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#sashcancerhero: Leanne Houston: Grace and Dora

Published on November 18, 2022.

Story from #sashcancerhero: Leanne Houston: Grace and Dora

In August 2016 my partner and I started to raise Guide Dog puppies. Our first puppy was the beautiful Dora, a clever gorgeous black Labrador who was 7 weeks old when we picked her up. When she went back to Guide Dogs at 14 months for training, I cried so much, my partner found me a little black female Labrador puppy who we called Grace. We then raised another puppy for Guide Dogs called Karli who was Grace’s buddy. Karli too went on to become a Guide Dog like Dora. Dora was placed with a beautiful client Donna in early 2018 and I was so fortunate that Donna reached out to me, and Dora stayed in our lives with frequent visits and overnight stays.

In April 2020 Grace started to limp. She was turning 3 in the May. I had been recovering from back surgery and she would sleep on my bed with me. I noticed one day after she jumped off my bed she limped. I just thought she had strained her right wrist. We took her to our vet where she was x-rayed and given anti-inflammatories. Her x-ray was clear.

Grace was still limping after rest and anti-inflammatories. She was re x-rayed and a bone lesion was now seen on the x-ray. My vet said it could be osteosarcoma or osteomyelitis. I was in shock. We decided on a bone biopsy to confirm. It came back positive for osteosarcoma.

Next step was amputation and an appointment with Dr Veronika Langova at SASH. It was heartbreaking putting Grace through a forequarter amputation but she was amazing and rallied well. We started chemo and she was doing well. But then developed weepy eyes and swollen paws. This was a sign that the cancer had spread to her lungs. Sadly, we lost her in October 2020. To break our hearts more, Dora was diagnosed in 2021 with Grade V B cell lymphoma. She had only a slight cough and when Donna took her for her annual check up, her vet discovered her lymph nodes were slightly swollen. She started CHOP chemo at SASH and continued to work as a Guide Dog whilst in remission. Sadly she came out of remission, her lymph nodes were swollen, she was tired and had trouble breathing. Dr Veronika and Dr Nick looked after her with care and love.

She also sadly passed in late September 2022. She was just 6 years old. I was blessed to have had this two beautiful girls, if only for a short time. The bravest sweetest big-hearted pups.

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