Thursday, January 13, 2011

Sending Good Vibes to Sassy

Sassy is a senior dog who was surrendered to Lake County animal shelter last year. For 11 years, she lived with a family who fostered children on a regular basis. She slept with a cat every night. Then her human parents got a divorce, had to move, and decided they couldn't keep her anymore. Sassy was so sad at the shelter.

Then an awesome woman named Wendy offered to foster Sassy for our rescue, even knowing that there was a distinct possibility that Sassy wouldn't ever be adopted due to her age. We visited Sassy back in June and were thrilled to see her so happy and loved and still as sweet as ever.

This past Sunday Wendy told me that Sassy coughed up a tiny bit of blood and that her belly felt swollen. Worried about the possibility of bloat, a life-threatening emergency, it was decided that Sassy be taken to the vet immediately. Eventually an ultrasound was taken and it was discovered that Sassy had a massive tumor on her spleen, so enlarged that it was pressing up against her kidney and liver.

Tumors on the spleen can't really be accurately diagnosed as benign or malignant unless the entire spleen is removed and biopsied. Dogs don't really need their spleen so its removal doesn't really affect much. Unfortunately, the surgery is costly, around $2000-$3000. If the tumor is benign, the removal of the spleen solves the problem and the dog can resume her normal life. If the tumor is malignant (ie. hemangiosarcoma, one of the most aggressive types of cancer), the removal of the spleen buys the dog about 2-3 more months before the cancer attaches itself to another, more vital organ. Even with chemo, the prognosis is generally only about 6 additional months.

Samson, one of my 2 first dogs, a german shepherd, had hemangiosarcoma. His spleen was removed and brought him back to his normal self for 3 months. I will always cherish those extra 3 months that we were able to share with him.

After discussing it with 3 different vets, we decided to go ahead with the surgery for Sassy.

Not every vet is comfortable with performing a splenectomy, and Sassy's vet was one of them. Based on the recommendation of a trusted acquaintance and creator of (a site with tons of practical information on dog diet and health issues--we often refer new adopters to the site to assist them with selecting a good quality dog food), I called Oak Tree Vet in Danville. I was told that they could perform the surgery and to have Wendy bring Sassy in right away because of the risk of the tumor rupturing.

Tumors on spleens have generally come out 50/50 benign vs malignant. The doctor explained that the fact that Sassy's tumor has gotten so large (it must have been growing for a long time) without any other symptom of something being wrong (until very recently, there hasn't been any change in her personality) is actually a positive sign that it may be benign.

As I write this, Dr. Arnott and his staff are trying to clear his schedule for the rest of the day so that the surgery can be performed asap. I'm pleasantly surprised and very much gratified at the care everyone there has already shown to Sassy.

Sassy will have her surgery either this afternoon/evening or first thing tomorrow morning. We wish her & Wendy the best. Send them as many good vibes as you can.


merium said...

poor mite! hope Sassy has a speedy recovery..

Wild Dingo said...

vibes are comin' your way Sassy girl! you're very pretty. please get better soon. you're needed here to make people happy!

Anonymous said...

I think that you and Wendy are both awesome for your commitment to Sassy. I wish her the best as she undergoes surgery and with the follow up.

Linda of Bo

Mauro said...

It's really sad, but we don't know anything about tomorrow.

So, let's celebrate her life and focus on the positive.

That's all I can ask for.

:( :(

Anonymous said...

So what happened since then?