Our August 2015 patient of the month is the brave and courageous Cody. He is an 8 year old lab/golden mix who first saw the VRCC Oncology department in January of this year. Cody is a search and rescue dog who is typically very active and energetic, so when his family noted some lethargy and a decreased appetite, he was taken to his veterinarian for evaluation. Results of blood tests showed an elevated blood calcium level, so an abdominal ultrasound was performed. Some enlarged abdominal lymph nodes were found and a fine needle aspirate was sent in for cytology, confirming the lymphoma.
After the initial consultation with Dr. Robyn Elmslie, Cody’s family decided to have a flow cytometry done in order to pinpoint what type of lymphoma he had. That way, his chemotherapy protocol could be catered just for him. The flow results came back showing an aggressive T-cell lymphoma, that sadly doesn’t (usually) have a long term positive prognosis. Cody’s family elected to pursue a chemotherapy protocol that included IV and oral treatments. That did the trick! He started feeling better within a week of treatment, and the lymphoma went into remission within less than a month of the first treatment.
Other than some side effects from the oral steroid he was on (voracious appetite where he was getting into all kinds of things), Cody did wonderful with treatment. He recently finished the initial treatment protocol and will now be starting on a maintenance chemotherapy regimen. Cody’s family shares their story:
“At a Ft Morgan farm, Cody displayed the traits needed to succeed: great play drive, curiosity, intelligence, bravery, and confidence. He was part of a mixed litter; one parent was registered Lab and the other registered Golden. When it came time to leave, only 2 of the pups (one of which was Delilah) were around…Cody was nowhere to be seen. A quick barn yard search turned him up digging into a wood pile after something. All agreed, “That’s the one”, and Cody and his litter mate, Delilah came home with us.
Training Cody started right away capitalizing on his special traits. He progressed quickly through puppy avalanche training. Soon we realized he was too talented to be a “Seasonal Dog” so it was on to traditional Search and Rescue Training. He progressed quickly through puppy “run-a-ways” and trails, certifying as an Area 2 Air Scent Dog by the time he was a year old. That allowed him to begin the “real field work”. The next year brought certification in HRD (Human Remains Detection). Following that was a certification as an Area 1 Air Scent Dog, the highest level.
His education continued, mostly by situation as he participated in evidence searches, crime scene investigations, and disasters. He’s found weapons, ammunition, crime suspects, missing persons, missing children, and Alzheimer’s patients…even people who say they aren’t who Cody says they are! (There has been no mistaken identity so far…)
Cody’s trademark subject face washing is known to have a profound effect on those he finds, even some in the back seat of a patrol car on their way to jail have been known to smile, laugh and calm down!
He averages about 80-90 missions a year all over Colorado, but mostly in Douglas County as a member of Douglas County Search and Rescue and the Mountain Rescue Association. Since he was diagnosed with lymphoma in January of this year, Cody’s mission load has continued.
His job can be very emotional. There are the highs (frantic tail wagging, face washes, barking and jumping around) of succeeding in a “lifesaving find”, and there are the lows of being able to only provide closure to a drowned child’s grieving family. Cody seems to feel it all. Those face washes turn into a gentle, soft heart felt kiss.
Cody has his heroes too- they are the members of the Oncology Team at VRCC!!! Every one of them is a hero in their own right! Without each of them, Cody would not have been able to do the job he LOVES so much.
Cody now has an apprentice. His name is Ozzie, an 8 month old Aussie mix from New Mexico. It’s amazing to watch Ozzie follow Cody on trainings and later see him do exactly what Cody does while working. Ozzie already has some heroes of his own, and they are also at VRCC! Thanks to Dr. Jenna Ashton and her Internal Medicine team, Ozzie is well on his way to overcoming a recent snake bite.
As Cody and Ozzie’s humans, we want to thank Dr. Robyn Elmslie and her crew for all they have done and are still doing for Cody (especially eliminating the prednisone from his treatment protocol-we’ve taken down the barbed wire around the kitchen!).
The fact that Cody has been going through chemo and is still doing his job so well is indeed a testimony to his original purpose, and that of VRCC! Every day with him is a blessing!
As far as we are concerned, everyone at VRCC ROCKS!!!”