation surgery.  We could have bought a few more months with her, but it would have been more for us than for her.  We asked them to put her to sleep before she recovered from the anesthesia.  My biggest fear was that if we took her home, she would fall and shatter the leg, and that was not what I wanted for her at the end or for us.  The truth is, there wasn’t going to be a good outcome no matter what we did, but that didn’t make the decision any easier.  Almost a year later I can’t write about it without crying. When we went through the neurofibrosarcoma with her, we contacted Dr. Guillermo Cuoto who was running the OSU Greyhound Health and Wellness Program.  He studied all kinds of cancer in Greyhounds, and best of all, their treatment was free.  Thanks to his research, Greyhounds are living much longer post cancer diagnosis in a lot of situations.  It’s also bringing us much closer to finding a cure for canine cancer.  When he left OSU last year, many people were very upset and disappointed.

Pillar of Blueberry -- Tales and Tails

Pillar of Blueberry

The good news is that it was recently announced that he is now running the Greyhound Health Initiative. This means that his work to improve Greyhound health and wellness will continue and people will be able to continue getting help for their Greyhounds during a time that is extremely difficult.  He has a way of explaining things in terms that anyone can understand and I believe he will continue to consult with local vets in the cancer treatment of Greyhounds.  I know that it made me feel much better when we were dealing with Blueberry’s first cancer scare that he was willing to answer my questions and talk with my veterinarian about treatment for her.  They are working on the finishing touches for their not-for-profit status.

Blueberry in the Sunshine -- Tales and Tails

Blueberry in the Sunshine

I cannot begin to tell you how happy I was to hear this news.  I’m sure I’m not the only person in the Greyhound community who did a little happy dance when I read about it.  It brings us closer to the dream that one day, nobody will have to grieve over a loved one who has cancer.  I know that if I’m able, I will participate in some way with the fundraisers that are sure to start happening for this wonderful group.  It’s good news for Greyhound owners for sure, but I think it will lead to good news for all dog owners eventually, and possibly even beyond that.  It’s definitely a time to celebrate. give cancer the paw buttonWe are joining in the Give Cancer the Paw blog hop today, hosted by Peggy’s Pet Place and Pooch Smooches.  If you have a story about cancer that you’d like to share in the hop, please, join in and link up.  Hopefully, one day cancer will just be an ugly memory for everyone.

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  • misskodee

    You have had way more experience with canine cancer than seems fair. You are very lucky from the sounds of it to have such an amazing Vet and facility to help you. I hope the research aids everyone going forward with more answers.

  • Well good news. I think Dr. Cuto will even consult with people over here in the UK. Does anyone know if the profits from the Retired from Racing not from Life book went towards his new venture?

  • Sue Dyer

    So many Greyhound owners have lost their fur babies to Cancer. Hopefully one day in the not too distant future no dogs will die from Cancer. This would probably lead to advancements in the way humans are treated and eventually a cure for us as well. Long may people like Dr. Guillermo Cuoto be able to work on the treatment and cure of Cancer.

  • Sue Muir

    I have had experience with cancer in dogs many years ago now. Not Greyhounds. I do have fears that it could strike my guys but I don’t dwell on it. Hopefully I never have to find out if Dr Cuoto does Skype calls to vets in New Zealand!! But should Beryl or Asher get cancer you can bet I’ll be trying to organise it. I think it’s marvellous that Dr Cuoto is back in action and getting so much support from the worldwide Greyhound community.

  • JoAnn Stancer

    A time to celebrate indeed. So sorry for your losses, my Norman had Osteosarcoma and I too didn’t do anything but let him live his life with dignity and then sent him to the rainbow bridge before he knew any horrible pain. Peace to you and your family.

  • peggyfrezon

    I’ve read along and felt the pain along with you for your losses. But how wonderful that dedicated people are working to help, and there is more research and treatments. When we fell in love with Goldens, we didn’t know that they have a very high instance of cancer too. The Morris Foundation is one that is working to find out why, and to help. Wouldn’t it be amazing if there was a cure for cancer, for both dogs and people? Thank you for stopping over to read about Sissy today.

  • I’ve lost two pets to osteosarcoma, and I can say that we are never going to be ready to let them go…we love them so much. I’m glad to hear that Dr Cuoto is going to be still working on this problem.

  • I just wish someone, somewhere, could cure that stupid cancer for everyone!

  • Two French Bulldogs

    These stories are so heartfelt
    Snorts,
    Lily & Edward

  • Jackie Bouchard

    Hooray for some good news in the fight. We lost our last 2 pups to cancer – the 2nd one to bone cancer. Hate that disease so much! Any advances for fighting the disease for one breed should definitely translate to helping other breeds and to humans as well! Thanks for joining the hop. Beautiful pics of Bunny!

  • Sue Kottwitz

    Definitely good news for all dog owners! Thank you for sharing your experience with Blueberry. I know how hard that must have been to write.

  • Sara Blair

    That is wonderful news! My last two dogs both had cancer. It’s such a scary diagnosis, and I hope that someday the disease is no longer called the “Big C”.

  • Jan K, Wag N Woof Pets

    That’s great news! Our golden retriever Moses died the same time as Blueberry, though of a different type of cancer. But I know that all research being done anywhere on any breed will ultimately benefit everyone. It’s so great to know there are many good people out there working on ending this horrible disease.

  • Sharon Seltzer

    I didn’t know Greyhounds were prone to cancer. I’m glad there is an initiative to help with the health of the breed. These poor dogs have gone through so much by the time they find their way into an adopted home. Thank you for sharing this story.

  • M. K. Clinton

    after I read the first part about Treat, I had tears throughout the rest of the story. Cancer is a vicious kind of Hell that no animal or human should suffer. Hopefully, good news for future greyhounds!

  • genjiscorner

    The greyhound community has been holding its collective breath since Dr Couto left OSU. Now we can all breath a sigh of relief, and get back to raising funds to help fight canine cancer. We had help from OSU when Stella and Jaime had osteo. And poor Stella got the double whammy with a neurofibrosarcoma after her osteo.

  • Biggy/Allies Mom

    Having lost 5 of my hound babies to Osteo. I’m so glad Dr. Couto is still there to help use.

  • I love seeing all those photos of Blueberry. I can only imagine how such a sudden loss shattered you. OSA is awful, just plain awful. I hope Dr. Couto makes big strides.

  • Love those images. How beautiful is Blueberry! Cancer news and the battle against it is always good to hear.

  • Ruckus the Eskie

    Great post. Sounds like you and your family have been through alot.

  • Dory and the Mama

    Thank you so much for sharing your heartfelt stories. We are so happy that such strides continue to be made in fighting this horrible disease.

  • Jay of The Depp Effect

    Dr Couto is such a nice man, and so dedicated! I too was very glad to see that he had opened his own clinic after leaving OSU.

    We’ve had a few brushes with canine cancer, too – my Renie had a tumour on her spine, poor girl. She didn’t deserve that, but who does?