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A Great Dane named "Quack"

What a good boy!

A Great Dane named "Quack"

Another curve ball

August 10th, 2018 · 9 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.


Two Days Post Chemo and Doing Fine

March 23rd, 2018 · 4 Comments · Uncategorized

Quack had his first chemo treatment two days ago. He had his amputation surgery 15 days ago. He’s been a bit more tired but he’s eating fine. He’s basically all systems go. Today he barked at the mail carrier and went tearing off like a crazy dog to the door. Good job Quack! We are once again safe from the mail. I’m kind of waiting for the chemo shoe to drop but it hasn’t really so far. He gets blood work next week and the following week and then chemo again in 3 weeks if all goes well.