Brando – Part 7: We all need a little help from our friends

Brando – Part 7: We all need a little help from our friends

Brando is a social dude, and one of his favourite things is to develop relationships with all the people he meets along the way.  Brando’s family told us he wanted to thank three of those special people who made his stay in Calgary that much more fun. 
First up, Brando wants to give a huge shout out to our very own VP, Tatiana Alexanian. She showed up nearly every day Brando was in treatment to take him on walks… most times more than once!  She gave Brando a chance to get out of the clinic environment for a brain break to go sniff things, pee on stuff, and to just be a dog. Those walks really helped Brando’s mental health during treatment, and helped him miss his family just a little less. She also sent a treasure trove of photos and videos from those walks to Brando’s mom, which greatly eased her mind knowing that Brando was getting exercise and love while he was away.  Brando’s biggest thanks to Tatiana however, is for his beautiful plush hedgehog that he loves more than even food. Brando has a bit of an obsession with hedgehog stuffies, and likes to carry them on his walks, but had to take a break from them post surgery until his incision healed well enough to be able to bite, crunch, and suck on his favourite toy. Because of this, his mom didn’t pack any of his house hogs for his trip to Calgary. So when Tatiana showed up with a brand new one after he was cleared by his neurologist, IT. MADE. HIS. LIFE. His mom tells us that Brando STILL hasn’t put the hedgehog aside, has carried it on every walk since he’s been home, and also uses it as a pillow when he sleeps!
Next, remember Dr Stephanie Maloney from our post on initial diagnosis?  Well, Brando sure does!  Dr Maloney was in Calgary just after Christmas, and took time out of her busy schedule to visit Brando and check on how he was doing. As you can see from the photo, Brando was very happy to see his old friend, and thank her for being such an instrumental part of his journey through meningioma. It sure takes a special vet to fly across the country to see a former patient and give him a snuggle!  
Brando insisted a direct quote be used for this third thank you: “to nice lady who do doggy Uber home to mom after grad, you gib good bacon snack, allow doggo naps on da consoles, and gib best ear scritches.  Much wuv, Brando.”  Brando’s mom tells us the nice lady was none other than her friend Steph Gratton… thank you Steph for getting Brando back to his family!
Brando, his mom, and all of us here at Ned’s Wish are very grateful to have such fantastic human beings on Brando’s side through his illness!

Brando – Part 6: Radiation Graduation

Brando – Part 6: Radiation Graduation

On January 7, our retired hero Brando completed his radiation treatment and was cleared to come home for good. His mom was working and unable to come pick him up, but a few friends, including the wonderful Ned’s Wish VP Tatiana Alexanian, and Dr Sweet’s team were able to put together a special graduation ceremony for Brando before he came home. 
Brando was pretty proud of himself, and he KNOWS he can rock a hat and tie, so was very happy for all the attention and excitement. 
Dr Sweet and her team at VCA Canada Animal Hospitals were such great supports during Brando’s radiation, and even provided him a graduation gift when they sent him home.  From Brando’s mom: “Dr Sweet and her team truly cared for Brando, which was evident in how he responded to seeing them at every drop off, and in all the special care he received. They gave me daily updates, and were always available to me on the weekends and during his Christmas week to monitor how he was doing and deal with any side effects that came up. They clearly love animals, and knowing I had them in Brando’s corner made being away from him for his treatment much more manageable.”

Brando – Part 5: Treatment side effects

Brando – Part 5: Treatment side effects

Did you know? Aspiration pneumonia is an extremely common side effect of dogs who have had brain surgery. Thankfully for our retired hero Brando, his treatment teams did know that, and gave our sweet boy every advantage possible to get him through not one, not two, but THREE bouts of aspiration pneumonia post surgery.

His first bout happened during his post surgery stay at @pulseveterinary. Because of the treatment plan already in place, it was very mild and resolved quickly.

His second bout occurred at @vcacanada.westernvet. Anyone who knows our Brando, knows he’s…. A bit of a show off, and REALLY likes his food. In an episode of poor decision making reserved for tough guys doing crazy things to impress the ladies, Brando decided to inhale his entire food bowl at once just to show he could, and ended up choking and aspirating resulting in… you guessed it, pneumonia. Dr Sweet and her team congratulated Brando on his skills, quietly requested a slow feeder bowl so as not to hurt his feelings, and put him back on antibiotics to clear up what ailed him. Brando rated the experience: “10/10 would try again, you shoulda seen the ladies flock when I did my choking trick. I am so cool.”

His final bout occurred a day or so after he came home for the first time, during his Christmas break week. Brando started feeling crummy and lethargic overnight, then quickly developed a cough and refused to eat. He was rushed to @pulseveterinary where his favourite ICU person, Dr Tong, took over his care. Dr Tong recommended high flow oxygen and a tracheal wash test this time round, as it was more severe than before and she suspected the infection had become resistant to the antibiotics previously used. As you can tell from the picture, Brando didn’t seem in the least put out by any of this, and was just happy to chill and hang out with his friends at Pulse ICU. Dr Tong determined that his infection was indeed resistant and prescribed more appropriate medication to get him back on track. After a quick three day stay, Brando was back in fighting shape and able to enjoy Christmas with his family!

Not that it’s a surprise to any of us here at Ned’s Wish, but, this clearly shows what a fighter Brando is and we are so happy his determination has seen him through treatment and back home to his family. Go Brando!!

Brando – Part 4: Radiation

Brando – Part 4: Radiation

Brando completed a 4 week low dose course of radiation with the wonderful folks at VCA Canada Animal Hospitals with Dr Katherine Sweet and her fantastic team. His treatment started on December 6, however the previous week Brando went in for a CT scan. This was to get an updated view of the treatment site post surgery, and also take impressions for the custom bite plate Brando would require for the rest of his treatment.

Brando was required to stay in Calgary during the weeks of his daily treatments (due to the distance from home), so became quite the favourite guest in the radiation and ICU departments. I’m sure they miss his high pitched squeak barks and snuggles now that his treatment is complete! Brando was able to come home for a week during Christmas, and a few weekends during his treatment.

Because the patient has to be completely still during treatment, Brando was under anesthesia each day, and carefully placed on his custom bite plate. Once all adjustments were completed (which can take up to an hour), the treatments themselves only took a few minutes.

Side effects from this treatment are typically very low risk, but complications do occur. Brando suffered lethargy, slower digestion which caused a few vomiting episodes, and two further bouts of aspiration pnemonia. We will have a special post about the aspiration pnemonia, but both that and his slower digestion were resolved with medication and very careful care from both VCA Canada Animal Hospitals and Pulse Veterinary.

Stay tuned for part 5!

Brando – Part 3: Surgery

Brando – Part 3: Surgery

Retired Hero Brando had brain surgery on November 17 under the capable hands of Dr Casey Smith of Pulse Veterinary.

This risky surgery was part one of a two part treatment plan for Brando’s meningioma detailed in our part 1 and 2 posts. Dr Smith worked very hard on Brando, keeping his safety forefront in her mind through out the entire surgery. Despite a bleed early on that took some time to control, her expertise guided Brando successfully through the surgery, and allowed her to excise the majority of his tumour safely. He woke up a few hours later, and remained in the ICU for several days post surgery for round the clock care. This was also necessary to determine if Brando suffered any neurological deficits resulting from the surgery that would affect his quality of life.

While Brando did suffer a bout of pneumonia after his surgery, his Pulse Veterinary critical care team (with a special thanks to Dr Tong for all her hard work) were able to treat him very effectively early on, so Brando could finish recovering at home. From surgery, to aftercare, to sending him home, the Neurology and ICU teams at Pulse Veterinary made sure Brando was well taken care of.

Brando was able to return home on November 21, to finish recovering with his mom, until it was time to start his radiation.

Stay tuned for Part 4!

Brando – Part 2: Treatment Plan

Brando – Part 2: Treatment Plan

Remember Brando and his fight against meningioma? After his initial diagnosis in Prince Edward Island, Brando traveled home to Alberta with his mom, and completed consults with two outstanding veterinarians, neurologist Dr Casey Smith of Pulse Veterinary, and oncologist Dr Katherine Sweet of VCA Canada Animal Hospitals. Dr Smith and Dr Sweet carefully detailed all the options available for Brando’s meningioma, and after careful consideration, Brando’s mom opted for surgery, followed by a 4 week course of radiation.

Brando’s case has several features that made this decision the best for him and his family. First, his tumour was placed in an area that was accessible for Dr Smith to excise the tumour. Also, since the tumour was benign, and all other imaging showed that Brando was very healthy in all other areas of his body, he was considered a good candidate for the surgery. While removing the tumour seems like it would cure the problem, with a brain tumour a surgeon can’t remove a safe margin of healthy tissue to ensure a full excision. Radiation following surgery provided the best survival rates in other dogs, and all involved thought Brando deserved his best chance.

The final consideration of course, is cost. It’s a stark reality that families have to consider cost when treating their furry family members…Brando’s treatment plan carried costs in the ballpark of $40,000…. A huge amount for any family to take on. Thankfully, Brando’s mom got pet insurance for him through @petsecure, and they covered 80% of the cost of treatment… if ever there was an advertisement for pet insurance, this is it!! Ned’s Wish was honoured to also help Brando with the cost of his treatment, so he and his family could just focus on him getting better. A message from Brando’s family: “Ned’s Wish was there for us every step of the way. Not just with help covering our portion of costs, but with emotional support, encouraging words, and the whole team reaching out for Brando updates and snuggles. Ned’s Wish is absolutely vital for retired police dogs, and their families.”

Brando’s surgery was scheduled for November 17, and his Radiation started on December 6. Stayed tuned as we take you through how he did!

Brando’s Journey

Brando’s Journey

Our Ret. PSD Brando was vacationing in Prince Edward Island earlier this fall when he had a sudden seizure. He was rushed to the Atlantic Veterinary College in Charlottetown, where he was taken into the care of Dr Stephanie Maloney, and student Kelsey (pictured). They worked tirelessly to diagnose him, and after blood/urine tests, ultrasound, X-ray, and finally an MRI, Brando was diagnosed with a brain meningioma. This is actually the most common cause of sudden seizures in older dogs, which is often the first sign anything is wrong. Brando’s tumour was small in size, but large enough to create pressure which caused his seizures.  Due to the thorough care provided to Brando by Dr Maloney and her team, he was diagnosed quickly, and referred to Pulse Veterinary neurology department back home in Alberta to identify treatment options.

After his initial diagnosis in Prince Edward Island, Brando traveled home to Alberta with his mom, and completed consults with two outstanding veterinarians, neurologist Dr Casey Smith of Pulse Veterinary and oncologist Dr Katherine Sweet of Western Veterinary Specialist & Emergency Centre. Dr Smith and Dr Sweet carefully detailed all the options available for Brando’s meningioma, and after careful consideration, Brando’s mom opted for surgery, followed by a 4 week course of radiation.

Brando’s case has several features that made this decision the best for him and his family. First, his tumour was placed in an area that was accessible for Dr Smith to excise the tumour. Also, since the tumour was benign, and all other imaging showed that Brando was very healthy in all other areas of his body, he was considered a good candidate for the surgery. While removing the tumour seems like it would cure the problem, with a brain tumour a surgeon can’t remove a safe margin of healthy tissue to ensure a full excision. Radiation following surgery provided the best survival rates in other dogs, and all involved thought Brando deserved his best chance.

The final consideration of course, is cost. It’s a stark reality that families have to consider cost when treating their furry family members…Brando’s treatment plan carried costs in the ballpark of $40,000…. A huge amount for any family to take on. Thankfully, Brando’s mom got pet insurance for him through Pet Secure, and they covered 80% of the cost of treatment… if ever there was an advertisement for pet insurance, this is it!! Ned’s Wish was honoured to also help Brando with the cost of his treatment, so he and his family could just focus on him getting better. A message from Brando’s family: “Ned’s Wish was there for us every step of the way. Not just with help covering our portion of costs, but with emotional support, encouraging words, and the whole team reaching out for Brando updates and snuggles. Ned’s Wish is absolutely vital for retired police dogs, and their families.”

Brando’s surgery was scheduled for November 17, and his Radiation started on December 6. Stayed tuned as we take you through how he did!

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