October Pet of the Month

Taloola's (Toots) Story

Two years ago, we noticed a small growth on the back of our sweet, wacky long-haired, Jack Russell Taloola’s left leg. We took Taloola to our then vet to get it checked. They informed us that it was a lipoma- a harmless growth- and that Taloola would be fine. Removal would do more harm than good, they said. So on we went. But the lipoma kept growing and growing to the point where we had to do something (see photo)  – it became unmanageable for Taloola.

We returned to the vet who now recommended surgical removal, but due to the large size, sent us to another vet for the surgery. That doctor fell ill, so we got referred to yet another vet. Fifteen minutes after I dropped Taloola off for the surgery, I got a call saying that this vet also did not feel comfortable performing the surgery due to size and location of the tumor. I picked up my sweet Toots and sat in the car thinking: now what?

I remembered someone telling me about a new veterinary hospital 🏥 downtown that did laser surgery. A quick Google search led me to Hampton Park Vet. Within a few days, Taloola was seen by Dr. Baxter. He was thorough and kind. Though daunting, he thought he would be able to remove the lipoma. We were feeling better about things.

The day of the surgery, Dr. Baxter called with not-so-good news 😫.  What had previously been diagnosed as a benign lipoma turned out, in fact, to be a cancerous growth. And due to its location and type, even though the big mass had been removed, the large resultant wound from surgery might not heal. Ugh. Things did not look so good for my Taloola. I had a good cry 😭  and picked up Taloola with her whole back leg bandaged 🤕.  I sat in the car again thinking: now what?

We had to return for a post-surgical recheck two days later, and this time we saw Dr. Gjivoje, who offered the same kindness and compassion as Dr. Baxter.  The wound did NOT look good. (see scary photos) With her serious concerns about failure to heal, Dr. G reluctantly brought up the discussion of the pros/cons of removing the leg. Ugh again 😫. As I contemplated life with a three-legged wonder, I asked if there was any way to tell if the cancer had spread. I didn’t want to put Taloola through an amputation if there was more cancer. The doctors agreed and a subsequent ultrasound did show the cancer had spread.  😢 Amputation was no longer on the table, so now the fight became about beating the odds and getting Taloola’s wound to heal while keeping her comfortable.

Taloola went to the office three times a week where the team would soak the leg, clean the wound, and apply a fresh bandage. Through this whole ordeal, Taloola remained, surprisingly, in great spirits. 🐕  She wore an E collar and hobbled around with her bandaged ‘peg-leg’ just fine. We got regular progress pictures, and the wound really did look awful 😝 for a long time. But we all persisted.  Against all odds, little by little, the wound slowly healed up to the point we could keep the bandage off and tend to her at home. After hobbling with her bandage for almost 6 weeks, and then scooting around on three legs for a few more weeks sans bandage, she slowly began using her injured leg!!!  And soon after that, the remainder of the incision finished healing! Taloola had turned the corner once and for all!!  She has now regained full use of her leg and is nipping at my husband’s heels again! That crazy little dog never gave up because we and the team at Hampton Park Vet never gave up on her 🙌🙂.

My family and I are so fortunate our journey led us to Hampton Park Vet Hospital. They say people come into your life for a reason, and we cannot thank Dr. Baxter, Dr. G, and the rest of the incredible staff for getting us through this ordeal patiently and successfully. They never, ever gave up on Taloola and went so above and beyond caring for her, we will be forever grateful. They are the real deal.

Toots Tumor