Thursday, October 7, 2010

Save the Canine TA-TA's!!

Okay, first - let me clarify that I am in no way comparing Canine Breast Cancer to Human Breast Cancer. I just want to share an experience that I had this year and thought Breast Cancer Awareness month seemed like an appropriate time to do so! Here goes:

I have an adorable little maltese named Stevie who I am extremely attached to. She is a bright, bubbly, crazy little thing with a spunky personality and she LOVES her Mamma! I got her 6 years ago when she was 2 months old, she was a Christmas present from my parents. Since the day I brought her home to my apartment, it was just me and her - she came along with me everywhere I went (in my purse most of the time!) We went shopping, over to friends' houses, even to movies on a few occasions. She instantly became my little sidekick - this girl's best friend. In August of the next year I met my now Husband and that was a bit of an adjustment, she did not care for him at first (can't say that I blame her, I didn't really care for him at first either. He's pretty obnoxious. Just kidding!) but eventually she warmed up to him and now she loves him. Although, not as much as she loves me of course. So over the course of the next five or so years she's been right by my side, follows me around the house, sleeps in the bed with us, etc. She's like my child.

Long story short: One day this summer I was giving her one of my famous belly rubs and felt a small knot on one of her breasts. I didn't freak out at first, I just watched it for a couple of days and then decided to call the Vet. He said I should bring her in so Matt took her the next day (I couldn't get off work in time). The Vet said she had two small tumors and suggested that we remove them right away and have them sent off to be screened.  He said there was a 50/50 chance of them being Malignant. Well, that was pretty much the beginning of the end for me. (side note- I worry about EVERYTHING and do it way too much) He also suggested that we have her spayed.  The only reason I had not done this before was because Stevie is an inside dog. She's never around other dogs, the only other one she's around is my Mom's dog, Rusty and he has been neutered.  Dr. Crittendon suggested to me before to have her spayed but I just put it off because it did cost a lot of money and I was really afraid for her to go through that major surgery. In my mind, she was too small to have that done. Looking back I realize that was a ridiculous way of thinking, small dogs get spayed every day, I was just being crazy.  Over the next few days I started doing all sorts of research about Canine mammary cancer - trying to find something that would assure me that she would be okay. Well, that only made it worse. I found out that if I had had her spayed when she was a baby this would have been totally preventable. This is what I found on one of the websites:

"Did you know that half of all the tumors in female dogs are preventable breast tumors? Dogs develop breast cancer because they were not spayed before their first or second heat period. Intact female dogs are highly prone to developing breast tumors. In fact, they are seven times more likely to get breast cancer than a spayed dog. One out of four intact female dogs over 4 years of age will probably develop one or more breast tumors along the mammary gland chains. Half of all tumors are malignant and unfortunately, half to 75% of them will kill the dog by recurrence or spreading (metastasizing) to the lungs within one to two years." - Courtesy of

Stevie's Vet confirmed all this and it scared the bejesus out of me!!! I mean I honestly had no idea that spaying her would have prevented this so of course I started blaming myself and regretting not having the surgery done a long time ago. I was pretty much a total mess for the next two weeks (that's about how long it took to schedule her to be spayed/have the tumors removed, have them sent off and wait for the results). I was trying to stay positive, but in my head I was just waiting for the doctor to tell me that my dog was going to die. I was a total wreck, cried every day - including several times at work, wow really professional - and I was pretty hard to be married to. My Husband is a saint for putting up with me!

BUT after all of this, everything turned out just fine. Just like Matt said it would. The doctor called me a few days after the surgery with the results and the tumors were benign!! I really just cannot explain the amount of relief I felt when he said that. I was off work that day so I ran down the hall to get Stevie (who was still groggy from surgery - it took her about a month to get well) and we had a little dance party in the living room! All was well with the world again :)

So. The moral of this story is - PLEASE get your little girl puppies spayed within the first 6 months of their life. Preferrably before the first heat cycle and then there will be practically no chance of her getting tumors.  And if you're reading this and you haven't had your female spayed, it's definitely not too late. It can still reduce her chances of developing mammary cancer so go do it. Right now!

A HUGE thank you to Dr. Eddie Crittendon and Dr. Chris Cousins at Paw Prints in Easley!!

                                                                         My Stevie:

This is Rusty-Bear!

"Until one has loved an animal, a part of one's soul remains unawakened." ~ Anatole France

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