Kiss’ Story

Therapy Dog Gets Sidelined with Cancer But is Now Back in the Spotlight Thanks to Lifesaving Treatment

Jane + Kiss

Jane and her husband adopted their dog Kiss at six-months-old. Through the years, they discovered that Kiss’ super energetic nature made her a perfect participant in flyball, agility, and nose work competitions as well as recreational dock diving and K9 Disc.

Named after the rock band Kiss because of her black and white face, her outgoing nature also made her an ideal candidate for pet therapy work. As part of the Animal Health Foundation, an affiliate of Pet Partners, Jane and Kiss began visiting adults and children at local hospitals, as well as elementary schools where children practiced their reading skills with Kiss by their side.

"There is not a person she doesn’t love to meet. She loves everyone, and everyone loves her."

As a therapy dog, Kiss also gets invited to special events to support skin cancer awareness through the local Rotary Club. It was during an event that Jane noticed some swelling above Kiss’s left front paw.

“At first, I thought it was related to her athletic activities,” said Jane. “So, I put some ice on her leg when we got home, and it looked a little better the next day.”

But a week later, Kiss’ lower front left leg still looked swollen. Her veterinarian biopsied the lump and called Jane the day after Thanksgiving with the results. Kiss had a soft tissue sarcoma on her leg. Kiss was referred to the Southern California Veterinary Specialty in Irvine, California for cancer treatment.

“Never in my wildest dreams did I expect it to be cancer,” said Jane. “The news struck terror into my heart. It hit me like a rock, I wasn’t prepared for it.”

Unfortunately, the couple had already lost four dogs to cancer through the years. Coincidentally the year prior, to the day, right after Thanksgiving, the couple had also received cancer news about their other dog Sheila. She died seven months later despite surgeries and treatment.

“My veterinarian told me 50 percent of dogs die of cancer, and that none of the cancers my dogs have had have been related,” said Jane. “But that doesn’t make the news any easier when it’s your fifth dog with the diagnosis. My biggest fear was that I was going to be losing another dog.”

When Jane contacted the Animal Health Foundation to let them know about Kiss’ diagnosis, they told her that Pet Partners had received a grant investment from the Petco Foundation’s Pet Cancer Awareness campaign to help therapy dogs with their cancer treatments. A $3,000 grant provided help with Kiss’ surgery and chemotherapy.

“We had already spent thousands on Sheila’s treatments, so we really needed this support to help Kiss,” said Jane. “I am very thankful to Petco and the Petco Foundation for doing what they do to help people afford cancer treatment and make it a reality.”

In the past, doctors may have amputated Kiss’ leg because of the difficulty in removing the entire tumor, but a new therapy that combined surgical removal of the tumor with chemotherapy beads implanted directly into the tumor site proved to be successful for Kiss.

“Finding out Kiss was in remission was the best news ever,” said Jane. “I knew it would be about a year and a half until it was determined if she’d be in remission, and that the cancer could grow back at any time. I would check her daily, sometimes multiple times daily, because doctors say it generally comes back to the same spot. She had regular appointments where the doctor rechecked that it wasn’t coming back, so when the doctor signed her off, it was one of the best days ever.”

Jane and Kiss are making therapy visits again, and Kiss is participating in some of her favorite sport activities on a limited basis.

“We’ve got our sassy girl back,” said Jane. “I am grateful for the help in saving her life. My dogs are everything to me.”

The Petco Foundation and Blue Buffalo are proud to celebrate 10 years of fighting pet cancer. Thanks to more than $15 million in donations raised during the Pet Cancer Awareness campaign, the Petco Foundation is able to partner with organizations like Pet Partners to help pet parents afford the costs of pet cancer treatment.

Make a donation today to join the fight.

If your pet has been diagnosed with pet cancer and you need assistance with the cost of care, please see our Pet Cancer Resource Guide featuring some of the organizations providing help thanks to the Pet Cancer Awareness campaign.