Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Canine oral melanoma: New vaccine is helping dogs like Ebony live longer

For a dog owner, there's almost nothing scarier than a cancer diagnosis. Once considered an almost certain death sentence, now dogs with canine oral melanoma — and their owners — have new hope, thanks to a groundbreaking new therapeutic vaccine recently granted full licensure from the USDA.

Oncept is the first therapeutic cancer vaccine the USDA has approved for any species and its success rate is staggering, Dr. Philip Bergman, the primary veterinarian behind the vaccine, tells In the past, dogs diagnosed with stage II or stage III oral melanoma survived less than six months when treated with surgery alone. But when Oncept was added into the treatment dogs responded so well that median survival time cannot be determined because many of the dogs are still alive today or died of an unrelated illness.

"We've been overjoyed with the results," says Bergman. "I get letters out of the blue and it's been very gratifying. We're starting to see patients having survival times of years."

Jean Mann couldn't be happier with how her 11-year-old black Labrador, Ebony, is doing with the help of Oncept. The dog was first diagnosed with oral melanoma in the fall of 2008 after a vet discovered a mass in the back of his throat that proved malignant. Ebony was treated with both surgery and multiple doses of Oncept — he got his last vaccine just last month — and is now doing amazingly well.

"I am beyond ecstatic at how well he's done," Mann tells "There are times he's kind of puppy-like. His world revolves around food and peeing on every blade of grass."

Dogs like Ebony initially get four doses of the vaccine — one every two weeks — followed by a booster shot every six months. The vaccine is inserted into the inner thigh muscle of the dog with a needle-free canine transdermal device and each time dogs receive a dose of the vaccine, their immune response becomes stronger in the fight against melanoma.

Unlike traditional vaccines that are given before a disease develops, Oncept is considered a therapeutic vaccine and only given once the disease is diagnosed. Bergman says it's most effective when first given soon after the diagnosis is made.

There can be minimal side effects to the vaccine, like infection at the injection site, though Ebony hasn't had any problems.

"He never had any reaction to the vaccine, never changed his attitude or his demeanor," says Mann. "He never displayed ill symptoms."

The vaccine is especially significant because many in the medical community feel it might eventually lead to a cancer vaccine for humans. In fact, Bergman teamed with Dr. Jedd Wolchok of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center more than 10 years ago to develop the vaccine and study its impact in both dogs and people.

"We're very excited about continuing research into this vaccine to explore the potential implications it has for humans," Wolchok said in a statement. "We hope this will result in improved cancer treatment for all."

In the meantime, dogs and their owners can reap the benefits of this remarkable treatment, which should now be available in many veterinary oncology offices throughout the country.

Mann says she would not hesitate to recommend it to other dog owners and is just thrilled that it's helped Ebony live a longer life — with gusto.

"He's the happiest dog on the planet," says Mann. "And he’s doing really well."
National Canine Cancer Foundation

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

♥Tribute honors Cesar Millan's Beloved Pit Bull, Daddy♥

Mimi's note: Of all the dogs I know who did his very best to show America the gentle side of the Pit Bull Terrier, it was Daddy. He took a misguided stereotype and proved it wrong time after time. I've lived with, and loved, dogs who have graced my life and home for as long as Daddy did with Cesar's. When they leave us we can hear the jingle of their collar tags and catch their shadow out of the corner of our eye for a long, long time. Rest in peace, Daddy - you did a darned good job.

Just the other day Cesar Millan lost Daddy, his beloved dog and right-hand "man" on the job, appearing in more than 50 episodes of "The Dog Whisperer."

Daddy, a Pit Bull who previously survived cancer, died peacefully, surrounded by his family, at 16. The dog had lived with the Millan family since he was four months old.

In Daddy's honor, the Dog Whisperer and his family have established an emergency animal rescue fund in his name.

Daddy’s Emergency Animal Rescue Fund will help dogs who are victims in large-scale disasters (hurricanes, fires, and other natural catastrophes), man-made disasters (hoarder and puppy mill rescues), and animal victims of abuse or violence.

Fans who would like to contribute to Daddy's fund can visit this site.

Also, National Geographic Channel has set up a photo gallery of Daddy pictures and video posted here.

Daniel Maltzman's painting of Daddy. (Photo Credit: © MPH-Emery/Sumner Joint Venture)
National Canine Cancer Foundation

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Scout says, "Get busy!" Today is NATIONAL LOVE YOUR PET DAY!

We almost for got to make this furry imPAWtant announcement!

Today momma took us for a long ride in the car with the windows open so we could sniff some good sniffs. We also went to the mall(s) and got to BARKBARKBARK at eFURyone that walked by our car! For dinner we got to eat HAM diced into our foodables and had one of our special Valentine's cookies for dessert, YUM!. Tonight we will lay on the bed with momma - heads on pillows - and we will all watch Animal Planet! (We must say, though, today was kinda like most days 'cause we is l♥ved 24/7 and then some)

How about you guys? Whatcha gonna do on LVE YOUR PET DAY!
National Canine Cancer Foundation

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Cabela's sponsors wolf-killing competition in Utah

Mimi's note: I am NOT against all hunting. My father was a hunter. We ate what he brought home and he
never took the life of any animal that was endangered, protected or wasn't going to be eaten as food. He never baited an animal. He hunted - like a man - a man with a sense of honor and fairness to his prey.

Now, call your dog over to you, look into its eyes. What you see reflected back at you is millions of years of evolution - beginning with the ancestors of the wolf. There is NO sport in killing wolves - NONE! Wolves are predators that provide a valuable service to mankind. In order for them to do their job we must leave them alone and allow them to do their job. They are NOT game animals.

If you click on the Cabela's links I have provided it will give you the address of their corporate office if you wish to let them know how you feel about their business sponsoring the killing of wolves - one of which you have in your home and at your feet. Flame me if you wish. I stand my ground.

Cabela's has sponsored wolf-killing derbies -- brutal competitions where contestants are awarded cash and prizes based on how many wolves and other animals they can kill. Proceeds from these derbies are being used to support anti-wolf litigation to block the restoration of life-saving federal protections for these magnificent animals.

Defenders of Wildlife's hard-hitting full-page ad spotlights the support of Cabela’s for wolf-killing predator derbies in Idaho that have been held by the misleadingly named Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife -- the same group that is also lobbying for the awful anti-wolf bill that they are fighting in Utah.
National Canine Cancer Foundation

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

You don't need to tell us that when the going gets tough you grab your best friend and hang on tight...

Mimi's note: You and I, we always knew this. We always knew that having companion animals to share our lives - and l♥ve - and cuddle and touch is not only good for the heart, it is good for us emotionally and physically and mentally. Finally - FINALLY - our animals are getting the credit that they have deserved for hundreds, if not thousands of years. SHARING YOUR LIFE WITH AN ANIMAL IS GOOD FOR YOU! The recognition is growing and the belief is growing probably because now there is verifiable scientific evidence that heart rates slow and blood pressure drops and seizures are predicted and cancer is detected and the list goes on and on and on. But you and I, we didn't need some scientist to tell us or some quantified evidence to prove to us what we have known all along - when you don't feel good, you grab your pet. When you feel that life had dealt you a raw deal, you grab your pet. When you are lonely, you grab your pet. When you need comfort and companionship and unconditional love - YOU GRAB YOUR PET AND HANG ON TIGHT!

Sgt. Doraliza Velez-Collazo says her Chihuahua, which she got through Pets for Vets, forces her to get out of her home.

(CNN By Sarah Aarthun) -- Sgt. Doraliza Velez-Collazo used to sleep with the lights on, haunted by nightmares since suffering a traumatic brain injury in Iraq. Severe depression kept her inside her small rented room in Southern California most days.

But just before the holidays, a 10-pound ball of fur came into her life and quickly began to turn it around.

Lupita, a 3-year-old Chihuahua that had been abandoned at a Los Angeles County shelter, was placed with Velez-Collazo with the help of Pets for Vets, a nonprofit organization.

"I used to not get out of the house at all," said Velez-Collazo, 37, whose 12 years as an Army combat battlefield nurse included deployments to Iraq and Kuwait. "Now I have to take her out. I get out of bed and put on some clothes."

That motivation to participate in normal daily activities is the goal of Pets for Vets, founded in 2008 by 27-year-old animal trainer Clarissa Black. The Los Angeles-based program matches homeless pets that may otherwise be euthanized with veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury and other ailments from their time in a war zone.

"A lot of times, these veterans who are coming home feel abandoned, and they have a difficult time adjusting to civilian life," Black said. "A lot of them tell me that they would just like someone to say thank you. Pets for Vets is that way to say thank you. Both [the veteran and the pet] have been through traumatic events, and together they can help each other heal."

Dave Sharpe, 31, a former senior airman in the U.S. Air Force, heads a similar program in the Washington, D.C., area. Sharpe, who suffers from PTSD, started Pets2Vets after he experienced the healing benefits of his own dog, Cheyenne.

Shortly after he got Cheyenne as a puppy, she witnessed one of his violent outbursts that began after he returned from missions in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan during Operation Enduring Freedom.

"Out of the corner of my eye ... I just saw this pit bull puppy wagging her tail and looking at me like, 'Dad, what are you doing?' " Sharpe recalled.

"I picked her up and took her to my bed, and I just told her everything that I went through, and she just sat there licking the tears off my face, and she didn't say a word.

"Right there, I immediately felt at peace with myself," Sharpe said.

A 2004 Pentagon study found that one in six veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan suffer from PTSD, depression or anxiety. A 2008 study by RAND Corp. put the number at nearly 20 percent, or one in five returning war veterans.

Research has shown that companion animals -- dogs in particular -- help lower blood pressure and heart rates in their owners, according to CNN's mental health expert Dr. Charles Raison, an assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Emory University.

"[Dogs] actually have a stress-busting effect," Raison said, adding there is evidence that dogs are useful for many types of people, including senior citizens, mental health patients and prison inmates.

That bond began more than 10,000 years ago, Raison said, calling dogs the first domesticated animal -- even before cows.

"Because of that, there's a great deal of warmth and connection between dogs and humans," he said.

The Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Long Beach, California, recognizes that connection and has referred some of its patients to Pets for Vets.

"If you look at health care, what we tend to do here is being exclusive to fixing a body," said Richard Beam, public affairs officer for VA Long Beach.

"But we don't necessarily consider what it is that makes a person whole. By making them whole, we're not only healing them physically, but we're also looking for what makes them thrive for life, what makes them want to be engaged in part of society."

Beam says that in many cases, the answer to that question is pets.

Black made her first pet-vet match in June and has since made seven other successful placements -- all dogs so far, though she's searching for a cat and a snake for two Pets for Vets hopefuls.

Sharpe's program has brought about the adoptions of seven dogs since it began bringing veterans to local shelters and rescue groups in July.

Both groups are helping a wide range of veterans, from those who served in Vietnam and the Bosnia conflict to 1991's Desert Storm and the recent war on terror.

What makes Black's program unique is her hands-on approach. Interested veterans interview with Black to determine what kind of pet would fit their needs and lifestyles. Once she finds a pet that matches that description, she brings it to her home, where she trains it in basic obedience and socializes it with other animals.

Black also helps dogs get used to the presence of wheelchairs or crutches and teaches them to safely hop into laps. And for vets with brain injuries or PTSD, dogs are taught to recognize the triggers of side effects or panic attacks so they can snuggle or nudge the person during those episodes.

"We find that this kind of training helps ensure that the pet and vet are lifelong companions," Black said. "It's less stress, and it relieves the burden and sets both the dog and vet up for success."

Once the pet is ready, Pets for Vets provides all of the necessary equipment for the new owner -- leashes, collars, food and water bowls, dog crates and so on. Sharpe's Pets2Vets offers a similar service.

"I really do believe that companion animals are the life-saving therapy many veterans need," Black said.

Black, who is hoping to expand Pets for Vets beyond the Los Angeles area, says she sees immediate results from the program.

"[The veterans] visibly relax and appear less anxious," she said of those first meetings between pet and veteran

Sharpe agrees, saying veterans who come into a local shelter for the first time are closed off from those around them, but quickly open up in the presence of a dog.

"[The veterans] are happier and more comfortable in their day-to-day lives," she said. "They don't mention as many readjustment annoyances or concerns [and] are able to focus on the care and joy of their dogs rather than on the negative things in their lives."

A month after Lupita came into Velez-Collazo's life, she's starting to turn her lights off at night.

"I kind of hold on to her little paw, listening to her breathing, and she looks at me, licking my hand, like, 'You're going to be OK, Mom.' "
National Canine Cancer Foundation

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Valentine's Day - A day devoted to unconditional love - giving and receiving...

Maxdog and his mom continue to fight the good fight with hearts bound together by unconditional love

Most of you probably know that along with my dogs I share my life and home with kitties, too. The Cat Blogosphere, last Thursday, suggested that kitty blogs show solidarity with Maxdog on Valentine's Day by mentioning that he is fighting the good fight. In union with my kitties, I honor Maxdog and his mom today.

And, what, pray tell did this momma do for her furry canines to show them that they are loved beyond measure? In addition to giving them oodles of hugs and kisses, I spent some time in the kitchen



Scout and Freyja's basket of Valentine treats! Have a wonderful weekend everyone. Cuddle and kiss everyone you love - even if they do have hairy lips☺

Additional bags of cookies were given to grand-dogs Suzie and Cody with more bags donated to a weekend bake sale whose proceeds will go to help construct our local dog park this spring.
National Canine Cancer Foundation

Friday, February 12, 2010

Dear Wally has left for the bridge. His star shines bright in the midnight sky.

When the world is blessed with a dog whose heart is larger than life, heaven becomes envious and takes him back home. Shine bright, dear Wally, you left broken hearts behind that may not mend...
National Canine Cancer Foundation

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Surrounding Maxdog in South Africa with love and prayers...

Most of us have been there and most of us will be there again and again - facing a loss that is unimaginable - a loss so painful that we speak of it in hushed tones and with tears and with our throat closing up so tight we don't know if we can take our next breath.

Dear Max in South Africa is fighting the good fight right now and beside him - right there next to him, loving him and giving him all he needs - is his mom, a woman of immense courage and a heart brimming to overflow with love for her Maxdog.

We can't take the pain away and we can't change the inevitable but we can understand and we can love them and we can bring our universe of bloggers together in a circle to surround Maxdog and his mom with comfort and prayers.

Dear Max, your are loved and all of your life you have given love in abundance. No one, human or canine, could ask for more, or leave a greater legacy when we have shed this earth to live amongst the stars - and - Max, I have a feeling that your star will be one of the biggest and brightest in the midnight sky.

Tender thoughts and much love, Mimi and her gang

National Canine Cancer Foundation

Friday, February 5, 2010

Animals slaughtered for their fur leave living legacy for wildlife babies

Mimi's note: Each and every day animals throughout our world are slaughtered in the most inhumane fashion for NO other reason than to feed the vanity of human beings. Now, those dear animals that have lost their lives can help orphaned wildlife babies to live. Please, do all you can to help this most worthy endeavor. I cannot think of a better way to honor the dead than to help the living.

By Andrea Cimino If you strayed into the back office of our Fur-Free Campaign, you might think you were in a fur warehouse, rather than in the headquarters of an international animal protection organization. Our staff spends hours each week packing and labeling boxes of fur for shipping—not to fur shops, but to wildlife rehabilitators who use it as bedding for orphaned and injured wildlife such as raccoons, rabbits, foxes, squirrels, and even bobcats. Wildlife rehabilitators say the fur reduces stress in their animal patients, perhaps reminding them of the comfort of snuggling up to their mothers.

Everyday Heroes Donate Fur 
Presidents of PR firms, fashion editors, and Long Island homemakers are just a few of the people who made the compassionate decision to become fur-free and donate their fur to The HSUS. From Hawaii to Maine, from England to Slovenia, former fur wearers (and people who have inherited furs from relatives or friends) are proud—and often relieved—to donate their furs to The HSUS. 

Each fur donor has their own story to tell. Many people who inherit fur have been long-time supporters of animal protection and would never dream of wearing fur. Yet they don't want to toss out the fur that a relative gave them, nor do they want to resell the fur, and have it be worn by somebody else. For them, donating the coat to help wildlife presents the perfect solution:
Sentimental and Squeamish: A donor from Costa Mesa, California, who sent us a mink stole told us, "I'm not comfortable wearing fur, and because it has sentimental value, I didn't want to just throw it away. Thank you for providing a great use for this fur."
Scared by a Stole: Another donor in Cary, North Carolina, parted with her grandmother's fur with a sense of humor. "Here is a scary-looking fur stole I found among my grandmother's belongings," she told us. "Hopefully the orphaned animals won't find it as disconcerting as I did."
Garish Gift: We also receive many donations from people who received fur as a gift, showing that fur is never a wise choice for a present, since so many people are upset about the animal cruelty inherent in fur garments. Not comfortable refusing the fur, and even more uncomfortable with the thought of wearing it, these people turn to the Coats for Cubs program.
Other donors tell us they purchased a fur item before they realized the extent of the cruelty behind each fur coat, trimmed garment, or accessory. Through their HSUS membership, information from a friend, or an article or video on the fur industry, these fur donators say they realize that the animals need their fur more than we do. The images of animals pacing in tiny wire cages on fur farms or caught in cruel devices such as the steel-jaw leghold trap drive home the idea that fur is cruel and unnecessary. Giving fur back to animals can be an ideal way to provide a happy ending for an item with such a sad beginning.
Fleece Is Warmer than Fox: One donor told us that she bought a pair of fox fur-lined gloves upon moving to Alaska. Shortly afterward, she saw her first arctic fox, who was walking through her backyard. It dawned on her that the fur looked better on the fox than in her gloves, and she decided to donate them to Coats for Cubs. She even sent us a picture of herself wearing fleece garments in the great Alaskan outdoors, telling us how much warmer fleece is than fur.
Rethinking Rabbit: Another donor from Castleton, New York, thanked us for "making me aware of a good use for this rabbit fur coat. I certainly wasn't thinking of the unfortunate rabbits when I purchased it for my daughter about 15 years ago. We are both much more aware now, and are very pleased to know that it may help other animals recover."
New School of Thought: A donor from Middlebury, Vermont, wrote us, "I haven't known what to do with these fur coats for the past 25 years, ever since I became aware of the fur issue. I wish I had been made aware of it in school, before I ever had a chance to buy these two coats. Thanks for coordinating this effort."
Many of the furs donated to us are in near-perfect condition, and might have earned these everyday heroes a lot of money if they resold the items. But for many people, the chance to right the wrong done to the animals killed for their fur is more important than any financial gain. 

The Cubs They Saved
The payoff of Coats for Cubs is helping injured and orphaned wildlife with the donated furs. Coats for Cubs has sent donated furs to wildlife centers such as The Fund for Animals' Wildlife Rehabilitation Center in Ramona, California, Larimer Humane Society in Fort Collins, Colorado, the Ohio Wildlife Center in Columbus, Ohio, the North Island Wildlife Recovery Association in Errington, British Columbia, Helping Arkansas Wild "Kritters" (HAWK) in Russellville, Arkansas, and to independent wildlife rehabilitators licensed by their state wildlife agencies. 

While we send furs to wildlife rehabilitators all over North America, we've given extra to the Gulf area in recent months. Suzy Heck of Heckhaven Wildlife Rehabilitation Center in Lake Charles, Louisiana, thanked us for sending the furs, explaining that because the center lost everything "due to Hurricane Rita and the flood after, these furs will be much appreciated. We are getting animals in, many still storm related, and soon, the orphans will be appearing."

Anna Harvey, a rehabilitator in Osceola, Iowa, took in a litter of orphaned opossums from a woman who climbed into a dumpster to rescue them. Their mother had been hit by a car, and someone had thoughtlessly thrown the litter into the dumpster. Harvey used our donated fur to comfort the orphans, and reported that they responded well to the fur. "The woman who rescued the opossums from the dumpster is a big hero, as are the people who sent the furs to you. Opossums love the long fur. They are doing well and eating a bit on their own," she wrote to us.

Tracy Beasley, a rehabilitator in Davis, Oklahoma, told us, "my favorite thing to do with the furs is to sew them into pouches of different sizes with draw string tops. They are excellent for orphaned opossums and raccoons. It makes them feel secure and keeps them warm."

In one case, the fur from Coats for Cubs made the difference between life and death. Lynne Slater, a rehabilitator in Arkansas, received a week-old bobcat whose mother had been killed by a car. Slater tried removing the bobcat kitten from the bed at feeding time several times, but the kitten simply would not suckle a baby bottle. Then inspiration struck, and she cut a hole in a Coats for Cubs fur, stuck the baby bottle nipple through the hole, and voila, the kitten drank hungrily. This technique worked until weaning time. Slater said, "Without the Coats for Cubs program, we wouldn't have been able to help this bobcat kitten survive. Thanks so much."

What Kind of Furs do People Donate?
The boxes of fur we ship out to wildlife rehabilitators contain common types of fur like mink, fox, rabbit, and raccoon. Occasionally we receive rarer types of fur, such as lynx and seal fur. The strangest coat of all was a vintage monkey fur coat, now fortunately illegal under CITES.
The donations range from full length fur coats to accessories such as stoles, capes, hats, and handbags, and fur trimmed items such as gloves and jackets.

How Do I Donate?
The HSUS is partnering with Buffalo Exchange, a vintage clothing chain with 25 stores across the country, to collect all kinds of fur, including coats, trim, and accessories. Now through Earth Day, April 22, 2006, you can bring your fur to any Buffalo Exchange store and let the staff know it is a donation for The HSUS. Click here for a list of store locations.

How Will I Know That The HSUS Has Received My Donation?
If you want to receive a letter of thanks, please include a note inside the box stating your email address or your mailing address requesting an acknowledgment.  If you've requested an acknowledgment, you will be sent a letter of thanks 2-3 weeks after the fur has arrived.  Please save this letter if you want to claim a tax deduction.

What Do I Need to Do If I Want to Claim a Tax Deduction?
If you itemize deductions, you can claim the fair market value of your donation. The fair market value is the amount for which you could sell the fur today—not how much it cost to purchase the fur. This is a judgment call that you will have to make, based on the condition and type of the fur. If you value the fur at $5,000 or more, the Internal Revenue Service will require a "Qualified Appraisal." You must have this appraisal performed before you donate the fur. You may need to include the letter of receipt from The HSUS in your tax returns. If you have any questions, you may want to consult your tax attorney.

I Am a Wildlife Rehabilitator—How Can I Participate?
As more people hear about this wonderful way to aid wildlife, fur donations to The HSUS increase. We are always looking for wildlife rehabilitators who will give the fur back to the animals. If you would like to help, just send an e-mail to, call 301–258-1490, or write to
The Humane Society of the United States
2100 L St., NW
Washington, D.C. 20037
Attn: Coats for Cubs

To claim a tax deduction for your gift, please mail it directly to The HSUS. Simply pack up the fur in a sturdy box and send it to:
The Humane Society of the United States
2100 L. St. NW
Washington, DC 20037
attn: Coats for Cubs

Please make sure to include your full name and address so The HSUS can mail you a letter suitable for claiming a tax deduction. For more information on the program and claiming a tax deduction, see
National Canine Cancer Foundation