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A BIG THANK YOU TO THE FOLLOWING DAGMAR
VETERANS FOR YOUR PARTICIPATION IN
THE UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN'S
STUDY ON OSTEOSARCOMA:
Dagmar's Putting On The Ritz
(10 years 7 months old, litter sister to our late Pinki & Dani)
& 6 year old littermates who are Pinki kids
Dagmar's Tiger Lilly
Dagmar's Mystery Machine
Dagmar's Simply Sabrina
Having had 2 danes beautiful healthy lives come to an end
because of osteosarcoma we felt that anything we could
do to help find answers was the least we could do. If you have a
6 year old dane or older (with a pedigree of atleast 3 generations) please
consider helping this cause. All it takes is a few moments of your time
and a blood donation of only 2 vials. All submissions are confidential.
To find out more please e-mail or phone
Dr Kenine E Comstock
Christmas 2001 came and went in usual holiday fashion. Then we rang in the new year and celebrated the coming of 2002. We had just had 4 generations of Dagmar GREAT Danes here in our home and we couldn't have been happier. We look forward to a great showing season and year to finish Rico & Titan and maybe Gigi if the judging line up would look at us.
Sometimes plans get side tracked as I have learned. On January 3rd only a week after I took the picture of Pinki that you see to the left I noticed a lump on her left front leg. Instinctively I knew it was bad. Pinki didn't seem bothered, she wasn't limping and this lump was hard and I just knew it was not a good sign. So I thought I'll wait until tomorrow to take her to the vet as maybe just maybe this lump's swelling will go down and it will have been nothing. So January 4th came and off we went to the vet. He looked at me and he said he too instinctively didn't like it. He wanted to run x-rays and needed to sedate Pinki to be able to maneuver her to his liking. So we made an appointment for early the following Monday on January 7th which was my dear husband's birthday.
Don, Pinki and I spent the majority of his birthday at the vet's office. She was sedated and the x-rays ran. Our vet informed us that it appeared to be reactive bone and it looked like osteosarcoma. We wanted to be sure so we had him do a biopsy. With an osteosarcoma biopsy tissue and bone are taken. From this day forward Pinki was never going to use her leg again. By Friday (11th), the biopsy confirmed bone cancer. We were reeling from the shock of this. Pinki has never been sick a day in her life and her sweet ways preceeded her reputation. She is one dog that I'd never guess would be ill and certainly one soul who never would deserve such a fate.
I wasn't sure what to do next. I quickly put out an e-mail telling all my dane friends of our situation and we had phone calls from all over the country and e-mails just pouring in from others who had similar experiences. One thing that I quickly noticed was that no matter what route some took to save their beloved danes & other breeds the outcome was always so grim and death was inevitably going to occur due to the cancer or after effects of various therapy.
In a situation like this where you have car notes and mortgages and kids in school and mouths to feed we didn't know what would be our next step. We consulted with human oncologist's friends and during our research day by day we watched this cancer grow. Pinki's attitude was stoic as ever and she ran around here on 3 legs because her biopsy had bothered the cancer and it was too painful to walk on.
One day while in the vet's office to decide what to do next we made the decision that this bone cancer tumor had to be too agonizing of a pain to live with and we opted for amputation provided that Pinki's lungs were clear of the cancer. Our regular vet didn't want to do the surgery and he recommended the two vets across the street who used to practice with him. We were clients of both clinics and agreed. We didn't have access to MRI equipment with either clinic, nor any vets in South Texas. So Dr. Perkins did as detailed chest x-rays as possible on January 28th. So far Pinki's lungs were clear and the cancer appeared to be in just the left front leg.
Our gamble was next. On January 30th, Pinki's left front leg was amputated to the elbow, leaving the shoulder. We brought her home and this is where this girl's amazing story begins. The associated lymph nodes were removed for further biopsy and we await that report at this time. (2/3/02).
Prior to and including the day Pinki's leg was amputated I have 2nd guessed myself over and over and cried and cried not wanting to do this. I searched high and low for any answers that could be given to me to make her life easier and pain free. My ultimate goal was that if she is going to die because of cancer that her days be dignified and as pain free as possible. However, I knew that if we were going to have a chance to save her life that amputation was necessary and the only thing to do at this point. Remember we had consulted with human oncologist's and asked them what do they recommend.
The night Pinki came home we carried her into our bedroom on a gurney home made of a blanket that came from the vet's office. It was a long walk from my van to 85 feet later where Don and I placed her in our bedroom on the floor near our bed. Don and I each ended up sleeping on the floor with her that night as she whimpered in pain from the surgery. The whimpering seemed to subside if she knew you were right there touching her. Don spent most of the night on the floor with her syringe feeding her plain water as we knew she must be thirsty. I stayed awake wondering if what we had done was 'the right thing' and my how would she or we ever get through this.
On January 31st the next morning Pinki got up on all 3 legs and stood there for a moment. She wanted to go outside and needless to say she hadn't eaten all day the previous day or pottied. She trucked through the house and outside into the backyard where she peed for an eternity. But Pinki regularly could hold a full bladder for a week-end of dog showing, she hated to pee in public places. I looked at Don in total amazement as we watched her to do this. Half of her whimpering that night must have been that she really needed to go tee-tee. I was scurrying other danes out of the way inside the house quickly and before I knew it Don and Pinki were in the kitchen with me. She jumped the back steps just like she had 4 legs. I could hardly believe it.
In the days following the amputation we just knew that we had to hold our breath for the biopsy results and try to continue life as normal as possible. Don, Jackson, Ross and I just watched Pinki do all her normal things with 3 legs instead of 4. The shoulder that now missed it's leg was hard to look at because as a human you try to humanize the dog's feelings and what they must be thinking or feeling. I know that there could not have possibly been a human on this God's green earth that would have gotten up and decided to live life the way Pinki just instinctively continued to do.
Today is February 7th and yesterday I had the great pleasure of extending the most delightful news to my dane friends all over the world. Here I'd like to share the e-mails with you....
My dear Husband Don just called me from work. He just got off the phone with Dr. Hubert who's office did the amputation of Pinki's left front leg. The biopsy for the associated lymph node came back
CLEAN - NO SIGN OF CANCER!
When Don called me to tell me the news I was literally holding my breath, digested what he said and then was able to breath again. I'm overwhelmed with joy and Pinki's journey as a cancer survivor continues! We will update the NEW PAGE of our web site called OSTEOSARCOMA & our journey later this week. You will see Ms. Pinki as a cancer survivor. God works in mysterious ways indeed and we are thankful to Him of course.
In my hurry to give you all the good news we've been blessed with I totally forgot that I OWE ALL OF YOU a big hug and many many thank you's for the wonderful cards, thoughts, prayers, positive words of encouragement, shoulders I've cried on and I'm delighted to have such wonderful friends.
THANK YOU ALL-
Now, I'd like to share post-op pictures of Pinki in her new life as she is now (as of the date of writing this story)
UPDATED: Feb 20, 2003
I haven't had the courage to read this page and update it in the 3 months since Pinki's been gone. We lead Pinki to the Rainbow Bridge on the evening of November 21, 2002. Life has changed at Dagmar. Prior to losing Pinki we also lost our dearest, Magnum (our talking dane as he always had something to tell mom and talked to me on the phone when I was away from home).
Anyhow the story picks up about a month before Pinki died that she had this nose bleed one evening. It just wouldn't stop. I tried everything. It was a Thursday night in late October I remember. The following day I took Pinki into the vet for x-rays on her head to see what kind of tumors or what was going on with her. She had blood beginning to cover the iris of one eye and I had noticed her balance was off when she'd get up from a laying position. To me it was apparent the cancer had returned and was probably in the form of a tumor in her head, nasal cavity or brain. The x-rays were inconclusive. However, for the nose bleeds the dr's ran a series of blood work. She was put on the highest strength doses of doxycylcine she could tolerate to help with a suspected erlichia infection. Her blood work was in normal range and yet showed her erlichia titer to be one of the highest titers ever seen by our vets. (For more on erlichia we will be providing link pages soon). Anyhow the next Monday I had her chest x-rayed. I guess the vets just didn't listen to me when I had her head x-rayed. The chest x-rayed showed masses on her lungs and we knew at this point our time was limited.
Pinki ate and was happy to eat but the tumors in her head and bleeding in the eyes caused her to go blind over a week-end. The last two weeks of her life Don & I were her seeing eye people. This girl trusted us MORE THAN I can imagine ever trusting a soul. It was amazing to see that any new situation the cancer was throwing at her she adapted.
A few days before the end Pinki began to have seizures and the nasal bleeding returned and nothing could really control it. One evening when we returned from work we found Pinki laying in front of our bedroom door and she knew we were home. You could see her face told us she loved us and she was happy we were home but mom & dad I'm just too tired to keep on. We made the very confusing journey to the van in the driveway and drove her to our vets office just at closing time at 7pm. At 7:10pm my vet came into my van with the family and gently gave Pinki her lethal dose of freedom. She didn't wimpier or cry as she just drifted into sleep. Sadly for us we are without her in our physical being anymore. She lives on through the living legacy of her beautiful babies she has left us and we miss her daily.
I think this is all I can really sit down to type tonight as I'm overwhelmed at her loss still. Thanks for reading this page and I hope that if you ever have to go through an osteosarcoma that you know your dog loves you no matter what and they'll know you tried your best.
When this photo was taken I knew it was close to the end,
I didn't know that it would be her last Sunrise. I have no idea
why my digital camera didn't take a clear picture but gave us
this smoky picture.
I miss you forever Pinki and thank you for being mine.
A year after Pinki was diagnosed, nearly to the day, her brother Dani was diagnosed with osteosarcoma. He lived 10 months past the diagnosis and we took a different approach to his treatment. Although Pinki & Dani were littermates, they had entirely different constitutions for what I felt they could manage. I have not had the strength to sit here and re-type the events with Dani, so you can click on his name and read at his webpage some of the experience. It's just too heartbreaking to re-live through typing.
If you have made it this far, also please visit the web group Bone Cancer Dogs
And give all your loved ones an extra hug before you go to bed tonight.
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