Bodie, a 12-year-old Collie, lost his home when his senior owner was transferred to an assisted living facility. Friends and family could not take him so he was given up to Top Dog Foundation. He lived in a city apartment and rarely got out to run and play. The owner’s son surrendered him and provided paperwork from his vet with a clean bill of health. When he arrived at Top Dog I noted a very large, football-sized tumor on his ribcage and when I asked if it had been checked, I was told that it had and the vet said it was just fatty tissue. Once again, my experience with senior dogs and lots of health issues over the years told me different.

I had planned to put Bodie up for adoption thinking this sweet old guy will be snatched up quickly. I could not do so without knowing the specifics of this mass. We scheduled surgery to remove the tumor and due to its location, a specialist was brought in based upon the anticipated difficulty of rescission. Biopsy results identified the mass as hemangiosarcoma, an aggressive cancer that starts in the linng of the blood vessels. It almost always first appears in a major organ and life expectancy is 3-6 weeks. Hemangiosarcoma as a tumor subcutaneous is rather unusual and treatment is difficult as all it takes is one cell flowing in the bloodstream and it will rear its ugly head again in a major organ. Prognosis is not good and chemo and radiation are ineffective in treating this cancer but can prolong life. I have had experience with this cancer as my first Sheltie Jazz was diagnosed with the very same cancer and a similar location.

I am of the belief that in these cases palliative care is the best way to go for these dogs. Bodie was diagnosed in early November 2013. He was given a few months with or without chemo. I opted for palliative care and a cancer supplement and remarkably Bodie is still doing well 9 months later. The doctors are shocked that he is still alive. I remember the day he arrived. I took him out running with my pack and he grabbed a toy and began racing around like a pony let out of the paddock for the very first time. He has been sheep herding and is so happy. Bodie will stay with me and my Sheltie pack until he no longer has quality life . . . And then when the time is right, true to the mission of Top Dog Foundation, he will leave us . . . In my arms . . . The arms of someone who loves him.

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