By Ann Hohenhaus, DVM, DACVIM
The staff of The Animal Medical Center was saddened to read of the passing of one of its most distinguished canine patients, Uncle Chichi.
A resident of Manhattan’s West Village neighborhood, Uncle Chichi was a philanthropist. Because of an appearance on “Good Morning America,” he garnered a donation of 10,000 servings of Spot’s Stew for the John Ancrum Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in Charleston, SC, the organization that found him his forever home 24 years ago. That’s right, 24 years ago. Uncle Chichi was one of those centenarian miniature poodles I wrote about in “How Old is Old, in Dog Years.”
Any dog living over 24 years is guaranteed to become a connoisseur of veterinarians, and Uncle Chichi was no exception. He arrived at The Animal Medical Center with a pathology report in French stamped with an official-looking Swiss stamp. His family had noticed a black mass on his lower lip while traveling and a veterinarian in Geneva, Switzerland diagnosed mélanome. The attached translation said melanoma.
Melanoma is a common tumor managed by the veterinarians at The AMC. The lip mass was surgically removed by AMC board-certified soft tissue surgeon, Dr. Janet Kovak McClaran. Uncle Chichi’s board-certified oncologist, Dr. Maria Camps,
prescribed the state-of-the-art canine melanoma vaccine and administered four doses. This vaccine has prolonged the survival of many grateful dogs suffering from melanoma, but Uncle Chichi’s melanoma defied the statistics and spread to his lungs. As the tumors in his lungs worsened, Uncle Chichi’s cough worsened. A molecularly targeted chemotherapy agent, Palladia, and a cough suppressant were prescribed and relieved the constant coughing. But then the seizures started. Uncle Chichi came to The AMC ER and they diagnosed spread of the melanoma to his brain.
The typical dog with a melanoma treated with the vaccine lives over 400 days. Uncle Chichi lived just over half that time. Although we wish it would have been longer, The AMC is proud to have contributed to such a well-lived and long life. Uncle Chichi will be missed by many, including those of us who knew him here at The AMC.