Al's Osteosarcoma Treatment

In 2009 we found our dog Al at the Michigan Humane Society. Tall, scruffy, and anxious on account of the noisy shelter, he was looking for someone to give him another chance.

At that time he had two previous owners in his young life and was in danger of being euthanized. His flaw was that he would get scared with loud noises (either thunder and fireworks) and in his agitated state damage his previous owner's houses. He was only 2 years old. 

We adopted him immediately and took him into our home in Royal Oak. My wife and I have always had a heart for animals and several months later we brought in several foster puppies over the course of two years. Al would play with the foster dogs any time, day or night and seemed to naturally fall into the role of a parent to the dogs as they came from the shelter sick and returned to the shelter healthy and ready to be adopted. 

Al and Jerry (one of the foster dogs) playing in the leaves

We moved to Chicago and through a friend Al became involved as a therapy dog at a local skilled nursing facility. 

Once, while at the nursing home, he arched his back and began wagging his tail at the feet of one of the residents. Eager to play but not knowing why, the resident looked down on the floor to see what she was missing. It was then that she noticed the tennis balls on the feet of her walker. He was hoping that she would throw them for him so she bent down and tossed a tennis ball across the room. He was never happier.

Several weeks ago Al started limping after running in the woods. Knee ligament injuries are common in active middle aged dogs-- we thought we would wait to see if it improved spontaneously. When he continued to favor the leg we took him to the vet. It was then that he was diagnosed with osteosarcoma of his back leg. The cancer appeared to be in an early stage based on the xrays and he had no overt signs of metastatic disease anywhere else.

At first we were not sure if treating the cancer aggressively was in Al's best interests. We wanted to make sure that the treatment would not be to prolong his life if it meant him living in pain. When we considered that he is relatively young (7 years old and otherwise heathy), when we saw how well he got around on three legs, and when his spirits lifted with the pain relief that just a simple anti-inflamatory drug brought, we decided that we would do whatever we could to help a dog that had helped so many others in his short life.

The cost of the amputation and subsequent treatments were more than we could afford on our own so we thoght we would seek out the help of our family, friends and the internet community at large. We hope to raise enough to cover his amputation surgery (which could potentially be curative) and if there is money beyond that to consider chemotherapy to prevent recurrence.

Thanks to all for the thoughts and prayers.

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Cory Stewart 
Evanston, IL
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