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More About Hemangiosarcoma
Hemangiosarcoma is a blood-borne cancer. It can affect any part of the body, but generally hits the spleen and heart. It's known as the silent killer, since by the time any symptoms appear the cancer has generally progressed to a stage where it can no longer be cured.

This is becoming a very common form of cancer, generally occurring in large breed dogs nine years of age or older. German Shepherds and Golden Retriever's seem particularly at risk.

43% of dogs with masses in the spleen are diagnosed with hemangiosarcoma. Survival time post-splenectomy is generally less than 3 months, since in approximately 60% of dogs diagnosed the cancer will have metastasized by the time it is diagnosed. The high rate of metastasis is due to the fact that tumors in the spleen are rarely discovered before they have ruptured, and the rupturing tumor spreads microscopic seeds of cancer throughout the body. The reported mortality rate pre- and post-surgery is 50 - 80%, secondary to clotting disorders (disseminated intravascular coagulation - DIC).

Dogs who survive the surgery and have no identifiable metastasis may survive up to a year with chemotherapy. (I have not found statistics for animals treated holistically.)

When this type of tumor occurs in the heart, it can cause symptoms such as weakness, collapse, difficulty breathing, exercise intolerance and fluid buildup in the abdomen. Accumulation of fluid around the heart from a ruptured tumor, called pericardial effusion, can stop the heart.

Hemangiosarcoma of the skin is often seen in whippets and other short or sparse coated dogs. There is research to indicate that exposure to the sun may be a factor. The prognosis for dogs with this type of tumor is good, provided it is detected and removed in the earliest stages.

Here's a website with more hemangiosarcoma information and a story about a dog who was treated holistically. At that time she had survived two healthy years since her diagnosis.

More health information...


A Dog's Prayer

So do not grieve for me, my friend, as I am with my kind...

My collar is a rainbow's hue
My leash a shooting star
My boundaries are the milky way
Where I sparkle from afar.

There are no pens or kennels here
For I am not confined
But free to roam God's heavens
Among my special kind.

I nap the day on a snowy cloud
With gentle breezes rocking me
I dream the dreams of earthlings
And how it used to be.

The trees are full of liver treats
And tennis balls abound
And milk bones line the walking ways
Just waiting to be found.

There even is a ring set up
The grass all lush and green
And everyone who gaits around
Becomes the "Best Of Breed".

For we're all winners in this place
We have no faults you see
And God passes out the ribbons
To each one--even me.

At night I sleep in angels' arms
Their wings protecting me
And moonbeams dance about us
As stardust falls on thee.

So when your life on earth is spent
And you reach heaven's gate
Have no fear of loneliness
For here, you know I wait.

Author Unknown


It's been a little over a year, and I still have nightmares about losing Wylie. If you are reading this because your dog has been diagnosed with hemangiosarcoma, my heart goes out to you both. I wish I had a story with a happy ending to share with you, but this disease really doesn't offer many happy endings.

This was written in August 2002.

    Looking back, I can see where I'd had little hints that something was wrong. Not many, but I can remember once, maybe twice, when I'd come home to find him laying out in the yard rather than coming to give me his usual rambunctious greeting. It happened the day he was diagnosed. It seemed so insignificant at the time. He was such a great big, gorgeous, happy, healthy greyhound, the one I'd waited for for so long, nothing could be wrong with him. It wasn't until later that night, when he didn't eat his dinner, that anything caught my attention. I took him out of his crate, and his tummy was a little swollen. It didn't seem like bloat, but I felt in my gut that something was wrong. It was early in the evening, and I had a house-sitting job that night. I couldn't leave him without knowing he was ok. One more trip to the emergency vet for an imagined injury or illness. One more $75 "peace of mind" visit. I wished I wasn't quite so neurotic about my babies.

    The vet took one look at him and said, "It looks like he's had a little too much water to drink. I'm sure it's nothing." She took him to the treatment room to do some bloodwork. I waited for well over an hour before she came back into the exam room, leading Wylie and carrying two x-rays.

    Somehow I sensed that she was about to tell me something that was going to be more than I could bear to hear. I knew I was going to lose this dog. I wanted to grab his leash and run - as though I could keep whatever this was from happening if I didn't hear what she was going to say. A feeling of panic started behind my eyeballs and shot down to my heart. I didn't even try to stop the tears. She looked at me and said, with no compassion and more than a hint of impatience, "Are you going to be OK, or do I need to call someone?"

  I tried to compose myself as she lit the viewer and clipped the x-rays to it. She told me it wasn't water making his tummy so swollen; it was blood. He had a tumor on his spleen, and it had ruptured. In her opinion, there was nothing that could be done. He was going to die.

    Maybe this sounds melodramatic. I know many people would say, "What's the big deal? It's only a dog." I won't defend my feelings - not for this dog or any creature. "Only a dog" is a ridiculous sentiment that I refuse to even acknowledge. And this dog was my heart dog. I felt a terrifying black emptiness opening up in front of us.

    The next 18 days were filled with alternating moments of hope and despair as Wylie erratically wavered between beating incredible odds to developing one complication after another. After an ultrasound and a second opinion, I made the decision for him to have surgery to remove his spleen. There was hope that the tumor was not cancerous. I rushed him to a veterinary surgeon at a hospital two hours away, and they operated the next day. The operation left Wylie stitched from the base of his ribcage to his penis. He was in so much pain. I sat on the floor next to his crate for most of the day following his surgery, trying to keep him comfortable and praying that he would be OK. He developed a bleeding disorder and arrhythmia, both common with hemangiosarcoma, and things looked pretty bleak, but the second day after the surgery, he surprised everyone by being ready to go home. That relief ended abruptly. We hadn't been home for more than half an hour before I saw that the bruising had grown past the magic marker outline they had drawn on his chest and stomach. That meant he was bleeding internally again, and we rushed back to the local emergency hospital. For the next two weeks, we had a crisis nearly every day - usually around midnight. Wylie lost about 20 pounds. It kept getting easier and easier to lift him into the back of the Sportage.

    The biopsy revealed that it was hemangiosarcoma. Now I had to decide if I wanted to trade the possibility of a severe reaction to chemo for a few precious months of life. Without chemo, the vet gave him six weeks. I know that dogs often do well with chemotherapy, but I believed that the best way to treat Wylie was with natural remedies, so I scheduled an appointment with a holistic vet a few hours south of us. (See a snips perspective on alternative therapies.)

    Amazingly, Wylie started getting stronger. By the time of his appointment, he was doing so well that this vet felt all we had to do was build up his blood, that he wouldn't need treatment for cancer because she felt the cancer was gone. I was ecstatic. I knew he could do it! He was my wonder dog.

    We slept side by side that night, so when Wylie woke up I knew immediately that something was wrong. He paced restlessly, not listening to me when I asked him to come back and lie down. I checked his gums. They were white. His heart was pounding so fast I couldn't count the beats.

    Through all our visits to the emergency vet (not the one we had seen the first night, thankfully), nights I slept on the floor of the clinic because I couldn't stand to leave him, the day I panicked and hauled him in on a false alarm, the evening I nearly wrecked the car because he stopped breathing, the vet and I talked about what we would do when this time came. Would we give him another pain patch and start blood work all over again in case the relapse was not caused by the hemangiosarcoma, but by something else that could be treated? Would we ride it out in the hope that it would pass? Or would we let him go.

    Standing in the exam room, my dog aged ten years before my eyes. I had to say yes, we need to let him go. It wasn't the first time I had to make that decision, and to hold one of my beloved babies as a vet inserted the euthanasia needle. It was always unbelieveably painful, but this was the first time that I really wished my life would end, too.

     Wylie's spirit left his body so quickly, nearly as soon as the needle entered his vein. I lay next to him for a long time, trying to make myself believe he was just sleeping.

    A year later I still wonder: Did I do the right thing? Would I do it again? I don't know. I did what I had to do. I waited until Wylie said it was time. It took over $6000 to do that. Yes, I could have spayed or neutered a lot of dogs with that much money. Realistically, I shouldn't have gone $6000 further into debt for anything, but I would have spent twice that much - however many times that much - if it could have saved him. Who did I do it for? Both of us, I hope. I regret the pain he went through, but I needed those last days with him, terrifying as they were. I think it was what he wanted, too. The aftermath for me was a depression that pushed me into a life-changing decision, one that I never would have made otherwise. So when I catch a glimpse of him every now and then, I know he's checking up on me, making sure I'm still on track. And he reminds me that he hasn't left me; we're just loving each other from different places now.

    I have no advice for anyone else facing this or any similar illness or injury, other than the obvious. Love your animal child from the very deepest part of your heart. Let him lead the way.

Other events surrounding Wylie's death...


Hi! Thank you for emailing me back and for your interest in our German Shepherd, Kramer. I am totally devastated by his death. I keep wanting this to be a nightmare that i can wake up from but i never do. You know how Moms are usually the center of a family? Well, for our family it was Kramer. He was our world. I always referred to him as "one in a lifetime". He was highly protective of us. He would not allow anyone in our house except our immediate family. Whenever anyone came over, we had to put Kramer in another room until they left. To the rest of the world, he was this big fiece animal but to our family he was the gentliest and most loving and loyal dog anyone could ever hope to be blessed with. He just always wanted to be around us. He would go outside, do what he had to do, and then come right back inside just because he loved being with us. Whenever any of us left the house, he would bark and try to gently snip at us because he didnt want us to leave. This is how extremely special Kramer was.

Reading your letter has helped me so much and for that i want to thank you Lori. I am feeling all the things you went through. I am 48 years old and this has been the single most devastating loss of my life. My heart is broken and being ripped out each day. I am trying to keep busy because i know i need to move on for my familys sake but during the day something will happen that makes me totally break down like a baby. I miss him so very very much and i just want him back yet i know thats not possible.

Just like you said in your letter, it really irritates me when people make thoughtless and stupid remarks like "it was just an animal". I loved Kramer more than i have loved some human beings in my life. To some that may be sad, but to me that says so much about the specialness of this amazing German Sheperd. I have had dogs growing up as a child and we still have Norman, our Shetland Sheepdog and i love him very much but with Kramer there was a specialness that words just cant explain. You had to know him as we did to know what im talking about and feeling.

This is what happened to my sweet Kramer. I would love to have his story on your website in hopes it can help even one person out there. The middle of November we had to put Kramer and our Shetland Sheepdog in the kennel to go back to New Jersey to go to the funeral of my father in law who passed away after suffering for years with Alzheimer's. I would call even when away every other day to make sure my dogs were doing well. When we got back the end of November we noticed Kramer wasnt himself. But i know after being in the kennel it takes some times a couple weeks before they are back to themselves. A couple weeks passed and he wasnt eating like he usually does. Normally he would eat four cups of food a day, now he was barely managing half that. I would even get on the floor to spoon feed him to make sure he got down that much. Yet there were some days where he would eat it all at one time. We discussed bringing him in to the vet, almost certain he had hip problems which these dogs are prone to getting. But then it seemed he would get days where he seemed more like himself, had that sparkle in his eye so we figured he was just suffering with hip problems and was having some good days as well as bad. We did at one point talk to our vet and ask to put him on Rimadyl for hip pain and the vet gave us samples and we then proceeded to purchase this drug for him. He seems to be doing alot better at first with the medication but then we noticed it wasnt helping much. It just seemed each time we thought of bringing him in for either a blood test or an xray the next day he would perk up and again we attributed it to him having good and bad days with his hips. ALso we recently moved into a new home and our stairs are not carpeted. Each night Kramer came into my husbands and mines bedroom . Kramer did have a couple falls down a two or three of the steps but we never thought anything of that because he picked himself up and was totally fine,,wanting to go out for the morning and then coming in like he did every other morning. So again, it just confirmed what we so believed that he was having hip problems. I must say something that may seem strange to you but its true nonetheless. I at times in my life have this "gift" of feeling things and knowing something is wrong. Each time my husband brought up a blood test, something deep inside of me cried out silently, "NO". I just was so frightened of this test Lori for some reason. The final week or so, we started noticing Kramer wouldnt leave the deck to use the backyard to go to the bathroom. I had to gently nudge him to go down. Again, there was the hip problem we were convinced he had. The night we brought him in, my husband brought him outside to watch him and noticed he squatted to urinate then fell down because his back legs couldnt take his weight. We noticed also his abdomen was becoming distented. Right away we called our vet and brought him in. Thats when we got the life changing devastating news. He told us he was fairly certain he had Hemangiosarcoma and recommended euthanasia. That wasnt good enough for us. We could never make that painful decision without knowing for certain there was nothing we could do. So we told the vet we wanted exploratory surgery that night. Kramer was in very bad condition. His white blood cells were dangerously low. The vet even told us with him being so weak the anesthesia alone could kill him. But Kramer being Kramer, i knew he would get through that and God Bless him, he did. The nurse came out about 35-40 minutes later and told us the worst possible news..Kramer had exactly what we had feared. My husband insisted on going back into the operating room to look for himself. He is in the medical field. Kramer had a baseball -sized tumor on his spleen that had ruptured and the distention in his belly was blood seeping our from this. The cancer had metastasized to his liver, his fat tissue and his lymph nodes. With the help of God we had to make a horrible decision. There was no way on Gods green earth i could allow my sweet loyal Kramer to suffer a painful death so we did the only thing we could for him at that point and let his heart stop and be brought back up heaven with our Lord. Sitting here now im breaking down. He had just turned 9 years old on Monday the 20th of this month, two days before he died. It was so damn sudden Lori, and he was taken from us way before he should have been. I am so angry and so totally lost and devastated and i just dont know at this point how to make alife without this angel of a dog God blessed us with for nine short years! At times i feel like i just cant go on yet i know i have to but i dont know how. I miss him so much my heart aches so deeply for him. I am a stay at home mom and have been for over 20 years so the last nine of those years i have spent almost every waking moment with my sweet Kramer. I would talk tohim all day long. He was my constant companion and loyal friend. What is so upsetting with this cancer is its called the "silent killer". The vet told us by the time you know something is wrong with your pet, its already too late. I treated Kramer like one of my own children, He went to the vet each year and was on heartworm and i took all precaution to make sure he was always healthy and well. To learn he had all this going on inside him body and we were helpless to help him or stop this makes it even that much more painful. With all of the medical advances why isnt there something that could detect this before its too late?! We ask why didnt the vet ever tell us these dogs are prone to this cancer..if we had known this we would have had blood test routinely down to track this hideous disease but we were ignorant to this and had no idea at all Kramer was at risk for such illness.

The night he passed on we had to make a decision as to what to do with his remains. We elected to have him privately cremated and picked up Kramers remains yesterday. In many years it gives me comfort to have his earthly remains still with us. For my husband that comfort isnt there yet i pray in time it will be. But even after his death i had to do the right thing by him. For all the joy and happiness that dog gave to me and my family, i would never allow him to be buried in the yard, or cremated with other animals that were strangers to him or be cremated and have his remains tossed aside like he was nothing. So for me the choice was clear...i had to do right by this sweet angel of a dog. So now, he sits on our mantel and im in the process of making alittle memorial to him to last always! I pray when i reach the end of the road i see him up in Heaven waiting for me.

Im sorry if this letter is a tad long but i wanted to tell you as best i could my story and our live with an amazing dog. Thank you Lori for listening and i hope Kramers story will be put on your website.

I wanted to ask you how you are doing now. Does the pain lessen with time, Lori? All i know is im totally and completely devastated with Kramers loss. I see him all over the house, I cant even look in the backyard without my heart breaking. If there are any suggestions or advice you can share with me to help me through this i would so much appreciate it because like i said, im just lost without him.

Again, thank you sooo much.
God Bless You,

Of course I can't say I know exactly how you're feeling, but I do want you to know that I'm sitting here crying along with you. I can't articulate just exactly how it's different to lose your dog to hemangiosarcoma versus another disease - even another type of cancer. There is just something very evil about it. The way it strikes is so devastating - it's sudden and violent and irreversible. Like you, I've had a lot of loss in my life, but this was the experience that almost put me over the edge. I remember looking at Wylie and thinking, "This has got to stop. It can't happen. It can't be happening. I can not bear this. It will either kill me or I will go insane." I begged God not to take this dog.

I still cry sometimes. I think about Wy every day. But it does get better. For a long time I didn't think it would, but one day, I felt better. The best thing I did was write the story for the webpage. Getting my thoughts down in black and white was a big part of the healing process. And I did the same thing as you. Wylie was cremated. I have all my kids cremated, and one day all our ashes will be mixed together. That gives me a real sense of peace. (I started doing this before I got married, and told my husband that that's the way it's going to be. He's welcome to join us if he'd like.)

Your Kramer sounds like he was really an amazing creature. You were so lucky to have each other. My only advice is to keep talking to him like he's still there, because he most likely is. I don't know about your religious beliefs, but I believe that they stay here with us, at least for a while. I still see Wylie, partly I think because I am open to his energy. The first time I saw him was the beginning of my healing. I knew that he was fine, and still with me. Part of "being open to his energy" is telling myself that I believe he can show himself to me. He is the only one I actually see, others have appeared in dreams that weren't really dreams, or just in my having a very strong sense of their presence. (I just added some stories to the website about different experiences I've had saying goodbye. One of the most amazing was following the death of my Bonnie, my dear little whippet. It's at: in case you'd like to read it.)

You may be surprised now how much your relationship with Norman changes now. I'm sure he's feeling Kramer's loss, too, so you need to comfort each other. Having Zack (my other boy greyhound) to come home to on the morning that Wylie died kept me from completely going off the deep end. Being with him made me feel closer to Wylie. At that time, it was just me and my animals, and Zack was my lifeline.

I am going to copy your story to the web site right now. I know that it will help others who are going through this sadness, and I thank you for offering it.

Please keep in touch to let me know how you're doing.

For Kramer and Wylie.


Dear Lori,

My girl (Dolly) died this past Saturday morning from Hemangiosarcoma. I'm
still balling every minute of every day and found some solice from your letter (and from Sandy's letter) you posted about the trials you went through trying to save your little boy. I've found very little in each day that actually makes me feel like a whole person, but after reading your letter, I know I can get through this. I need to for my little boy/buddy, Buster, who was Dolly's soulmate, best friend and guardian.

I would love to give my story in the hopes that it helps another person who happens upon your website, or perhaps it might help you and/or Sandy. You both loved your kids so much, you both are incredible, loving parents and the world needs more parents like you in order to make this a happy place for dogs (and cats) of all kinds.

My story begins with Dolly...

I am putting together a website that will have almost a hundred photos by
the time I'm done. You can check out the start of it by visiting... I hope you don't mind but I posted the poem you
had on your site!

I rescued Dolly from a pound almost 14 years ago, when she was a young pup. I was walking by her cage in the pound when something licked my finger as my hands were dangling at my side walking through the pound. It was Dolly who had licked my hand as I walked by, and I knew that instant she was going to be the one I spoiled rotten for many years to come. We went through so many things together and were joined by Buster after just 2 years. Dolly picked out Buster - so they were instantly best buds and completely inseparable and I love them both equally in every way. They go together like peanut butter and jelly, cheese and crackers, and every other analogy you can think of. They were there for me every single step of the way. Always wagging their tails and being - you know, mans BEST friends. I totally understand what both of you have said about dogs being family. They are so a part of my family. If another person asks me if I'm "replacing" Dolly, I'm going to go postal! She's not a roll of paper towels. I just tell everyone that Buster is a one woman dog and leave it at that. It's pointless to try to explain in great detail because I don't have the energy and because even some dog owners just do not understand.

Since she was almost 14, I thought her recent sluggishness and lack of appetite were a result of her getting on in her years and arthritis. Just a month and half ago I started Dolly on Rimadyl on the advice of my vet (over the phone). I would give every limb on my body to go back in time a month and half to change my decision and take her to the vet to be diagnosed/looked at. But, the Rimadyl worked wonders and I kept/keep telling myself that she did have arthritis and that taking the Rimadyl at least made her last month and half enjoyable. In retrospect, I believe the Rimadyl masked her symptoms. I am such a doting dad, I take my pooches in for blood work twice a year, and take them in to the vet when they so much as breathe funny. I can't believe I didn't take her into the vet, it just seemed like an arthritis/old age thing - I wish to god I had read these websites before.

I will never forgive myself for not taking her into the vet. The only thing that helps me is that the vet probably would not have caught it either and it had probably already spread, but I'll never know. I didn't give my little girl the chance. This is the part where my stomach wrenches and I can't breathe. But, she seemed to do so much better on Rimadyl - I thought she was fine.

Friday night, I was spending the evening with my dogs, watching a movie. All was fine and we were laughing about how Dolly's tail was knocking everything off the coffee table. She was so cute, and Buster was giving her a hard time, playing with her. They were so happy. Then it was time for bed. She came inside from going out to pee and she could not move. There was snow outside and I wondered if she had slipped. She seemed queezy. She recovered a bit and then hobbled upstairs and I helped her into bed. A couple hours later I woke up to find her curled in a corner, hardly able to breathe, and she was desparately trying to stand up but her back legs could not move. She was helpless. I immediately rushed her into the vet, almost dying myself as she was laboring so hard just to stay alive. It was gut wrenching since she seemed so incredibly FINE until this happened. The symptoms I mentioned before were so minor and only in hindsight do they seem like something that should have concerned me, since she was eating and getting around just fine - though again in retrospect she had a slight loss of appetite and some sluggishness.

The doctor came out to say he thought her spleen had ruptured due to cancer and her stomach was filled with blood. My whole body shut down, but then he said surgery was an option as long as it had not spread. So, he ran some very quick x-rays and tests, with no sign of spreading to the lungs or heart. He said we could either put her down or have surgery. She was on oxygen and struggling to stay alive. Everything was running through my head, her being in surgery and then coming out reeling in pain, and then dying. Her going through months of torturous chemo, you name it. The doctor assured me that if the cancer was only in her spleen, she could have some nice quality of life for 6 months or so. I could not give up on her that easy, I din't care if it costs 100 years of salary. So, on with the surgery, and we went off to bring the blood samples to the local hospital for a quick lab report. Well, the gutwrenching news was that it was not her spleen that had ruptured, it was her liver that was bleeding, the cancer from her liver. The cancer was not only in her spleen but also in a deep/remote area of her liver. The vet said there was nothing they could do - and he put her to sleep during surgery. He made it sound like there was no choice.

I then began to think the next day maybe there was a choice. Why did I not ask the right questions in the heat of the moment? I was so distraught and he made it sound like it was the best thing to do, but she was counting on me to make those decisions. But, in the end I think the vet was right. It had already spread and getting it out from that spot in her liver would have been torture for her recovery. And, since the blood had polluted her entire body it would have spread far too quickly. She would have recovered only to die in a few weeks. I'm still confused. Did I do the right thing? Did the vet not tell me everything? After reading these articles and looking through the web, it sounds like I'm not the only one to have gone through something like this.

I'm sorry about your babies, Wylie and Kramer. I would like to think they are all in another place looking down on us and are actually worried about us and are quite happy. I can only hope. I hope one day that I'll be able to dream of her like I do my father. I spend some great quality time with my dad in my dreams and I love having those dreams. They are so real. I hope I can one day be able to dream of Dolly and enjoy them, rather than cry at the thought. Right now I start crying (yes guys cry all the time) just by looking at her paw prints she left in the snow that are melting. Her food bowl, her bed, the spot where she got sick the night she left us. UGH. So much sorry - I just don't know how to deal with it. Again, reading your letters has really helped me. I feel better knowing that others loved their dogs as much as I did. Please check out the website of her pictures and say a little prayer for her, and I will definitely do the same for Wylie and Kramer.

If you post this - thank you. If not, I feel better just having written it and having read your stories. It helps knowing what others suffered through and don't feel that dogs are just replaceable. I need to continue to spoil Buster, he's counting on me. And he can be rest assured, he's getting a blood test, x-rays and mri's on a regular basis. I don't care what my vet says. Two blood tests a year and constant checkups is not enough.

Thank you again!


In May 2002 my husband and I returned from an overnight trip. When we opened the door, our beagle was impatiently waiting to greet us, but Chloe, our Black Lab/German Shepherd mix was visibly missing. I knew immediately something was terribly wrong. As I walked passed the dining room, I noticed Chloe laying on the carpet, too weak to get up. I called our friend who was pet sitting for us and he said she was fine the night before, but he thought it odd that she didn't want to eat her breakfast, and she also appeared a little wobbly when she went out to go to the bathroom that morning. She was 9 years old and always appeared to be in perfect health. She always got her yearly exams and shots and ate a high quality dog food (no table scraps).

We rushed her to the emergency vet and, after some initial blood work we were told she was severely anemic. During the physical exam, they noticed a swelling in her abdomen. They did an ultra sound and took xrays, which showed a large mass inside of her spleen. Since the mass was so large, the decision was to remove the spleen. The biopsy diagnosis turned out positive for hemangiosarcoma. The vet gave us the devastating news explaining that it is a fast-spreading fatal cancer that usually metastasizes within 60-120 days. Because the cancerous mass was in her spleen, and the spleen filters the blood, the cancer cells were being circulated with her blood throughout her body. There was no way to tell how long this silent killer was growing.

After the surgery, she bounced back and was back to her wonderful self in just a few short days. She lasted 9 months (which surprised everyone) but the cancer metastasized to her heart. Her heart and the pericardial sac swelled to the size of a small basketball inside her chest. She could no longer breathe properly or lay down comfortably, and could no longer use the stairs. I slept on the living room floor with her for 3 weeks so she wouldn't be alone during the night. When her abdomen filled with fluid, we had the vet perform an abdominocentesis to drain the fluid to make her more comfortable. Unfortunately, the cancerous mass on the aorta was inoperable. It tore us up to have her euthanized, but we tried everything possible. It was time to end her suffering and let her go. We had three other pets euthanized over the years, but their illnesses came on gradually and lasted over many years, so we had plenty of time to prepare. THIS disease was just so quick and so CRUEL and that's what makes it so horrific.

Chloe was the most gentle and just the sweetest dog anyone could ever imagine. She was always with our 4 grandchildren (ages 1, 2, 3 & 4) and I NEVER worried that she might hurt them. They would hug her, kiss her face, dress her up, and use her as a pillow when they laid on the floor to watch TV. If they were walking around the house with a cookie and were right at her face level, she wouldn't so much as even lick the cookie, let alone try to take it from them. If they would cry, she would immediately run to wherever they were to investigate, then run to me and get that anxious, nervous look. Our 4 cats loved her too. They would take turns cuddling with her and many times would nap in the clutches of her paws, while she gently licked their heads. Our beagle and Chloe were inseparable. They ate together, played together, slept together and chased squirrels together. Each time Chloe was hospitalized, the beagle would sit for hours at the dining room window just staring at the driveway, waiting for her to come home. After Chloe left for the last time and didn't return, the beagle would whimper and whine and walk from room to room looking for her. It was as if she knew Chloe was never coming back. The beagle would go for days without eating and wouldn't come upstairs to bed at night. She would just lay in the foyer by the front door during the night. This went on for weeks. Till this day, she no longer shows an interest in chasing the squirrels anymore. She found a new place to sleep in the living room, since she has never again slept in the corner that she shared with Chloe all their years together.

I am crying while I write this letter. It has been six months and I am still grieving. We ALL miss her so much and we still have haunting questions like, "Is there ANY way we could have known that something was SO wrong before it got SO bad? How can something so terrible be so undetectable? Knowing now that her age and her breed fit the profile for this horrible disease, should we have been warned about the possibility, just like we were educated about the possibility of hip disorders?"

Our vets at the Village Animal Hospital in Charlottesville were just as upset as we were over Chloe's impending fate. When the time came for euthanization, the entire staff cried with us. It was so comforting to be surrounded by a group of animal lovers who felt our pain as if she belonged to them. Chloe is buried at the Riverview Cemetery in Charlottesville, next to another of our dogs who lost her life to cancer in 1997. I visit them on my lunch break every chance I get. Riverview Cemetery is a "people" cemetery with an animal section.

Lori, thank you for your website and letting me tell Chloe's story.


My ordeal begins with my beloved “Jocko” (a beautiful shepherd/collie mix) that we rescued from a parking lot of a Pets-Mart in December of 1995. He was just a puppy approx. six weeks old. I had just recently lost a beloved pet fourteen years when we got “Jocko”. I also was going through brain surgery; radiation and related issues do to a brain tumor at the time. I grew quite attached to “Jocko” he became my therapy, my companion, my very best friend. Over the next 8-½ years he proved to be the most loyal, faithful being I had ever known. He was so smart and in-tune we knew what each other was feeling at any given time. Just before the world, as we knew it changed in a very dark and empty way, “Jocko” as usual was the peak of health, clearing picnic tables to catch Frisbees. He, by the way was the Frisbee catching Champion of the world! The next day he turned his nose up at his usual dry food (that was of course organic and bottled water, vitamins, and healthy treats, plenty of exercise, even his own being/companion “Tasha” that we love very much; more love than he could stand) but would still eat his soft (treat) food. I first thought he might have had a sore tooth, so I made a vet appointment. Two days later… the day of his appointment he had just started to act somewhat tired. At the vet the doctor said his teeth where “fine” and noted his gums were a little white and thought he might be anemic. He did a red blood count test that confirmed he was. We settled on bringing him back for possibly x-ray and or ultrasound over the week “Jocko” improved drastically, but by Friday morning he was in bad shape. I rushed him to the vet and the doctor called me an hour later and said he had done emergency surgery to remove his spleen, which had a ruptured tumor and was recovering nicely. I could hardly absorb what was happing. I was to hopefully pick him Monday and get the biopsy results shortly after. Well by Monday he was doing great and I brought him home, I was informed that if the test came back as non-cancerous we could be fine and live a fairly normal life... but if it showed to be cancerous probably not so good. Well “Jocko” was doing just better and better for those couple days, by Wednesday I called that morning as soon as the vet opened and got the sledge-hammer to the center of my chest… “My buddy has cancer” I asked “so… what he might live, two days, two years… what?” the vet told me probably not two months. OH… MY… GOD! I thought I was having a nightmare. Then a little later I noticed “Jocko” was panting, I checked his gums they were white and very cold… oh no! I rushed him to the vet. By time I got him there he could not even walk. I carried him in, laid him on the table and as the voice in front of me said “probably not much we can do” I wanted to die. I stood there with my beloved heart lying on the table, labored breathing, going down hill fast and made the horrible, dreadful decision to not let him suffer and held my baby (sobbing) as they gave him the shot. It did not just end there, he needed second shot because he had the spirit and heart of a lion and did not want to let go. I told the vet if he doesn’t go soon you would have to stick the next one in me! My beloved “Jocko-pop” did not suffer… but died peacefully in my arms. A piece of me died with him. I will be looking forward to seeing him again someday in Heaven over the Rainbow Bridge. I will miss you dearly, until then my Jocko-pop.

Love, Daddy


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The Spay/Neuter Incentive Project and Sanctuary
 snips other things... 
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The Rest of the Story...

    Shortly before Wylie was diagnosed, I received a phone call from a woman who needed some help. She desperately needed someone to keep her dog and three cats for an indefinite amount of time. Her story was fairly incredible. She was a flight attendant who had been diagnosed with Stage 4 Lymphoma five years prior. She'd had to quit her job shortly after the diagnosis, and had spent the last five years beating the disease. Her financial resources were at an end, and she needed to go back to work. She had recently moved from Charlottesville to Florida to live with a friend who promised to help take care of the animals when she went back to work. Shortly after the woman's arrival, the friend had decided that the animals were not welcome. The woman needed to attend a five week reorientation and training class, followed by an overseas flight in order to return to her old job, but she had no one to care for her animals during this time. She was out of options.

    Christine found about snips from a friend in Charlottesville whose daughter had just adopted a dog from us. When she told me her story of course I said that her that the animals were welcome to stay with me for as long as she needed them to. Soon after our conversation, Persephone, Sage, Crystal and Belle joined the snips gang while their mom went on to Texas to complete her retraining.

    Christine had been gone for a few weeks when she made one of her "check in" calls. She could tell by the sound of my voice that something was wrong, so I told her about Wylie. He'd just had his surgery, and both he and I were exhausted from everything we were going through. Christine was quiet for a minute, then she said that she needed to tell me something. I think she was worried that I might think she was crazy, so she started off a little hesitantly. She told me that she had gotten pretty desperate when she was in Florida looking for somewhere to live and someone to take care of the animals. When things were looking like she'd have to at least give up the cats, she decided to talk to a psychic. She told the woman that she really and truly believed - in fact she knew without a doubt - that the animals had been her angels throughout her ordeal. She knew that they'd helped save her life, and that was all there was to it. She asked for guidance in what to do. The psychic told her that she was right, that the animals had played a large part in her recovery, and that they were healers. She also told Christine that the Perseph and the kitties were going to stay with someone else who needed them - that they had someone else to heal.

    None of this sounded strange to me. In fact, it was quite in line with things that I'd believed since I was a child. Once she heard this, Christine said that we needed to talk more when she came to pick up the animals.

    Christine is a beautiful woman, with long dark hair and a wonderful, serene presence. She glows with health and vitality. It was hard to believe that a few years ago, her doctors had told her that she had fewer than six months to live. They told her that if she had a dream, anything that she wanted to do before she died, that "now was the time to do it." She'd had a vision of herself swimming with the dolphins, white dolphins, but she was too weak and sick to attempt it. So she decided to envision herself swimming with them, and spent night after night meditating on that vision. She always saw herself surrounded by five white dolphins, who swam around her, enveloping her in a beautiful, healing light. She began to get better. Soon, she was well enough to fly to Hawaii to find out more about these dolphins. As soon as she arrived, she met a fellow cancer survivor. This woman was involved in dolphin rescue. Christine told her about her vision, laughing about the white dolphins. There was no such thing as a white dolphin, was there? She soon found out that there was, in fact she met five.

    She found that, during her illness, she had found a way to tap into her own healing ability, aided by these dolphins as well as her own animal companions. She found herself able to assist others with their own healing. She offered to work with Wylie. We knew that the someone who needed Perseph and the kitties' healing powers as predicted by the psychic was Wylie. And the psychic had said that the animals were going to heal him.

    The day after she returned to pick up Persephone and the kitties, Christine called me. She said she'd had a visit from Wylie during the night. It was very intense. He'd come to her in a dream, as she stood in the ocean surrounded by her five white dolphins. She'd held him as the dolphins swam around them. Wylie had given her a sense that he was healthy and strong, but he'd told her that he needed to make a decision as to whether he was going to stay on this plane or move on. He'd have to decide soon. He told her that he loved me and didn't want to go, but that his decision had to be based on something beyond his wish to stay with me. He also told her that he had another name that he wanted her to use when they communicated. Christine asked me what that might be. I told her that his track name was "Whitey." Christine laughed. "Whitey" was also the name of the leader of her dolphins, the big white male. A big white boy just like Wylie. We felt that these were good signs.

    The holistic vet we visited also felt that "Whitey's" spirit was strong. She was convinced that he was already well, and that we just had to help him regain his strength. After his visit with the vet, we went to a state park and had a little picnic. We took a short walk and watched a waterfall. Several people commented on what a beautiful dog he was. He seemed so at peace, like he'd passed through some sort of trial and was victorious. He was happy. I was happy. He was going to be fine.

    Somehow, all the signs were wrong. It wasn't to be, and 36 hours later Wylie was gone.

    But two moths after that day, the day when I was convinced that the rest of my life would hold very little happiness, I met my human soulmate. Four months later, I ended my 16 years in Virginia without a second thought, joining him in Columbus, Ohio. I'd grown up in Ohio, in fact I'd spent two years in Columbus just before moving to Virginia. I'd often said I'd never go back, but during my last few years in Virginia, since my dad had died, I felt an urgency to return. But I hadn't the means - or the energy - to find a place where I could move with my menagerie and find a new job to support us all. I'd dug myself in pretty deep, and hadn't realized that I was pushing myself way beyond my physical limits. I was convinced that I could work full time as a legal seminar planner, run a spay/neuter and adoption service, dogsit, and take care of the 35 or so animals that shared my life - including feeding them home prepared food and studying natural health and complementary therapies. What I really wanted to do was start my own animal wellness practice, but I knew that I'd never have the time to take the courses that I'd need. I pushed the dream aside and kept taking on more and more responsibility.

   Wylie's death pushed me to the brink, both emotionally and physically. I couldn't stop crying, and had to face the fact that if I didn't make some changes soon there were going to be some dire consequences. I had the others to think of. I had to find some balance. I had to take care of myself.

    So I did.

    Soon afterwards, Wylie started coming back. The first time, I was dogsitting, snuggling on the sofa with a little schnauzer in my arms, and her buddy, a little wire fox terrier at my feet. We were watching TV. I looked at the end of the couch, and instead of the fox terrier, there lay Wylie. He was watching TV, too. It seemed like the most natural thing in the world to see him there. He turned to look at me, and I said "Hi Wy." Then he was gone, and I was left with this incredible sense of being loved. Another time I saw two greyhound noses peeking around the corner when there should have only been one.

    Now I find myself married to the most wonderful man, someone who accepts me and my wild bunch of four-footers without blinking an eye and who keeps me feeling that amazing sense of being loved. Finding the one person who I could love with all my heart allowed me to walk away from the life I'd been leading, the one I loved but that had consumed me. It was time to move on, and I did. Because of my husband, I'm following that old dream: taking classes in homeopathy, acupressure, massage, Bach's flower remedies and aromatherapy. I have a job I love, working with a groomer. Soon I'll start the wellness practice I'd written off as impossible.

    It's 4:00 am, and I really need to get to bed. I started this two hours ago, when I had a realization. Out of the blue, it hit me. The psychic wasn't wrong. We'd just misinterpreted what she'd said. Persephone and the kitties did help with a healing. It's just that the being who got healed was me.

Back to Wylie's Story.


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