We got our girl back, even if it’s only temporary.
My husband Mark and I love dogs. We already had Mr. Buster (we call him Buzz), a true gentleman of a Sheltie. We thought we‘d find a good companion for him. After research, dog shows and discussions with breeders, we adopted a beautiful 5 month old Bernese Mountain Dog in 2012. We named her Daisy, from Snoopy’s humble beginnings at the Daisy Hill Puppy Farm. Her breeder described her as the one with “an outgoing personality.” We weren’t sure what that meant at the time but adopted her anyway, the last of her litter.
The day we picked her up in Paso Robles, California, it was 108 degrees. But that didn’t faze her. She ran out to greet us with her happy, goofy energy, legs flying everywhere. If you looked up playful exuberance in the dictionary, you’d find Daisy’s picture.
Through our research we were well aware of the health issues with Berners but felt that if we treated her well and kept her close to our hearts, nothing could harm her.
Daisy’s a tough pup. Over the past five years she’s been through major surgeries to remove a leash handle lodged between her stomach and intestine (2012), and a TPLO to take care of a damaged ligament (2016). Along with all the other typical ailments dogs experience, Daisy had always managed to bounce back to her happy self.
After a trip to Red River in July 2017, she started peeing and drinking water frequently. Thinking it might be a bladder infection, our regular vet prescribed antibiotics – which didn’t work. Then came the urine, fecal and blood tests and ultrasound imaging by a specialist for possible glandular problems. This dragged on for weeks as Daisy got weaker and thinner, and lost her happy energy. The day she refused her normal dog food our hearts sank. She is usually a ravenous eater, so we knew something was horribly wrong. But nothing was definitive. The specialist vet took an X-ray of Daisy’s chest and found a large neoplastic mass in one lobe and a spot on the other lobe. This vet basically said, “I am sorry, her best days are behind her. There’s nothing more we can do.”
Mark and I stared at each other. Daisy was our lifeline and this vet was willing to give up on her, but we weren’t. That evening Mark researched veterinary oncologists in the state of New Mexico and discovered Jeannette Kelly in Santa Fe. We made the appointment and consulted with Dr. Kelly within 2 days. Her approach is cancer management through holistic approaches to treatment. Daisy received chemotherapy and immune system trigger Immunocidin every other week for 5 weeks. Following Dr. Kelly’s recommendations and our own research, we prepared her meals from scratch to incorporate food that nourishes Daisy while starving the cancer.
After the primary treatment Daisy is, as Dr. Kelly says, a rock star! She once again eats like a baby horse, and has gained back 10 percent of her body weight. X-rays and ultrasound show her large tumor shrank by 4.5cm from 15cm. And she’s enjoying hikes in the Sandias, travels through Idaho and Wyoming for the solar eclipse, and just being our happy, goofy girl at home in Albuquerque.
Daisy has given us so much that there was no way we were going to let her just slip out of our lives.
She’s currently on low-dose chemo maintenance and seems to be doing very well. The lesson was reinforced for us: you are your dog’s best advocate – it’s up to you to do whatever it takes to help them.