Medical and updates

Kirah Salutes her canine brothers and sisters working amongst the smoldering ruins in Manhattan and in Washington DC to find survivors and bodies of victims. These dogs are working alongside the human HEROS and with them they brave the horrific conditions, taking their rest on cold sidewalks and risking their lives in the precarious debris to give any possible survivors hope of rescue and to bring at least some small peace of knowing to the families of those who perished.

With unwavering devotion to duty and loyalty to their humans, they join the ranks of many different breeds and mixed breeds working to patrol our borders, airports, ships, streets, fire and crime scenes and battlefields, searching out lost children, criminals, illegal aliens, bombs, drugs, countraband of all kinds and even poisionous snakes.

God Bless and protect all of our two-legged and four-legged HEROS and guide us towards a time and a world where no dog need guard more than a sleeping child, safe in a loving home and a peaceful world.



Kirah X ray1 The first X-ray shows a faint growth in the joint area. Click xray for closeup.
This xray shows the swelling in the bone just above the joint and also the faint outline of the cancerous cells. Again, click for a closeup. Kirah Xray 2


08/28/01 Kirah's right front leg is amputated at the shoulder. The decision to skip the biopsy as a separate surgery was made after consulting with both our regular vet and the orthopedic surgeon.

Emotionally, this feels awful, like we are mutilating her. But both vets have assured us that three legged dogs adapt very quickly and very well and have a very normal lifestyle.

They are certain it is cancer and amputation is the only way to relieve her pain. With her lung xrays and labs normal, we can at least be certain that the cancer has not spread to vital organs. If we are lucky and this is one of the lesser cancers, there may be little needed beyond the amputation.

Additionally, the biopsy, when done separately, weakens the bone and leaves it even more prone to breaking. And finally, one surgery vs two separate surgeries is less for Kirah to go through and less expensive.

She handles the surgery well. By late afternoon the vet has her lightly sedated because she insisted on getting up and walking around and they do not want her to do that just yet. The tissues are sent out to be biopsied.

08/29/01 Kirah is ready to come home ! She seems a little tired, but is not complaining. The vet says she is not in any great pain and that dogs do not suffer the phanthom pain that human amputees do.

Seeing her for the first time, Laurel is in tears, but Kirah has that "get me out of here" look and is heading for the office door even as the staff is trying to comfort Laurel, telling her about a dog that only had two legs and how well he went through life.

Arriving at the house, Kirah looks over the front steps and hops right up them. Inside, she travels across the hardwood floors without a problem and heads for her crate for a nap.

Later that afternoon, she goes out front to potty separately from our other dogs. The neighbor's dogs are barking at the front gate and Kirah heads over to say "Hello".

Always a talker, these "bark fests" are one of her favorite things to do and she is delighted to find that she can get right in Bear's face (neighbor's lab) from the front yard instead of addressing him from a small gap where the privacy ends and the neighbor's wire fence allows them a limited view of each other from our side yard. The tail is up and wagging now.

Kirah 1 Kirah 2 Kirah 3

Some of the neighbor kids stop to see her. "What happened?" they want to know. After listening to the story of her cancer, the most frequent question was, "Are they gonna put it back?". Oh, how we wish.

Thurs. Sept 3rd Kirah is now hopping down the back porch steps to potty and then beats it around the corner and up the side yard to join the Bark Fest with Bear next door from her usual spot. Her canine family members are being kept apart from her for now and she enjoys having the gap in the privacy fence all to herself.

Inside, she is found lying on the bed and has apparently also discovered that while four-legged dogs have not been allowed on the new-used couch that came earlier this year, three legged dogs are. When it is time to head to the vet's for a re-wrap, she is eager to get out the front door and hops easily into the pick up.

We are no longer feeling any doubts about the amputation. She is free of her pain, the incision looks great and she is getting around as though she were born with three legs. We are so glad that we chose to give her this chance at life as it is clear that she has no regrets.

Labor Day Weekend Kirah continues to amaze us as she goes about doing everything she has always done. Laurel takes her along when she goes fishing and she hops easily in and out of the pickup.

At the lake, Kirah grumbles that she can not go swimming and chase ducks. 'Talker' that she is, she resigns herself to telling them off verbally and then lays down to pout, jumping up periodically to make sure they know she is still there.

At home, Kirah is mingling with family pack members, Queper, Frankie and Yahoo, her 'Purebred Michigan Brown Dog' brothers and Lady, her Bouvier sister, racing them to the back door and jockeying for position at the prized gap in the privacy fence.

Tuesday, Sept 4th Our internet research on how to fight cancer continues. Kirah starts her new diet. She is surprised to find her dry kibble has disappeared and raw meat has materialized in it's place. Those itty bitty pieces of orange and green things puzzle her, but go right down along with the ground turkey and cottage cheese.

Thursday, Sept 6th Kirah has her stitches out. Her incision looks great.
The bad news is that the biopsy from the leg tissues is back. Kirah has osteosarcoma. This is the most aggressive of the bone cancers. Still, her lung xrays and labs were good, we are optimistic. Chemo is an absolute necessity now and time is critical. We know the vital organs are clear, we must act before the cancer spreads.

Friday, Sept 7th Laurel consults with Dr. Henshaw, the orthopedic vet who will do her chemo. Kirah will start her first treatment early Wed morning, 9/12 and will be at the vet's all day. She will need four to six treatments with Adriamycin and then we'll go from there. Treatments will be two weeks apart. Each treatment will cost $300 to $350, pay as you go.

Having started her on the raw diet, a week's worth of research indicates that a number of supplements are advisable to assist the chemo. The longest living cancer victims have had a combination of chemo supported by diet and nutritional supplements.

Flaxseed oil, one source of omega fatty acids and glucosomine with chrondroitin as a preventative for arthritis have already been added to the raw diet. Three-legged dogs can not afford arthritis.

Based on "
Cancer Management in Small Animals", a report by Susan Wynne, DVM, at, and the findings included in  "Nutrition and Cancer: Frontiers for Cure !" by Gregory K. Ogilvie, DVM, a Professor of Oncology and Internal Medicine at the Animal Cancer Center at the University of Colorado and other readings, the best documented nutritional supports include:
Coenzyme Q-10, Selenium, Pycnogenol, Fish Oil, Vitamins C and E, Amino acids glutamine, cystine and arginine, garlic and echinacea.

A  new bank account was opened today, this being the only way Kirah's PayPal account can be "verified", allowing donations to be transfered to the bank account for use and her funds can be kept separate.

Another check of the Paypal account on  tonight reveals another $360 in donations has materialized overnight.  Some donors we recognize from transports we have done, but many we do not know at all. There are tears of gratitude realizing that we now have enough to pay for at least her first two treatments.

Saturday, Sept 8th After writing thank you emails to all of the PayPal donors, Laurel sets out to round up the rest of the nutritional supplements Kirah will need.

Good selections and better prices on most of these have also been located online, but there is not time to place orders and wait for delivery.  Dr. Henshaw would like Kirah's diet and supplements in place before she starts her chemo and little or no change afterwards.

In the end, we are still lacking the Pycnogenol from the Maritime Pine Bark Extract and will substitute grape seed extract for now. We also settled for a version of Selenium that will be replaced with one better formulated for use by the body, but which apparently we will need to get online.

The mail arrives and the first of the snail mail donations are recieved. Large sigh of relief upon seeing that one of these, from a friend who was thinking more clearly than we were, is made out so that Laurel can cash it and use it to off set the cost of Kirah's immediate need for these supplements.

The system we devised earlier in the week is asking that any checks sent snail mail be made out to the vet , while being mailed to us, allowing us to just keep a tally and give them right to the vet.

Checks made out to:

The Great Lakes Veterinary Surgical Center
The mailing address is:
Kirah's Fund
c/o Laurel Barrick
1837 Prospect SE
Grand Rapids, MI 49507

Monday, September 10th Mike finally has internet access and finally, this update can be added to Kirah's Place.

As of 9-10-01, the totals look like this:
Pledged at PayPal                  $
less uncleared pledges:         -  
less PayPal fees                    -   

Total confirmed, PayPal account:                  $
Snail Mail donations received as of today:   $

This means a grand total of $
1184.87, with $0 more pending.

Kirah's Expenses to date:
Exams, xrays, labs and amputation:                   $  
Initial supplements, approx 50 day supply         $     

Anticipated cost of chemo, depending on four or six treatments, with the range of $
300 to $350 for each, between $1200 to $2100.

We are extremely grateful and profoundly touched. These costs are well below the national averages, but still well outside of our means.  And yet, while we have a ways to go, in one week, people from all over the country, have come forward with what amounts to one half to one third of the cost of Kirah's treatment.

Others are working to spread the word further. We have every good hope now that when this is done, Kirah will have the means for both quanity and quality of life.

And when she is well enough, we also hope to find a way for Kirah to share her tremendous heart with others, perhaps as a therapy dog for young onocology patients.

Wed. Sept 12th Kirah arrived at Great Lakes at 8:30 am for her first chemo therapy appointment. Once inside, she made some preliminary sniffs of the place and determined that this did not smell kosher.

Because of the Tragic events of Sept 11, 2001, Kirah's Place was not updated for several months. All of Kirah's medical expences were covered by donations from friends; some who remain anonymous to this day. While we are no longer accepting donations for Kirah's medical care, many rescues in your area are in need of money, supplies and vollunteers. Please help them help other pets in need.             Editor for

Kirah did not look impressed with Dr. Henshaw (shown above). The first time she met him, all he did was examine her and look at her xrays. Today, she clearly seemed to have a sense that something more was up. Tried two poses with her and Dr. Henshaw and her expression remained skeptical at best.

Last I heard from Kirah, I was in the lobby giving the receptionist the checks that had been made out to them. Kirah could be heard talking in the back room.

They will run a line, sedate her and administer the chemo as well as doing some blood samples for labs. She should come through today in good shape and I can pick her up after 4pm today.

Nausea, which does not seem to trouble dogs as much as it does humans, would show up in three to four days if it was going to be a problem. Dogs also do not lose their hair like people do.

Dr. Henshaw feels that this drug, Adriamycin, is the only reasonable choice. The only problem would be if there were side effects or a bad reaction. Then he says, the only other effective drug is very costly....would be more like $6,000. So, we pray that Kirah tolerates the Adriamycin and that it does the job.

Oddly enough, Kirah weighed about the same today as she did on her first visit with Dr. Henshaw, prior to the amputation. There should have been a loss of about 8 lbs with the removal of the leg.

She is not normally a very heavy dog, weighing in at about 78lbs before this all started. She did, however, shed profusely. Kirah blizzards drifted from the vehicles she rode in and collections of Kirah hair cross bred with the dust bunnies under the china cabinet. Janis had the same situation with her in GA this past year, too.

But now, we expected to see her at least somewhat lighter than she had been. Apparently, though,  either their scale is off or she has actually gained weight since the amputation. Could be the new, raw diet has helped her put some weight on. I have noticed that she doesn't seem to be shedding as much since we started with the cancer version of the BARF diet.

9/17/01  Kirah completed her list of things she wanted to learn how to do with three legs yesterday. She jumped the fence. That was about the only thing she used to do that she hadn't done yet.


March 17, 2002


     Our sweet Kirah was ushered to the Bridge, Sunday, March 17th. She was in a lot of pain and xrays revealed a new tumor near the top of the bone in her one, remaining front leg. And that was that. One xray showed the whole top of the bone to be filled with a tumor.

     My vet left the room and came back with a syringe with a sedative in it and told me I would have a few minutes with her before he came back with the final injection. All discussion amounted to a simple, "She's in a lot of pain, isnt she?" And his reply, "Yes". "There is nothing else to do, now, is there" and the known reply, "No".

     Sweet Kirah licked my tears away before she dozed off. The look in her eyes said that she was ready to go. She seemed to be facing the Bridge with the same spirit and anticipation that she faced all of her hurdles with:

     One last fence between her and that final freedom from pain and uncertainty and her reunion with the Source of that unconditional love she carried and shared her whole, short life.

     I wasn't ready. An xray and the stark reality of tumors came too fast. But Kirah was ready and that can be the only thing that matters. She was in so much pain that there was no question of trying to hold out for her dad, a long-haul trucker, to get back this week.

     I brought her home and my son got a couple of friends to make her final resting place. We laid her by the fence, facing the fence where she loved to hold her little 'barkfest' visits with the dogs next door. As we were nearly ready, Sherrie let her dogs out next door and Bear and Mattie and Sheba barked their farewells to Kirah through her fence.

     Then she came over with her little daughter and my friend who'd been taking care of Kirah for us those last three days came over and with her dad on the cordless phone, we laid her to rest, a rose tucked inside her blanket. And even then, the swelling was soft and pliable as you'd expect, not hard like this lump that came out between Thursday and Sunday.

     Kirah was always a great 'talker'. A notorious 'talker'. She loved children more than anything. During the year she spent in Norman Park, GA, after failing her screening for drug dog school and being adopted by the woman who'd first found her on the internet, up for adoption in WA, Kirah lived with her and went to work daily, unofficial greeter at their small city hall where most of all, she made sure that any children coming in were properly kissed and talked to. She was a one-dog canine community affairs officer.

     So great her love of people. That lack of aggression was what caused her to bomb out in police training in TX after having been imported from Germany, no taste for the sleeve at all. And that set off the chain of events that landed her next in Spokane, WA with a woman who didn't really want her and put her up for adoption after her father had sent Kirah to her as a surprise "gift".

     We never did know what happened to land her in the kill shelter there in Spokane. But Janis, in GA, had already been discussing her with the owner. Suddenly, Kirah was in an Animal Control shelter and had five days to live. This is where Kirah first came into our lives, when the GA lady found (rescue transport list) RollingRescue and made a plea for help in getting Kirah off death row and to GA.

     One look at that beautiful face and I got a hold of people we knew from past transports in CA and they got ahold of people in WA and OR and soon Kirah was safe at the Spokane Humane Society. A woman from ID fetched her to Portland, OR on a business trip and people there fostered her until Mike, her future dad, got into Portland. LOL, and Kirah taught Fence Management 101 to the foster mom's dogs.

     The woman was surprised one day, while unloading groceries, to find herself surrounded by Kirah and her own dogs whom she had left in her fenced in yard. Until Kirah showed them how to open the gate, that is. Then Mike arrived with the big truck and brought her back to Michigan where she caught another trucker headed south to GA.

     So many people, strangers, working together to bring a new drug dog candidate to a small town police dept in southern GA. This was my first real exposure to the amazing dedication of the rescue network that moves unwanted dogs from shelter to foster and on to new lives. I knew the transport end well, but had never been involved in trying to arrange an actual shelter pull and foster situation.

     And each one who helped Kirah, fell in love with her. You couldn't help it. Especially, the truckers who spent days with her on the road. Mike's daily reports were funny. Kirah loved kids so much. He stopped at one truck stop and took her out in the morning to potty. He was taking her and Beethoven over to the fence to show them some Buffalo, but just then a bus had pulled up to the resturant and a load of tourists were getting off.

     Kirah spotted one child amongst them and went flying off to deliver her kisses. The tourists, of course, did not realize this was four footed love speeding towards them and as she zeroed in on the kid, with Mike running and calling behind her, these poor people about had a heart attack at the sight of the German Shepherd barreling at them, until she arrived and sat down before the child and delivered her payload of love and kisses.

     The other thing he discovered Kirah loved, was the water. In CO she lept into a cold mountain stream, surprising even herself and then stood on a rock in mid stream for a long time before she took the plunge back into the cold water to come back to shore. Possibly the only time she ever showed any regret at spashing into a body of water.

     Somewhere else along the way, as Mike waited overnight to deliver, she took off into a pond on the edge of a parking lot, enticing Beethoven, the trucking terrier, to follow her. We were on the cell phone at the time and our conversation was suddenly interrupted as I heard "Kirah, NO, Kirah, Come, Nooooo." Followed by sounds of splashing and then "Beethoven, NO, Beethoven come back here", and more splashing. (Beethoven is the truckin' Terrier who accompanies Mike on the road.) I was still on the phone with him when I heard a commontion and Kirah's legendary talking. Kirah had just climbed through the open truck window to rejoin him, dripping all over the passenger seat.

     By the time they reached Michigan, Mike had already announced that if anything ever happened and Kirah did not work out as a drug dog and needed a home, she should come back to us. He was hooked.

     In Georgia, after they discovered that she had no ball drive whatsoever and Janis adopted her for her own, Kirah continued to amaze people. The first thing they noticed was that she could not be contained. Fences were not a problem for Kirah. The first time Janis left Kirah in her kennel at home to go to work and had one of the officers stop by to check on her, they called to say, "yep, she's fine, sitting on your front porch, where do you want me to put her?"

     Janis built the kennel up two or three times, but Kirah was not happy at home alone. And thus, Kirah's career as the city hall greeter dog was born. And for a year she was thus employed, spending her days laying behind Janis' desk, waiting for kids to come in.

     When a family crisis came up, it was no longer possible for her to keep Kirah and remembering Mike's statement, she contacted us. By April last year, Mike was headed home from the west coast when a change in loads resulted in his going down into GA, enabling to pick Kirah up and back to the West Coast before ultimately bringing her home to us.

     Kirah loved to ride. She would have made a great road dog, but for the fact that she didn't like being left behind. Just as she scaled fences, she didn't think too much of truck window screens. Mike finally brought Kirah home along with two sets of truck window screens and both had perfect Kirah-shaped holes in them. She would always be waiting for him when he came back to the truck, but she'd be waiting outside, on the ground, where she prefered to be.

     She had her last great swimming adventure back in OR. Kirah loved the water. On a potty break in OR, in an isolated stretch of beach near the OR port of entry scales, she jumped into a lake to chase a flock of geese. Mike watched as she swam and swam, wondering if he was going to have to go get her. Wondering if he could swim that far. She came back, not even breathing hard.

     Kirah only had a short few months between coming back home to Michigan and the diagnosis of osteosarcoma, which required the amputation of her right front leg. But her amputation meant nothing to her. She was up and going as soon as the drugs wore off. Hopped up the stairs coming home and then the bed and then the couch. LOL, the new used couch that was going to be off limits to the dogs. Well, okay, Kirah, off limits to four legged dogs.

     I took her fishing with me after one of her post surgical check-ups and she was extremely irritated that I would not let her jump in and chase ducks. And then, the fence. I was shocked the first time the next door neighbor brought her to the front door after she'd cleared the fence to go and greet her. How could a three legged dog clear a fence?

     But, this was Kirah and there was someone on the other side of the fence that she liked a lot. Of course she jumped the fence. Silly me.

     She went right on being the bossy big sister to Queper, Frankie and Yahoo, barging in between them when she thought their play too rowdy. Taking Yahoo by the neck and pushing him to the ground when he ignored "Kirah says stop". And still, chasing an occasional cat when the opportunity presented itself.

     And this was Kirah's life after diagnosis and chemo. For almost nine months. Perfectly normal for Kirah. I didn't mean to give Kirah's whole life story, short as her life was. But, so many things intertwined, in Kirah's life. So many people. From Germany to TX to WA to GA to MI, a score of people helped with Kirah's rescue and fell in love with her along the way.

     And then, after her diagnosis, even more people, some of them rescue friends and some of them strangers, from coast to coast, who helped raise the money for her treatment. Something we could never have done without their help.

     And now, slightly less than a year after Kirah came back into our lives, she has gone to the Bridge. Too much love for the police work she was bred for. Too little time for the therapy work we hoped to do with her and her love of kids.

     As I said, I didn't mean to write her life story. But those doubts that plague us, after we've taken the treatment path and it ends far short of the extra years we'd hoped to give her that, in the end, amounted to nine months, those doubts are, perhaps, inevitable.

     And the sadness over a life so full of change and turmoil, one of the things that has always haunted me with Kirah. All the changes she went through. She was clearly born to work, only too late did anyone realize what kind of work she was met for. She would have made a great therapy dog. And with her three legged status, she would have been uniquely qualifed, it seemed. It all seems such an injustice.

     But in the end, thinking about all of the people in Kirah's life who returned Kirah's great love of people, perhaps this was Kirah's mission in life, bringing people together, spreading her message of love. An ambassador for GSDs and rescue dogs, everywhere she went, everyone she touched.

     And, having written this, much longer than I meant it to be, I have answered my own questions. Kirah enjoyed and deserved these last nine months. Her life wasn't necessarily the one we would wish for a dog, with so many changes, but we have to try and trust God's process. What seems like too much uncertainty for dogs and humans to bear, perhaps is not without the certainty of His plans, which we may never fully realize or understand.

     All I can say, to all of you, all over the country, in the rescue and transport circles and on the Caninebonecancer list and beyond, who've helped so many times, in so many different ways, is a simple Thank You.

That is a heartfelt understatement.


Laurel & Mike