Therapy Golden Retriever Tucker — Hospital Dog

Dog Brings Smiles to Kids at Kapiolani Medical Center
By Angela Keen, KHNL News 8

HONOLULU (KHNL) – Going to the hospital can be a scary and painful experience for keiki, but some young patients at Kapiolani Medical Center are now greeted with a wagging tail and a fury hug. KHNL News 8 found out about this through a Talk Story Email.

Don’t be surprised if you see a dog trotting through the halls of Kapiolani Medical Center. Well, at least this 16 month old Golden Retriever named Tucker. He is a specially trained Assisted Therapy Dog. Ellie Taft the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit Supervisor is Tucker’s handler.

His days are filled full of hugs, plenty of petting, and even a few show off tricks. Tucker’s work, training, and handling is paid for through donations. When we followed him, the four legged therapist gave a little canine care to nine year old Kassian Neal. Kassian had to have his leg amputated back in January due to Osteogenic Sarcoma, a type of cancer that often affects the leg and knee. This time Kassian is in the hospital for his cancer treatment.

Kassian says, “He (Tucker) makes me feel good, and he is super energetic, he is playful and sometimes he just lays down in my bed and does nothing.” He says when he sees Tucker he gets a little tickle inside his heart. “I don’t really get that many visitors and he likes to lick me on the face a lot”, Kassian adds.

Tucker goes to Kapiolani Medical Center to visit the kids about five days a week, he lives with Ellie his handler. But he’s not going anywhere any time soon, he’s on loan to the hospital for about ten years. He works a total of about 4 hours a day with a “paws” or two in between visits.

Kapiolani CEO Martha Smith says, “And then he will nap he comes down to administration to have quiet time and nap in my office and it’s wonderful to have him here”. He also visits nurses and doctors, bringing a little happiness and ease in what can often be a stressful work place.

On Kassian’s last day at the hospital, Ellie gives him a little stuffed animal that looks just like Tucker. So, Kassian can bring a little good memory home with him.

Click here to read more and see a very cool news video of Tucker in action!

Insights Into Osteosarcoma In Cats And Dogs May Improve Palliative Care

Insights Into Osteosarcoma In Cats And Dogs May Improve Palliative Care

Science Daily — Researchers at the University of Illinois have found that a molecular pathway known to have a role in the progression of bone cancer in humans is also critical to the pathology of skeletal tumors in dogs and cats. Their work could lead to advances in the palliative care of companion animals afflicted with osteosarcoma.

The research team, which included U. of I. pathobiology professor Anne Barger, examined the homeostatic role of an enzyme, receptor activator of nuclear factor kappa-B (known as RANK), and two key modulators of its activity: RANK ligand (RANK-L) and osteoprotegrin (OPG). RANK is one of a family of receptors that regulates bone and immune homeostasis. In health, RANK, RANK-L and OPG together keep the continual process of bone growth and resorption in balance.

Bone tumors presumably derail this homeostatic process, however, by upregulating RANK-L expression. RANK-L binds to RANK, stimulating the production and activation of osteoclasts (bone cells that increase the breakdown of bone tissue).

OPG counter-regulates RANK-L by blocking its ability to bind to RANK.

Eventual therapeutic interventions may make use of OPG or other RANK-L inhibitors to slow the process of bone destruction in skeletal tumors in cats and dogs, Barger said. Although not a cure, this could reduce the pain and other complications associated with bone cancer. Such therapies have proven effective at reducing pathologic bone loss in human bone cancer patients.

The researchers are the first to verify that the expression of this protein, which worsens the effects of bone cancer in humans, also occurs in cats and dogs with skeletal tumors. Their study appears in the January-February issue of the Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine.

“Osteosarcoma is much more common in veterinary medicine than in human medicine,” Barger said. “And in dogs it is fairly common.” Other studies have reported a tenfold greater incidence of bone cancer in dogs than in humans.

“Owners often make decisions to euthanize based on pain,” Barger said. “If we can lessen the pain associated with the tumor we can improve the quality of life and the lifespan.”

Golden Retriever Bailey at 15 and still going!

I think it’s time for me to get Alfie back in the warm relaxed waters of my local hydrotherapy center. I just love watching him go. He is not thrilled when we begin but I do think he comes to enjoy himself once he begins feeling comfortable.

I did the activity more with Darcy since she was involved in agility and had a touch of arthritis due to jumping with too much force on her exits from the a-frame.

I recently did a post about a new hydrotherapy operation in Waltham, MA, detailing the plight of Golden Therapy Dog Luke. It was so wonderful to see someone actually begin a new career because of an ailment in her own dog.

Well, this photo (by Bill Polo at the Boston Globe) comes from AquaDog, showing a 15-year-old lass named Bailey. Is this a great image or what? What a lovely face! I think she was a bit relaxed after her swim lol, now being helped out of the pool after the session.

Lapping up water workouts

Amy Lord says her 15-year-old golden retriever, Bailey, has been rejuvenated by her visits to AquaDog. “Since she’s been swimming, she’s had more energy; she’s been more playful,” Lord said. At first, Bailey was so frightened of the water she was shaking. “I was afraid she wouldn’t swim there. And now she goes for 20 minutes at a time,” said Lord.