The C Word


I thought I was done writing this blog.  I thought my life had gone back to dull.  I thought no one would want to here more about my life.  This may so, but in case any one is still following this blog, I thought I should share some info with you about the creature this blog is named after, Mungo. 

A few months ago, Mungo was chasing his friend Sargon in the park.  He suddenly gave a yelp and lifted up his left hind leg.  I imagined that he had torn a ligament in his knee (cranial cruciate ligament injuries are very common in dogs).  An xray at the clinic the following day let me know that I was incorrect.  The xray showed a less dense area of bone, in the tibia (the shin bone).  Some further testing brought us to the diagnosis of osteosarcoma, or bone cancer.

Bone cancer is seen in large breed dogs, but usually the dogs are older than Mungo’s 4 years.  Well actually, sometimes we see it in very young large breed dogs.  So definitely unexpected but…Mungo has cancer. 

June was a pretty terrible time for us.  We came together as a family and decided what to do for the dog we love with all our hearts.  Trust me, it was a tough conversation to have with an 11 and a 13th year old kid. 

There are two “problems” with bone cancer.  Locally, the cancer causes pain in the bone it grows in, and it also weakens the bone, leading to fracture.  The cancer also spreads quickly to other parts of the body, especially lungs, etc. 

So, the first decision we had to make was what to do about the local cancer.  Traditionally, the answer has been to amputate the leg .  We just couldn’t bring ourselves to do this.  Even though dogs do quite well on three legs and the back leg is a lot easier to “lose” than the front leg, we just couldn’t.  Mungo is so incredibly active, that we just thought it would be “too much”.  Instead we opted to do radiation treatments.  The type of radiation that is done is intense and very focal.  Mungo had three treatments, three days in a row.  The intention of this type of treatment is to kill any cancer cells that are present. 

That took care of the local disease.  He is getting rounds of chemotherapy once monthly as well and hopefully this will take care of any cancer cells that are elsewhere in the body.  He is doing very well with these treatments.  He likes to be fed canned food for a day or two after his chemo treatments, but then he goes right back to his kibble.  Dogs don’t lose their hair, they generally handle chemo very well.

So now we are two months into his treatments and he is doing fairly well.  In case you are wondering, he is the same old Mungo.  He is goofy, still loves cheese more than life itself and still moves pretty darn fast, except he mostly does it on three legs. 

Even though we started his treatments within weeks of the diagnosis, the cancer still did a number on his bone.  This is a picture of Mungo’s knee last week.  Even though you are not vets, I am sure you can all see a BIG chunk of bone missing on the  lower bone in this picture (the piece of bone closest to the “L” marker). 


Mungo finds it a lot easier to hop around on three legs, than put his left leg down and put weight on this crazy bone.  As a result, his left hind leg has lost a lot of the muscle mass and it is pretty skinny.  The problem is this, if he does not use this leg, the bone will not grow back.  Weight is necessary for the body to be kicked into depositing new bone, so we have to encourage him to use it as much as possible.  He has figured out that if he wants a treat he should put his leg down.  Smart dog.  We also have him using the treadmill and training nightly.  Hopefully, we will be able to build up the bone from now on. 

Despite his illness, he remains very happy.  We took him to the Ghost last weekend and he ran around like a maniac, the same as he always has. 



He had a great day.  He was a bit sore the next day, but I am sure in his little head, it was worth it.  See how happy he looks?P1040867

Cancer, bah, I got this!