A Great Dane and Osteosarcoma: Part 1 | by Courtney Sullens | Dec, 2021

When you meet me, one of the first traits you learn is how much of a dog person I am. I currently have three: a nine-year-old Plott Hound mix, a six-year-old beagle mix, and a four-year-old Great Dane mix. As a side note, I now have three because I think my husband (Greg) might file for divorce if I were to bring home any more animals. Tizzie is the Plott Hound. She is the Alpha of the pack when I’m not around. She is high-strung and about as much of a nervous wreck as I am. Tizz is definitely an introvert and doesn’t do well meeting new four-legged friends unless they are puppies. Gabby is the beagle. Her nicknames are Sun Baby and Shitlet (the name is self-explanatory). She is a lover who considers it a personal affront if you are in her presence but not currently petting her. And finally, Ivy is the Great Dane (with a dash of lab). If you’ve met a Great Dane, you know exactly what she’s like. She has attitude for days. She has sass levels off-the-charts. On the topic of her laziness, she is the stereotypical “gentle giant.”


These are my girls. This is my family.

This story started on a Wednesday in late September of 2021. Some of Greg’s friends and coworkers were going to meet up for dinner after work one day. They chose Shorty’s Pizza, located in Waco, Texas. Shorty’s actually doesn’t make great pizza, but don’t tell them that. They make up for it with their “pizza pillows,” which is their re-branding of calzones, and with their wine-based margaritas. But the best part of Shorty’s is that they allow dogs in their outdoor seating area, and I’m always willing to bring one of the girls with me to dog-friendly places.

The day of the dinner, I left work, went home to grab Ivy, and headed to Shorty’s. At the time I was driving a rental SUV because my car was being repaired from an accident (that’s a whole other story). Ivy and I arrived at the restaurant where everyone already had a seat in the outdoor area. We had a good time, ate pizza pillows, drank some wine margaritas, and then said our goodbyes for the night. As Ivy and I were leaving, I noticed that she seemed somewhat reluctant to get back into the SUV, but she hopped up after a moment of hesitation. We went home to an uneventful evening.

On Thursday, Greg mentioned that Ivy was favoring her front right paw. He thought that since this was Ivy’s first time in any vehicle taller than a sedan, she probably hurt herself when she jumped out of the backseat to go to the restaurant the previous night. Great Danes aren’t exactly known for their grace, so this seemed to be the cause.

On Friday, I got home from work first. Ivy’s wrist joint on her front right leg was visibly swollen and warm to the touch. I called our vet to see the soonest they could check Ivy out. The receptionist told me to drop her off on Monday, and they would check her between their other appointments for the day. We had some old tramadol from a minor surgery Greg had two years ago, so we gave her that over the weekend until we could get something that was dog-safe to help with the inflammation.

Greg dropped Ivy off at the vet Monday morning, and we otherwise proceeded with our days as normal. The vet called me mid-afternoon to update me. I prepared myself for the story about the clumsy Great Dane who needed to rest (more than she normally does) for several days and get some medicines for pain and inflammation.


The vet spoke. “We took an x-ray and we’re seeing development of osteosarcoma.” My mouth fell open. My head snapped away from the computer screen at my desk. All the background noise of my pharmacy seemed to suddenly be placed behind a wall of cotton. The vet started going into detail about the different courses of action we could take before I had even accepted that she had said that word. Osteosarcoma.

I tried to follow along with her. She promised to send some information home with Ivy about the possible courses we could take, along with the estimated costs of each. I hung up with her and immediately called Greg. No answer. Calling him at work is hit-or-miss depending on how busy he is, but I was going to keep calling until I got a hit. He picked up on the second call. I told him what the vet had told me.

Greg was angry. He was angry for all the reasons that I was speechless. Ivy is only four years old! She’s too young for anything like this! She only hurt herself because she’s so clumsy! How could this be cancer?

I left work early that day. I stopped crying long enough to get home safely, but then immediately started again. Greg arrived home with Ivy in tow shortly after. She limped through the door. Seeing her made it all start over again.

This story will be continued.

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