Acanthomatous Ameloblastoma

Those two nearly impossible to pronounce words are the name of the cancer my dog, Monty, was diagnosed with this week.

Last Thursday (on February 9), I took Monty to the vet for a light dental procedure to remove a chipped tooth and to have the vet look at a bump that had shown up a few days prior between two of Monty’s front teeth.  The consult before his dental was jarring, as I learned from my vet that she was concerned the bump was a cancerous mass.  We agreed to fully anesthetize Monty so she could take x-rays of his jaw bones, and fully remove the mass.  His surgery went well, with the vet removing all four of Monty’s front teeth (he just wanted to be like his toothless sister!).  The x-rays showed no sign of cancer and the mass was sent in to be tested.  I learned this Thursday (February 16) that it had come back positive.

From what I can find on acanthomatous ameloblastoma, it seems that if one had to get mouth cancer, this is the one to get.  This type of tumor does not metastasize (spread to other areas), but will attack the bone and teeth in the mouth.  The good news is, according to University of Pennsylvania’s vet school, “The prognosis is generally excellent with complete surgical removal.”  Early detection is also important, and I believe we succeeded in that as the tumor was only about the size of a small pea.

The cause of this cancer is unknown, however “it is thought to be seen more in male large breed dogs (like German Shepherds and Golden Retrievers) and dogs that are of middle to old age (over five years old).”  Monty falls under both of those categories in this case, being 10 years old and a border collie mix with shepherd definitely part of the mix).

Chemo cannot battle it, but radiation does work.  The research I have done shows that the first step is to surgically remove the tumor (we have done that), and then possible radiation treatments to push for remission.  From what I can see, remission is possible and if achieved, life expectancy should not be altered.

Our regular vet is on a wait and see pattern for when the tumor returns (she stated it won’t be an if, but a when) so we can determine how aggressive the cancer truly is.  I also am on the waiting list for a consult with CSU’s canine cancer center to see if further surgery and/or radiation are the path to take to achieve remission, as well as am waiting for a referral to a canine dental specialist (in case Monty needs to have some of his jaw bone removed in this process).   The CSU appointment should be in early to mid March.

I will use this platform to keep record of our journey and battle.  Right now, Monty’s quality of life is 100% and that is what I am focusing on now that I’ve had time to react/process/cry like an idiot.  We will continue to research this condition and it’s treatments, and visit with doctors to ensure we can keep that quality of life as high as possible for as long as possible.  And we will continue our morning games of fetch (once his mouth is healed, of course), our evening walks, our bedtime snuggles, and our weekend adventures.

With Love,

~Jenna & Monty

Monty

Advertisements

Happy 10 Year Anniversary, Monty!

10 years ago, a 22 year old who had less than $500 to her name and had moved back in with her parents after graduating college adopted an under-socialized, emaciated border collie puppy who had scabies.  It was the beginning of the greatest relationship I have ever had.  Together, Montague “The Moose” Riedi and I have lived in three states, traveled over 10,000 miles, hiked/walked countless miles… Monty has supported me through dozens of breakups, snuggled up through several surgery recoveries and many illnesses, celebrated new jobs, and has shared endless adventures from a road trip to the pacific ocean to exploring new trails.

I have shared almost a third of my life with this amazing, energetic, quirky dog.  Thanks for being my pup, Sir Monty, and here’s to many more years to come!

Wildlife and Your Pets

Earlier this month, I received the terrifying news that both of my parent’s dogs (a chihuahua terrier mix, Gizmo, and a cavalier king charles spaniel, Penny) were attacked by a coyote in the front yard of my parent’s house.   Luckily, they are both okay and recovering from their bite wounds on their heads and necks, but it definitely could have ended much worse.  It’s a reminder that while our pets did at one point live in the wild, they are now domesticated and rely on us to help them survive.

In day to day life, we often forget the real dangers of wildlife for our pets.  From attacks from predators, like the coyote, to diseases that wildlife can spread (rabies, scabies, and everything in between), to the ever annoying skunk or porcupine attacks, nature is not always a fan of your pet.

Be aware and be safe when outside with your furry pals.  Being on leash during walks ensures you know where they are at all times.  Never let your pets outside without you being there with them.  Even in a fenced yard at your own house, a coyote can jump that fence, or a smaller animal can come through a crack or hole in the fence.  And, please, never let your pets be an “indoor-outdoor” or flat out “outdoor only” pet.  There are too many dangers beyond just predators that will lead to your fur baby not having the lifespan he should have.

Be safe out there!

Positive Alternatives to Shelter Surrender

The surrender department at any shelter is always an emotional place.  People from all walks of life are there to hand over their ownership of their pet(s), and it is never a happy occasion.  Unfortunately, the mindset of most pet owners is that their first resort when facing a challenge or obstacle in keeping their pet is to take them to the shelter to surrender.  In reality, this should be the last resort.  Helping owners keep their pets, and helping educate the public that surrendering to the shelter should be a last resort is an important program for every rescue and shelter to have.

There are many shelters and rescue groups that do some or all of these programs to help keep animals from entering the shelter system through owner surrender.  My personal favorite through my work and volunteer experience that has really impressed me is Austin Pets Alive’s PASS (Positive Alternatives to Shelter Surrender) Program.  Below I’ve detailed some of the main areas the PASS program covered to help with owner surrender.

The PASS program originally started with a team of volunteers who, with the permission from the city shelter, would set up a table outside the surrender door and start conversations with people coming to surrender.  The conversations were always positive, never accusatory, with the goal of working with the owner on how to best serve them and their animal and keep the pet out of the shelter system if possible.  The program later grew to being overseen by a staff person and had a much larger army of incredible volunteers, and was run mostly through a hotline and an email.

Boarding

Sometimes the reason an owner is looking to surrender their pets is they will be unable to care for them for a limited time.  It may be the owner is having a medical procedure that would make them unable to care for their pet for a few weeks or months, or any other number of reasons the owner cannot care for their pet.

A healthy PASS program will create a database list of boarding facilities in the area that will provide free or discounted boarding, and detail the length of time they are open to providing, along with how many animals they are open to taking on each year.  Volunteers or a designated staff can oversee the management tracking of this database to ensure the relationships stay positive and the pets are well-cared for and returned at the proper time.

In a few rare cases, the owner needs help boarding their pet for more than a few weeks, or even more than a few months.  A prime example is military personnel being deployed for an extended period.  In these instances, having a team of well-trained PASS foster families is a great program to help keep these pets safe and sound until their owner can return from their service.

Food/Litter

Sometimes the issue is something as simple as the owner is having a financial difficulty that is leading them to feel they cannot afford the food and/or litter for their pet for a period of time.  A food bank for owners to access and keep themselves on their feet while also allowing them to keep their pets is vital in any community.

Taking it a step further, partnering with the local food bank and/or meals on wheels programs in the community to ensure all individuals utilizing food services for themselves also have an option at the same time to receive food/litter for their pets is extremely helpful.

Veterinary/Medical

Many times, the pet is facing a medical situation that the owner cannot afford, so they believe the best chance for the pet is to surrender them over and hopefully get the care they need.  Unfortunately, many shelters cannot afford to take these expensive treatments on themselves, and this ends up putting the pet in a precarious position.

The PASS program concept helps the owner fund raise and/or find a veterinarian that will do a discounted service or payment plans.  A healthy PASS program will create a database list that details all the local veterinary clinics, and the deals they are open to providing, along with how many times a year they are open to taking a discounted service on.

Placement Assistance

Sometimes the reality is simply that the owner can no longer keep their pet(s).  Instead of treating them harshly, or judging them for their situation, the best course of action is to offer to work with them in finding a direct placement for the pet.  This skips the middle man of the shelter, keeps the pet safe from the common diseases of shelters as well as free from the stress shelters can cause, and helps the pet find a good fit for their future home as their current owner knows them best.

Assisting with advertising the pet for new owners, vetting potential new owners for the best fit, and paperwork help to ensure everything is legal in the transition process are all ways the PASS program can help an owner re-home their pet.

********

A PASS program is vital in every community to allow owners to keep their pets when they are in need of help, and help pets find a new home safely without having to go through a shelter system!

 

Live Mascots

One of the many amazing traditions to come out of our University systems is, of course, the mascot.  As a University of Wisconsin alum, I can tell you we all have a soft spot in our hearts for Bucky Badger.  But there is a split on how a University will portray their mascot.  In Wisconsin, Bucky Badger is represented at our events is via a costume a college student is wearing.  And to be honest, for a long time, I though that was how mascots were represented.  All Big Ten Conference teams pay students to dress up as the mascot for events, and that seems like a fun, goofy way to earn a paycheck!

But after leaving Wisconsin and moving to Texas, I came to learn quite quickly that there is another way Universities represent their mascot:  with live animals.  College campuses like Colorado State University (ram), University of Colorado-Boulder (buffalo), University of Texas (longhorn cow), Louisiana State University (tiger), and dozens of other Universities have a live animal that they bring out to sporting events, parades, etc to show off and have be their mascot.

While I can appreciate a sense of tradition and college spirit, I do think we have reach a time in our history as a species where we no longer should be abusing animals for our benefit.  These poor animals, most of them wild animals, are run through full stadiums of screaming people, subjected to the sounds of fans, bands, and, in the case of Colorado State University, also the sounds of cannons being blown.

It is time for us to retire all live mascots, and allow them to live out their natural lives in the appropriate setting, whether at a farm or at a sanctuary.  Please join me in contacting the athletic director of any and all Universities that you know use live animals for their mascots.  Below are the contact emails for each of the four athletic directors of the Universities I have mentioned in this post.  If your college uses a live mascot and is not mentioned here, please put them in the comments so we can all reach out to them with you.

Please be courteous in your email/phone calls and simply respectfully request that they please retire their live mascot and stick with people dress up to represent them instead.

Colorado State University – Joe Parker, 970-491-3350

University of Colorado – Boulder – Rick George, 303-492-6843

University of Texas – Mike Perrin, 512-471-5757

Louisiana State University – Joe Alleva, 225-578-3600

A Puppy or Kitten For Christmas!

It’s that time of the year, when the kiddos are asking Santa for what they wish for the most.  And, without fail, many of those kiddos will ask for a puppy or kitten.  Even my brother and I received a puppy as children for Christmas when my parents fell in love with a little runt a few days before the holiday.  If you are at risk of giving in to the pleas, here are a few tips!

  • keep in mind, the puppy doesn’t care it’s winter and you do still have to potty train.  I’ve done it, it’s not the most fun thing in the world to stand in the freezing cold and dark to get your little guy to finally pee, but you can definitely survive it!  Just make sure to keep this in mind so you are prepared once you bring the little one home.
  • PLEASE opt to adopt your new addition to the family.  There are pet stores that make those designer puppies and kittens look extra cute for the holidays, but please do not support the puppy mill industry.  While those little ones are cute, their parents are stuck in a hell on earth back at the mill.  Instead, go to your local animal shelter and give a cutie the forever home they deserve.
  • Consider an adult pet!  While puppies and kittens are cute, they are also a TON of work.  Consider getting a pet that’s a year or more old.  They’ll have bladders that last all night and you’ll already know their personality/size/how they do with kids/etc.  And don’t worry, you can definitely teach a pet of any age new tricks!

Good luck with your new addition to your family and Happy Holidays!

15192741_10154864983618825_1632337646808421575_n