Prince, Allistair, Hershey

I have been a hopeless dog lover since the age of 9 when I campaigned to convince my parents to get a family dog. After 1 year of daily campaigning, my parents relented and we acquired my first Dog, a German Shepherd named Prince.

Flash forward 27 or so years to my third dog, and first with my new family acquired while we were a whole and complete family (myself, my wife, and 3 daughters).

This dog was a beautiful 10 month old black Newfoundland dog who we rescued from a breeder that had accepted Allistair as a return from a young family who had him for 5 months at which time , their young son (of 5) fell ill with recurrent grand mal seizures. The strain on the family was too much for them to continue to provide the appropriate care and attention to what had become by this time a 120 pound puppy. The breeder was happy to take Allistair back, which happened to coincide to the time in which my wife and I had recently painfully put our 14 year old Akita to sleep.

As soon as we saw Allistair, even from a distance, we were hooked. His loving and calm temperament were more than any self respecting dog person could resist and we took Ally home.

We had 5 wonderful years with this angelic gentle giant when he fell ill. He became listless and was panting and within a few days he lost his appetite. Being a Physician, upon a quick once over, large and swollen lymph nodes in his neck became readily apparent. We had our trusted veterinarian assess the situation upon which he immediately made the diagnosis of Canine Lymphosarcoma.

A treatable, but not curable cancer, we struggled with the decision of how to proceed, not wanting to prolong suffering with difficult treatments. His young age (6 and 1/2 years) and otherwise good health, after consulting with our veterinarian and doing some reading, we elected to treat with in home chemotherapy injected once a week for 12 weeks.

The outcomes were miraculous, almost no adverse reactions, and a return to full health was the experience, and we had our Ally back again. As we knew it to be inevitable, 12 months later (4 more than average), the nodes and listlessness returned.

More consternation and consideration brought as to a decision to start a second course of treatment. This round was not without problems, however, it also put Ally into remission. However, this time at a cost, he had developed neuropathy and paralysis with walking difficulty and urinary incontinence. Nonetheless, he did not appear to be in pain, or suffering and demonstrated his usual happy go lucky temperament, so, we went on. The lymphoma in remission, we used a wrap around binder with a child’s diaper to manage the incontinence and kept Ally on the first floor of the home so he could get around with a little help without falling and hurting himself. He developed a small, nonpainful sore on his genitals as a result of the diaper, and we treated this with barrier cream and it remained stable.

Ally was accustomed to sleeping in our bedroom and would whine when we left him on the first floor. With some reluctance, I slept on the couch next to him for the next 3 months.

Unfortunately, but inevitably, the cancer then returned a total of 16 months after the initial diagnosis and we decided that the benefits were less than the burdens (to Ally) to try another, or more aggressive treatment and we put him asleep without remorse for the decision. The night before that fateful day, I slept next to Ally and he did his usual ritual of leaning into me to be petted as I cried at the thought of losing this greatest and most loyal friend.

At the same time, we brought into our family another Newfoundland puppy (Hershey, born 7/7/7), and after Ally was gone, we adopted another pup (MacAllistair, born 8/8/8).

Our ordeal with Ally was extremely difficult and painful, however, I do not regret any of our decisions, and would do it again in a minute, if faced with the same situation. I like to think that I/we/my family did a lot for Ally..however, in his way, he (Ally) did far more for us by gracing our lives with his presence.

David from MI