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Kyle Stevenson

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Potter was (and will always be) my very best friend. I adopted him - or maybe he adopted me - during my third year of veterinary school on Prince Edward Island, Canada. He was one of our junior surgery patients from the Moncton, NB SPCA. Our junior surgery group neutered him, and we were supposed to send him back to the SPCA to be adopted out. But, he weaseled his way into my heart, and he never went back to the SPCA. He became the first dog that I ever adopted on my own. He got me through many rough days during and after veterinary school. He was my walking buddy through every kind of weather. He loved to ride in the car, go to the red sand beaches, take long naps on my bed, and tear up tennis balls. He had a bum front right leg that had to have surgery twice, but it never slowed him down. I always panicked that I would lose him to bone cancer because of all of the chronic inflammation that he had in that leg. But, what happened in the end was nothing that I was anticipating. I lost Potter on 6/12/15 to heart-based hemangiosarcoma. A month or so prior to that, he was slowing down - I attributed it to his front leg arthritis and the warm weather. He still loved his walks, but his appetite was a little off and he was slower on his walks. He ended up with blood behind his cornea - by the time I got him to an ophthalmologist, it had pretty much resolved. I knew that there was something not quite right, but I couldn't put my finger on it. Blood work was unexciting. Repeat chest and belly x-rays were unexciting. On 5/28/15, he let me pick him up and put him in my lap, something he never really tolerated for more than 1 minute. He just laid there. His heart was racing, and he had a very significant murmur and arrhythmia. My parents rushed him down to Cornell University the following morning, as I had to work. On a heart ultrasound, they found a large mass invading his left ventricle and causing a partial obstruction through the aorta. I was told that his heart could potentially "burst" if that mass went through the heart wall. It was one of the most humbling and most devastating experiences of my entire life - being on the opposite side of that phone call: "I have some bad news. Your dog has cancer." I still remember where I was and what I was doing when I got that phone call. Despite a valiant attempt at chemotherapy to slow down the growth of the tumor, I only got to spend 2 more weeks with him. His diagnosis came on my 8-year anniversary of starting my career in private practice, and I lost him on the day our local community has their Relay For Life event for the American Cancer Society. On that day, he just stopped walking . . . we had been continuing the shortest of walks because he was still begging to go. He literally just stopped . . . and I knew that he wasn't my Potter anymore. He was tired and done. I was so lucky to have an amazing group of coworkers that got my family and me through that process. Hemangiosarcoma is such a devastating cancer - it is so insidious and stealthy, raging in when you least expect it. It is so difficult to treat and doesn't respond very well to chemotherapy. By the time we diagnose it, it's usually causing a lot of problems in the body.
It is through organizations like PuppyUp that research can be funded so that hopefully someday no one has to lose their pet to any type of cancer.
I love you, Potter . . . always.
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