I met our patient Remy as an overweight service dog that was having trouble doing his job due to the extra weight he carried. As a rehab practice, we immediately initiated him on a prescribed weight loss program. He reached his target weight and level of activity six months later.
We saw Remy again a few months later. He was suddenly restless, vomiting, and exhibited an accelerated heart and respiration rate. He was diagnosed with a large adrenal mass invading the vena cava. He was bleeding into his abdomen. A board-certified surgeon performed the exploratory surgery and recommended humane euthanasia while on the surgical table, since the mass was not resectable. At that point, the owner and I talked over the phone to reach a medical decision that was best for Remy. He was not only a pet but also the highly-trained service dog for Lorinda and her husband Israel, both in wheelchairs. We decided to have Remy transferred from Miami to the School of Veterinary at the University of Florida. There he underwent a four hour surgical procedure conducted by the primary surgeon, assisted by six surgical assistants. Immediately after the surgery, the surgeon explained to Lorinda that this was the hardest surgery he had performed and that the expectations were not high. It had been an extremely complicated procedure on an already weakened patient.
Once out of the surgical room, walking weakly and painfully with his cone on the head, Remy was on his way to the post surgical recovery area with the doctor and his owner. Lorinda, in her wheelchair, trailed behind Remy, holding his leash. That is when Lorinda accidentally dropped the leash. Remy, slowly and with difficulty, turned around to do what he was trained to do: he gently picked up the leash with his mouth and gave it to his owner. Then he continued his slow walk towards the recovery room.
Remy had two extremely painful days after surgery. It was hard for Lorinda to visit him and see him suffering. Remy's adrenal mass was a ruptured carcinoma invading the vena cava. The prognosis given by the oncologist was guarded to poor. He is on palliative care now, and has not been sick for even one day after this story.
It has been almost one year now.
Because of Remy's courage, his desire to assist his owner even during his darkest moment, and his relentless fight against cancer while performing his duties, Remy is an outstanding service dog. He won a national competition with his story, and was awarded Best Support Dog Of The Nation. Congratulations to Remy and all service, therapy, support and comfort dogs that help us go through the bumps of life in a smooth and elegant way life.