When It Comes to Dogs and Cancer, Don’t Give Up

Cancer is the leading cause of death among dogs older than ten years. Having had mostly Golden Retrievers, I have a great deal of familiarity with the topic of dogs and cancer. Because, unfortunately, Goldens are prone to it. One of the topics in my book Charlie: A Love Story, about one of my Golden Retrievers, is how Charlie and I dealt with the melanoma he got. Charlie lived a long, full life despite his cancer diagnosis at the age of ten years – incredibly, he far exceeded his breed’s life expectancy of ten to twelve years. And in fact, his last three years are the basis of my book.

My initial experience with dogs and cancer was when my first Golden Retriever, Mandy, developed an inoperable cancer at nine years of age. She was given three months to live, but I think because of her very strong will and my husband and I taking her squirrel-hunting every day after her diagnosis, she lived for fifteen months, surprising everyone. All she wanted to do was hunt squirrels and dig where their holes were. She never caught one, but that wasn’t the point. The goal was to keep hunting, and I think keep living, for as long as possible. I vowed that we would chase squirrels every day for as long as she wanted. Her life had a wonderful ending, despite her cancer diagnosis.

I have learned over the years regarding dogs and cancer that you don’t give up when you hear the word, that you have to find a smart and compassionate veterinarian, talk to other pet owners, and do some research, in order to figure out what treatment options to consider – surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, diet change, alternative medicine, supplements. In Charlie: A Love Story this and more is exactly what I did. Because you know your dog best, you will know what to do given the choices, the age of your dog, as well as many other factors.

Years ago, there weren’t many options for dogs and cancer. But today, with the technological advances in veterinary medicine, there are many more options.

Charlie’s courageous and fierce battle with melanoma taught me a lot – about dogs and cancer and much, much more. I think you’ll find Charlie: A Love Story informative and inspiring.