Many of you know Potato the Pitbull – my infamous Pet CPR Demo Dog Extraordinaire!
But not everyone knows his cancer story… his story of survival all because of one VERY simple skill.
Everyone joins our classes usually to learn the CPR portion – which is the most obvious skill that most people admit that they don’t know. But… hidden throughout our program are other little “gems” that people don’t know that they don’t know. One of these “gems” is what helped to catch Potato’s cancer early on so that he could be treated.
If you’ve taken my class before, you are familiar with a Snout-To-Tail™ Assessment and I believe, it’s the most understated skill of the class, but also my favorite. I stress to my students to perform them weekly on their pets for about 3 months, then reduce to monthly if they feel comfortable with that. I’m sure many of you have been told by your doctor to examine yourself monthly at home and this is how we can do that for our pets. The most important part is that the Assessment is done with Intent and Purpose – not just a good pet and praise.
In November 2017 Potato wasn’t feeling well. He gets PLENTY of Snout-To-Tail™ Assessments, since as a Master Instructor for Pet Tech™ I am typically teaching monthly classes. This allows me to know his “normals” very well and I can instantly tell when something isn’t right. Something was off and although Potato has had 4 exploratory abdominal surgeries, it wasn’t exactly the same symptoms as his previous foreign body escapades. There was nothing too obvious, no physical symptoms exactly, but I went ahead and took him into one of my favorite vets.
They x-rayed him, weren’t confident of a foreign body, and nothing else seemed abnormal. We decided to run some bloodwork, put him on fluids, repeat his x-rays at the end of the day and just watch him. Later that day, he was clear, everything in his stomach moved fine, so we were all kind of at a loss. I just knew something wasn’t right, but nothing was showing up and I couldn’t put my finger on what was wrong. Because the other vet was booked, a few days later I went to a different location to see another one of our favorite vets. I was asked if I wanted to repeat the bloodwork that we had just run 2 days prior. I initially hesitated, but then agreed and this decision ultimately saved Potato’s life.
The veterinary technician on Monday had taken his blood from his leg, but the second technician happened to go to his jugular on his neck to take his blood sample. She immediately alerted the doctor that Potato had a very small lump on his left thyroid gland. Soon after this discovery he was diagnosed with functional thyroid carcinoma. They all kept telling me how sorry they were for the diagnosis and it came as a complete shock, but I knew something was wrong… I just I hated that I was right.
The year and a half since then has been a whirlwind. He has had surgeries, radiation, more surgeries and oh yeah more surgeries! They finally told me he had the last surgery his body would be able to endure. He is the strongest and bravest warrior prince that I have ever known. He is now 18 months since diagnosis and is cancer free! When he was diagnosed, they said without full treatment, he would have 7 months. With treatment, he would have 4-5 years. He gets regular medical checkups every 6 months and has a team of amazing veterinarians, both western and eastern medicine, that keep him feeling great.
I cannot ever express the importance of doing regular Snout-To-Tail™ Assessments on your pet. If I hadn’t known what was “normal” for Potato, the cancer might have gotten out of control and he wouldn’t be here right now! CPR and bleeding skills are extremely important, but THIS could save your pet’s life today!!