My name is Bret Levick. My wife Shaunti, my daugter Bowie and I rescued Arty back in 2013 when he was about 3 months old.
Arty is a black lab mix with "cartoon eyes", pink lips and a gentle soul. We fell in love with him instantly. He's super loving, smarter than the average dog albeit slightly manipulative (in a cute way) and he oozes personality.
Although he found a great home with us, Arty has had it a bit rough when it comes to his health. When he was roughly 2 years old, we noticed that his eyes were starting to bulge more and more at an alarming rate until they looked like someone had photoshopped googly eyes on him.
No local vet could tell us what it was and he was immediately put on Prednasone which made him lethargic, depressed and wasn't solving the problem. I began scouring the internet for a diagnosis and found out it was a rare disease (less than 1000 recorded cases) called Exrtraocular Polymyositis where the muscles behind the eyes start growing outward.
I located a vet in Michigan who had written the only literature I could find on it and he generously told us what to put him on to keep it under control. It's a milder steroid based med called Atopica that costs $160 a month and has the extra "benefit" of obliterating his immune system. That said, it saved his eyes, allowed him to have a relatively normal life and the poor guy been on it ever since.
This brings us to today and the reason we are seeking help.Arty's Current Situation
Two weeks before Christmas Arty began showing signs of pain around his eyes. We assumed it was a sudden progression of his condition and made an appointment with an eye specialist.
By the day of the appointment he was in severe pain crying out if anything even brushed lightly past his head. It was horrible!
The veterinary occulist felt that it was not actually coming from his eyes but had no idea what it could possibly be. She agreed that Arty was obviously in pain and put him on anti inflammatory and pain medications hoping it would help while she did some digging to figure out what was going on with him but that call never came. She either forgot, lost interest or didn't want to admit that she was clueless and couldn't help.
Around the holidays a hard lump began growing above Arty's sinus (forhead) and it became obvious that this was not related to his eye condition.
This began a series of X-rays, biopsies and blood tests by his primary vet. All we could do at this point was try to keep him comfortable and happy while we worried ourselves sick.
We began using CBD oil along with traditional pain medications and antibiotics while we shelled out a couple thousand dollars for tests and awaited the results.
In the mean time Arty began feeling better from the meds and the lump shrank down.The Diagnosis
The results of the bone biopsy showed it was a solid bone mass that was infected along with a type of cancer called squamous cell carcinoma.
The next step was to get ultrasounds and more X-rays to determine if it was still localized or if it had spread to his lungs and organs.
Thankfully we finally got some good news that so far it has NOT spread! This is where we are today.
2500 dollars spent on just diagnostics. The Treatment
Our vet first told us that we needed to have the lump and a lymphnode surgically removed followed by 17 (yes 17) rounds of radiation at the closest available oncology facility, hundreds of miles away in northern California. We would have to basically move there for almost a month while our dog got tortured. There was no way we were putting Arty through this so we decided to go with holistic treatments by Animalkind Veterinary in Jacksonville, OR along with a regiment of CBD.The Better Treatment
Then, last week, we got a call from our vet who had discovered a treatment called SRS or SRT (Stereoactic Radiosurgery) that had been successful in humans for quite some time and that was now beeing performed on pets at a handful of facilities. This treatment bypasses the surgery to remove the tumor and directly targets the affected areas with precision radiation without affecting the surrounding tissues.
Also available in Northern California at a place called Sage Veterinary Hospital, it involves a consultation and CT scan ($2000) followed by 1 to 3 SRT treatments, depending on the specifics, targeting the lump and one lymphnode ($8000 to $8700).
Because of Arty’s special circumstances and low immune system this looks to be the best approach in combination with some serious holistic medicine at Animalkind and a regiment of CBD oil which is believed to be very effective in helping with inflamation, apetite and general well being. Some even claim that it attacks the cancer cells.
SRT also costs $10,000 less than the initial proposed plan and would cause Arty much less trauma and suffering as he maintains his quality of life rather than being put through 17 rounds of radiation that may not even work.Conclusion
Arty is one of our family members and still a young dog. We are determined to do everything we can to keep him around as long as possible with a good quality of life. Since this disease is very much time-sensitive, we have already gone ahead and booked an appointment with Animalkind this Friday (2/16) and a consultation and CT Scan at Sage in California on Wednesday Feb. 21st.
We're going to do whatever it takes to come up with the funds for this but anything you can do will help and we're grateful that you've even taken the time to read this.
We're also holding a benefit concert this Sunday the 18th from 5 to 9pm (PST) in Ashland, OR which will include some of my amazing musician friends who are gracious enough to donate their time and music to help Arty. The show will be live streamed on my Facebook music page: Bret Levick Music
We know this is a big ask however we're more desperately attached to Arty than we are proud at this juncture. We also take comfort in the fact that when the shoe has been on the other foot we have done what we could to help others in their times of crisis.
If you cannot help materially, please reach out to whatever entity, organism, idea or deity you normally put your faith in and put in a good word for our little guy.
Thank you kindly.
Bret, Shaunti, Bowie, Arty, Watson (our other doggie).