Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Aspen's Leukemia

Aspen's story is shared with us by Brook of ruled by paws.
Thank you, Brook, for sharing your story!

We didn’t know Aspen was seriously ill. 

We had decided to take her to see Dr B because she didn’t seem to be herself and she was beginning to refuse her meals.

On Monday, Aspen was wrestling with rogue.

On Tuesday, Aspen only finished half of her turkey wing, so we thought her jaw might be sore from chewing beef bones and icicles, so Huib gave her a can of salmon instead, and she slowly ate it.

On Wednesday, Aspen seemed uninterested in interacting with anyone, and was hesitant about eating both her breakfast and dinner. 

I decided to brush her and look for any abnormal lumps or sores, but found none. I did notice that her heart seemed to be beating a bit quicker than normal, but I thought it might have just been her hatred for being groomed. However, I sent Huib an iMessage and he suggested I try to make an appointment with Dr B.

Thursday morning we woke up really early and piled everyone into the Orlando.

Aspen seemed tired and was panting a bit, but again, it didn't seem to be a cause for too much concern – it was 3AM. 

When she went to jump into the back of the Orlando though, she didn’t quite make it and Huib had to help her – this did make us worry a bit. On the way, Aspen sat up a few times and panted, but she always laid back down and didn’t seem distressed. When we arrived in Guelph, we let everyone relieve themselves and Aspen did both, so we returned to thinking it was going to be okay.

As soon as Dr b entered the examination room and saw Aspen lying on the floor, panting, she said she was concerned. 

She checked her heart rate, temperature and listened to her lung,s before she told us she didn’t feel it was going to be happy news.

She was concerned about lymphoma or tumors on her spleen, but when she shaved Aspen's abdomen to do an aspiration (to check for blood), she found unexplained bruising, and began to worry about anemia. She took some blood and sent it off to be tested.

She asked us to stay in the examination room with aspen until the test results came back because she wanted aspen to remain calm and relaxed. We sat with her for three hours, taking turns sitting on the floor to pet her.

When the test results came back, it wasn’t good news at all. 

We had known something was wrong from the way Aspen had begun to have more and more difficulty breathing and getting comfortable throughout the day, but we were hopeful that Dr b could do something to help her.

Aspen was diagnosed with a very aggressive case of leukemia.

Dr b told us that Aspen’s white blood cell count was through the roof and her red blood cell count was beyond being anemic. She felt that Aspen wouldn’t make it through the night, let alone through a chemo treatment.

She said that if we decided to try chemo, she could have Aspen in for a round in the evening, but we all worried that she may die on the treatment table. 

It was so hard to get all this news. We were in complete shock and felt helpless. We worried about giving up too early on our golden girl, but we worried even more about putting her through a treatment that could either kill her or cause her pain and suffering that wouldn’t even end up giving her back any semblance of a life.

We sat for two hours with Aspen, talking about the options and spending as much time as we could with her, because deep down, I guess we already knew what our decision was going to have to be.

By 3:00PM, Aspen was having more and more difficulty breathing and getting comfortable. 

She was so warm and it was heartbreaking to watch her struggle. At 3:20PM, we told Dr B that we had decided to let Aspen go. She felt we were making the best possible decision.

Huib and I sat beside Aspen, while Cessna, Rogue and Canyon laid around us. Dr b began inserting the anesthetic and Huib said Aspen passed before she had even finished inserting half of it. We feel as though she must have been ready to go.

Her body was just having too much trouble fighting to stay alive.

Everything happened so suddenly, there were hardly any signs to warn us.

We all miss you little girl, and the paw prints you’ve left on our hearts will never be forgotten.


Brooke is the human behind the blog ruled by paws. she lives in northern Ontario with her husband, four dogs and two cats. She has two university degrees, a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Guelph and a Bachelor of Social Work from McMaster University, but has been unsuccessful in her job search. 

She spends her days training for agility with her current dog guide, Cessna, a 7 year old female black lab and canyon, a 22 month old male golden retriever and hopes to enter competitions next summer. She received Phoenix and Cessna from the Liones Foundation of Canada Dog Guides. 

Phoenix has been retired since may 13th, 2005 and Cessna entered their lives just over a week later, on the 27th. In the future, she hopes to begin her own breeding program and small rescue, but for now she tries to learn as much as possible about dog nutrition, health and training, while supporting Golden Rescue through monetary donations when possible.

Further reading:
Leukemia (Acute) in Dogs
Leukemia (Chronic) in Dogs 

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