Mav's battle with osteosarcoma

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On August 8, 2006 Mav developed a hard knobby swelling on his front right leg. This is a common symptom of Lyme disease in dogs, and his blood test was positive for Lyme so we began a 20 day course of Doxcycline (500mg per day for a 100lb dog).

While Mav coincidentally had Lyme disease, the swelling in his leg did not improve and after the leg was x-rayed, he was found to have osteosarcoma of the distal radius. Further xrays and blood tests showed that the cancer had not yet spread to the lungs. Our options were limited. It was not possible to save the leg, and the brittle bone was in danger of breaking spontaneously. We opted to have the affected limb amputated on August 30, 2006. This left a large wound for a couple of weeks, but it healed completely and Mav was up and around in a few days.

After some debate we decided to have Mav undergo chemotherapy. Our research indicated that chemotherapy for dogs does not have as severe side affects as that for humans. Dogs do not loose their hair, nor do they appear to feel ill from the treatment for more than a few hours immediately after a dose. Mav received three treatments (450mg carboplatin) administered on Sept 21, Oct 18, and November 16. Chest x-rays taken on November 16 indicated a small spot on his lungs, possible metastasis of the cancer, but the spot was too small for our oncologist to make a definitive diagnosis.

Chemo was a shot in the dark. Without it, the bone cancer would almost certainly spread and Mav would be dead in 3-4 months. With chemo, maybe he would have another year or even two. I didn't much like the experience with the oncologist, who was too occupied with testing and diagnostics, and didn't let me stay with the dog during treatment. However, Mav didn't show much discomfort from the chemo, and given the decision to do it again, we probably would do the same. The amputation on the other hand, clearly relieved his pain, and made it possible for Mav to get around on his own and continue having an active life.

Maveric as a three-legged dog has seemed happy and healthy (except for the obvious missing limb). He still enjoys walks in the woods and can even run for short distances. On March 10, 2007 he accompanied us to hide a geocache in Whippoorwill Park.

Movie of our three-legged dog running

Atlantic Maveric Salmon, our happy, goofy dog.

The end came on very suddenly. Early xrays had shown a spot on his sacrum back in September, but we didn't give it much thought at the time. On Wednesday, Mav started having trouble getting up on the couch and navigating the stairs. By Thursday he had a pronounced limp, and by Friday morning he was dragging one of his hind legs. The paralysis spread quickly and by Saturday he was unable to use the rear half of his body. Recognizing that the cancer had spread to his spine, we saw no choice but to say goodbye. RIP March 17, 2007.

Lynn Salmon <>{

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