I have created this page at the suggestion of my good friend Suzi Schmidt.
Flower is a Coton de Tulear. He was born April 23, 2015. I had researched the breed and reputable breeders for over 6 months. While I typically look to shelter dogs, I was trying to set up the perfect win-win situation for my family. I have two very young children and wanted a hardy, hypoallergenic and companion breed dog. This breed fit the bill!
Flower’s first year was unremarkable health-wise. He was your typical playful and loving dog. Timeline is a little blurry, but it may have been mid/late May 2016 when I noticed he wasn’t eating as much. I switched foods thinking it would help. It did for a bit, but then decreased again. In mid-June he got his summer haircut and I thought he looked thin. Around this time I noticed he stool was more often than not soft and he seemed a little lethargic and “depressed”. I took him to our vet and they did bloodwork and checked his stool. Stool was fine. There were some things a little off with his bloodwork, but nothing stood out to my vet as major. They gave me some pills to help with his bowels and some prescription food. This didn’t help. His lethargy and “depression” continued. I then decided to remove the Seresto flea/tick collar, hoping it was the cause. I thought he got a little better, but then more of the same. Then, twice in one day, he collapsed. Not a seizure, but just fell over and was limp. These spells lasted only 10 seconds or so. That is when I decided I had to take him to a specialist. This was in early August.
Answers didn’t come easy, but after many tests and eventually surgery to remove part of his small intestines and his ileum (where the small intestines meets the large), Flower was diagnosed with gastrointestinal lymphoma. He was 1 ½ years old! The bad news was that this is a very rare and aggressive form of cancer. The good news was that he was still alive (as most animals don’t typically survive more than 2-3 months after onset of symptoms) and there really isn’t a lot of research to know exact prognosis.
I was left with a very difficult choice. Do nothing (just keep him comfortable) or start chemotherapy. They said most dogs only survive 3-4 months with chemotherapy so prognosis still was not great. This was an easy decision for me, though. The fact that he had already beaten some odds and his young age led me to opt for the chemotherapy. For those who are not aware, chemo for animals is different than people. We are going for quality of life not prolonging life. This was an important factor in this decision as I wanted him to be happy.
After his first round of chemo, they did another ultrasound of his abdomen and he showed zero signs of disease. It is working!! This was better than I could have ever imagined! We are now on round 4. He is doing great. He has gained his weight back and acts like your typical 1 ½ year old dog. He is super playful and affectionate. He is wonderful with my daughters when I know he cannot always feel up to it. I am incredibly optimistic. However, this is not the end of the road. We are on round 4 of 6 rounds of chemo. After chemo is finished, he will need more tests and continual monitoring. This, of course, has amounted to very expensive bills. If anyone is so inclined to offer their support to Flower (and in return my two girls and I) we would be forever grateful! We would use any funds to continue his treatments as well as pay down some of the debt already incurred.
For more pictures of Flower, please visit suzithepetsitter.com.