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Tag: breast cancer

When your dog tells you you have cancer

taffyFour years ago, Nancy Granato was sitting at home in Pitman, N.J., with her granddaughter’s dog on her lap.

Suddenly the shih tzu began going in circles, nudged her in the left breast, then got down on the floor and howled.

It was unusual in several ways. For one thing, Taffy never barked.

Granato, as the dog continued yapping, reached for the spot Taffy had nudged and found a lump.

She visited doctors, had some tests done, and was told she had nothing to be concerned about. To be safe though, she underwent a biopsy. It confirmed what she suspected Taffy was trying to tell her — she had breast cancer.

“I did listen to the dog, but I also listened to me,” she told the South Jersey Times.

The ability of dogs to detect cancer is well documented, if not completely understood. But it’s unusual for one who hasn’t been trained to do so to make what seems to be a diagnosis.

 Researchers believe what dogs are smellling are the chemical changes that occur when normal cells are altered by cancerous ones.

Granato found out she was in the first stage of breast cancer. Doctors removed the lump and she underwent chemotherapy. During her treatments, Taffy provided some emotional support, she said.

Granato said she has been in remission for four years. Doctors detected another lump last September, but she says she wasn’t too worried.

“I kept saying, ‘The dog didn’t bark,’ ” Granato said. “It can’t be.”

Results showed the lump was benign.

(Photo: Nancy Granato and granddaughter’s dog, Taffy; by Lori M. Nichols / South Jersey Times)

Lollie Wonderdog finds her family

Lollie Wonderdog, the pit bull mix reclaimed from a Maryland trash bin and lovingly fostered for nearly five months in a Takoma Park home, has been adopted.

Lollie, whose experience as a foster dog was recounted in the blog Love and a Six-Foot Leash, was adopted by a family of four — a family (that’s part of it to the left) whose mom saw in Lollie a fellow survivor.

It’s a lovely ending to a tale well told by Aleksandra Gajdeczka, whose family took Lollie in temporarily and blogged about the experience — partly in an attempt to find a permanent home for the three-year-old dog, partly to tell the world about the joys of fostering.

Including, last week, the bittersweet and often tearful feeling that accompanies the successful conclusion of that experience.

In a letter to her departed foster dog, she wrote, “You pass through the world with a carefree grace that I have rarely seen in a dog, and have never seen in a person. Your ability to make everybody like you and the whole world smile, paired with your ability to overcome anything with a wagging tail and a flapping tongue is truly remarkable. I hope you don’t remember the specifics of how you ended up in that dumpster in September, bruised, half-starved, and filthy, but I hope you always remember that you have overcome so much — and come out a shooting star. An eternal firework.

“Lollie Wonderdog, it’s an amazing thing when a sad little dog can teach a bunch of humans so much about perseverance, patience, and overcoming the odds. You have touched our lives forever, and we love you very much.”

Emotions ran strong on the receiving end, too. After Lollie — whose new name is Lily Fireworks — was situated in her new home, her new owner wrote down her thoughts about it all, which were published on Love and a Leash this week:

“I had breast cancer at 24, had a few breast surgeries, lost all my hair, all that fun stuff … Fast forward six years, and we’re looking for a dog. We found Daisy, a beagle with giant “udders.” A breast cancer survivor finds a dog with udders…it was meant to be! Last year I went through chemo again when my cancer returned, and Daisy beagle was the sole reason I got up and got any exercise some days. She lay next to me on the couch when I felt pukey, she sniffed my head when my hair fell out again, she saw me through the whole year of chemo. That’s a lot of walks together … Sadly, we lost Daisy very unexpectedly a few months ago, and I didn’t want another dog …”

Then she came across Lollie’s blog, through the Montgomery County Humane Society website.

“We contacted Aleksandra and set up a time for John and me to meet her Lollie Wonderdog. If we thought she’d be a good family member, then we’d tell the little ones. We went to meet Lollie. I couldn’t get over her itty bitty waist. She was adorable. Those giant eyes … she licked my stinky shoelaces, and it was love. How could a dog who had been through so much still have so much love to give? I thought about it — Lollie and I are both survivors …”

(Photo by Aleksandra Gajdeczka, courtesy of Love and a Leash)