The Nature of the Beast

“I really try to put myself in uncomfortable situations. Complacency is my enemy.” - Trent Reznor.  Nine Inch Nails

My time in the tent this past week wasn’t spent sliding down spirit caves with power animals or searching for blue orchids, I worked.  Or to put a more fine point on it, I studied in solitary quietude.  

One of my lifelong friends, now gone, was a philosophy professor and he always said, ‘Luke (That’s how I was known back then before becoming Yer Big Dog I mean).  Life isn’t about answers, it’s about the questions you ask.’   

And now that I’m 3 for 3 for dogs with cancer, I have a lot of goddamn questions.   We all do.  

But being back in the tent again I couldn’t help but wonder if I had missed something the first time.  And the second time.  So I need to start again.  With the first question.


What is cancer?

According to Withrow & MacEwen’s ‘Small Animal Clinical Oncology‘, there are two generations or iterations of our understanding of cancer.  The first, Gen 1 let’s call it, was from a 30 year compilation of research published in 2000 by Drs. Hanahan and Weinberg called the ‘Six Hallmarks of Cancer’.  

They were attempting to distill the down and outright differentiation, the lowest common denominator, the absolute zero, between a normal cell and a cancer cell and they accomplished something close to it – an approximation that became an early and important precedent.  

Before I begin with my folksy analysis of it, I encourage you to purchase this inestimable tome.  Most nearly all of the thought leaders and minds both past and future in comparative oncology contributed to it and I’m humbled even at an attempt to understand it.  

Heck the flow charts look like a John Madden schematic to me. But here we go.  


The Six Hallmarks of Cancer

1. Self Sufficiency of Growth Signals.  

This is the ‘To Be or Not to Be’, the Hamlet, shall we say, of the hallmarks.  Cancer is a genetic disease but not all predisposed or mutated cells become malignant.  Proto-oncogenesis doesn’t presuppose oncogenesis.  

But once it ‘Be’, like Hamlet’s ill-fated love for Ophelia, a cascade of events occur very few of which can stop the inevitable.  

2. Insensitivity to Antigrowth Signals.  

If only cancer was a cell on a homicidal steroidal rampage, unchecked and running amok, like Arnold Swarz… shit, the Terminator, well, we’d deal with it kind of the same way. We gave him the run of 80′s action films, made him the Governator but, whoa, president and potentially the ruler of the universe?  

That’s what Tumor Suppressor Genes, or the Kindergarten Cops, do and this is important.  

Back in the 1970s, before Arnold was clad in a loin cloth in Conan, scientists were trying to understand retinoblastoma* and in researching its heritable traits they discovered the existence of a tumor suppressing gene which in subsequent research yielded the discovery of p53 (more on p53 later).  

But the ‘Terminator’ will always be back.  Like what Michael Chrichton wrote in Jurassic Park.  ’Nature finds a way’.  So does cancer and it found a way to suppress and/or inactivate the biochemical mechanisms and fool-proof machinery incorporated into your DNA to prevent tumor suppressor genes and p53.  

This is the point at which pink elephants come into the equation.

My friend, Pete, loved pink toys.  It made him happy. In nature, happy, is referred to as homeostasis.  It’s the balance, the bad v good ballad that’s part of the Dance of life.  

If only cancer was an aberration, a beefy Austrian bad actor named Arnold that defied all odds.  But it isn’t.  And it only gets worse.     

3. Evasion of Cell Death. 

The Cell Cycle ain’t complicated in a cradle to grave sense.  Cells procreate to sustain the life of tissue, organ systems, and ultimately self.  Left unchecked, hell, it’d become part of the Kardashian franchise but pre-programmed in a cell’s genetic structure is a stop function called apoptosis.  

However, to quote the textbook, ‘Cancer cells, through a variety of strategies, can acquire resistance to cell death and apoptosis.’ I call this the Br’er Rabbit Effect.  

I’ll stop here and continue with 4-6 tomorrow.  I’ll start again.  

2 Dogs 2,000 Miles

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Cool Skin Allergies images

Check out these skin allergies images:

skin allergies

Image by Lori & Todd
I gave Davey the shave after we notices him scratching himself really hard. Off we took him to the Vet and, 0 later, found out he may have a skin allergy to his expensive can food ( for 24 cans). So we bought ointment to clear up, essentially, black heads and a rash.

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Sons of Anarchy’s Ron Perlman in Last Chance for Animals PSA

Actor Ron Perlman, who rides the roads of the fictional town of Charming as the former president of an outlaw motorcycle club on the hit FX series Sons of Anarchy, is helping homeless animals get on…

[[ This is a summary only. Click the title for the full post, photos, videos, giveaways, and more! ]]


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2013 Tree Ornaments2

Due to the success of last year’s personalized Christmas ornament, the National Canine Cancer Foundation has a new design for Christmas 2013.

On one side of the ornament you can put a picture of your dog and their name. On the other side will be the NCCF Christmas logo and year.

Halo is a proud supporter of the NCCF which is dedicated to eliminating Cancer as a major health issue in dogs by funding grants directly to Cancer researchers who are working to save dogs lives by finding cures, better treatments and accurate, cost effective diagnostic methods in dealing with canine Cancer.

Visit the NCCF web store for more information and details to order.



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I have never thought Chris Rock or Jay Leno had an…

I have never thought Chris Rock or Jay Leno had any talent, so have never watched anything Rock has been in and never watch Leno show. Just wondering if Leno and Rock realize that on some scale they have committed career suicide? Immediately for Rock, losing a big movie deal which lets face it, you are not as popular as you might have been at one time. Leno, lets see how your ratings do now and how your friends start looking at you as if you have leprosy. You both deserve whatever Karma dishes out for your comments and ignorance about a loyal loving breed the pit bull, and even mentioning the name Mike the Dick.

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Topical News: Understanding the Rise in Autism – March 30, 2012 – A new report by the CDC estimates 1 in 88 children in the U.S. have some form of autism. That’s a 23 percent in…
Video Rating: 3 / 5

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Decorating the Tree Safely with Pets in Your Home

Chapman went home for the holidays and will learn about the hazards! He has a Mommy, Daddy, even a Christmas Tree!!! 

chap tree 2

As the holidays approach, and the decorating begins… please remember to do so responsibly, and may your holiday be joyful and safe!!!

A few recommendations I strongly suggest when decorating your tree with pets in the home:

1.  Avoid hanging any glass or breakable ornaments on your tree.     Please DO NOT hang homemade decorations on the tree!!!  To make them, typically, instructions indicate to use salt, flour, and water… if ingested, it may be fatal for your pet!!!

2.  All decorations should be hung at least a foot above your pet’s eye level… if one was dangling in front of my face, I’d want to play with it, too!  : )

3.  Use bread or trash bag ties, as opposed to metal hooks, to hang decorations.

4.  Secure your tree with a tether from the ceiling, wall, or both, depending on the size, to avoid it falling if a pet jumps up or knocks into it when    playing.  Try to restrict playing in the area of the tree… good luck!   hahaha

5.  Do not leave any cords hanging or in sight of your pets.    (See photo above – kitty immediately went for the hanging lights!)

6.  Turn off all lights and decorations when leaving the room.

7.  Avoid using any tinsel, icicles, or curly ribbon due to risk of choking, obstruction, and strangulation.


sneakers xmas

This last suggestion is not tree-related, rather, shopping/gift bag-related…

Snip the handles of all bags, or cut them off completely.

Animals are very curious, and most will stick their heads right in the bags…
My kitty usually goes right through the handles; hence, my extreme caution.
In my home, there are no bags allowed!!! Also, discard any plastic bags… again,
to keep your pets safe from being strangled, ingesting plastic, and suffocation.

Please add any tips I missed in the comments below.  Considering I’ve never had a Christmas tree, and this post is based solely on my observations and experience in pet-proofing others’ homes, I’m sure I’ve overlooked some. : )

See my previous blog post on Hanukkah Safety with Pets While Lighting the Menorah

Wishing everyone and their pets a very Happy Holiday…

Helping to keep beloved furry babies healthy and safe, and pet parents informed!

I’ve Got the ‘Scoop’!, LLC


david tree

PetsitUSA Blog

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Who could resist Oliver?  He’s a one-year old mixed breed, totally attentive to his owner, whose beautiful lady sits by watching proudly.  They were sitting having a coffee outside a café in Menton. Oliver lives in Imperia, across the border in Italy.


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Nice Infection photos

A few nice infection images I found:

Infection control exhibit

Image by Samuel Mann

Infections de malwares

Image by pandafrance
Rapport PandaLabs Q3 2012

Plus d’informations sur…

Téléchargement du rapport sur

seephylliz infection

Image by seephylliz478

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The Secrets to Saving Money at the Vet

Hoo boy, that 20/20 piece sure stirred up some emotions, didn’t it? And it’s Thanksgiving, a week of gratitude, so I’m going to take a step back and say thank you to all the wonderful readers and colleagues who make writing this worthwhile. In honor of that, I’m going to take a moment and also share with you some of my own veterinary secrets. For the low low price of nothing, I want to explain to you what I believe, based on over a decade now in the field, is the best way to save money at the vet. No sarcasm here.

The best way to save money at the vet is….are you ready?

To spend more time at the vet. No, really.

Preventive Care is where it’s At

If one wants to know some of the best ways to save money on medical care, we need look no further than the group that has gotten the cost/benefit analysis down to an exact science: the human medical profession. It’s taken a long time for the field to come away from the model of medical firefighting: wait until something gets bad- CANCER! KILL IT WITH RADIATION! and more towards preventive care: MAMMOGRAM ALL THE LADIES! Firefight when you have to, but how much better is it to catch things early? For us, of course, it’s lives on the line, but guess what? It’s better for the bottom line too. Win-win.

Interestingly, the three situations described in the 20/20 bit as potential money grabs by the veterinary profession are perfect illustrations of why preventive care is so very important. Had we seen the extent of Marty Becker’s 90 minute interview for the piece in context, this would have all been part of the piece, by the by.

1. Cancer

50% of dogs over the age of 10 will develop cancer. I see it every day. It stinks, and once it’s diagnosed  in advanced stages the treatment options are difficult and expensive. When your veterinarian finds a lump on a dog during a routine exam, for the love of everything, check it out! Trust me, I would make more money resecting it in a messy surgery a year from now when it’s huge as opposed to doing a little biopsy or fine needle aspirate here and now, but I don’t recommend that because I don’t want that to happen to your pet.


Here’s just a few examples of things I have diagnosed on a check of a lump the owner was on the fence about doing anything about:




-mast cell tumor


Kekoa had a sarcoma hiding under a lump of fatty tissue that, to my fingers, felt like a lipoma (benign fatty tumor.) It wasn’t.

Early detection saves lives.

2. Vaccines

People often go to those weekend vaccine clinics to save money instead of getting it done in the office. Then what happens? They hand you a pamphlet and you have to decipher which package, A, B, or C you want like it’s ordering your kid’s school photographs. It’s confusing. Often, you overbuy. It’s a lot of work to try and stay on top of these things, and I certainly don’t expect pet owners to be reading up on current best practices for vaccines each and every time the dog’s getting boarded and you need a Bordetella vaccine.

I take vaccines very seriously. I keep up on the latest AAHA guidelines- based on research, science, and the best our field has to offer in terms of what constitutes duration of immunity and core versus non-core vaccines. I use that to tailor a vaccination protocol for each pet who comes through the door. I can’t tell you what I recommend across the board because there is no such thing as ‘one size fits all’. I’ve done the full complement, I’ve done titers, I’ve written letters asking the county to exempt an elderly pet with a history of vaccine reactions from a rabies vaccine. This is what we do. If your veterinarian isn’t open to that conversation, I agree 100% that you may want to find someone else.

That being said, the majority of my patients do stay on schedule with vaccines, because once you’ve seen dogs dying of parvo while a little child weeps, you kind of get invested in doing all you can to prevent that.

Bottom line: It’s worth it to find a veterinarian you trust. We’re not unicorns, at least in my experience; we usually can be found hanging around.

Vaccines save lives.

3. Dentistry

Here’s the one that caused the most discussion. Our profession is in the middle of some real change in terms of recognizing the importance of dental care. Since I am not a boarded veterinary dentist, I defer to their vast reservoirs of knowledge and the evidence is clear: 85% of pets have periodontal disease by the age of 4. Most of it is invisible to the naked eye. Can you imagine if we waited until our teeth looked brown and grungy with recessed red gums before going to the dentist? There is real, actual value in getting professional care even if a mouth “looks” OK.

Click here to view the embedded video.

The *best* way to keep your pets’ teeth healthy at home is incidentally also the cheapest: brush their teeth daily. The other best thing is to get regular, anesthetized dental cleanings to prevent disease from developing/worsening. If you choose not to anesthetize a healthy pet at 3 years old for routine maintenance, the end result is often a 12 year old with impaired organ function and a mouth full of horrifically painful teeth that need to be removed, at great expense. I can address the anesthesia component in another post, because it’s worth a discussion all its own, but suffice to say, anesthesia performed to excellent standards of care- that’s the key- while not risk-free, is actually very safe in healthy pets.

The three issues presented above are life-savers for pets. I am not saying this hyperbolically. Done early and with forethought, they are also money-savers, because they stave off much more significant, and expensive, disease down the road. There’s a reason my own insurance has a $ 0 co-pay for preventive care: it works. Same goes for our pets.

And happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

Pawcurious: With Pet Lifestyle Expert and Veterinarian Dr. V.

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