Energy Boost Ethics

Cali sits on grass holding a green disc toyAs I mentioned several weeks ago, Cali is taking magic mushrooms (not that kind!) to boost her immune system and slow tumor growth. Between the mushrooms and the chemo, Cali is still — as far as we know — free of large tumors.

She also has a lot of energy, which she wants to expend — incessantly — by playing with her flying disc. What she wants, specifically, is for me to toss it so that she can leap acrobatically — yes, stocky, elderly Cali — into the air and execute heroic catches. She’s quite good at this, and it is very entertaining to watch. You’ll have to take my word for this since I have no photos (because I am of course tossing the disc…).

So, the first, and more minor, ethical question is whether I should “allow” and enable Cali to do something where she might get hurt.

She plays the cancer card a lot, and uses her large, soft, brown eyes to convince me to let her do whatever she wants … and I think that’s mostly OK. She’s happy and playful, and I want her to stay that way for as long as possible. And if playing with her disc keeps her happy, well, I’m going to keep tossing it gently, not too high, and letting her leap to catch it.

Then there’s Orly. I am giving Orly a smaller dose of the mushroom blend. (I’m using it too…) I don’t know whether the immune boosting claims are real, but I do think that the blend boosts energy. Orly’s and mine, though there is nothing in the world that could enable me to match Orly’s energy level.

And that’s the issue.

Orly is a healthy adolescent golden retriever. The last thing she needs is more energy. I cannot keep up with her on a good day (no mushrooms, a long hike with her dog buddies), much less on a mushroom day when she does not go hiking.

Would it be ethical to deny her the potentially significant (but unmeasurable) health benefits of the mushrooms … so I could get some rest?

I’m pondering that, as I sit for a moment, catching my breath.

Meanwhile, I am recruiting all of the young dogs within shouting distance — there are several — as playmates for Orly. On hike days, on non-hike days, at the same time, one after another — it doesn’t matter. Anything that will tire her out. Wait; that’s impossible.

I’ll settle for anything that will burn off a tiny fraction of her boundless energy!

Cali’s Magic Mushrooms

Cali is fighting her hemangiosarcoma with magical mushrooms. No, not that kind of mushroom! At least, I don’t think that turkey tail mushrooms are hallucinogenic …

They reportedly do have properties that both boost the immune system and slow the growth of tumors, though, and have been used in Eastern medicine for centuries.

A small study on dogs with hemangiosarcoma found that turkey tail mushrooms could extend their survival by significantly lengthening the time until tumors grew large enough to be seen on a scan. (The study has a terrible title but the text is very user-friendly and fascinating!)

So Cali is taking a large dose of turkey tail mushroom powder daily. She and Orly are both getting a blend of mushrooms that also might slow or prevent tumor growth while also boosting their overall immune responses.

We’ll probably never know whether the mushrooms actually helped. But … as my vets agree, taking the mushrooms won’t hurt anything. And could help.

The dogs in the study had all been diagnosed with hemangiosarcoma following a splenectomy, like Cali. None of them was doing chemotherapy, though that is an option.

Cali's face with hanging bag of orange chemo behind herCali has had a single dose of chemo, and we’re waiting for her post-surgery scan to decide whether to continue. It is administered in a 2-hour infusion; we spent the time working and hanging out in the vet’s office. She didn’t have a bad reaction to it at all (she didn’t have any reaction that I noticed). It, too, can slow the tumor growth — unless there are already visible tumors.

If she continues, she’ll have up to three additional treatments, three weeks apart. Her friends at my workplace sent her flowers the first time she had chemo. She’d never gotten flowers before and was very excited when the delivery person came!

arrangement of colorful flowers