A Journey With Osteosarcoma aka Bone Cancer

By: Joel Allen

Recently one of my Great Danes, Moose, was diagnosed with osteosarcoma. Poor guy came in one day, a few weeks ago, and it seemed that his foreleg was swollen at the joint. Years ago, Moose’s aunt, Maggie, came down with this cancer, and it took her within six months after we found it. So in my experience with bone cancer, it is time sensitive. In Moose’s case I was thinking he had just twisted his leg. So I waited a week, and when the swelling did not subside, I immediately notified Athens Animal Hospital. A week after I had scheduled Moose to see Dr. Grantland, the swelling had increased. Dr. Grantland and vet tech Sally McNeal saw Moose and we all agreed it did not look good, especially when they tried to get a biopsy out of the lump. They were able to get something out of it. This was a Friday and by Monday, we had an answer which I already knew.

The following Thursday we scheduled Moose for amputation of his right front leg. Talk about a long day waiting for other results because Dr. Grantland had informed me that during the surgery, they would x-ray Moose’s lungs to ensure that the cancer had not spread. I found that osteosarcoma, if not caught in time, will travel through the lymph nodes and throughout the body, and normally will travel straight to the lungs first. Thankfully in Moose’s case it had not spread. So, we all were relieved. After Moose came out of surgery, Dr. Grantland and his crew decided that Moose would recover in one of the exam rooms over night because Moose fits his name, he is quite big. I laughed when they told me this because they did not have a crate big enough for him.

Friday morning Sally returned to the clinic and she said she heard a loud “WOOF!” come from where Moose was staying, and when he hobbled out and saw himself in the mirror she said he stopped and stared at himself. She said that he looked like he was thinking, “That’s not me.” Dogs are amazing in how they react and think. They have feelings and emotions like us. Don’t get me wrong, if there was a better way, I would have opted for it; but this was life or death given the cancer. That morning, I picked Moose up and he was practically running to me. These last two weeks, he has adapted well to being a “tripod.” He was running the other day and I told him to slow down.

This week, he will start chemo treatments and will have a treatment once every three weeks. I am having to pull from my emergency money, but I want to make sure that if any of the cancer were to survive we eradicate it completely. Life is full of surprises for us all, and we never know what will come next. In this case, we all believe we caught this early enough that Moose will live a long life.

Lastly, let me say this, if an odd lump appears in the joint of your dog, do not waste any time; get them to the vet immediately. If I had done this with Maggie, she might have been with us today. I cannot emphasize strongly enough that this type of cancer is so aggressive that it has a high mortality in dogs.

Now, in other news, my dog training family has increased, and we have opted for our name to become, “Well Mannered K9 Obedience Training.” We will have three trainers now instead of just me. So, that means that we will be able to have more classes and different styles of training giving each and everyone’s needs. We are currently located on East Limestone Road at Paws and Whiskers Grooming. Our business cards will soon be updated too. My fellow partners are ABC Certified also. We are currently working on a website and will be expanding further as we get settled. For any questions we can be reached at our numbers, and please leave a message if there is no answer. No message means we will not return your call. This is because telemarketers are generating local numbers to call, and that is very irritating. Joel Allen 256-651-2211; Andrea Navarre-Percle 256-724-2142; Chadleah Letson 256-998-4024.
By: Joel Allen