A family in Coquitlam, B.C., is going to extraordinary lengths to save its beloved nine-year-old goldendoodle Jasper, which has been diagnosed with a deadly form of cancer — stem cell therapy.
"He's just been the best dog ever," said Andrea Saito, the dog's owner. "He's calm. He's gentle. Everybody who meets him loves him, and we just want to do whatever we can for him."
Saito says chemotherapy, the standard treatment for a dog with lymphoma, can prolong a dog's life but doesn't provide a cure.
The family began looking at other possible solutions to save Jasper. Their search took them across the border to Bellingham, Wash., where they found a veterinarian who performs stem cell therapy for dogs.
Higher cure rate
Dr. Edmund Sullivan, the vet helping the family, says stem cell treatment for lymphoma in humans was originally tested 40 years ago. The procedure began to be conducted on dogs with lymphoma or leukemia about 12 years ago.
The procedure costs $15,000 to $18,000 US, but is sometimes covered by pet insurance companies.
"You get a higher cure rate with a donor dog, but it's harder to find one," said Sullivan.
The family started searching for a donor immediately.
The vet told them Jasper's brothers and sisters would provide the best chance for a match, but the records from Jasper's litter were lost years ago. The family has taken to social media to help find a donor.
"My son set up a Facebook page," she said. "We got on Instagram, and we went from there."
The Facebook page has now been shared hundreds of times and Saito has tracked down three of Jasper's brothers and sisters. The more she finds, the better the odds there will be a match.
Saito said until then, Jasper is moving slower than usual as he undergoes chemotherapy.
"He's like his normal self, but he's much more tired," she said. "He sleeps a lot more, and he's a lot more lethargic. I can tell he's uncomfortable, because he moves around a lot more."
In an early version of this story, the dog's owner name was spelled incorrectly.Feb 25, 2016 5:41 PM PT