a Taj MuttHall Dog Diary: The Ghost of Hemangiosarcoma

Thursday, January 26, 2006

The Ghost of Hemangiosarcoma

Really, I'm going to bed any time now. Earlier today (noon PST, to be exact), I was going to post something, but got this message:

Go figure. We seem to be back now, whatever time they think it is.

So—hemangiosarcoma. That was Remington's fatality. I'm thinking about it again because my housemate asked me (in response to something I said) about missing Remington, and the tears just came, even three years later. Then earlier today I got another random email from my web site's info about hemangiosarcoma, someone else's dog diagnosed and agonizing over what to do. Then later today, my friend whose dog went through hemangiosarcoma at the same time that Remington did wrote to me, not about that, but it was already on my mind. Then this evening, another editor on Wikipedia it turns out lost a dog not long ago, very abruptly, to the killer ("What happened to Sophie Marie").

Anyway, I started thinking about all those dogs out there and all their owners in shock, despair, and grief. And out of all of this, one tiny thing for me, that with all of Remington's information posted on the web, I get email after email from people, like me, bursting with the agony of their own story, wanting to share it, wanting confirmation that they're doing the right thing, whatever that thing might be, and finding some small comfort in Remington's story or some small tidbit of information to help them come to a decision they're comfortable with, or finding another voice in the wilderness who has gone through the same thing that they're enduring or have endured. My thoughts go out to all of them, and although I don't intend to provide a depressing experience, I do want to share some of those people who have reached out to Remington in their times of need or contemplation:
  • Feb 25, 2003: Tess, agility dog, 10; sudden illness, tumor on heart, put to sleep the same day.

  • March 1, 2003: Black Lab, 9 1/2, tumor on spleen diagnosed 2 months ago, gradually getting worse and worse.

  • March 3, 2003: Sydney, breed not specified, tumor removed from elbow, wondering what to do next.

  • March 17, 2003: Maggie, 9; ill, just deciding to try chemo even though prognosis is poor. March 31, Maggie not tolerating chemo well, tumor as large as the heart itself, thinking the end is close.

  • April 7, 2003: Alex, sheltie, 12; sudden coughing fits, tumor on heart, decided not to treat and wait for the right time.

  • May 9, 2003: Cedar, 11, and Zack, 10, golden retrievers, one died last month after 4 months on chemo, one 6 years ago 2 weeks after diagnosis.

  • July 1, 2003: Stacy, cocker spaniel, 13; kidney removed with h. tumor; struggling with what to do next.

  • Sept. 20, 2003: Kai, Boykin spaniel, large tumor on spleen, waiting for surgery and final diagnosis.

  • Jan 15, 2004: Puppy, Lab mix, 8 yrs old, sudden drastic illness, ruptured spleen tumor, put to sleep the same day.

  • Feb 28, 2004: Jose, Bichon, 15; subcutaneous h. removed; waiting for further test results.

  • Jan 11, 2005: Chamois, Golden Retriever, 11; whole story very similar to Rem's and just lost him a month ago.

  • Jan 20, 2005: Sunshine, Golden Retriever, older than 9; just found huge tumor on heart, nearest vet 3 hours away; diagnosis not confirmed h. but indications all match, agonizing over what to do next. Feb 7, decided not to treat, dog passed away at home.

  • April 7, 2005: Spencer, German Shep/Dobie mix, just diagnosed; shocked and looking for information

  • June 7, 2005: Max, Labrador; diagnosed Friday after sudden seizures; put to sleep Monday after reading Rem's site and reassured that being with him at the end was the right thing.

  • June 19, 2005: Sadie Rottweiler/Akita mix, 12; mass on spleen, putting to sleep tomorrow.

  • June 19, 2005: Buddy, Terrier, 14; healthy one day and then sick the next; just had splenectomy but not doing chemo. July 27, seemed to have recovered fine, then suddenly very ill and just had him put to sleep.

  • Aug 9, 2005: Akira, 8, just diagnosed but no symptoms; have decided to let him live it out without surgery or chemo, looking for info that'll help determine when the time has come.

  • Aug 12, 2005: Eddy, female yellow lab, 9; just had splenectomy and starting chemo.

  • Dec 6, 2005: Dog had h. 2 years ago, did surgery & chemo & put to sleep then. After reading Rem's site, reassured that she had done the right thing.

  • Jan. 26, 2006: 10-yr-old, sudden illness, surgery which found tumor on kidney, agonizing over what to do.

All these dogs, so loved. And, as always, all I can think to say is that the fact that they were so loved speaks well of the lives they had. There are so many other dogs out there whose people don't care, or wouldn't notice--or who don't have people. How lucky they all were to live in a place where they were cared for and spoiled in their last days and given a peacful ending with ones they loved.


  1. scooby doo -- american eskimo -- 11 years old -- detected tumor on a sunday put down the next day

    at first the vets stopped the bleeding and told me he didn't have long...but he was wagging his tail and walking around

    i couldn't do it--

    so i took him home...

    he snuggled in his favorite spot and took a nap, but then the bleeding started again -- he got up and collapsed--

    i rushed him back to the vet and he was dead within the hour--i hope he wasn't in pain; it didn't seem as if he was~

  2. So sorry about Scooby Doo. With loss of blood, he probably wasn't in pain, just fading away.

  3. that helps a lot -- i didn't think he suffered...i loved that dog, he was perfectly health and loving his new life in california.

  4. It was the same with Remington--healthy, active, competing strongly in dog agility--and then gone. But we don't know how long they might have had the tumors and never let us know. That they were happy was the important thing.

  5. thank you so much...this is really helping -- i felt so alone; now i know what happened and i get it

  6. If you want to chat some more, email me at elf (at) finchester (dot) org. I'm here through tomorrow morning but leaving tomorrow midday for a 3-day weekend. Believe me, I have a pretty good idea of what you're going through.

    And if you haven't already found Remington's page with links to our blog from that hard time and also his cancer page where I have tons of info about what we went through, please visit there, too.


  7. I had an Akita named Mufassa, he was 81/2years old. He had a problem suddenly eating and having his bowel movements. I took him tothe vet had bloodwork, which showed nothing. I proceeded to have x-rays and found he had a tumor in his spleen. He was given medicine for discomfort and had a hard time, he was very uncomfortable. I went to pet him one evening after work and he cried out. I decided he couldn't live in pain. I made an appointment to put him down. IOt was the hardest decision for me, he was my baby.He got a bath every week, walked every night and loved unconditionaly. Imiss him so much, He'll be in my heart forever

  8. So sorry about Mufassa. It's such a nasty and sudden cancer. Sounds like he was loved through his life and through the end, making sure that he didn't have to suffer unnecessary pain.