Monday, March 11, 2013

Summer is our March 10, 2013 Pup of the Week

Two weeks ago I named Chelsea, who is a very sweet girl, our Pup of the Week.  She sent me a beautiful thank you note but suggested she was not worthy.  The dog I should have recognized was Summer  While I think Chelsea was an excellent choice I agree with her about Summer, and, because she deserves it, and to make Chelsea’s wish come true, we name Summer Grace our Pup of the Week.  (Also, we must thank Chelsea for helping us with some of the information we relied upon in doing our writing.)

This story goes all the way back to before Thanksgiving.  And like Chelsea it came about because a growth was found that had to be removed.  Unlike Chelsea the news from the beginning was dire.  Summer was diagnosed with stage three mast cell cancer.  This was in the middle of her parents moving.  With the upheaval in their lives the last thing they needed emotionally and financially was for their beloved Summer Grave to take ill, but sometimes life plays mean tricks.

Summer had one surgery, then went back to the vet where her parents were given news that did nothing to encourage them.  They could do another surgery to widen the area of tissue they took then follow up with prednisone, or start either chemo or radiation.  There was a very good chance that the growth removed in the first surgery would come back.  While at the vets they did a test of her lymph nodes and got a rare bit of good news when the lymph nodes showed no signs of cancer.
Her parents decided to take Summer to a new vet and were hoping for a good visit.  They anticipated that she would greet the vet with “hiney wiggles and lots of prayers.”  Unfortunately they did not get the news they were hoping for.
The results were not good.  She spoke to the vet who had consulted with an oncologist  from the University of Missouri.  While the tests showed no signs of mast cells, and Summer was not showing any sign of illness, was eating well and had good energy, the doctors told her that another operation and prednisone would give her a 20% chance of living one more year, and chemo would give her a 50% chance of living two more years.  As her Mom said:  “I just keep thinking that they have her confused with another dog, it makes no sense to me. Can anyone help me make some sense of this?”
Summer then saw Dr Quigley.  The doctor thought with another surgery Summer would  have a better chance for a full recovery..  And the doctor inspired confidence in Summer and her Mom by getting on the floor with Summer and gratefully receiving kisses.
The decision was made to have Summer undergo a laser surgery to widen the margins of tissue taken.  Dr Quigley said she did great.  Summer had a ten inch incision, nine inches longer than her previous one. on her undercarriage.  They found a nodule at the site of the original mast cell and removed it.  She was put on prednisone, an antibiotic and a steroid.  The doctor hoped, if kept quiet, Summer could heal from the surgery in two weeks.
For the first few days everything went well   She was healing nicely, eating well, and did not have any reactions to the prednisone or the antibiotics.  She went on a walk, met her neighbors and checked out some deer droppings.  The sewing stitches were removed and the doctor said to continue her on the Prednisone.
But, as we all who love, try to care for, and keep from hurting themselves know, dogs are the worst patients.  After getting her stitches out Summer jumped from the recliner to greet her Dad at the door and split open her entire incision.  Her Mom’s heart broke as she saw the wound open again.  She put gauze on it, wrapped her in a white towel and took her to Dr Quigley who had to staple her back together.  The prednisone was hampering the healing and it would be another three weeks of trying to keep her quiet until she could back to her active, fun loving ways.  
Then she went back to Dr Quigley for even more staples.   Everything a pittie does, from barking to eating, is powered by their undercarriage, and those muscles are always in motion,  If the staples don’t work then she would have to regrow her own skin and it was doubtful she would grow hair in that spot.  Plus she had to wear a t-shirt to cover the incision so the staples did not get snagged.  Her Mom and family did not have a high confidence that the staples would heal the incision.  
A few days later the incision opened again at it’s widest part.  Her poor Mom was at wits end, saying she had never seen anything so hard to heal in her life.  It became more likely that Summer would have to regrow skin.  She had been cut down to one prednisone a day.  She also was putting peroxide on the incision but didn’t want to put anything else on it because she was afraid of loosening the staples.
A few days later Summer began to improve.  She was able to jump on the bed for the first time in months.   Her incision was healing nicely and the skin was starting to grow.  She was turning the corner.  
Then Summer’s Mom got a tip from Chappy’s Mom Vicki who told her about Vetericyn.  She put it on Summer’s incision and the next morning she saw healthy tissue growing in the exposed area of her incision.  Summer was even acting better.  
A few days later Summer had her staples taken out by Dr Quigley who said the healing looked good and the granulation in the center was healing nicely.  Summer was on the road to recovery.
Now what Summer needs is our prayers.  If she can make it through May without a recurrence of the cancer then she should be in the clear.  She has made it so far, and through so much, it just wouldn’t be fair if she wasn’t back to being her happy, normal self soon.
For those of you who have been praying right along I know you will keep it going, and any new prayers will be appreciated, so Summer can enjoy some very long Summer days.


  1. Prayers, prayers and more prayers being sent her way.

    Lily Belle & Muffin

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