Cancer and the Older Dog

by Jonni

The following article brings up a subject that many dog lovers would like to avoid – our beloved older dog’s risk of contracting cancer.

Cancer effects dogs as well as people

From The Nevada Appeal, August 2, 2006

Tine Leutheuser isn’t your typical cancer survivor. When her right leg was bothering her a few months ago, the sable haired, brown-eyed beauty took a trip to the doctor only to find she had bone cancer.

A few days later while deciding on a course of action, her leg broke, leaving few options – she’d just have to get by on her other three.

Yes, Tine is a dog, and like many of her human counterparts in Incline Village, she is a cancer survivor.

So is her owner, Incline resident Ed Leutheuser, who beat bladder cancer 12 years ago.

The duo plan to walk in Friday’s Relay for Life event to celebrate cancer survivors, help raise money for cancer research and remember loved ones.

One person who Leutheuser, 75, will be remembering on Friday is his wife, Sue, who died of ovarian cancer in 2004.

“The great benefit of Relay for Life is that it’s a lot different than just writing a check,” Leutheuser said. “You actually get out there and participate and see other people participate. It’s a whole new dimension for the awareness of cancer treatment; the importance of helping to find cures.”

Leutheuser purchased nearly 30 luminaria bags this year to recognize the people close to him directly affected by cancer. His father, wife, two brothers and sister died of cancer.

“Cancer has touched me because (it has affected) a lot of people in my family, a lot of people I’ve known for a long time,” said Leutheuser, an Incline resident since 1999. “It’s a very personal thing for me this year.”

And last spring, cancer almost took his dog.

Walking by his side on Friday will be 10-year-old Tine, a Belgian Malinois Shepard, who had her right hind leg and right hip amputated in April. She will be donning a red short-sleeved sweatshirt that reads “Cancer Survivor.”

“Tine recovered fantastically,” Leutheuser said. “She bounds out of the house in the morning like a deer. She doesn’t hurt anymore – that’s all. She doesn’t know she has three legs.”

Cancer is common in dogs as they become middle-aged or older, said veterinarian James Lane of Incline Veterinary Hospital, who performed Tine’s surgery.

Cancer is a major cause of death in dogs, he said.

“I think (Tine’s story is) a great inspiration,” Lane said. “I’m not sure if this will be an inspiration to other dogs, but hopefully it will be an inspiration to their owners.”