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Meet Tripawds’ Newest Veterinary Experts

Tripawds is thrilled to announce that two more professionals from the veterinary community have graciously volunteered to help answer member questions in our “Ask a Vet” Discussion Forum topic!

After many years, our long-time volunteer veterinarian Tazziedog finally has some company with other professionals willing to help out, thanks to Kelly (aka Wookie524) a veterinarian from California, and Emma (Tara’s Mum), a veterinary nurse all the way from Great Britain.

Kelly and her pup Wookie are brand new to the osteosarcoma journey, while Emma and Tara are veterans who have beaten the osteo odds for over five years, and counting!

Please clap your paws and help us thank these two generous members for volunteering to help answer member questions in this very important part of our community.

We ask that you keep in mind that the answers they provide are simply for additional insight into your Tripawds’ situation; their responses in the forum are not actual medical advice or opinions, nor meant to replace professional face-to-face help with your own veterinarian.

Meet Wookie and Kelly

WookieWe’re going to introduce each new veterinary expert in a separate Q&A post, because they both have great stories to tell. Here is Kelly’s and Wookie’s story, stay tuned for Emma and Tara’s . . .

1) Kelly, please tell us what you think about Tripawds, and how you see yourself helping out:

In my short time on the forum I have found everyone to be so warm and caring, it really is a wonderful place for support. Even though my co-workers have been wonderful during Wookie’s ordeal, I don’t think anyone can really understand what it’s like unless you’ve gone through it yourself.

I am happy to answer any questions that I can in the “Ask A Vet” section of the forum, although I’m probably most comfortable answering surgical type questions as that is my field of expertise. Of course, your own veterinarian will be your #1 source for information, but I know that it helps sometimes just to be reassured whether something going on is “normal” or not.

2) Can you tell us a little about the work you do?

I graduated from Purdue University School of Veterinary Medicine in 1989. After graduation I went on to do an internship in Small Animal Medicine and Surgery and then a 3-year residency in Small Animal Surgery. Once I finished my residency, I was finally able to come back home to Southern California and have been practicing here ever since. . . I perform both Soft Tissue and Orthopedic surgeries. I have also been the veterinarian for the Long Beach Police dogs for the past 15 yrs.

I live in Orange County with my fiancé and our 2 wonderful furbabies, Wookie and Garth. My dogs are my “children” to me. I’m one of those people who loved animals so much as a kid and wanted to grow up to be a veterinarian… I just never changed my mind!

Dogs make me laugh, each and every day, they just warm my heart.

3) How did you and Wookie end up at Tripawds?

What brought me to Tripawds was my 2-year old 90 lb Labaradoodle, “Wookie.” We adopted him at the age of 14 months from a poodle rescue and he has been a joy to our lives. He is not “the sharpest tool in the shed,” but he is definitely the sweetest dog I have ever owned and would not trade him for the world.

At around 16 mos of age he developed a mild intermittent lameness in his right hind leg that responded well to Deramaxx, a NSAID. A few months went by and the lameness never completely went away so I took x-rays in November, 2011. The x-rays were unremarkable and there was no instability in his knee under anesthesia, but I suspected he might have a partial tear of his ACL, which is very common in young, large breed dogs.

I was reluctant to do an exploratory on his knee at that time because he was so young, I wanted to wait until he was 2 years old so that his bone would be more mature and be able to hold the implants better (if he needed ACL surgery).

Over the next few months the lameness would continue to come and go. Finally, in June 2012, I decided to explore his knee. I stopped the Deramaxx a few days before surgery and that was the first time he became non weight-bearing on the leg. I took x-rays again and that’s when I found the bone lesion in the proximal tibia. It was gut wrenching. However, being that he was only 2 yrs old, the chances of it being a bacterial or fungal bone infection (osteomyelitis) were quite high. I biopsied the bone and sent out blood work for fungal tests.

Unfortunately the biopsy ultimately came back as an osteosarcoma. As everyone else with a dog with osteosarcoma knows, we were give the statistic of 20% survival at 2 yrs, and like everyone else, I hope and pray that Wookie will be in that 20%.

I performed Wookie’s right hind limb amputation on July 3, 2012. It was very difficult, but once he was all draped off, I could deal with it as a “leg that needed help” rather than “my Wookie’s leg.” But once the surgery was done and the drapes were off, I sobbed over what I had done, even though I knew there was no other choice for us.

We have elected to go with chemotherapy which we started around 10 days after his surgery. I take him to an oncologist for this as we do not have one at our hospital. He is getting alternating treatments of Carboplatin and Doxorubicin, as well as Palladia orally every other day. He’s had 3 treatments so far and the plan is to do 8 total. He has had very minimal side effects from the chemo, for which I am very thankful.

 Let’s give a big Three Paws Up to Kelly for being so generous with her time by helping out! Thank you Kelly! 

Stay tuned for our next post about Emma and her amazing Tara, a 5-year osteosarcoma survivor!


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