Inspawrational Great Dane Moose Leads the Big Dog Parade

Three legged Dane Dog MooseWhen I was diagnosed with osteosarcoma in November, 2006, my pawrents weren’t sure if I could have a good life on three legs. They went online looking for answers, and saw a video of Moose, a three legged Harlequin Great Dane. In the video, Moose was digging up the ground and looking for gophers. That video convinced my pawrents that I could live a hoppy life on three legs. If it wasn’t for Moose, Tripawds would not exist.

Now, whenever people wonder about whether or not a big dog can live a good life as an amputee, we point to Moose’s video, and let them decide.

Here is a touching recollection from Moose’s Dad Joel, about the day when Moose made a lasting impression upon the hearts and minds of residents in Santa Barbara, California.

Moose Leads the Big Dog Parade

Our favorite summer event is the Big Dog Parade in Santa Barbara. The clothing company Big Dog is based in Santa Barbara and sponsors an annual parade for dogs and their owners. A few thousand dogs and their owners walk down State Street to the park at the beach. It is quite a sight, dogs and people of all shapes and sizes, many in costume sauntering down the road to the beach. Thousands more people are lining the road watching the crazy assortment of dogs, people, and the occasional school band. As the 14th annual Big Dog Parade approached, Moose was beating the odds against bone cancer.

From Diagnosis to Canine Celebrity

Almost two years earlier, Moose had been dealt the worst diagnosis a dog can get, bone cancer. The local vet was very negative, and shared the story of another dog with the same diagnosis that did very poorly with the standard treatment of amputation. He said we should consider putting Moose down, or possibly amputation witch he said might buy Moose and us 6 months. At that my partner Ross told the vet he was not going to cut off his dogs leg and stormed out of the exam room.

Three legged Dane Dog MooseThe choice seemed a lose-lose. Put the dog down as soon as the pain meds stop blocking the increasing pain of the tumor which the vet said would be soon, or cut off his leg and let him hobble around until the microscopic cancer cells that likely were already streaming around his body grow up and kill him. Moose was only four years old, and other than the golf ball size tumor on his front leg, he seemed so healthy and full of life. We just could not put him down.

But what about the alternative, amputate the leg? I have seen many three leg dogs do amazingly well, but Moose was a huge harlequin Great Dane. How could a 140 pound dog that was 38 inches off the ground at his shoulders have any quality of life missing a leg? It seemed like disservice to the poor guy. As we researched things many told us that big dogs like Moose really can do well with three legs. Sure it is possible to survive with three legs, but Moose was a very active dog that loved to play and run around our five acre country homestead. Ross and I were pretty much completely against the amputation, but also not ready to put him down.

Both Ross and I spent time trying to understand what Moose wanted. After a couple of days, it was clear to both of us that Moose wanted to stay around and hunt for lizards, even if it was on three legs.

About the time we realized what Moose wanted, we found out about a bone cancer study at the UC Davis Veterinary Teaching Hospital. The study gave Moose the best care possible, which could improve his odds at a better outcome. Part of what we sensed from Moose was that he didn’t care what happened down the road, only in enjoying the moment, whatever the conditions.

Moose became a big celebrity at the Davis Teaching Hospital. He went through the amputation and six rounds of chemo like a trouper. Through every treatment and test, Moose was the model patient. He would let them poke and prod and put him through whatever thing they had to do without the slightest disagreement. When I would pick him up after treatment or tests, he was always just happy to see me and looking for a fun time. It was a four hour drive from our house to Davis, and Moose and I searched out the best places along the trip to run, play, and pee, and boy did Moose run. The amputation did not slow Moose down one bit. His remaining front leg became stronger and stronger to the point that we called it the “Arnold Leg” after our Terminator Governor.

Three legged Dane Dog MooseThe small rural town that we live in got used to the huge three legged Dane. Before Moose’s amputation, he attracted a ton of attention simply by his size. Now that he only had three legs it was fun to watch people’s reaction. Most of the time, people would be attracted to him because of how big he was and come over to meet him. After a minute or two they would realize that he only had three legs. At that point most people would freak out and while in amazement that such a big dog could do so well with three legs, back away from the “disabled dog.”

Watching this over and over made me realize that I, like most others did the same thing when I saw a “disabled person” without realizing what I was missing out on. We had become so familiar with Moose’s lost leg and regularly would pet and caress the amputation site, seeing it as a beautiful part of our wonderful Moo boy, rather than an ugly deformity as most others saw it. I was deeply hurt on more than one occasion where a close friend that I admired greatly cringed and didn’t even want to look at the “deformity.”

Full Speed Ahead!

So as the Big Dog Parade drew closer, Ross and I got more and more excited about taking Moose to the parade. Moose had become so strong since his amputation and chemo that he had regained virtually all of his pre-amputation abilities. He had even figured out how to dig for gophers with only one front paw. Even with Moose so strong Ross and I were a bit concerned that he wouldn’t be able to make the few mile long parade route and back to the car. We felt that he would likely do fine, but if he had any problems we could just stop and one of us could go get the car. As the date approached Ross realized that he would be unable to go to the parade due to scheduling conflicts with work, and as a small business owner, he had no choice but to tend to his business. So I decided that I would take Moose on my own, and if Moose got tired I would get help from friends that lived in Santa Barbara.

Three legged Dane Dog MooseOn the morning of the parade, I had to get Moose fed and ready early so we could make the two hour drive and register before the 10 AM beginning of the parade. As always Moose knew that we were preparing for a road trip and was very excited. No problem getting him to jump into the car, he was ready to go! Windows down, head out, ears flapping in the breeze as we headed to town to catch the freeway. Moose was enjoying every minute. Moose like most dogs would make the most of every moment of every day, and today was no different.

We arrived in Santa Barbara a bit later than I had planned so we literally ran from the parking structure to De la Guerra Plaza where the check in and participants were lined up waiting for the parade to begin. Running was actually much easier for Moose than walking. With only one front leg, he had to hop almost strait up to walk slowly, but to run he was able to use his hind legs for impulsion and literally bounce off the single front leg. He could literally run as fast on three legs as he ever did with four, but it took much more effort to walk slowly with three legs. So there we were running at full speed down State Street weaving in and around the crowded sidewalk on our way to the Plaza.

We checked in, paid our entrance fee, got our number sign and found our place in the line with all the other dogs and owners waiting for the parade to begin. As we stood there, surrounded by hundreds of dogs and owners a few people would stop by to see Moose. And like always most would not realize he was missing a leg, but when they made that realization would tell me how well he was dealing with his “disability” and quickly fade away. It was an exciting and fun time just to be surrounded by all the dogs and “dog people”. I have always felt a connection to other “dog people” somehow thinking that we shared a common understanding of the canine-human bond. Today was even better, not only were we surrounded by all these dogs and “dog people”, but it was a party atmosphere with some very creative costumes for both the dogs and people and the local school marching bands practicing to get ready for their performance in the parade. I tried to get Moose to lay down as we waited in line so he could save his strength for the parade, but he was so excited that he stayed standing having to keep hopping on his front leg to maintain balance. We were in a specified order behind a group of about a dozen magnificent Great Pyrenees and next to a gay couple with their cute beagle mix who was loving all the excitement of the crowd. I struck up a conversation with the two guys next to me exchanging all the information about our dogs and our lives.

As the procession began to move, and the bands began playing their marching tunes, smiles and excitement filled the air. How could anyone keep from smiling at this wonderful scene. I was having a hard time keeping from crying out of joy. How I never expected to be able to experience this wonderful moment with my beloved Moo boy when we got the dreaded diagnosis, and now here we were beating the odds and strong as ever enjoying every moment. As we turned the corner from the plaza and started down State Street we were able to see the crowd three or four deep lining the sidewalk to watch to procession of crazy dogs and their companions. The crowd would react to each new group of dogs passing by with hoots and howls and most of all big smiles.

Our group of assorted dogs had a hard time showing up the magnificent Great Pyrenees that proceeded us. They were all groomed perfectly with their fluffy snow white fur and really were a magnificent sight. But our group got our share of claps and acknowledgment, and every so often I could see someone pointing out the three legged Dane.

After a few blocks I could see that Moose was already getting tired walking the slow procession of the parade. I was realizing that he would have a tough time making it the whole way walking so slow. About when I was ready to give up, I realized that the group of Great Pyrenees had sped up and there was a half a block of space between them and our group. Moose looked back at me and in an instant I realized he was asking me to let him have his wings and run free. So I told the gay couple to “watch this” and clicked my tongue twice giving Moose the signal to run. He and I ran together into the gap in front of us and Moose was in his element.

I could see him smile with his ears waving in the breeze. As we caught up with the Great Pyrenees I curved around and made a circle around the space between the groups of dogs. At that point I heard a massive roar from the crowds on the sidewalk. I have never and probably will never experience anything like this. Literally everyone on the sidewalk was focused on us in a continuous standing ovation. At this point I could not hold back my tears of joy and appreciation. As we continued to run in big circles in the gap between the two groups of dogs I could see Moose beaming from ear to ear reveling in the roar of approval from the crowd.

Moose and I continued running in circles the entire remaining course of the parade. As we moved down State Street the crowd lining the sidewalk continued to roar with approval as we circled past them. I was unable to stop my tears and Moose was flying free sending out the most positive energy you could ever imagine. As we made the turn off State Street nearing the park where the parade was to end, it was I that was having difficulty keeping up with the Moo boy.

As we reached the grassy park bordering the beach we found wadding pools to get a drink and a party atmosphere with bands playing and crowds of people and dogs wagging their tails. I found an open spot of grass where Moose and I could sit down and rest a bit. Within a few seconds Moose and I were surrounded by a massive crowd of people wanting to meet the amazing three legged Dane. Everyone wanted to hear Moose’s story of why he was missing a leg and pet and kiss the Moo boy. Moose had more than enough sloppy Dane kisses for everyone. For the first time, peoples reaction was not one of pity but envious of the courageous fun loving attitude that was oozing out of Moose. We stayed surrounded by this massive crowd for a couple of hours until the crowd started to thin and more importantly I caught my breath from running in circles down State Street.

Kindred Souls Share Boundless Pawsibilities

As we were getting ready to make the walk back to the car I realized that the reaction from most of the people who wanted to meet Moose was quite different than normal. There was not the typical attitude of pity and negativity that I would normally see, instead it was an attitude of inspiration. It was an attitude of boundless possibility rather than pity for the poor “disabled” dog.

Moose and I started our run up State Street to our car. The scene was quite different now, with most of the dog paraders dispersed and heading home and the normal crush of tourists milling along the sidewalk. We ran each block, darting between and around the tourists, occasionally getting stopped at a street corner waiting for a stoplight to change.

At one stoplight a young man on a mountain bike approached as we waited for the light to change. He said hi and asked if he could talk to me about my dog. He asked all about why he was missing a leg, listening more intently than most who stopped us. We stood at the corner talking while two or three cycles of the streetlight changed. After I explained all about Moose’s story, the guy told me that he had seen Moose running with such enjoyment in the parade that he had to meet him and how much it meant to him to get that chance. Then the light turned green, he told me to have a nice day and sped off on his mountain bike, popping a wheeley as he departed. When he got about half way across the street, he looked back at us with the same smile that I saw on Moose’s face when he was running like the wind.

It was not until the guy was part way up the next block that I realized that one of his legs was a prosthesis. The emotions hit me like a ton of bricks. This time it was I who was oblivious of the missing leg. I wanted so much to be able to talk with the guy, but he was long gone. It hit me that he sped away on his bike, with the same ultimate enjoyment of the moment that I saw in Moose every time he got a chance to run like the wind.

We made it back to the car, again with me more out of breath than Moose. On our drive home I kept re-living the extraordinary day. The attention and continuous applause was something I have never experienced in my life, even with the attention really focused on Moose and not myself. It was invigorating to get so much approval from strangers. But it made me think about how much Moose had brought to Ross and and my life through his battle with bone cancer. Moose taught us to not avoid people or dogs with a “disability”, rather to be so appreciative that we have to opportunity to be in each others lives. Moose’s attitude about his “disability” was that it was not a “disability” it was just how it is. He took it from there and figured out ways to revel in every opportunity for fun. I think the outpouring of appreciation from the crowd was not because they had never seen such a big dog run with only three legs, but was appreciation that he did not let the missing leg keep him from having such a fun day. I will never meet the guy on the bike with only one leg again, but watching him speed away and pop a wheeley caused be to be so appreciative that he also did not let his “disability” get in the way of having a wonderful day. This is a lesson that all dogs seem to know innately, but I was only able to understand with the help of my best friend Moo boy.

Here is Moose’s Website with more pictures and information

Tribute to a Three Legged Beach Boy

We said goodnight to a hero yesterday, strong magnificent Max who lived for nearly fourteen months past his bone cancer diagnosis. His stunning blue eyes, his enthusiasm and his stoic pawsonality put smiles on the faces of everyone he met. Max will never, ever be forgotten.

In the spirit of our courageous hero, we want to share these fun clips of him with you.

This movie was taken at our Tripawds get together in Santa Barbara last December. You can see here that not even lung mets could stop this boy from having a good time with the other pups.

Here’s a flashback video starring Max, taken when we met him in February 2008, not long after his amputation and diagnosis.

And here’s a few photos of Max will always put smiles on our faces.

Run free Max, go get ’em!

Surgery Drug Recall Warning for Ketamine, Possibly Butorphanol

Tripawd Codie Rae told us about a huge Federal Drug Administration (FDA) recall for the veterinary surgery drugs “ketamineand another rumored recall for the drug “butorphanol.”

Ketamine is used for everything from teeth cleaning, to amputation.

As many as five cats have died as a direct result of contaminated ketamine, but thus far, the ketamine recall has been completely botched by the FDA.

Much like the pet food recalls of previous years, this mishandling has resulted in mass confusion in the veterinary world over what specific dates, lots numbers, etc., are actually being recalled.

Thousands of vets might unknowingly have the contaminated versions in their practices.

The Veterinary Information Network, a resource for vets, wrote this article about the poor job the FDA has done with the recall.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the drug butorphanol is also rumored to be on the recall list, but the FDA hasn’t released anything about it.

For more details, you can read this article in the Pet Connections Blog. Also, this article in the San Francisco Chronicle discusses the recall, and specifics about the broken link of trust between veterinarians and the FDA. These reporters know more about it than we do, so be sure to read these articles.

Remember, anytime your animal companion is going to be anesthetized, always know what drugs will be used. When we read the book “Vet Confidential,” we learned some nasty things about ketamine:

“This drug, which is similar to PCP (also known as Angel Dust), causes allucinations, which I worry may be an alarming axperience to the animal.”

The author, Louise Murray DVM, says she limits the use of ketamine in all procedures, for this reason.

We encourage you to become informed by reading books like Vet Confidential, and getting the specifics about all aspects of your pet’s surgical treatments.

Six Legged Dog Date with Paris

Wyatt meets Paris aka Tripawds member GineejThat Wyatt dawg had the pleasure of meeting another inspawrational canine cancer suvivor when Paris visited Colorado with her pack. Better known as gineej in the discussion forums, her people met up with Jim and René a few weeks back. Of course, everyone had there cameras. Gineej posted her movies from the fun visit in the forums, and my pack has finally gotten around to posting this video.

Better late than never, eh? 🙂

Even though her cancer has returned to her Lungs, Paris shows no sign of slowing down at the high altitude dog park in Fort Collins, CO.  This video interview  shares the story of her osteosarcoma diagnosis, amputation surgery, treatment. It also shows her amazing spirit and that hoppy Tripawd smile we love to see so much.

Book Review: The No Nonsense Guide to Cancer in Pets

There have been a number of pawesome dog health books reviewed here at Tripawds, like Vet Confidential, Speaking for Spot, and the Dog Cancer Survival Guide.

Today, we are hoppy to announce our review of the very first book we’ve received that’s written by a board certified veterinary oncologist: The No Nonsense Guide to Cancer in Pets, by Dr. Michael D. Lucroy.

Recently featured in the Tripawds Downloads blog, The No Nonsense Guide is an easily understood, yet comprehensive look at everything a pawrent needs to know when they first learn their pet has cancer. This book will take you from Point A, where your vet suspects cancer, to Point B, by helping you determine how you want to treat it.

Take a minute to get grounded in the facts and download Dr. Lucroy’s 60-page e-book for $29.97. It’s a great starting point for talking with your veterinary professional, coping with what lies ahead, and learning the basics on any treatments that you choose to pursue.

Don’t Miss Live Chat With Dr. Michael D. Lucroy!

Come chat with Dr. Lucroy in the Tripawds Live Chat this Saturday, November 21 at 5:00 p.m. PST (8:00 Eastern). Members must be logged in to participate.

Dr. Lucroy provides basic cancer definitions for the layperson, outlines diagnosis procedures from least invasive to most, and gives an overview of all standard conventional treatment approaches. Dr. Lucroy doesn’t advocate for any one type of treatment or another, he just lays it on the line and explains the procedures, risks, side effects, and benefits.

In a neutral approach, he also educates readers on how to assess alternative and complimentary medical approaches, and discusses how you can find scientific evidence (if it exists) to back up alternative treatments that interest you. You’ll also learn how to effectively work with your conventional medical team, should you choose to pursue alternative and complimentary medicine for your Tripawd.

Dr. Michael Lucroy, DVM DSOne of our favorite chapters is “How? How Did My Dog or Cat Get Cancer?”, which discusses many of the risk factors that can cause cancer, which ones pawrents can do something about and which ones are out of our hands because of genetic predisposition, etc. The chapter can go a long way in alleviating the guilt that many of pawrents have felt, thinking we might have done something to cause the illness.

As a gift for purchasing the book, readers will receive a six-page bonus supplement of detailed questions about each kind of treatment, to ask your veterinary team.

A portion of the sales of each book will be donated to the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine Foundation’s cancer research fund.

Dr. Lucroy is a practicing oncologist at the Veterinary Specialty Center in Indianapolis, Indiana, and was formerly Chief of Clinical Oncology at Purdue University. He completed his oncology residency at the University of California at Davis, is a graduate of Purdue University School of Veterinary Medicine, and is a distinguished author, speaker and editorial board member of the American Journal of Veterinary Research and the Journal of the American Animal Hospital Association. You can read his blog at

Dog Cancer Clinical Trials: What You Need to Know

This is part two in a series about our tour of Colorado State University’s Animal Cancer Care Center. Don’t miss part one and part three.

Wyatt gets senior CSU student vet checkupUntil you’ve had a close family member diagnosed with cancer, chances are you’ve probably never been acquainted with the world of clinical trials. For many Tripawd pawrents, the first time we heard about clinical trials was when our beloved dog was diagnosed with bone cancer.

During our visit to Colorado State University’s Animal Cancer Center, we were introduced to the variety of clinical trials they are conducting. Clinical trails help doctors in the medical and veterinary fields investigate methods to improve detection and treatment of cancer, as well as improve the quality of care each patient receives. This could mean a dog would get a new drug, radiation or other treatment or new diagnostic test.

To set the record straight, we want to start this article by informing readers that the CSU Animal Cancer Center does not cause cancer in healthy dogs and then study it.

Instead, the researchers at the ACC study the naturally occurring tumors in pets that come to the hospital for treatment. Tumors that occur in pets naturally are a much more realistic and powerful model to study. The well being and quality of life of the patient is the foremost goal of the oncology team at CSU.

One example of research projects at ACC is tissue archiving. Owners are asked if ACC clinicians can archive a blood sample and some of the tumor tissue removed during surgery; tissue that would otherwise be discarded. They pretty much all say yes! This tissue becomes a very valuable resource for developing new diagnostic tests and drugs.

Another example of research at the ACC are the Clinical Trials. Owners are given this option in addition to standard of care treatment options.

According to Dr. Hardy, “The Animal Cancer Center at Colorado State University typically has approximately 20 ongoing clinical trials for various tumor types at any one time. These studies help doctors in the medical and veterinary fields investigate methods to improve detection and treatment of cancer, as well as improve the quality of care each patient receives. There are requirements to participate in a clinical trial, which may include frequent visits to the Veterinary Teaching Hospital at CSU. For this reason, a financial bill reduction is offered to the owner as a thank you. Clinical trials are a great way to offer cutting edge therapies while reducing costs for owners and helping our researchers advance cancer care.”

What’s a Clinical Trial?

Clinical trials are studies that evaluate the effectiveness of a new treatment for a disease like osteosarcoma. Typically conducted at veterinary teaching hospitals, clinical trials begin once an experimental new drug or treatment has been tested for safety in laboratory animals, and has demonstrated some level of benefit for patients.

According to the Perseus Foundation’s excellent “Clinical Trial Handbook,” (click here to download in PDF form), clinical trials are conducted at four distinct phases. In each phase, scientists seek answers to questions like: What is the correct dosage and use of the treatment? Does the new treatment have anti-cancer effects (i.e., does it shrink tumors)? How does the new treatment compare with existing ones? And finally, they test the new treatment against at least two established treatment regimens, by randomly assigning each one to a given group of patient.

Why Participate?

Cancer in dogs tends to mirror the behavior of cancer in humans, especially osteosarcoma and soft-tissue sarcoma. Drugs and therapies for these cancers that have proven to be beneficial for humans, have also gone on to help our dogs too. And, vice versa. In fact, typically treatments that are available for humans have first been proven beneficial in dogs with similar diseases, often through clinical trials.

As awful as cancer is, at least some comfort can be found in knowing that by participating in a clinical trial, your Tripawd cancer warrior is helping to advance cancer research, and ultimately, find a cure to this terrible disease.

Esther, pawrent to a local Great Dane Tripawd named Athena who is currently participating in the Gene Therapy clinical trial at the Animal Cancer Center, concurs.

“I would recommend anyone eligible for the clinical trial to go for it, it not only helps the pet, it also furthers research on this kind of cancer in humans and pets.”

In addition to the feel-good factor, pawrents who agree to participate in a clinical trial for their Tripawd can benefit from financial assistance offered by the research institution and/or trial sponsor. Oftentimes, thousands of dollars can be saved by agreeing to participate.

But as the saying goes, there’s no free lunch. Clinical trial participation demands stringent adherence to rules set forth by the researchers. Most times, not even an aspirin can be given to the patient without permission from the research team. Many trials require that patients live close enough for multiple follow up visits. Finally, most trials require a necropsy to performed on the dog at the time of his death, for research purposes.

With the Gene Therapy clinical trial that Tripawd Athena is participating in, it required her to endure a battery of tests before undergoing amputation. Throughout these tests, she had to stay heavily medicated for almost two weeks, to manage the excruciating pain from the tumor in her leg. Her Mom Esther looks back on that time and says,

“One of the hardest things we dealt with during the clinical trail was waiting 10 days for the amputation, she was loaded up on pain meds and clearly did not feel good.

There were times I was sorry we made the choice because of her pain, but I’m confident it was a good choice and because it gives her a better prognosis. It was worth it.”

As you can see, there are benefits and drawbacks to participating in a clinical trial. If you are interested in learning more, download the Perseus Foundation’s Clinical Trials Handbook, and ask others who have been there in our “Treatment and Recovery Discussion Forums” for dogs with cancer and undergoing amputation.

Also, check out our Dog Cancer and Amputation Resources Page, which  lists current clinical trials underway at veterinary teaching hospitals around the country.

If you think you want to participate, and you happen to live near the CSU Animal Cancer Center, take a look at this list of current dog cancer clinical trials available. Scroll down for the list of trials that are currently available for dogs with osteosarcoma.

Meeting Tripawds at the K9K Walk

What a coincidence that new member peytonpawd just started Peyton’s Path, one of our latest Tripawds Blogs!

My pack met Peyton and his people at the Morris Animal Foundation’s K9K walk they attended in Estes Park, CO a few weeks back. He was just a couple weeks out from his amputation and looking great! Just see for yourself …

Stay tuned to Wyatt’s blog and maybe he’ll get around to posting the video of all the fun he had at the dog park after the walk!

A Look at Colorado State University’s Animal Cancer Center

When my pawrents landed at Fort Collins, Colorado in July, they couldn’t wait to take Wyatt Ray to check out the Colorado State University (CSU) Veterinary Teaching Hospital and Animal Cancer Center (ACC).

If you’ve been affected by canine cancer, you’ve probably heard all of the great things about CSU’s cancer care and research. During my cancer battle, I was fortunate enough to have an oncologist who was trained at CSU’s Animal Cancer Center.

This is the first in a three-part series about the amazing work being done at the ACC. Our first look here is an overview of the groundbreaking services offered to clients. In our second post, we discuss the ACC’s clinical trials. And finally, we’ll share what we learned about CSU’s Argus Institute, one of the few organizations in the world offering free support services to pawrents making critical decisions about their pet’s medical care.

Colorado State University’s Animal Cancer Center

CSU’s Animal Cancer Center has a reputation for providing the most advanced cancer treatments and research anywhere on the planet. Each day, pawrents from all over the world entrust the care of their beloved furry companions to CSU’s world-renowned clinicians.

Our tour guide at the ACC was Dr. Christine Hardy, Director of Operations. Dr. Hardy graciously showed us around, and explained some of the incredible work that happens at the Center every day.

The Robert H. and Mary G. Flint Animal Cancer Center (ACC) opened in 2002, as an addition to the CSU’s James L. Voss Veterinary Teaching Hospital. This state of the art facility was built with $10 million dollars, $9 million of which came from private donors, including notable dog lovers like U.S. General H. Norman Schwarzkopf, and renowned Weimaraner photographer William Wegman, whose own dogs were treated there. The building is named for lead donors Mary and Robert Flint of Michigan. Their two golden retrievers, Anna and Eve, were both successfully treated at the ACC for a total of 7 cancers between them and went on to pass away of old age. The Flints believed in the mission of the Animal Cancer to help all species with cancer, recognizing that cancer is one disease that affects many species.

About 1500 new patients walk through the clinic’s door each year, accounting for over 6,000 individual appointments. If your Tripawd is a patient, he can receive some of the most advanced cancer diagnostic treatments in the world, and play an integral role in groundbreaking research that helps canines and humans alike.

The ACC’s level of care is unprecedented anywhere else in the world. The clinical team includes 3 medical oncologists, four surgical oncologists, a team of dedicated nurses, medical oncology residents, a surgical oncology fellow, veterinary students, and numerous researchers and associates.

If your Tripawd has seen an oncologist, chances are that oncologist studied at ACC. Over 90 percent of oncology surgeons in the U.S. complete their residencies there!

Dr. Hardy says “Our mission at the CSU Animal Cancer Center is to improve the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer in pet animals, translating our research and knowledge to also benefit people with cancer. We do this by offering the latest and most advanced diagnostics and treatments in surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy. We attain our mission through an innovative study of cancer, thoughtful and compassionate care, specialized treatment options and procedures.”

The ACC offers the world’s most advanced diagnostics and treatments in surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy. Among their radiation therapy capabilities, one stands out among the rest; the Varian Trilogy Linear Accelerator.

Advances in Radiation Therapy with the Varian Triology

The Varian Trilogy is a linear accelerator that provides radiation therapy with far greater accuracy than ever before. The CSU Animal Cancer Center is the only veterinary institution in the world (they cost ~$4 million dollars!) to have one of these machines.

The Trilogy delivers targeted radiation therapy to tumors at higher doses, with far fewer side effects or damage to surrounding healthy tissues. For some tumors, treatment that used to be spread out over weeks, can now be performed in a matter of days.

The best part about the Varian Trilogy is that some previously inoperable tumors are now treatable because of the very specific dose of radiation that can be targeted to just the tumor, sparing surrounding normal tissue.

This machine has also allowed the specialists to treat tumors, like osteosarcoma, with a new non-invasive technique called Stereotactic Radiosurgery. At the CSU Animal Cancer Center, dogs with osteosarcoma are being treated with this new method, which can potentially spare them from amputation.

For Tripawds battling bone cancer, CSU offers the most advanced options for treatment.

Dr. Hardy explains; “One of the most common tumors we see here are the Animal Cancer Center is osteosarcoma, which is a type of bone cancer. We see approximately 250 new cases of osteosarcoma in dogs every year through our clinical service. It is a common tumor in dogs over about 50 pounds in size and very similar to the same type of cancer that develops in children. Depending on the specific case, location of the tumor and if it has spread to other parts of the body, treatment options can include surgical amputation, surgical limb spare, stereotactic radiosurgery, chemotherapy, and/or pain management.

Also, because of the similarities between dogs and kids with bone cancer, what we learn treating dogs benefits both species. For example, a limb sparing surgical technique was perfected in dogs by Dr. Stephen Withrow, a surgical oncologist and Director of the Animal Cancer Center, and is now the basis of the surgery performed in children. “

ACC Takes a Holistic Approach to Cancer Care

Jerry Dog gets Accupuncture in Durango Unlike most university clinics and research facilities, the ACC is going beyond the standard allopathic chemotherapy, radiation and surgical treatments for animal cancer patients. In a forward-thinking, holistic approach to cancer therapy, the ACC is now home to The Charles R. Shipley, Jr. and Lucia H. Shipley Center for Complementary Medicine and Natural Healing.

The Shipley Natural Healing Center is dedicated to the scientific study and application of natural cancer therapies and treatments. Animal cancer patients of the Shipley Center are treated by clinicians who deliver natural therapies that can enhance their quality of life, such as acupuncture.

In our next look at the ACC, we’ll discuss clinical trails, and bone cancer specific ones currently being offered to canine cancer patients. And don’t miss our final story about the ACC”s Argus Institute, which offers emotional and decisionmaking support people facing serious medical decisions for their animal companions.

Thee Legged Dane Dog Gets the Royal Reiki Treatment

Three Legged Great Dane Cancer Dog AthenaEvery day new Tripawd pawrents join us to gather information and consolation from other three legged dog families.

Earlier this year, one new member, Athena, came to us to share her story. Coincidentally, she also happened to live in the same area that we do, Fort Collins Colorado.

Fort Collins is home to Colorado State University’s Animal Cancer Center, one of the best canine cancer care clinics and research facilities in the world.

Earlier this year, Athena was given the devastating diagnosis of osteosarcoma. Luckily though, she lives just a few blocks from the Animal Cancer Center.

We recently caught up with Athena and her Mom, Esther, and learned about the allopathic and holistic treatments she is receiving, including Reiki therapy.

Athena’s primary care vet is one of the leading animal pain management specialists, Dr. Robin Downing, in Windsor, Colorado. This lucky Dane is also fortunate enough to participate in CSU’s Gene Therapy Clinical Trial (gene therapy uses specific genes that are carried into cells to fight cancer).

As you will see in the video, neither amputation nor cancer will stop this giant breed three legged girldog from enjoying life. Athena is larger than life, and absolute proof that even big dogs can make great Tripawds!