Mozart's Story

Last update: 06/05/05

Born: January, 1995 Adopted: March 1995 Died: June 2005
Diagnosed with cancer: October, 2004

May 5, 2005 - Hello. I'm Mozart. Mom calls me Mo. I'm a pure white purebred German shepherd. Here it is, spring of 2005 and I'm very grateful to be here at all. Last October Mom felt a lump in my chest. Since it felt spongy to Mom, the vet said don't worry. A week later, however, Mom worried enough to drag me to Dr Katz, my vet. He said the lump was hard! I stayed overnight and on Tuesday, October 19, 2004 I had a lumpectomy. Mom took me home later and made me wear a t-shirt so I couldn't get to the wound.

The diagnosis was cancer. I had a very rare form of cancer called hemangio sarcoma. Apparently it is very virulent, but mine was subcutaneous, and the vet thinks he got it all.

The following Tuesday, Mom and Dad took me to an oncologist. They shaved the hair off my belly and did an ultrasound. Mom and Dad helped keep me still, on my back. It didn't hurt at all. They were looking for something called "a primary site" inside my internal organs. They seemed happy that they didn't find it. Later, we consulted with the oncologist who gave us treatment options. She emphasized over and over that even one little cancer cell left behind could be fatal. We declined chemotherapy. Mom thought chemo was more for the parents than the dog and she didn't want me to be sick. Mom also said it seemed too great a price to pay for too little "extra" time.

Since I was already on pain pills for my arthritis, Mom opted for something called "immunotherapy" which was simply a large dose of a particular pain medication that seemed to be working in experimental trials. We switched medications to Piroxicam, and I've been taking 1 a day ever since. Does it help? I hope so but it's impossible to assign cause and effect (Mom told me to say that).

Anyway, In mid November, Mom felt another lump! Again she dragged me to the vet. This time Dr.Reinheimer did the lumpectomy. She sent me home with the same instructions as the first time. We got the same diagnosis: hemangio sarcoma. Dr. R thinks she got it all. Where was that experimental vaccine when you need it??

Since this surgery was further down on my chest, I could actually reach it! Mom dragged me back to the vet because she didn't like the way the my wound was healing. Sure enough, the doctor said I had pulled out a stitch, it got infected, and gave me these really strong pills they called antibiotics. I would have to go back in a week to see if that helped but in the meantime, they wanted me to wear this plastic cone around my head so I couldn't reach the wound. I couldn't reach the wound alright. I couldn't get my head down low enough to drink water, to eat my food. I couldn't drink from the toilet(shhh! don't tell anyone). And Mom kept yelping whenever I tried to nuzzle her because the edge of the cone cut her legs. I couldn't climb stairs or jump on the bed because the edge of the cone caught on the riser. Mom kept lifting up my head, but I kept forgetting to do that myself. I'm a 100 pound dog with a long snout, so I needed a big cone according to my vet.

I finally heard Mom say that this was too pathetic and she took the cone off me. But then she put me in a couple of t-shirts and taped duct tape on the shirt over the wound so I couldn't lick my wound through the shirt. The trick was to let the wound breathe in spite of the duct tape. I guess Mom got it right. Dad says duct tape fixes everything. He was certainly right in this case - which was good because he's the one who jokingly suggested it!. When I went back to the vet, he was pleased that I hadn't licked the wound, but not pleased with the healing. So I stayed overnight again, and Dr. Katz redid the lumpectomy. Again I wore t-shirts and duct tape. That was in November.

I'm still here! Mom says I'm acting like a puppy again. My appetite is good, I'm energetic and want to play a lot. Mom says she's delighted!

June 5, 2005 - I've had some problems recently with my rear legs and my front left leg. My rear end has been unstable and my legs haven't responded well to my commands. I've had trouble going up and down stairs and getting up from a lying down position. And often, my left paw would curl under while I was trying to walk. That seemed to be getting better over the last 2 weeks. Tonight I watched a movie with my parents. After the movie was over, I started feeling pretty bad. I couldn't walk without falling and I was having some trouble breathing. Mom looked at me and noticed my gums were white. I couldn't follow mom wherever she went even though I tried. I just fell down and couldn't breathe. Mom and Dad moved me onto a blanket and carried me out to the car. They said they were taking me to the emergency vet which was 15 minutes away. I know they love me and I tried so very hard to hang on, but I was dead by the time they reached the clinic. The vet said something bled out into my abdomen. Strange, at 10PM I was moving and feeling okay. I was dead by 3AM. I love you Mom and Dad.

Giving Mom a lick

Sharing a bone with big sister, Lisa

Can I have a treat?

There's a cat on my head?

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This page designed and maintained by Diane Walker. Last updated 05/05/05.
This page, and all contents, are Copyright © 2005 by Diane Walker, Gaithersburg, MD, USA.