The L Word


It’s a word that no dog owner wants to hear. A word that brings immense heart ache and a very sudden conclusion. Lymphoma has been ‘heard’ here in our own little Boerboel world and as with all trials and tribulations in this breed, I’m drawn to share, to shed light, to help others to understand.

Onset is typically between the age of 5 – 9 years of age, with large breeds on the earlier spectrum. From the first sign of symptoms, progression to the point of death is up to 8 weeks.  Chemotherapy is considered to be highly affective to bring remission lasting 6-11 months. The patient then needs additional chemotherapy, as it will return. There are of course side effects, which may make the dog’s life not as it was. Steroids can be given to increase time with your pet for a very short period. The holistic world is filled with natural remedies to help make your pets time left more comfortable.

There are many misconceptions with cancers of all types. As the science and holistic worlds search and study, they are beginning to see eye to eye when it comes to Lymphoma in our canine companions. It’s no longer accepted to believe that it is genetic. While some still say that certain breeds may have a predisposition to it, they agree it is not passed down from generation to generation.

Article after article, whether written by traditional veterinarians, holistic or natural, they are agreeing that this disease is caused by the environment. Pesticides and herbicides are listed as what is thought to be the primary cause. This include flea/tick/parasite treatments that we put directly on or in our pets; things we spray on our yards, trees, shrub; sprays to keep bugs away from our homes. Pesticides and herbicides are used in just about every public area as well, on grass, along the roads. There is no such thing as “pet safe” when it comes to these products.  Over vaccination is also listed as a primary cause. Then there is medication of any sort such as steroids and sedation drugs. Second hand smoke is listed as well. All these things attack the immune system, breaking it down, making it unable to fight off disease and regulate itself and directly causing damage.

So how did this happen with us, when we’ve worked so hard at being as natural as possible with our Boerboels? The journey of our transition to natural rearing didn’t happen all at once…………..

All our pets had been raised on kibble, with traditional vaccine schedules, heartworm preventative and spot on flea/tick medications. When we brought our first BB home, it was no different. A year into having BB’s we started to dabble in the show ring and so additional vaccines were added that we were told were necessary for a show environment. In 2011, after dealing with constant ear infections and a new mama dog that looked horrible, I made a sudden decision to switch to RAW. I tossed the kibble and started feeding chicken, growing my knowledge week by week. As I watched ear infections disappear and my dogs being stronger and healthier than ever, I became a strong advocate for RAW.

Shortly after the switch, we had attended an indoor dog show. All my dogs were fully vaccinated for Bordatella (every 3 months). We came home from that show and just days later the dogs that were at the show became sick, it quickly spread to the rest of the pack. That was my first vaccine revelation. BUT I continued to follow the traditional yearly boosters (no Bordatella again) with my dogs and litters. All of my adult dogs had yearly blood tests for organ function and thyroid. All good and normal, until one of the dogs had his 5 year immunization. A few months after, he became different, ‘off’. Blood test revealed low thyroid. I started to research low thyroid in dogs and found that holistic vets believed it to be caused by over vaccinating. Another thing I noticed after immunizing one of my older females, was that she developed lipoma’s (benign liquid filled lumps). This is the bodies way of ridding itself of toxins.

I began to do more research and in 2015 I raised my first puppy “Ki” with just one distemper/parvo and Rabies (Rabies is required in California, so no way around it at the time). She has never had another vaccine and neither has any of the older dogs. At that same time, I cut out all flea/tick meds and cut heartworm meds back to two doses per year, rather than every month during mosquito season (after reading and understanding the heartworm cycle). Unfortunately, prior to that, all my Boerboels were over vaccinated, along with pesticides given. Our house was sprayed with ant spray at least once per year and I used a spray on our fruit trees if necessary. There is no way to reverse the long-term harm that these applications cause.

And now, here we are, faced with the L word and no way to cure it. Goodbyes have been said much too early. People far and wide who own this beautiful girl’s offspring will be saddened, her retirement family is heartbroken, and we are devastated. She was supposed to live to 10+, not almost 7. I will blame myself, because I take responsibility for my choices, even if done in ignorance. But my promise to her is to do better by her children and grandchildren, to ensure that the future generations of owners are informed and understand the risks in traditional veterinary protocols and traditional treatments around our homes. It’s time to advocate for our much loved family members so they have the best chance at a long, healthy life.

RIP Subey girl. You were loved beyond measure and left behind many beautiful legacies.

Subey’s on-set and progression was a mere 3 weeks long. It was swift; she stopped eating and drinking. Her retirement family and I agreed it was best to help her cross the bridge while she was still enjoying love and cuddles.