Saturday, January 17, 2009


This blog is created under sad circumstances.  However, it could also stand as a place where hope and happy memories are recorded as well.  But first, introductions are necessary.  This is Charlie Blue:

Charlie Blue is a 2 and 1/2 year old blue weimaraner that enriches Austin's and my life.  He moved into our first house with us (and ate our brand new molding and trim), rode in my first new car (and chewed through the seat belt when left alone for a quick run in to the store), and is the perfect model for my many photographic whims and whimseys.  Charlie loves running laps in the back yard, barking at fenced-in dogs while on a walk, sun-bathing on the back porch on weekends, eating anything peanut butter, and playing with his uncles Beuford and Louie while I'm at work.  He also likes car rides, the beach, dog park, and puppies.  Charlie just became a big brother when we brought home Miss Nora Nora right before Christmas.  Charlie does not like late nights, water, or dogs that want to hump him.  Here's Charlie with Nora Nora at the beach:

This picture was taken the day Charlie's world began to change dramatically.  On New Year's Day night, Charlie started acting strange.  He pawed at us and refused to lay down.  When we went to pet him, we noticed his stomach was as hard as a rock.  We rushed to the pet ER down the street fearing that he had bloat.  Several hours later (and several hundred dollars later as well) the ER vets stared mystified at a very foggy x-ray of Charlie's abdomen.  He was given pain killers and sent home with an appointment at his regular vet the next morning.  

The next day, at the regular vet, Charlie was given an ultrasound and blood and urine samples were taken.  The ultrasound revealed several masses in his kidneys, uretors, and on his spine.  The vets were uncertain as to the cause of these masses and began testing for a bacterial infection.  Various possibilities few around the exam room- kidney stones, bladder infection, fungal infection, tumor ("but he's too young")- but there was nothing more to be done until the tests came back.  

One test after another came back negative and Charlie's condition continued to decline.  At the vet we discovered that he had lost about 10 lbs and it was beginning to show.  He continued to eat and drink normally but his back legs became weak.  His stomach was still hard and painful to the touch.  Over a week went by before the vet asked to perform one more ultrasound.  The results of this image showed Charlie's kidneys to have swollen nearly double their size in one week.  The vet scheduled an emergency consult with a specialist.  

I rushed Charlie to this specialty hospital to undergo further tests.  Using more advanced equipment, the new vets discovered not an enlarged kidney, but a mass inside his vena cava (the large blood vessel around his kidneys, spleen, spine, etc).  An additional x-ray revealed nodes in Charlie's lungs as well.  The doctors performed a biopsy of the vena cava but were unable to determine what the mass was.  However, based on the nodes, size of the mass, and its location, the veterinary oncologist concluded that Charlie had an aggressive case of Hermangiosarcoma- or cancer of the blood vessels.  With the nodes in his lungs, the doctors determined that very little could be done.  Charlie was sent home to us with a two-month prognosis.  

Naturally we were devastated.  Words really can't describe how devastated we were.  For those who have a pet living closely to them, this is the type of situation you never dream of experiencing... at least I never did.  I had recently lost a dear loved pet to cancer.  However, his death was in his later years- still too soon in my opinion- but he had lived long and hard. Charlie is just a puppy!  

The next morning began with the grim realization that I would spend possibly the next 2 months watching my best friend deteriorate.  There was no hope... no chance.  

My mom- a type A personality with a huge heart for all things animal- had spent hours researching and searching for alternatives.  She discovered (among the miracle cures) a link to an online book called Curing Canine Cancer.  I read through the entire thing in nearly one sitting and concluded with the belief that yes, there was something to hope for Charlie and there was still more to be done.  While I didn't immediately begin ordering $1000 supplements online and calling animal healers, I did schedule an appointment with a homeopathic veterinarian and started looking into switching Charlie's diet to something more anti-cancer.

Here's the gist of what I think about canine caner and Charlie's situation: Charlie is most likely not going to live as long as he should... and that really sucks.  He might not even be with us for very much longer.  But just because the vets don't think they can help him, that doesn't mean we can't help him.  Cancer is not only treatable via chemicals and radiation- there are lots of alternative immune-supportive techniques and practices that have proven to be very effective.  Now, I don't necessarily believe- or expect- a miraculous turn-around will take place because Charlie's taking vitamins and eating new food- but I do believe his body has the ability to heal if given the support he needs.  Dogs instinctively know how to heal themselves... sometimes their bodies are just too worn down.  There are things I can do to make the rest of Charlie's life as 'heal-able' as I can.

So here's the things we're trying:
  • Switching to RAW diet.  Dogs are natural carnivores- not grain-eaters.  Their bodies need meat to perform as they should.  Also, cancer cells do not feed on protein- but on carbs.  By cutting out the carbs and beefing up the protein, Char's body has a better chance to heal.  So far Charlie LOVES RAW FOOD! (and btw- Nora is enjoying it as well!)
  • Aqua-therapy- The tumor in Charlie's blood vessel is restricting blood flow between his heart and back legs, making it difficult to walk.  Charlie tried out an underwater treadmill today and it seemed to really help those back blood vessels constrict.  I'll post pics below of this experience.  And for those of you who know the Blue, you realize Charlie does not like water and never really took to walking on the treadmill... so today was a mini-miracle!

  • Herbs and Supplements- Under the direction of Charlie's homeopathic doctor, we are adding cancer-killing, immune-system-boosting, feel-good herbs and supplements.  So far he's trying DHA (found to be effective in delaying cancer growth among other things) and Yunnan Baiyao (a Chinese herb used to improve circulation).  There are others to be added once we see how his body is adapting.
  • Healthy Powder added to RAW diet.  This is mix of supplements from the above mentioned book that I've added to his food.  It includes all sorts of things I've never heard of or have been too afraid to look at at the health food store.  It actually smells kind of good. (weird, I know)  here's what's in it: nutritional yeast, lecithin granules, kelp powder, bone meal (ew), and garlic powder.

So that's where we're at with this thing.  We're not giving up hope, but we're realistic as well.  We love our dog- very much- and want his remaining time with us to be as full as it can be.  And by full I mean healthy and happy.  

Thanks for your prayers and good thoughts for Charlie Blue- we'll keep you updated on his happenings!

Charlie taking a rest after his aqua-therapy.

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