All pets are special, of course. But once in a while, a pet comes along that is truly special in our lives, and in fact, changes our lives forever. For clients Kahla and Carl Ennis, Mya was that dog. You may know that they have set up a special fund in her memory through our Veterinary Comparative Research Foundation. Mya’s Fund is designed to assist owners who cannot financially afford to provide cancer treatment for their dogs.

A German Shorthaired Pointer, Ch. Shomberg’s One Hot Number SH (a.k.a. Mya), was an excellent representative of her breed, as well as a wonderful companion dog. She easily achieved her confirmation title along with her Junior and Senior hunt titles. She loved being outdoors, relishing the field and vacationing in South Dakota while hunting the open fields for wild pheasant.

Osteosarcoma: A Devastating Diagnosis

Mya was a new mother, nursing eight beautiful and healthy puppies, when her owners, Kahla and Carl, first noticed a swelling in her front right leg. Knowing that this wasn’t normal, they quickly got Mya to the veterinarian where they received a devastating diagnosis: canine metastatic osteosarcoma, one of the most deadly forms of cancer.

Mya’s diagnosis was confirmed by Dr. Ann Jeglum. Dr. Jeglum, who is board certified in veterinary oncology, happens to own German Shorthaired Pointers as well. Luckily, Mya’s cancer had not yet spread to her internal organs, giving her owners some hope.

Osteosarcoma in Dogs

Most osteosarcoma tumors in dogs occur in one of the legs. Common signs are:

  • Bone or joint pain in the affected leg
  • Intermittent lameness
  • Swelling of the affected leg
  • Fracture (due to bone weakness caused by the tumor)

Treatment for canine metastatic osteosarcoma can include any or all of the following modalities:

  • Radiation therapy
  • Surgical amputation of the affected limb
  • Chemotherapy
  • Metronomics (anti-angiogenesis drug therapy)

Thinking of Mya’s love of hunting and being outdoors, her owners decided not to pursue amputation initially, and Dr. Jeglum began an aggressive multimodality treatment protocol. They never lost sight of the fact that amputation might have to be an option at some point, but Mya’s owners really wanted to preserve her quality of life for as long as possible. Mya’s initial prognosis was that she would live about a year with this treatment plan.

Mya’s Treatment

Mya began weekly radiation therapy at the Veterinary Oncology Services and Research Center, with her owners making the weekly 12 hour trip from their home in Virginia. Mya handled the radiation therapy well, and shortly before beginning her chemotherapy, Dr. Jeglum suggested x-raying her leg again. The news was not good. Mya’s leg was beginning to show signs of weakness due to the cancer, and the risk of fracturing the leg became real. The decision was made to amputate.

Luckily, Mya recovered well from the surgery, and was soon running, swimming, and even returned to the wild pheasant hunt in South Dakota that she knew and loved so well. She had an amazing quality of life and was shortly after presented at the National Show in the Parade of Titleholders, clearly relishing the applause and cheering she received at that event. Mya even competed her Therapy Dog training and title with her three legs.

Mya went on to complete her chemotherapy regimen and never missed a  beat. Her metronomics drug therapy would then begin and continue for the rest of her life.

About a year after her initial diagnosis, the cancer was found to have metastasized (spread) to one of her kidneys, which was subsequently removed. She again bounced back after surgery, surprising and heartening her owners yet again. Mya’s resilience was astonishing.

Mya’s Fund

About 18 months after her diagnosis, Mya’s second kidney was affected, and it was time to say goodbye to this special dog. Her owners wanted to remember Mya and honor her by setting up a special fund that will allow other GSPs with a cancer diagnosis the opportunity to have treatments that their owners could not otherwise afford.

If you’d like to contribute to Mya’s Fund, or have questions about living with canine osteosarcoma, what’s involved with cancer treatment, or our research, please call us. We’re here to help by providing cancer therapy based on science, with compassion, while improving the quality of life of the patients in our care.