Gaelee, a Kerry Blue
Terrier, keeping watch on an Erie Canal cruise with friends.
came to me in 2001 as a rescue dog. I
was told her previous people thought she was incorrigible.
Within three weeks, she was housebroken.
She quickly racked up obedience certifications and gained her wings as a
certified therapy dog. She had many
friends and admirers at the local rehab center and hospice.
Despite originally hailing from Texas, Gaelee never liked the heat.
I thought August temperatures were causing a little lethargy.
She had been seen by her vet in May and everything was fine. She
was a little early for her rabies booster then so I took her back on August 29,
2007. Unfortunately, the tech gave
her the inoculation before checking her lymph nodes.
The reaction was immediate and life threatening.
She hemorrhaged into her groin and became blind.
She had to spend a night in intensive care.
We weren’t sure if she would regain her sight.
All that was certain was that she had Lymphoma.
Fortunately, her sight returned after three days.
Through talking with others, I decided not
to put either of us through the expense or trauma of tests that would not impact
the course of treatment. As such,
she did not have bone marrow aspirations or ultrasounds for staging.
She was started on the CHOP protocol.
When plummeting white counts delayed treatment, we added acupuncture to
boost her immune system. How she
She had been in remission for 22 months when one evening, I was scratching her
tummy and saw the hemorrhaging again. She
was out of remission. We tried CCNU.
It seemed to work but after a week,
I rolled over in bed one morning to scratch her tummy and saw that the
hemorrhaging was back. I cried all
day knowing it was time to say goodbye. On
July 8, 2009, she was euthanized by her beloved acupuncture vet.
I have no regrets about treating Gaelee. Treatment
extended her life almost 2 years— and they were good years.
She had just turned 10 at the time of her death.
She is loved and missed by her mom, her Australian Terrier brother and a
feline sister. She was an incredibly
gentle and sensitive girl.
Below is email correspondence from Laurie to
dogdoggiedog.com that tells more of Gaelee's Story:
Date: Thu, 30 Aug 2007 17:19:14
Subject: Just diagnosed with Lymphoma
My 8 year old Kerry Blue Terrier was just diagnosed with Lymphoma. This time
yesterday, I was taking her to the vet for a rabies booster, blissfully
ignorant. All hell broke loose between then and now. She ended up at
the emergency vet overnight. Saw an oncologist this morning. She
starts Chemo tomorrow.
I'm looking for support. Ideas on making this profound sadness go away a
bit. Is it worth it? Am I doing the right thing? I really,
really, really love this dog.
Thanks in advance for your thoughts.
Sent: 08/31/2007 2:52 PM EST
Subject: Re: Just diagnosed with Lymphoma
Thanks, Carol. As it happens, the disease has blinded Gaelee and caused
strange bleeding. The oncologist and my vet conferred and believe this to
be a particularly aggressive Lymphoma. My vet started her on Elspar today
and told me to tap into any spiritual resources I may have over the weekend.
He thinks we'll have a better idea of whether this will be a reasonable
course of action next week. If you care to pray for a dog, I'd love to
have another person on her list.
Photos attached of my girl.
Sent: 09/04/2007 12:01 PM EST
Subject: And now some good news for a change
First off, thank you for keeping Gaelee in mind and asking friends to keep her
in mind. Every bit helps. I believe you are giving her the best
possible complimentary medicine.
I woke up this morning to Gaelee's multiple alerts that our new cat was showing
herself. I would not ordinarily be amused by the loud barking but this
morning was different. She SAW the cat. She RAN back and forth
across the upstairs landing. I asked her up on the
bed and she JUMPED without any hesitation, meaning she could see to make the
leap and felt capable of expending that sort of energy. Some of the soreness
must also have receded, just as we hoped.
She is clearly feeling much better. I'm trying to stuff her with food
since she has lost weight and the next drug has a reputation for
causing some anorexia. She didn't eat much this morning but that should
change once the morning steroids kick in. She tells me she
wants to be a canine weight lifter...
Keep the good thoughts coming and again, thank you, thank you, thank you from
all of us here.
Laurie, Gaelee, Flea and Belle kitty
Sent: 09/04/2007 2:23 PM EST
Subject: Re: And now some good news for a change
Thanks, Carol. I took note of the drug and will ask for a bottle of it
when we go for the first Vincristine infusion tomorrow. I will ask about
taking it prophylactically as well. Gaelee has lost weight and I >
don't want her to lose more. I have spent the past several days
overfeeding her. She looks at me like, 'oh come on, enough with the food.'
I'll publish a note for wider distribution over the weekend. I wanted to
let the Lymphoma aware group know the results of Gaelee's vet
visit. Her vision is normal again but not all of the Lymph nodes are down.
The vet helped me locate the ones in her chest that are still the size of
large eggs. I had been heartened that the ones in her neck had so
dramatically decreased in size. He said he is a little disappointed by her
response but that we should wait and see how things go after the Vincristine
Despite my feeding her 3-4 times a day, she had not gained so much as an ounce.
I wonder if the drugs somehow increased her metabolism
because I can't imagine eating that much and not gaining weight. She sits
by my side now having eaten half of her early dinner. I'll feed the rest
to her by hand and plan on serving her again at a fashionably late hour.
Once again, the vet referred to the cancer as 'extremely aggressive.' I asked
him why he thinks it is so aggressive. Basically, because the oncologist
describes it as such. Why did the oncologist describe it as such? Because
of the hemorrhaging. Although my vet had never seen a dog with Lymphoma
hemorrhage, the oncologist had. I told him I thought the bleeding was
caused by an interaction between the rabies booster and the disease. He
said it couldn't happen that quickly. I still don't think the two events
I asked about prognosis. Dr. Friedman suggests we wait to see how she
responds to the Vincristine but when pressed, said she probably has a good bit
less that the original 12-14 month estimate, probably more like 6-8. Still,
he stressed that this is worth treating. That was never in question.
Because of your input, I insisted on having metaclopromide. At the first
hint of distress, she will be dosed. We went for a cruise in my
convertible on the way home. We drove by the beach and scoped out the dogs
walking by. We drove by the harbor and took in the salt air. She
seemed so happy, washing my ears, smiling, those grey-blue ears blowing in the
Sent: 09/05/2007 11:15 PM EST
Subject: news for the Lymphoma aware group
Thank you both for keeping us in
mind. I plan to see how it goes with the GI issues. At the first
hint of a problem, she will get the
metaclopromide. My vet is calling on Friday so we have an automatic check
I did reading on the internet this afternoon and found lots of conflicting info
on diet. I have ordered two books through our library
so I can bone up on diet as well as alternative medicine. As it happens, I
took Gaelee to a meeting this evening and lo and behold, one
of the other members of the group is a Reiki master! He gave me his number
and said he could give her another treatment this weekend. This is the third
Reiki master I have encountered who has offered to help since her diagnosis.
I told him I'd feed him well with fresh produce from my garden for his
efforts. I hope to convert this one into a regular thing.
Despite Gaelee's food allergies, I decided to go ahead with adding a little Flax
seed oil to her food. She LOVES it so, she'll be getting oily food from
As for the protocol, I want to get through the next two drugs before asking for
one of the rescue protocols. If she does not go into
remission, I will ask that we reconsider the plan. For now, I am inclined
to go with the flow. I see improvement even if the vet is
somewhat disappointed. Too, the protocol she is the one suggested by the
oncologist. My vet usually gives Elspar one day and Vincristine the next.
We waited 5 days between the two drugs so it may be a more gradual uptick
than he is accustomed to. Whatever the case, I am reserving judgment.
Both of you have great stories. I am keeping them in mind.
Sent: 09/13/2007 10:02 PM EST
Subject: This week
I really haven't had anything to report. Gaelee started Cytoxan yesterday.
I took her for grooming this morning and had a bit of a
scare when she tried unsuccessfully to jump into my SUV, landing hard on one
side. She will be helped in and out of the car from now on.
Also found a mass on her eyelid this evening. She tends to be a lumpy dog
and has had multiple biopsies. I'll ask the vet about it when we go back
for Vincristine on Wednesday.
She is my shadow. If I can't take her and it lasts more than 2 hours, I
don't go. She will be going into Boston with me Saturday to paint a
friend's kitchen. (I do faux paining). She will stay home without me
for the first time Sunday. I'll probably be away for 4-5 hours. Realistically,
I can't continue to stick this close to home for much longer. I do want to
get her through the first round of drugs. We have one new one left to be
administered in a little less than two weeks.
I still feel an enlarged lymph node in her chest, which is discouraging. Thanks
for checking in.
Sent: 10/09/2007 3:16 PM EST
Galee had her first doxyrubicin
today so I thought I'd write. She and Flea are asleep at my feet. They
both look so tranquil.
Gaelee's lymph nodes are still up in her chest and groin. Since we started
this, we have had to delay twice to get her white count up.
Her white count was still low yesterday but they decided to go ahead with a
somewhat lower dose of chemo. I talked with another vet in the practice
who specializes in acupuncture. She will have her first needling on Friday
in the hopes of stimulating her natural immune
system. Kim Rotner, the vet acupuncturist, had a dog with Lymphoma so she
is particularly interested in trying to help Gaelee. Her dog
survived 8 mos after diagnosis. I also have Gaelee on herbs suggested by
the homeopathic vet to boost her immune system.
She remains the happy, sweet girl I have always loved.
Sent: 02/03/2008 10:53 PM EST
Subject: The update on Gaelee
Hi, I thought you might want an update
on Gaelee. She is in remission and doing well. She has 3 more chemo
treatments before we take an indefinite break. She will be seen once a
month for check ups after that and I assume we will continue with her
acupuncture. BTW, we decided to do acupuncture in the hopes of boosting
her immune system so that she could stay on a more regular chemo schedule.
This is not a tried and true technique but it seemed to work for us.
Dips in her white count still occurred but she seemed to rebound more
After the first 6 weeks or so, Gaelee seemed to be her old dog again. Save
for the loss of some whiskers and some changes in her coat only I notice, she
seems like the picture of health. She is my squirmy little Kerry girl.
Gaelee is doing so well that she started back as a therapy dog at Hospice.
I am attaching a photo of her at the Hospice house all decked out in her
wings and tutu. She never fails to win a smile when folks see the elegant
grey dog with the big smile in the goofy tutu.
My friend's grandpuppy, Eilonwy, has now lived for almost 2 years after
his diagnosis. We hope to walk together in the NYC cancer walk this
summer. Las year, Eilonwy was co-queen of the walk with another canine
Although she is in remission now, the Lymphoma is likely to come back.
We're still dealing with the 12-14 month prognosis although my vet tells
me he has known plenty of dogs who have beat those odds. You just never
can tell. I plan to enjoy her for as long as we are together.
Thanks again for your help and advice.
I will know who to contact when the need arises again.
Laurie and Gaelee
Please extend my thanks to your members for their support through Gaelee's
treatment. She came out of remission, we tried a rescue protocol and
thought it was working but then she started hemorrhaging again a week later.
I don't think she was feeling ill yet when she was euthanized. Waiting
meant risking she would bleed to death internally. I wasn't willing to do
I thought you'd want to know.
Gaelee at Hospice House a year after her diagnosis.
Who wouldn’t smile at an elegant dog dressed in a silly pink tutu and
Gaelee being taken back to the boat by her
brother, Flea. I tethered them
together because Gaelee could be relied upon to keep Flea out of trouble and
return them both when called.