My Story

Do you have a story to share about your experience at the WSU VTH?

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  • Taz (January 2, 2009 - June 28, 2013) Gail M

    There are so many stories about Taz, I could write a book. I made a right turn in a parking lot, rather than my usual left turn, and there was a man with puppies. I intended to drive past, but my truck turned into a parking space. I left with a six-week-old bundle of fur who became my best friend. While a puppy, he loved chasing leaves, and he would watch planes and birds in the sky. However, he did not like helicopters, and when he would hear one he would run to me and hide behind my legs. He was a natural at hide and seek; without training he worked grids until he found an item I had hidden. Taz was a quick learner. He obtained his STAR puppy certification, and later his Canine Good Citizen certification. We had fun with agility. He never met a stranger, whether human or animal. He woke me each day with a wake up lick, a nose nuzzle, and a wildly wagging tail.

    Taz CollageOn October 3, 2012, I was scheduled to travel to San Diego to attend a conference. Earlier that day I found a lump on Taz's right leg, and I decided I could not leave until I had it checked. I took Taz to a 24/7 vet clinic, and the vet who examined him thought it was a fluid-filled cyst which, when aspirated, would go down. While attempting to aspirate the cyst, the vet said, "I didn't expect this," and I knew it was not going to be good news. He managed to aspirate enough cells to make a slide, and after viewing the slide, he told me the mass needed to be excised. I cancelled my trip, and the next morning took Taz to his regular vet, Dr. Ron Williams at Palmer Veterinary Clinic. Dr. Williams excised the mass and sent it to WSU for evaluation. The pathology report stated the mass was a highgrade soft tissue sarcoma. Dr. Williams consulted with Dr. Janean Fidel at WSU, and after talking with Dr. Williams, I made the decision to take Taz to WSU for evaluation and radiation therapy.

    I would like to thank the wonderful people at Washington State University, College of Veterinary Medicine, who treated and cared for Taz during his radiation treatment in November - December 2012. Dr. Rebekah Lewis and her team were outstanding. Because I live in Alaska, I had to leave Taz at the hospital so I could return to work. The daily phone calls reassuring me that Taz was doing well brought comfort and smiles as the students told me the stories of their time with Taz, who made certain they got their daily exercise by playing ball with him. When I returned to get Taz, I heard stories of his greeting the people treating him with a wiggle and wag, even the person who took him each day for his radiation treatment.

    Unfortunately, two months after returning from WSU, I found a second mass on Taz’s right leg, which resulted in amputation of his leg. Taz recovered quickly from the surgery, and resumed his life with gusto. He chased squirrels through the woods, jumped over logs, played ball, and retained his living each day to the fullest attitude.

    Sadly, Taz died unexpectedly in my arms the morning of June 28, 2013. The necropsy revealed a mass the size of a small hen’s egg in the left ventricle of his heart, which was diagnosed as a sarcoma. Taz was brave throughout his battle, never growling or snapping at anyone, always greeting people with a smile and wagging tail. He taught me that no matter what life throws my way, I should joyously greet each day with a smile and with excited anticipation of what the day will bring.

    Thanks to Palmer Veterinary Clinic, and especially to Pat, the receptionist who met me at the clinic before it opened on June 28, which was her day off. She was with me when Taz died, she sat on the floor with me, cried with me, and stayed with me until I finally left. The doctors and staff at Palmer Veterinary Clinic are very special to me and my furry friends. Taz was a happy, playful, loving, and very determined dog to make lemonade out of lemons. I was blessed to have him, though our time together was too short.

  • Leisel (Spring 2013) Marilyn R

    Leisel CollageLast winter our Bernese Mountain Dog, Leisel, was diagnosed with a histiocytic sarcoma on her left hind leg by a veterinarian in Bend, Oregon and confirmed by another veterinarian in Seattle. Both (neither, WSU graduates) immediately recommended amputation. On the suggestion of a friend, we phoned the WSU Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences and were warmly and professionally received. The WSU staff noted that radiation treatment might do the trick, eliminating the need for amputation.

    We then took Leisel to Chelsea Tripp, DVM, a WSU graduate in oncology with a practice in Seattle, who concurred that there was a good chance that radiation followed by chemotherapy would be adequate. She called her former colleagues in the WSU Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences and arranged for an appointment for us with Dr. Janean Fidel, an associate professor and oncologist.

    In our meeting, Dr. Fidel took a great deal of time with us, carefully and thoroughly examining Leisel and patiently responding to all of our questions, making us feel like our dog was the only animal in the hospital and that radiation was indeed a wise choice. Dr. Fidel possesses that impressive combination of competency and professionalism on the one hand and kindness and compassion on the other. We were struck by the caring attention she was devoting to this case.

    Upon our having arrived at the WSU Veterinary Teaching Hospital we had been sympathetically and earnestly welcomed by Kate Kilzer, a fourth year student assigned to our dog. During Leisel's nine-day stay at the hospital for radiation treatments, Kate overcame her charming shyness to make daily telephone calls to us regarding Leisel's status. It is obvious that Dr. Fidel had effectively imbued in Kate the strong WSU culture of communication with and compassion toward Owners. Every day we eagerly looked forward to Kate's calls.

    Upon Leisel's discharge, Dr. Fidel again was generous with her time, thoroughly reviewing Leisel's condition and recommending a post-radiation program of Lomustine chemotherapy, and again exhibiting that marvelous combination of personal warmth and professional seriousness. We returned to Dr. Tripp who has been administering the chemotherapy treatments with no adverse side affects and every sign that Leisel is a bona fide “WSU Cancer Survivor” as stated on her scarf which she proudly wears.

    While we are UW Huskies, nevertheless henceforth the phrase "Go Cougs" will forever have a whole new meaning to us, giving rise to a deep emotion of gratitude for Dr. Fidel and the WSU College of Veterinary Medicine.

    Middle photo: Dr. Janean Fidel, WSU oncologist, Kate Kilzer (’13 DVM), and Leisel
    Bottom photo: Bob R. and Leisel


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