Abby is a beautiful Rottweiler who was scheduled to participate in the Mason Bone Cancer Study in early November. Unfortunately, a heart condition found during Abby’s evaluation at UPenn disqualified her from participating in the clinical trial.
Read Abby’s story in her mom’s (Barbara) words:
Abby’s life with us began as a search for a playmate for our other Rottie, Ziva. As Ziva got closer to her first birthday, I could see how much she needed a playmate to keep her company while we were working and to have another dog close in age. We had another dog, Nikki, who was already 13 and not at all able to keep up with a very rowdy and hyper Ziva. I began looking for another Rottie and soon found an ad for a puppy in Gates County, North Carolina. We made contact by phone and received pictures via email. We knew she would be named Abby before we even met her. What else would a die-hard NCIS fan name Ziva’s sister! When we brought her home, Abby and Ziva bonded immediately and from that day forward, where you found one the other was always close By. Ziva finally had a playmate with the same high energy and rowdiness as she. About 10 months after Abby joined the family, Ziva became seriously ill, she wouldn’t eat, wouldn’t play and quickly lost about 30 pounds. Abby was always right there beside her, lying beside her, trying to get her interested in a toy or just running around after squirrels. ZIva had no energy but she had Abby looking after her. Lab work revealed Ziva had Addison ’s disease. After treatment with Prednidone and monthly Percortan-V injections, Ziva was quickly back to her usual rambunctious self and she and Abby were once again terrorizing the squirrel population in the back yard. Ziva, as expected with Prednisone treatment, gained a large amount of weight and one rainy day in December, slid and tore her CCL. She required surgery and 8 weeks of crate rest. Who was continuously right there by her side, always lying in front of Ziva’s crate? Abby! She was never very far from her sissy.
Abby was always the healthy one, never sick and nothing ever slowed her down. The only real issue she had was her right eye was constantly bothering her and eventually she had to have surgery because her bottom eyelid rolled up into her eye. The poor baby did great through the surgery but was not at all happy with the huge “E” collar she had to wear. Ziva was always right beside her, making sure Abby was okay. Pat had wanted to breed Abby so we had delayed having her spayed. I just never had a good feeling about allowing her to have puppies. Nothing I could really put my finger on but it just didn’t seem like a good idea somehow. So finally when Abby was 3 1/2, we decided it was time to spay her. She came through the surgery well with Ziva helping her bust open a couple of stitches during her recovery. Hey, what are big sisters for anyway! Abby healed just fine and things were great with her except the weight gain I expected, just never happened. I thought Abby was so lucky! About 5 months after her surgery, Abby developed a limp in her right rear leg. Thinking she might have a CCL issue or worse, we immediately took her in for x-rays and an exam. We were overjoyed when the x-ray appeared to show nothing was amiss. It must be a cruciate tear then. After resting it for a couple of weeks, it didn’t appear to be worse but no better either. One evening she bumped the knee after jumping off the chair to go outside. She was immediately in excruciating pain. We immediately took her to the emergency vet. There was no swelling and they looked at the x-ray taken 2 week before. Still thinking it must be a CCL tear, the vet said we really needed to have the veterinary surgeon look at it. The surgeon we used with Ziva was out of town so we had to wait another week or so to get her in. In the meantime there was suddenly this huge hard lump that appeared just below her knee and she was increasingly in more pain. When the surgeon finally saw her, he immediately thought it was Osteosarcoma but couldn’t rule out anything else without a biopsy. That was the day after Abby’s fourth birthday. A week later he called to confirm the diagnosis of OSA. I was totally devastated, Abby was just a baby! We immediately scheduled the surgery for the next day. I started looking at everything I could find about OSA, the treatments, prognosis, etc. I also started looking at clinical trials and saw the UPenn study for the cancer vaccine. The internist at the veterinary hospital sent a tumor sample to UPenn to see if it was the tumor type they were looking for and it was.
After much consideration, we decided to have the chemo treatments with Carboplatin and Abby did tolerate them remarkably well. Once the chemo was complete, we sent the lab sample to UPenn to see if Abby could be a candidate. We met with Dr. Mason on November 7th. Abby seemed to enjoy her visit with Dr, Mason and her assistant. The initial samples sent up showed Abby’s immune system was not replicating lymphocytes the way it should. We were afraid she had already developed lung metastases and would be excluded from the trial due to that. After the complete work-up with Dr. Mason was complete, we were quite relieved to hear that Abby’s lungs were cancer free. What we didn’t expect was that the cardiac work up revealed that Abby had Dilated Cardiomyopathy. This of course made her ineligible to participate in the clinical trial. Abby still remains very happy and playful. She still plays with Ziva and they both continue to terrorize the squirrels in the yard. Her appetite is very good. A little too good, actually, she weighs 106 lbs. and has to eat diet food just like Ziva. We will be taking her for more chests x-rays every 2 months and in 3 months she will begin seeing a cardiologist for treatment of the cardiomyopathy. She had no symptoms during her visit to UPenn and it was recommended that she be checked again after 3 months.
This is where we are at this point. I will continue to do whatever I have to do to make sure Abby is well taken care of and stays healthy and cancer free as long as possible. I continue to spoil her rotten along with Ziva and love and cherish them both for as long as they are with me.
We are so happy that Abby continues to feel well and enjoy a happy life with her family. Our fingers are crossed that the cancer will be kept at bay and Abby’s heart condition will be effectively managed. Go get that Squirell, Abby!!