Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Happy Birthday to Mr Custard

This letter is going into the November issue of Dogs Today, and also included below is the first installment of Maverick's story...

I have a 'nearly' 10-year-old Rottie named Maverick (aka Mr Custard) who started displaying symptoms of osteosarcoma in March; he was eventually diagnosed in April (and that's another story). Luckily, I have been subscribing to Dogs Today for some years now and had read the article on John Carter and CV247 (April 2009). My vet knew nothing about CV247 and suggested it would be better to just continue with the steroids as life expectancy was very poor for this type of cancer (between four to six weeks). I stood my ground and asked for a referral to Barbara at Oakwood Vets in Oswestry (incidentally, Barbara was Maverick's first vet, as she was the breeder's vet so he has come full circle). He started on CV247 and the special diet following that visit.
So here we are in August and Maverick is still with us. We take each day as it comes and let Maverick tell us how many walks he can manage. His cancer is in his left shoulder so he limps quite heavily, but he has already enjoyed two holidays in Devon and the New Forest respectively that he wouldn't have otherwise had.
It's quite a lonely journey, as, just like humans, each dog will respond differently and you will have to overcome numerous problems along the way. Maverick does not like taking any form of medicine/tablets and has always been a picky eater, so we have discovered new ways of disguising tablets etc. He also started to have a very unpleasant smell emanating from his skin (as one friend kindly explained: well, that's because he's rotting from the inside out!). Fortunately, this smell has now stopped, so I can only presume he's stopped rotting! Our worry now is the bone shattering just from walking or the odd occasion when Maverick feels like a run when our backs are turned! We know this would then be the end of the road for him and it would be very unfair, as he has been so brave and uncomplaining.
It's really important for people to hear about this treatment so they can understand that there is an alternative to chemotherapy/radiotherapy, as I cannot find anything positive on the internet about osteosarcoma. It seems that no one offers any hope with this sort of diagnosis.
Perhaps a yearly feature/update in the magazine would be a possibility, for both old and new readers alike?I have not yet found anyone else who has heard of CV247 - how sad.
Kathryn and Mark Smith, Maverick and Quiver, by email

Hi Beverley
Today is Maverick's 10th birthday - a birthday he was never expected to make! I have attached a photo of him enjoying the special organic birthday cake I made for him along with his friends;- Chloe, Gemma, Honey and Quiver. If you look closely you can just about see how his left shoulder (that has the tumour) compares with his good right one.

He had his third holiday this year over Bank Holiday. We went back to Ross Park caravan site in Devon (an ideal site for dog owners) where we had previously been in June. We could draw some interesting comparisons from this little holiday. In June we had a pitch much closer to the lovely dog walk & Maverick could just about get there, go to the toilet and then have to lie down before we could get him back, this time our pitch was further away & not only could he get there but he also had a mooch and a sniff around covering far more ground so although his limp is quite severe and has not changed, something must have for him to feel more like walking.

We did have quite a scare though! On the Friday we had planned to see the Red Arrows in Dartmouth so had planned the logistics quite carefully. We caught the ferry from Totnes into Dartmouth as this involved the least amount of walking for Maverick however due to his excitement to get on the ferry he banged his leg on something - his screams were awful - we really thought he had broken his leg & felt sick to the core, luckily after some soothing rubs from his dad he calmed down & as soon as we got onto dry land I quickly bought some Arnica and gave him those every couple of hours. No lasting damage seemed apparent - phew - that was really close!!

Further to Heidi's blogs I have bought some apricot kernels and have now started to give him those. The woman in the well known natural food shop said that she has a gentleman who comes in regularly for his to help with his cancer.

We went to the 'normal' unsupportive vets last week as Maverick has been intermittently passing dark urine with no other symptoms. Vet said there is blood in it and prescribed antibiotics, not sure if they are helping. So back on the rollercoaster of worrying what every day will bring, vet also said that she felt his limp was significantly worse. I disputed this as his limp is no worse than when she saw him in July and tried to explain that by comparison he is actually walking further now than July (Mav hates the vets so we leave him in the car for the consultation and only briefly get him out for a few steps so she only ever sees a snapshot of his walking whilst he growls at her). She still feels that this progression of his cancer is normal for him and its not the CV247 that's helping, I feel he would be long gone without it!