Tuesday, August 26, 2008

My Story

Hi, my name is Hannibal. I am a 10 year old Great Dane mix. I have cancer...lymphoma to be exact. To be even more precise I have Stage 4a B-cell Lymphoma. I was diagnosed on July 7, 2007 and have been in remission for 13 months, I am told that is a long time. Unfortunately, my humans, Donna and Walter think I have come out of remission and so I am going to see my oncologist tomorrow.

Let me tell you a little more about myself. First, I am told that I am the BEST DOG IN THE WORLD....I am also told I wasn't always, especially when I was little. I live with two humans Donna and Walter, they are a little crazy but they spoil me so it's OK, I do my best to keep them in line. I also live with my best friend Vergil, a 7 year old mastiff, and two younger more annoying ones; a mix named Aggie and an American bulldog mix named Buford. I am in charge of everyone and I am pretty good at it. We also have 5 cats that are actually pretty cool...for cats.

Donna and Walter got me in Ohio when I was very young. I had another human once but it didn't work out, he wanted me to be a guard dog for his mechanics business and he wasn't very nice to me. Then I got really sick with what they call parvo, this person had me treated but while I was in the hospital he had motion sensors put in his shop and when I went back I kept setting them off, so he took me to the hospital where I had been hospitalized and told them to take me or he was going to get "rid of me" (Donna and Walter won't tell me what that means). The vet who treated me took me and called Donna, who she was friends with. She knew Donna would help me and be a sucker for me. Donna LOVES big, big dogs and already had a bullmastiff named Grady, (who would become one of my favorite friends of all time). Lucky for me, Donna said she would help me but only if Grady liked me. I did my very best, which was hard at 10 weeks old to make Grady like me and it must have worked because he did and so I came to live with Donna and Walter forever.

Having come from an abusive past, I initially was worried about pleasing everybody, and I was very scared that Donna and Walter would leave me (they called it separation anxiety). It took many years but I finally realized that they would never leave me. I was apparently a very happy, hyper puppy...and got into alot of things. I used to like to stand on Donna's coffee table, she didn't think it was funny especially when I weighed over 100 pounds. I also got very tall, very quick and I liked to help Donna and Walter with the dishes, so since I could reach the sink I would take the dirty dishes out and "help" them clean them...for some reason they didn't think I was helping (I let them do the dishes now). Over time I calmed down and settled into life with my humans.

I am proud to say that I am a retired therapy dog and I used to enjoy visiting with people and kids. I also used to do advanced level obedience and even some agility for fun. As tall as I am I really liked going through the tunnels, I did a super fast "commando crawl"! I have never met a dog I didn't like and I am pretty level headed. Donna uses the phrase "rock solid temperament". I also had never been sick a day in my life until that day in July 2007.

We moved to Georgia May 30, 2007. I went and sat the closing of our house (Donna and Walter didn't want to leave me in car and I got invited in!), I was told I was the first dog to ever do that and they said I was a "gentlemen". All was well for about a month and then at the beginning of July, Donna noticed I had lumps on my neck and back legs. Donna got real upset...she used to work in clinics and so she knew it what was wrong with me. I just felt a little tired, I was 9 years old! Since we didn't know anyone in Georgia yet, she put me in the car and off we went all the way back to Northern Virginia to the Regional Veterinary Referral Center, where Donna used to work and where they had an oncologist (she says they are the best vets in the world!). Let me say because of that separation anxiety thing I had, I LOVE the car and going places, even if it is just around the block. I think my favorite thing in the whole world is to go "bye bye"!!! Also because Donna worked in clinics I used to go to work with her all the time, I LOVE clinics. I know I am not supposed to...but I always have fun at clinics and get to see human friends and other dogs. So I was fine heading to NOVA! When we got there I had to go see all the specialists, I saw the oncologist, internal medicine, cardiology and even surgery. The worst thing was the bone marrow biopsy, but I went to sleep for it and it wasn't too bad. The cardiologist said that my heart was perfect and would be OK for chemo. The internal medicine specialist checked my belly, he is the one that found the spots on my spleen. I have two spots, both are lymphoma, but they don't bother me. Then the oncologist started my chemo (she did the bone marrow biopsy too), it actually wasn't bad. I am told we are not like humans and rarely get sick. SO that began my journey into cancer. I began chemo July 2007 and finished it 8 months later in Georgia at the University of Georgia Veterinary Teaching Hospital (you didn't think she drove me 10 hours each way every week! By the way she says these vets are also amazing!), still in remission...that is until now. I will find out tomorrow if I am out of remission.

Donna and Walter have been really strong for me, I know they get upset and I try to show them that I feel fine. And I do feel fine, I have never been "sick", I lost a little weight but still weigh what I always had when I was younger. I still eat my food...although I have convinced Donna that I will only eat when she puts cooked ground beef over my food (Vergil likes this as he gets a little on his food too)! I play with all my friends and even discipline them when they get out of line. I managed to convince Walter that I should sleep in the bed, which he agreed. In fact I started a whole new rule: only dogs with cancer get to sleep in the bed! I celebrated my 10th birthday July 28, 2008 and got all sorts of treats. I know the humans are worried but even though my lymph nodes seem big again, I still feel good!

I will update my status soon...I thought I might be able to help other humans going through this with their canine friends and I hope I can. I really like meeting and helping people. I welcome comments and questions!!!

1 comment:

Sawicki Family said...

too cute, we love you hannibal and are keeping our fingers crossed for you-
love maggie, jack, clyde and of course kate, sean, mike and kirstin