Born: September 30th, 2003.
Type: F1B Goldendoodle.
Sully’s first title was his CGC, which he earned in February 2005 and again in October 2005 combined with his Therapy Dogs International certificate. Once he received his Therapy Dogs International certificate, Sully started visiting Senior Centers, Nursing Homes and Retirement Homes right away but in August of 2006, he found his best fit as a Therapy Dog in the Radiation/Oncology Center at Loudoun Inova Hospital. While he continued to visit his senior friends, it was clear from the start that he had a very important job to do helping cancer patients. He spent three years visiting weekly before he was diagnosed with cancer.
Meanwhile, he made a name for himself, and for all Doodles, earning his APDT Rally Obedience Level 1 and 2 titles with Awards of Excellence for having scores above 200 on all of his qualifying runs. He went on to earn his APDT Rally Obedience Championship in 2007. When UKC added Rally Obedience to their offerings in 2009, Sully quickly earned his UKC Rally Obedience 1 title, and is just one leg short of his URO2 title.
In traditional obedience competition, Sully tried out CDSP with a qualifying Novice score, and once again found his fit in UKC, earning his UKC Companion Dog title. He is one leg short of earning his UKC Companion Dog Excellent title.
Sully tried lots of different venues in agility that were mixed-breed friendly and accumulated his first level titles in NADAC, USDAA and CPE. He found his fit in UKC Agility, earning his AG1, AG2, UACHX, and his UGRACH (UKC Grand Agility Champion) FIVE times! He was invited to the UKC Agility Allstars competition in 2008 and came in second place, and again in 2009 where he won his division with a first place. Even though his agility competition was cut short by his diagnosis in November of 2009, he once again qualified for all levels of agility in the UKC Allstar competition to be held this summer (2010).
At home, Sully is the undisputed head of the canine household. He has always been our kind and benevolent ruler; welcoming foster dogs, and new canine siblings with grace and acceptance. He has posed for endless videos and pictures helping teach fellow Doodle owners how to groom their doodles themselves.
He learned to pull a cart, and has participated in countless holiday parades, pulling a decorated cart, usually containing some of his smaller canine companions, much to the delight of the crowds.
Sully has always been by Ann’s side as she teaches at Dulles Gateway Obedience Training Club, and is frequently in the *what you liked most about this class* part of the Course Evaluations. The last class of every session, Ann offers to let students run Sully on the agility course, and most do. It gives them the opportunity to see what is possible, and they love it! Sully loves it too, and runs with incredible enthusiasm for each and every one of them. Amazingly enough, he did this the week before he was diagnosed, giving ten more students a glimpse of how fun this sport of agility could be.
Sully was filmed by the Smithsonian Channel all day at an agility trial and invited to the studio to do some photo work and has appeared in a special aired on the Smithsonian Channel in 2009 about *Designer Dogs*.
Sully's mom (Ann) has also been a long time supporter of doodle education and rescue. She has been the coordinator of the Great Doodle Citizens program for the International Doodle Owners Group, Inc. for several years.
Diagnosis and Treatment:
On the weekend of November 1st, 2009, Sully was competing at an agility trial away from home; one of Ann and Sully’s favorite things to do together. He ran twelve runs over the course of two days, qualifying in nine of those runs, and adding two more legs towards his UGRACH6. Ann noticed that he seemed to be thirstier than normal, and as a result, having to urinate more frequently. By his 12th run on Sunday Ann knew something was just not right, and she excused themselves from the course. When Sully didn’t show any improvement after a few days rest at home and his breathing started becoming labored, they were off to the vet on November 7th with a urine sample to see if he had some kind of infection.
Ann could not have been more shocked when the vet asked for x-rays, and told her Sully’s blood calcium level was very high. The x-ray showed a large mass in front of his heart, and fluid filling his pleural cavity. The vet did a needle aspiration of the fluid and sent it out to the lab for analysis, but told Ann he was almost 100% certain that Sully had Lymphoma. He suggested they see a cardiologist for an Echo-cardiogram to see more clearly what they were dealing with while they waited for lab results. They saw the cardiologist on November 9th and he agreed that the mass was most likely Lymphoma. That was confirmed by the lab results that day. The mass was so large, it had pushed Sully’s heart back two ribs further than where the cardiologist said it should be.
Ann and Sully met the oncologist the next day, on November 10th, and after listening to all the options, decided to start chemotherapy that day. There really wasn’t another option. The mass was so large, it was questionable that he would live through the week. The oncologist’s diagnosis was Stage 5a, T-cell Lymphosarcoma, about as bad as it gets. Sully lost over 10 percent of his body weight in the first week after diagnosis.
Sully has continued weekly chemotherapy since diagnosis except for three weeks off due to low white blood cell counts. He has gained back his weight, thanks to the daily Steroids. He is on a special no carbohydrate diet. (Lymphoma apparently feeds off the carbs.) The doctor has added fish oil to his diet, and has an arsenal of drugs to help with the diarrhea and vomiting that comes with the treatment. Sully has lost most of his gorgeous coat; one of the side effects that only the non-shedding dogs have.
Two and a half months after starting chemotherapy, the mass is no longer visible on x-ray and the fluid that had accumulated in his chest, is gone. However, Sully must still complete the full six month chemotherapy regime or risk the cancerous cells returning resistant to the treatment.
Fortunately, Sully’s owners have VPI Insurance for Sully with the Cancer Rider. The Cancer Rider does pay for 90% of the actual chemotherapy costs. It does not cover a lot of the other expenses including the weekly blood workups and urine testing, the office visits costs, the meds, etc. Those expenses all maxed out on the regular insurance policy pretty quickly. The insurance policy also did not cover much of the initial diagnostic costs and testing. As of today, they have spent about $6000 on Sully’s treatment and have been reimbursed a little over $2000 from insurance. There has also been a donation of $200 to help with his costs. We are almost half way through his initial treatment protocol.
While Sully’s owners and doctors are very excited Sully has responded so well to his treatment, the doctors have told Sully’s owners it is still a terminal diagnosis. There is no cure for what he has. Chemo may keep the Lymphoma at bay, but it will return, and his periods of remission may be less each time.
Sully’s is being treated by:
The Oncology Center
Dr. Christine Manley
165 Fort Evans Road, NE
Leesburg, VA 20176
Sully is also being monitored and supported by:
Dr. Stang at Loudoun Vet Service (Family Veterinarian)
Dr. Tyrell at Chesapeake Veterinary Cardiology Associates, (Veterinarian Cardiologist)
Dr. Carol Lundquist (Holistic Veterinarian)
May 12th, 2010
We have stopped chemo for now and are doing holistic treatments with Dr. Lundquist while he is in remission and not doing the chemo. Sully still goes to the oncologist monthly for a checkup and bloodwork or x-rays.
Our costs at this point are about $9,000.00 and approximately half of that was covered by insurance. We have maxed out his policy for this year, so there will be no further reimbursement.
Sully is feeling good and is even starting to grow a little hair back. He was completely bald from the chemo.
- Ann and Sully
**Update** July 1st
Sully's first romp with friends following chemotherapy - early summer 2010! Click for slideshow!