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A Great Dane named "Quack"

What a good boy!

A Great Dane named "Quack"

Surrounded by Love he Left us.

February 6th, 2019 · 6 Comments · Uncategorized

Quack left us August 20th 2018, he died at home surrounded by his family. Our large animal vet Dr Wendy who also does home euthanasia came to our farm and ended Quack’s life for us.  He had had a good day.  His had lots of treats and even more hugs.  Some of his favorite people, Erin who lives next door and Alex a long time family friend came to visit.  He had known them both his whole life and considered them part of his pack.  He “smiled” at them.  Quack always made this goofy “smile” when he was really happy to see people.  He’d wrap his lips over his teeth and open his mouth really wide.  He did that at his friends when they came in.  Oh it hurts so much that I’ll never see that goofy smile again.  People say, “You will know when its time”.  I can’t say that I truly did know that day, it could have been the next day or later that week.  He was still eating, he could still get outside although it was hard to do that.  He was not comfortable but he was still happy.  I didn’t want to get to a day that he wasn’t happy.  He was a truly happy guy.  He didn’t understand what was happening as his body failed and that confusion was awful to see.  Selfishly I didn’t want to plan his death too far in advance because I didn’t want the sleepless night before day of his end.  The morning of his death I just thought, I’m calling Wendy to see if she can come today and she could.  All day everyone cuddled him. Dr Wendy came and we put a large pee pad under him (hey death is what it is).  Dr Wendy got a needle into his front leg while I held him and then she put him to sleep.  He nodded off in a couple minutes.  Then  after he was deeply asleep she gave him a drug that stopped his heart.  He went peacefully, he just stopped being alive, no obvious pain from that last med.  After he was dead, we carried him out to my car in an emergency stretcher for humans.  The practicality of how to get such a large dog out to the car was easily solved with stretcher. We all carried him out.  Andy and I immediately set off for Cornell with his body so they could do a necropsy and learn what they could about his horrible disease.  Quack was only 5 years old when he died.  He helped gain knowledge about osteosarcoma by participating in a clinical trial at Cornell. I have since gotten his necropsy results back from Cornell.  The cancer had actually metastasized in both lungs.  They were both full of tumors yet he never coughed even once.  He just got weaker.  We thought that was the hypertrophic osteopathy but it likely was that plus all the tumors in his lungs.  Reading the necropsy was hard but also provided some closure. He was in good physical shape when he died, not too thin or too heavy.  Oddly that made me feel good that despite the cancer he was in other ways in good shape.   His necropsy was important to me and to Andy as it allowed Quack to make this last and ultimate contribution to science.  Cornell sent back his ashes in a lovely wooden box. I have the box on our mantel with a wood burned portrait a friend did of Quack.  So many people helped us through this.  People helped with his go fund me page.  We would never have been able to afford his care, it ended up being many thousands of dollars.  People made Quack art, we have the already mentioned wood burned portrait, we have a lovely water color of him, we have an absolutely incredible portrait in colored glass.  They are such treasures to us.  Quack was goofy. He was fierce. He loved his family so much. I hope that research on osteosarcoma ends up finding a better way to help those dogs and people who like Quack,  don’t respond to chemo.  I will never forget him and I hold space for him in my heart forever.

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Another curve ball

August 10th, 2018 · 11 Comments · Uncategorized

Quack had been doing really well post immunotherapy, yeah I used the phrase “had been”. His front feet started swelling up and his eyes were red and goopy. Off to Cornell we went and the only thing they found was that his globulins were up a bit. Could just be the immunotherapy kicking in right? The met in his lung was way bigger again too but still not causing any health issues. We go home with pain meds and an anti- inflammatory med. These seem to help and life goes on with his front feet swelling and subsiding and his eyes getting a bit red then subsiding. Then he started having trouble with his back leg, he couldn’t easily get up and he couldn’t do the stairs or jump up on our bed. Back to Cornell we go and the diagnosis is hypertrophic osteopathy. They knock him out for x-rays and hint that we might consider not having him wake up.

We are stunned and devastated. We learn this condition is related to the lung met.  We learn it is progressive, painful and there is nothing really that can stop it for Quack.  Some dogs improve if the lung met is removed.  He’s not a candidate for surgery because his met is growing so rapidly.  Even with surgery the prognosis is poor at best, we’d get maybe 3 months more but the recovery from surgery would be hard and his quality of life would not be great.   We bring Quack home so everyone can say goodbye and he can have a little more time with his family. We have more pain meds on board.

This is how it is for us now. The family is sleeping with him in the living room. We made him a giant bed (a queen and a single) after his amputation surgery and we are using it now so he doesn’t have to do stairs and he’s near the door to go out. Last night he had steak for dinner. We hung out with him and watched the movie “Overboard”. He didn’t care about the movie but he likes having everyone there with him. Today if he’s up for it, he’s going for ice cream and to pick out a big bone at Tractor Supply. We contacted a palliative end of life care specialist to help us with him at home. Almost the worst part of this is I suspect the immunotherapy was working. He developed the one met while still on chemo but once the immunotherapy started he didn’t develop any more. Maybe he would have maybe he wouldn’t.

Oddly, there are a couple little things that are tearing me a part. His fur never quite grew back on the right side of his hind end. It’s almost there but not quite. I wanted his fur to be completely back before the end and likely that won’t happen now. Isn’t that weird that the state of his fur is important to me? Also when he was a puppy he had a completely pink nose. As he aged he started getting black spots on his nose. They would start as a dot and then get bigger. His nose is partly pink and partly black now with a couple of large spots. Well he just got a new spot on the top of his nose and I wanted to see that one get bigger too. He can’t go until that spot is done! Except he will go.  Again, it’s such a silly thing to focus on but for some reason I am. I suspect my next post if I can manage it will be that he’s gone. Great Danes are big it’s the first thing everyone notices about him but they have no idea how truly big he has been in our lives. He’s going to have some amazing days this coming week!   When it is time we’ll let him go.


We are two weeks post immunotherapy

June 28th, 2018 · 11 Comments · Uncategorized

Quack finished his immunotherapy June 14th. He received ADXS31-164 three times. One dose every three week since the beginning of May. It wasn’t easy but it wasn’t terrible. Quack had to be at Cornell at 7:30 am each time and then the immunotherapy made him a little nauseous and he’d run a low fever. He’d have meds for the nausea and IV fluids for the fever. He’d spend the night at Cornell and they would monitor him very closely. We’d pick him up the next day and he’d be more than a bit tired. His oncologist and the students and techs and other staff there have been so kind to him. They would always call and email with updates while he is there. You can tell everyone loves him. When we went in each time folks would all call out “Quack!” It reminded me of Norm on Cheers. When Quack goes I pack a bag for him with his food and his blanket and a toy for him to hold. We joke around that he’s just going to sleep over camp. I sent a detailed list of “Quack Facts” to for them:

He’s not crate trained (sorry, he really stressed out in the crate when he was a puppy).
He does not like children, horses, cows, or people in hats and he especially hates UPS uniforms.
He’s not used to being alone. He sleeps with humans in a human bed that he takes up most of.
He’s only ever been away from home 2 times before this when he was neutered and when he had his leg amputated.
He likes to sleep completely under a blanket (especially his head). It turns him off like a parakeet. If he gets sad cover him all the way up.
He has a thing for licking the inside of people’s ears.
He only knows three commands: “sit” “down” and “back-up” If you tell him to sit he will usually try to sit in someone lap.
He’s named “Quack” because our first dog was named “Quinn” and our second dog was named “Jack” and my daughter thought it was funny to combine them and call him Quack.
He likes to put the top of his head against a person which is how he hugs you. (This is his highest honor.)
He is by nature pretty mellow and he sleeps a lot and always has.
He does not like dogs who have pointy ears (Huskies, German Shepherds etc.) but strangely he adores Corgis.

Today he had imaging to see what was up with the met(s) in his lung. Today we found out that he has only one met in his lung but it is four times as big as it was before he started immunotherapy. The increase in size may mean that it is growing or it may mean there is inflammation and his body is fighting it. The x-ray can’t tell what type of cells are there. The good thing is he doesn’t have more mets in his lungs. The bad thing is we don’t really know what the larger met means. So that’s where we are. If he is alive in 2 months we go back for more imaging. I’m hoping that his body is fighting the cancer like crazy.


Setbacks Happen

May 4th, 2018 · 11 Comments · Uncategorized

Mets, mets mets. Quack has mets in his lungs. We found out My 2nd. His chemo (carboplatin) didn’t control the spread of cancer. He didn’t get kicked out of the study as it turns out but he moved to the “salvage” group. That doesn’t sound very nice does it? He started immunotherapy with ADXS31-164. This is a a modified listeria virus that “expresses a chimeric human HER2/neu fusion protein”. Hopefully this will teach Quack’s body to attack his tumor cells. Currently Quack is recovering at Cornell after receiving his first dose of ADXS31-164. Last night his oncologist sent me the nicest picture of Quack laying down with his head in the lap of his vet student. I can’t wait to go pick up Quack today. He will get immunotherapy again in 3 weeks and then again 3 weeks after that.  Hopefully this works!  


Three is a Magic Number

April 26th, 2018 · 8 Comments · Uncategorized

Quack has had chemo twice now. He just had blood work today two weeks after his second round of chemo. He gets blood work every week now.  His blood values were all right in the middle of the normal range. After the vet we went and picked up my husband and took a short walk on Binghamton University’s campus (that’s where my husband and I work). I ran into a couple of my students and they were delighted to see Quack. It was a good day, good news from the vet, fun on campus and Quack has been

Quack visits campus to pick up my husband Andy.

happy as can be. However, in the back of my mind there is always a bit of worry lurking there. Next week at Quack’s chemo appointment he also gets imaging to see if he has mets in his lungs. If he does he doesn’t get to be in the immunotherapy clinical trial anymore. He’ll never even get a chance at it. Both Andy and I thought he got immunotherapy once he was approved but apparently if a dog show mets they are out. Now of course I’m terrified he’s going to have mets. That’s how I roll from one imagined crisis to the next. When we came out from the vet today I was thinking I wish there would be some kind of sign that he’s going to get to do the immunotherapy that he is going to be okay.  Well, Blind Mellon came on the radio singing Schoolhouse Rock’s “Three is the Magic Number”. I’m taking that as the sign that he’s going to be okay. I’m posting the link for it if you want to hear it.