Leland Sklar… and a low two tumor!


Yesterday, I wrote about our dog, Arran, who just had surgery to have a mast cell tumor removed. Last night, the vet called and emailed to tell us that the tumor she removed was “low grade” and she got excellent margins. This is very good news. I mean, the first mast cell tumor Arran had was rated a 1.5, which is very low grade… almost benign, actually. This one was a 2. A two is not as good as 1.5, but pathologists can be pretty subjective about their opinions, anyway. Another pathologist might have rated it differently. The point is, it doesn’t look like it was a particularly aggressive tumor and there’s a good chance the surgery was curative. I wrote more about this on my main blog.

I was impressed that the vet called and emailed, especially on a Friday evening. She said she would call today, too, since we missed the call last night. When we lived in Stuttgart, I remember getting the news at the appointment, rather than by phone. I was actually a little concerned when Bill said he got a call and an email. I thought maybe there was something urgently wrong. But, it turns out she probably just wanted to put our minds at ease for the weekend. I mean, mast cell tumors are shitty and they’re not good news as a general rule. But having now dealt with several types of canine cancers, I can say that I would take dealing with a mast cell tumor over, say, prostate cancer or the horrible spinal tumor our sweet MacGregor had in 2012. That was heartbreaking.

Last night, I also finally got something I’ve been waiting ages for… a book by the great bass guitar player, Leland Sklar. I am a big fan of his work, since he’s played bass for many of my favorite artists since the 1970s. Ever since the pandemic started, Lee has been posting videos on YouTube. He’s also started a “hangout”, which I would join if I weren’t so many timezones away. In the fall, he decided to publish a book called Everybody Loves Me. It’s basically a thick coffee table book full of photos of people flipping him the bird. Seriously, there’s very little writing in this book. It’s all famous and non famous people giving Sklar the finger. He’s got a broad range of people mugging for the camera, too. Off the top of my head, besides many people whose names I don’t know but give good face, he’s got photos of Phil Collins, James Taylor, Bonnie Raitt, Lyle Lovett, Jackson Browne, and David Crosby, among many others.

So what does this have to do with traveling? Well, it’s not so much about travel as it is life in Germany and getting stuff through the APO system, which is what we US government affiliated people get for US mail. Lelad Sklar mailed my book sometime in late November, I think. It just got to me yesterday. The mail has been slow lately under normal circumstances. When someone mails something through the APO system, particularly when they don’t pay for premium shipping, it can take many weeks. I’m not complaining, mind you. I was glad to get the book yesterday. It was worth the wait. I got a big kick out of it. Incidentally, I ordered Bill an Ancestry.com DNA kit for Christmas back in early November, I think. It just got here about two weeks ago.

The weather continues to suck, although I did read that at least reports of COVID-19 cases have gone down a little bit. I just got up and noticed that it’s snowing again, but I don’t think it’s cold enough for anything to stick. The ground is positively saturated, and every time Noyzi goes outside, he runs around like a maniac and gets mud caked in his paws, which he then tracks into the house. I need to vacuum, but I may just wait, because vacuuming when it’s so muddy outside is utterly futile. But Noyzi sheds all over the place, so I’m constantly sweeping. I’m thinking it’s time to buy a new vacuum cleaner that is a lot lighter and more portable, because I probably ought to vacuum every day. I know ex landlady thinks I’m a filthy slob, but I’m really not. I just love my dogs and they’re a step above toddlers when it comes to messes, especially when the weather is bad.

Again, not complaining… having Noyzi is well worth the trouble of sweeping and vacuuming more. He’s a ball of love who has made enduring the pandemic a lot easier. I love watching him evolve. He’s turning into a real character now. I think the ghost of Zane visits through him, as he plays keep away in the yard with a distinctly mischievous grin on his face. I also love to feed him snacks. He has such a big mouth that it reminds me of mailing a letter. He’s so adorable the way he sneaks up behind me quietly, like a shadow, and quietly requests a bite of whatever it is I’m eating. When we first got him, he wouldn’t eat anything but kibble, which makes training a bit more difficult. No food rewards. And he was too afraid to play with toys. Now, he loves his toys.

Anyway… now, all we have to do is wait for Arran to heal some more so he can ditch the cone.

Here are a few photos from Leland Sklar’s book. When I ordered, I got a funny little animation that flipped me off as it thanked me. I thought to get a screenshot of it, which is today’s featured photo. This book was $65 unsigned, $85 signed. I got it signed because Leland Sklar is so entertaining and kind that I figured he deserved the extra cash.

Poor Arran…


Monday morning, our dog Arran, whom we’ve counted as a family member since January 2013, had surgery on his left hind leg. A couple of weeks ago, I spotted a red bump there as Arran was headed outside for his evening whiz. Having already dealt with mast cell tumors in Arran and our late beagle, Zane, I had a feeling a new MCT had showed its ugly head. I told Bill about it when he came home from work. The next day, he called our vets in the neighboring industrial park in Wallau and told them that Arran had a tumor. They were good enough to fit him in for an aspiration that morning.

A week later, we went back to the vet’s office for the results of the aspirate, as well as basic bloodwork for our new dog, Kosovar street dog, Noyzi. The vet confirmed what we’d feared. After five and a half years with no new mast cell tumors, Arran had another one. It was in the skin, rather than under it, and she didn’t detect any swollen lymph nodes. She scheduled him for surgery a few days later. Meanwhile, Noyzi had three vials of blood taken, as well as a sample for a DNA test.

Monday morning, Bill planned to take Arran in at 10:00am. That was what was written on the appointment slip the receptionist gave him last week. Unfortunately, the receptionist got the time wrong. He was supposed to go in at 9:00am. So poor Arran had to starve for a couple more hours before he got in to have the tumor removed. I had noticed it shrinking last week to almost nothing, but by Monday morning, it had blown up again. Mast cell tumors notably do this— they’ll shrink to nothing, then swell up a lot when they’re bothered. That’s one of the telltale signs. The tumors put out histamine, which causes the inflammation and itching that comes with these types of growths.

Because mast cell tumors are typically more invasive then they appear, and will sometimes come back with a vengeance if the margins aren’t good, the vet made a very large incision on Arran’s leg. She was a lot more aggressive than our old vet in Herrenberg was. I have noticed the vets up near Wiesbaden seem to be a bit more aggressive and up to date than the ones in the Stuttgart area are. I loved our Herrenberg vet, though. She just had a more conservative approach to surgery.

Arran has been wearing the dreaded cone of shame all week. He’s been surprisingly well-behaved and calm about it. We did finally put a “Comfy Cone” on him yesterday. I had bought one for Zane a few years ago, but misplaced it in the move. The Comfy Cone is less rigid than the traditional hard plastic Elizabethan Collar is and it makes less noise. But it’s not made of transparent plastic, so it’s harder for Arran to see or hear with it on. We took it off last night, and he behaved pretty well, but we put it back on this morning after he started licking his stitches. Poor guy. This is probably driving him crazy.

We should get the results of the biopsy next week… and maybe Noyzi’s DNA test results will be in, too. Noyzi was given a clean bill of health, which is a good thing. I hope Arran’s tumor was a low grade one. I hate canine cancer, and it wasn’t so long ago that we were dealing with it in Zane. But I guess whatever’s to be will be. As dog cancers go, I don’t think mast cell tumors are that horrible. At least they can be treated and often cured by surgery. But I still hate canine cancers… and mast cell cancer sometimes turns into lymphoma, which is what happened with Zane after three years of MCTs.

In case anyone is wondering, the total cost of the operation and everything that came with it was about 590 euros, or around $700. Right now, the dollar is taking a beating against the euro. Still, this would have been a lot more expensive in many parts of the United States. We can also use a VAT form, which exempts us from paying German taxes on the procedure. At 19%, that’s a very good thing.

As you can see, Bill is Arran’s favorite person.

Why eye didn’t go out…


I still look forward to weekends, even though I never do anything on weekends anymore. I thought maybe that might change this weekend. It’s mid June, and I have left my neighborhood exactly three times since March. The weather is good, and my birthday is next weekend. I thought maybe we could go out yesterday… have some lunch or walk around Wiesbaden or something. But then my right eye started feeling weird.

I went into the bathroom to have a look, and the bottom outside corner of my eye appeared to be bulging slightly with fluid. this happened to me once before, when we lived near Stuttgart. The house we were in was next to a large field. One day, I got what appeared to be some kind of allergic reaction in my eyes and they filled with fluid. I looked up the condition on Google, and it appeared to be “scleritis” of some sort. I took an antihistamine and a nap. When I woke up later, my eyes looked normal again.

Yesterday, it didn’t go back to normal. In fact, the eye started swelling, including my eyelid. It was pretty creepy looking, although it was just in one eye. I was glad it wasn’t painful, at least…

Sorry… not a great photo of me, but you can see how my eye looked. It’s somewhat better today. At least the fluid in my eye went away and some of the swelling subsided.

Anyway, because my eye was all swollen, we decided to watch movies. I don’t watch a lot of movies as a general rule, but we saw Why Do Fools Fall in Love and Trading Places. I had forgotten how funny Trading Places is, and given the racial tensions going on right now, it seemed kind of appropriate that we watched it. Why Do Fools Fall in Love was also good. I remember seeing part of it years ago, when we lived in Virginia. I enjoyed it if only because Little Richard put on an entertaining show in that film. He was an amazing performer.

I took a couple of antihistamines– one Benadryl and one Advil PM (which has diphenhydramine in it). I used to have a big bottle of generic Benadryl at home because I gave it to our dogs. Both had mast cell tumors and Benadryl helps suppress mast cells, which can cause the tumors to pop up. Arran only had one very low grade tumor, so I stopped giving him meds. Zane, on the other hand, had a real problem with lumps and eventually succumbed to lymphoma, which often strikes dogs with mast cell cancer. When we lost him, I got rid of the Benadryl, because it was pretty close to being out of date anyway. I never bothered to get more.

Bill had to go to the PX to buy some for me, although I did discover that diphenhydramine is an over the counter drug in Germany. It helped a little bit… I was surprised I didn’t fall asleep.

Maybe today, we’ll get out… It might do me some good. I’ve been in a bit of a funk lately, as I’m sure a lot of people have. I’m not sure what we’ll be doing for my birthday this year. Maybe we’ll stay home and watch movies and drink wine.

On the plus side, we do have some maintenance things planned that we’ve been putting off. Arran is going to get a dental cleaning. Both cars are scheduled for work. Mine needs long overdue maintenance, and Bill’s needs an oil change and the snow tires replaced. Some readers might recall that we were victims of a crime in France back in December. Some asshole punctured one of our perfectly good tires on our brand new Volvo outside of Beaune and we had to have the back tires replaced. The only ones available were snow tires. The tires should have been changed in March, but as you know, the pandemic has fucked everything up…

We also need to get our teeth cleaned. That will require a trip to Stuttgart, unless we find a local dentist, which I’m sure we could do. I like our dentist in Stuttgart, though. He’s the best one we’ve ever had. And it would mean a visit to a city that means a lot to me, despite the troubling way we left it back in late 2018.

And maybe I can finally update my passport, now that the passport office is opening… and Bill can go back to the office more often, too. The pandemic has been a real cramp in our style, but it’s been nice having Bill at home. On the other hand, I don’t want to live this way for much longer. If anything, traveling and dining out keeps this blog going, and it’s probably more enjoyable than my main blog, which is full of piss and vinegar.

Looks like we found a new doggy hotel…


This morning, Bill and I took Zane and Arran to a new Hunde Pension, just for a tour and initial visit.  We met with an English speaking staffer and told them all about our dogs.  She checked out their vaccination records and showed them the “rooms” where the dogs stay.  To be honest, it kind of reminded me a little of a prison, but I guess since dogs have no concept of prison, it would be alright for them.  Each of the rooms has a door which allows the dogs to come in and go out into the big pens.  I noticed the room we looked at smelled very clean, which is a good sign.  They also have security cameras and access to 24 hour veterinary care.  The pension is located near the Frankfurt Airport, which is a good thing.

Although we used to use Hunde Pensions a lot the first time we lived in Germany, we now take our dogs with us a lot of the time.  We got used to it after living in Stuttgart, where pet boarding is in shorter supply.  I’m not sure how often we will use this dog hotel.  To be honest, we liked taking them to Dog Holiday in Stuttgart because it was very obvious how much the owners loved their work.  It’s hard to top Max and Kris.  We may even take them to Stuttgart if we’re ever on a road trip heading south that takes us through there.  The boys will stay at Dog Holiday in May, when we go to Stuttgart to see Elton John.

I was glad to see the staffer at the Tierpension Birkenhof got down and petted our dogs.  She seemed very knowledgeable, even when we talked to her about Zane’s and Arran’s mast cell disease and why I only got them the legally required rabies shot instead of updating them on all of their vaccines.  Vaccines activate the immune system and mast cell cancer is a sign that a dog’s immune system has gone haywire.  Besides, our dogs are old now and probably have immunity to most of the major diseases.  I promise, I am not an anti-vaxxer, but I do think we vaccinate pets too often.

The parking area…  It’s a large facility that has apparently been in business for 30 years.  The online reviews are mostly good, with a few notable exceptions.


I’m not sure what else we’ll do today.  The weather is good.  Maybe we’ll go look for another restaurant.  Or maybe I’ll just go to bed and read a book.  The possibilities are endless.

Arran ruins our Saturday plans…


As some readers know, I have two dogs that kind of substitute for the offspring I never had.  I wouldn’t say my dogs are my life, per se, but they are very important to me.  And, just like all living things, sometimes they get sick.

A few years ago, my dog Arran had a mast cell tumor on his head.  He had it removed and, fortunately, it was pretty benign.  He healed quickly and never seemed any worse for wear.

I was hoping Arran would be one of those dogs who never gets another MCT, but I think he might have one now.  He has a hard, slightly ulcerated bump, right next to the top of his right ear.  It’s maybe an inch or so from where his first tumor was.  I suspect it’s a MCT because it seems to get inflamed easily.  Arran has also been spontaneously vomiting recently, for no apparent reason, and he’s had some pretty rancid gas.  Mast cell tumors give off histamine, which can cause bleeding, stomach upset, and gas.

Yesterday, as I was writing a new book review on my main blog, Bill came into my office to tell me that Arran had a huge accident in the night.  Sometime before we woke up, he went into the living room and had a bout of diarrhea on one of my new rugs.  We cleaned up the mess; then at ten o’clock, Bill called what I think will be our new vet.  Unlike our previous vets in Herrenberg, this practice has regular Saturday hours from ten o’clock until noon.  We got an appointment at 11:45am.

Bill met the wife side of the husband and wife team, who checked out Arran and spoke relatively good English.  She gave Arran a shot and some medications for pain and to settle his stomach.  He’s doing better today, but unfortunately, Bill had to leave for another business trip.  This time, he’s going to the States.  I’ll be here alone all week, which sucks.

I think after Bill’s trip, I will arrange to have the vet aspirate Arran’s bump and, perhaps, remove it.  There’s always a risk with MCTs because if you don’t get them all with really good margins, they can come back with a vengeance.

My other dog, Zane, has also had a mast cell tumor.  Zane is doing fine now, but he’s had his issues with stomach upset and the like.  He’s getting lumpier by the day, too, thanks to many old man tumors.  I hope none of them are dangerous, but I don’t want to put either dog through any extreme surgeries because they’re both getting old.  I suspect a lot of the tumors Zane has are fatty lumps called lipomas.

I was hoping to have something new and exciting to write about today, but unfortunately, it’s just another cloudy weekend on my own.  Maybe I’ll think of one of my famous top ten lists in the meantime, as I feed Arran a bland diet.  Arran was ravenous this morning, which is a good sign.

On another note, as happy as I am that my husband has work he enjoys in a place we both enjoy, I really hate it when he leaves town.  I especially hate it now, because I don’t really know anyone in Wiesbaden yet and don’t yet know my way around here.  I also hate driving, although I will do it if I have to.  I miss Bill when he’s gone.  I suspect I’ll be sleeping and reading a lot this week, hoping for prettier weather.  Last night, I told Bill it felt like he’d never left the Army.  He just doesn’t get to look like a hottie in his uniform anymore.

Oh well…  for President’s Day weekend, we have planned another trip to France, this time to an area we have not yet explored.  We’ve found a very inexpensive and pet friendly house to rent.  It might soon be time for another list of pet friendly lodging!

It’s a good thing they’re all so cute.

Making dog food with the Instant Pot…





Here’s a non-travel related post that I’m putting up because I know many of my readers have an Instant Pot and/or dog(s).  Making homemade dog food is one way to put that gadget to good use.  If you just want to see the way we made the food, skip past the first seven paragraphs of this post.  😉

At the end of October 2016, my eight year old dog Zane had a mast cell tumor removed.  In July 2015, my other dog, seven year old Arran, also had one removed.  Neither tumor was particularly aggressive, although Zane has shown signs of being more affected by mast cell cancer than Arran has.  Mast cell tumors are a sign that a dog’s immune system has gone a bit haywire.  Some dogs only get one tumor and that’s it.  Others can get very sick from mast cell tumors and die within weeks.  I realize that not everyone has heard of mast cell tumors, so here’s a link to an article offering a basic explanation of what mast cell cancer is.  Mast cell tumors are extremely common in dogs, so all dog owners should know something about them.  Some breeds are more susceptible to mast cell tumors than others are.

Before Bill and I had Zane and Arran, we had two other beagles, Flea and MacGregor.  Both of them died of different cancers.  Flea had prostate cancer and MacGregor had a very malignant spinal tumor.  Although neither Zane nor Arran are anywhere near as sick as either Flea or MacGregor were, I have about had my fill of canine cancer.  I have recently made some changes in my dogs’ diets to help them live as long and as well as possible.

MacGregor (left) and Flea (right) when we lived in Germany the first time.  Both were claimed too young by canine cancers.

When Arran got his mast cell tumor in 2015, the first thing I did was switch dog foods.  I stopped buying any grocery store brand food and got them the senior formula of Orijen, which is an expensive grain free, high protein food made in Canada.  I order it from Amazon.de, but I have heard it’s also available at local pet stores here in Germany.  There are other good quality commercial foods available, too, and they are a better bet than cheap grocery store brands.  That being said, it’s a good idea to stay away from kibble if you can.  Although feeding kibble is very convenient, it’s not the best thing to give dogs who have cancer, even if it’s really high quality stuff.

Next, I put the dogs on what is known as Cleo’s Diet.  It’s a high protein, low carb diet for dogs who have mast cell cancer.  Basically, it consists of mixing a little bit of ricotta (or cottage cheese, if you prefer) with either fish or krill oil and feeding it twice a day with high protein dog food.  I give Zane Tagamet (an antacid for humans that I get from Amazon) at each meal and both dogs get daily Benadryl (an antihistamine), although Zane gets more than Arran does.  The Tagamet is important for Zane because mast cell disease gives him an upset stomach.  Both Tagamet and Benadryl block histamine.  Dogs with mast cell disease release too much histamine, which can cause tumors and make them feel sick.  The medications help block some of the excess histamine and heparin that can make the cancer worse.  Tagamet also has some anti-cancer properties that can help prevent cancer cells from attaching to internal organs.

I also give my dogs CBD oil (made from hemp).  Zane, in particular, has really done well on the CBD oil.  It obviously makes him feel much better by reducing inflammation and pain.  I have also used CBD oil on myself to rather amazing results.  It helped me get rid of a stubborn skin lesion I’ve had for months.  I get my CBD oil off of Amazon.de.  Anyone who wants to know which one is welcome to hit me up on my blog’s Facebook page or on my personal page if you know me on Facebook.

A lot of people swear by raw food diets for their dogs.  I do not give my dogs raw diets because they are not recommended for dogs with mast cell disease.  Mast cell cancer screws up the dog’s immune system, so raw diets can expose them to pathogens that might make the condition worse.  Instead, for us, the focus will be on not overcooking the food.  Homemade dog food isn’t just for dogs who are sick.  A lot of people feed raw or homemade diets to preserve their dogs’ health.

There are a lot of great groups on Facebook for people who have dogs with cancer or other illnesses.  There are also groups for making homemade food.  Since I got us an Instant Pot at Christmas, Bill and I decided to use it to make some homemade dog food yesterday.  At some point, I may take my dogs off commercial food altogether.  I bought our Instant Pot on Amazon.de, but it’s also available on Amazon.com.  It costs about $100 and you can get one with either 110 or 220 voltage.  I think there are two versions now.  I would opt for the higher speed one, as it also makes yogurt.

I thought some readers might be interested in seeing how we made the food.  It turned out well; the dogs love it and we can even try it ourselves.

The ingredients we used:  Fresh turkey breast, kale, spinach, broccoli, brown rice, lentils, water, salt, turmeric, and black pepper.

Bill prepares the ingredients.  We chose turkey as our protein source because Zane is allergic to a lot of things, including beef.  He seems to do okay with chicken, but we decided that since chicken is also a common allergen in dogs, we’d try a more exotic meat source.  We also have some rabbit that we’ll use at a later date.

The Instant Pot.  I was inspired to buy this handy appliance after reading rave reviews from one of my local Facebook friends who is a mom of three young kids.  Bill loves it for a lot of reasons, including the fact that it makes perfect hard boiled eggs.  The Instant Pot also makes yogurt.  I don’t eat yogurt, but it is a very good thing to have on hand for dogs with sensitive stomachs.  Bill likes yogurt, too.  Next Instant Pot project will probably be yogurt making.

Green vegetables are very important for a cancer fighting diet.  I picked up broccoli, spinach, and kale.  As you can see, they are of the frozen variety for now.

Arran was curious about what was going on.

One pound of turkey breast from the commissary, along with 1-1/3 cups of brown rice, 1/4 cup lentils (which we bought at a vending machine), 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon of turmeric, and handfuls of the greens.  We could have also added a sweet potato and a regular potato.  Because we’re trying to avoid excessive starch, we omitted those ingredients.

We put the lentils and rice in the pot.

Bill cuts up the turkey.

Spoons out the turmeric, which is another powerful weapon against cancer.

A little salt.

Added to the pot, along with black pepper.

Next we added handfuls of the kale, spinach, and broccoli.

We added 3 1/2 cups of water…

and the turkey…

All set now.

I had made a video to go here, but the sound on it didn’t turn out very well.  I’ll have to try making one the next time we do this.  Bill set up the Instant Pot to run for 25 minutes on high pressure.  It actually takes a bit longer than 25 minutes because the pressure has to build and release.

This is what the food looked like after it had been pressure cooked for the allotted time.

It was a little bit soupy at first, probably because we used frozen veggies.  The rice eventually absorbed all of the extra liquid.

The end result was six cups of dog food.  We have already given the dogs a couple of very small servings to see how they react to it.  So far, they love the taste.

I am going to add links to a few great books for those of you who may be facing the same dog cancer battle we are, as well as links to some good Facebook groups.

Edited to add: Zane and Arran are still with us on February 8. 2018.  They still love this food and are as healthy as ever!

The Dog Diet Answer Book by Greg Martinez, DVM

The Dog Cancer Survival Guide by Dr. Damian Dressler

The two above books are good guides to learning about canine cancer.  The book below is a great book for learning about canine nutrition and homemade dog food.  The vet who wrote the book below also has some fabulous YouTube videos.  I recommend looking him up.

Canine diet and cancer Facebook groups I’m in…  All four have been helpful, but I recommend following them sparingly, because some of the stories and pictures are really sad.  On the other hand, there are also some great uplifting stories about dogs who have been helped naturally.

Holistic Help for Dogs with Mast Cell Cancer

Homemade Hope/Holistic Healing for Dogs with Cancer and Illness

Home Cooked Diets For Dogs

CBD Dog’s (for dogs with cancer) in honor of Crixus James Slygo Smith

Edited to add: I have left all but the first group: Holistic Help for Dogs with Mast Cell Cancer and the third group, Home Cooked Diets for Dogs.  The other groups were helpful, but my Facebook feed was getting clogged with sad stories about sick dogs.  Those two groups work best for us at this time.

Hopefully, this post will be helpful to readers who are also dealing with canine cancer.  My next post will be back to food and travel, as we are heading to France today!  And yes, Zane and Arran are coming with us!  Stay tuned!

Finally went out last night…


But it was to have dinner with Bill’s co-workers.  We drove to Sindelfingen and enjoyed a very pleasant evening with Bill’s bosses.

It was nice to get out of the house.  I have been pretty much cooped up at home since we got back from Ireland.  Most of the reason I haven’t gone out is because I’ve been really upset about my dog, Zane.  Our local vet diagnosed him with a mast cell tumor.  The tumor was removed, but I’ve found other suspicious bumps on Zane.  Also, upon doing research, I determined that some of the other symptoms he’s had lately can be explained by mast cell disease.

This doesn’t have a whole lot to do with traveling or visiting restaurants.  Maybe I’m just writing about this because it seems like there’s such a difference between German veterinary care and American veterinary care.  Our vets here seem to have a different attitude about providing care.  In the States, it seemed like we were always getting reminders to get vaccines and wellness checks.  Here, it seems like the emphasis is less on preventive care.

Of course, there is a school of thought that Americans vaccinate their pets too much.  I’m inclined to agree with that assessment, actually.  I’m not anti-vaccine, but I do think it can get to be excessive.  Also, American veterinary care seems to be a lot more about business than German care does.

I’m not sure what we’re going to do about Zane… or even if those other lumps I found are mast cell tumors.  I have a feeling they probably are, but I don’t know for sure.  I’ve found that I have to ask for things here more than I did in the States.  Like, today, when I take Zane to the vet to have his ears checked, I will probably have to specifically ask for an aspirate, whereas an American vet would probably suggest it before I ask.  In fact, both of my dogs have had tumors removed here that I identified.

Anyway… my last three dogs died of devastating diseases.  One had a mycobacterial infection.  The other two had severe cancers– prostate and spinal.  Mast cell disease is not necessarily a death sentence.  It can kill, but it doesn’t always kill.  I’ve been giving Zane Tagamet and Benadryl and it does seem to be helping him feel better.  I’m not sure if the vet will approve, but at this point, I figure it’s better than simply watching and waiting.  I’ve noticed Zane isn’t as itchy, gassy, or sluggish as he was before I started giving him the medicines.

Tomorrow, I will get out again.  We’ll be going to a company Christmas party, where I’ll get to socialize some more.  Maybe we’ll even manage to make it to a new restaurant, too.  I need to stop brooding about Zane and get on with enjoying Germany.

Zane and his buddy, Arran… enjoying the sun yesterday.

Results of our German veterinary surgery adventure…


I took my dogs to the vet yesterday.  Arran needed to get his stitches taken out after the surgery he had two weeks ago.  Zane was along for the ride, but also got his routine allergy shot because we were close enough to the next month.  Arran’s surgical wound from his surgery has healed nicely and he even removed three of the stitches on his own.

The vet removed the remaining three stitches, then gave me the news about the pathology report.  Unfortunately, I was right to be suspicious about the growth on Arran’s head.  It was a mast cell tumor.  The pathologist graded it at 1.5, which means he thinks there is a chance the cells could spread.  However, the tumor had clean margins, meaning there was no sign of cancer cells in the skin surrounding the tumor.  It was also a very small growth, maybe the size of a medium sized pea.

The vet explained that we could put Arran through tests to see if chemo would be useful for him.  But, she said the pathologist said if Arran were his dog, he wouldn’t do that.  It would likely involve a bone marrow tap, which would be stressful and painful.  Moreover, chemo has limited results with this type of cancer.  There is a chance that the surgery was curative, but unfortunately, mast cell tumors tend to recur.  I will have to watch him closely and have every new growth tested and/or removed.

I don’t know if I could say Arran has cancer like I could with the two dogs that preceded him.  My old dogs, Flea and MacGregor, had prostate and neural sheath cancer respectively.  Flea was diagnosed by the same German veterinarian when we lived here back in 2009.  We brought him in because he was having trouble peeing and pooping.  She initially thought he’d gotten into something that upset his stomach until she checked his prostate and realized that it was hard and irregular and looked like a map of Russia.

Both Flea and MacGregor had their diseases for awhile before we knew what was going on, so there was little we could do for them other than keep them comfortable.  Arran, on the other hand, is very strong and healthy, and as far as I know, the cancer was removed when he had his surgery.  Or, maybe it wasn’t.  Only time will tell.  But then, when it comes to life, there are never any guarantees.  Even if he’d never had a mast cell tumor, he could die in an accident at any time.  Or he could die of something totally unrelated to the growth on his head.  It does look like we caught the tumor early, though, so this news isn’t nearly as horrible as it could be.

Another bright spot in this drama is that the vet bill was very low.  Yesterday, I got the comprehensive bill for the surgery, toenail clipping, a couple of allergy shots for Zane, pathologist’s report, and prescription drugs.  The bill for all of that was the US equivalent of about $250 before VAT.  Since our vet accepts a VAT form, we didn’t have to pay that.  Even if we had, it still was a lot cheaper than similar service in the United States.

Arran this morning.

Well, I’ll just have to keep an eye on him.  Luckily he’s both cute and sweet.  Anyway, let my story be a lesson to you.  If you find any weird growths on your dog or anywhere else, it’s best to get them checked out before they turn into something sinister.  I am glad I didn’t acquiesce when the vet said maybe we didn’t need to remove that growth.