August 10, 2014

Narrated Audio Blog

Told in the collective first person, jointly from Stu and Janell Clarke's perspective.

In September 2013, back in Australia, we had noticed that Skyla's lymph nodes on her neck had significantly enlarged. It occurred at the same time a rash appeared on her belly. Skyla often gets a rash on her belly when she gets in to long grass so we treated the rash and thought the enlarged lymph nodes was due to her body fighting the rash. After a few days the rash went away and instead of the lumps decreasing they got bigger so we took her to the vet.

Skyla was quickly diagnosed as having Lymphoma, a cancer of the blood, and was referred to the Sydney's Animal Referral Hospital (A.R.H.). We were given the following heartbreaking options:

  • leave her untreated with a life expectancy of only 30 days;
  • put her on steroids to possibly get 90 days;
  • treat her with chemotherapy and get 12-14 months; or
  • try the new and very expensive bone marrow transplant treatment with a 30% chance of success but a potential cure.

We didn't need to discuss the options. We both agreed that we would throw everything we could at the cancer and try the bone marrow transplant. The cost would be upwards of $22,000 but we were in a fortunate position with having saved a vast amount for our travels and would be happy to dip into these funds to save our baby. Skyla had been there for us when we needed her, all the times Stu was away with the Navy, whenever either of us had been sick or upset, all of our big driving adventures around Australia and the list goes on. She is an incredible dog and a massive part of our lives so if there was something we could do for her then we were going to do it.

Skyla's treatment started immediately and we went about postponing our trip for 3 months (our original departure date was 14 December 2013), which it turns out was a positive as Dallas gets pretty cold in the winter months. The course of chemotherapy and the bone marrow transplant took 5 months and it was tough going for the little girl but being the little trooper she is she always bounced back. She went into remission within 2 weeks, a great initial sign, and from then on she continued to impress the vets with great results to all their tests and showed great resilience after every procedure.

The month prior to our departure was very busy for Skyla. She had the bone marrow transplant and was at the A.R.H. 2-3 times a week for check-ups. She also had to get her usual yearly vaccinations as well as rabies. Everything had been successful, the cancer had completely disappeared, and we were ready to travel with every hope in the world it would be the last we ever saw of cancer.

There are just some things in this world you can't control and no amount of money can buy. Signs of Skyla's cancer returned only days after entering Mexico. We contacted the vets at A.R.H. and they put together a treatment plan for us on the road. Skyla went back on a chemotherapy drug as well as a steroid to reduce the size of the lumps that returned. This worked well for about two months but unfortunately the cancer was too strong so she was taken off the chemotherapy drugs which weren't helping her any more. After that was just a waiting and hoping game. The lumps started growing slowly but then with short notice they enlarged dramatically. A local Brazilian vet gave her an injection to make her more comfortable and the vets at A.R.H. have advised us that so long as she is happy and comfortable she is okay but we need to be prepared and assess her wellness day by day.

Maybe its just that she's our dog but she had been a truly remarkable companion. Every day on our bikes she brought smiles to peoples faces as they pointed and giggled at a dog on a motorbike riding past them. We knew that she was living on borrowed time and were determined to make the most of what little time we had left with her.

Leave a comment

Comments will be approved before showing up.

Are you a Dog Person?
Do you Love to Ride?

Click below for more information on how you can take your best friend along on your next biking adventure

Also in Dog Blog

Senegal and Mali
Senegal and Mali

February 09, 2017

Told in the collective first person, jointly from Stu and Janell Clarke's perspective.Mauritania to Senegal was another difficult border crossing. We chose the sleepy border crossing of Diama instead of the more popular Rosso border crossing. The road to Diama takes you through a national park. Its a dirt road, heavily corrugated, but fun to ride. There are plenty of warthogs to see and local birds. We lost a few screws, shaken loose from the corrugations, and Janell broke a fuel line about 15km from the Senegal border. She only realised because the fuel was pouring on to her foot and it got really cold and stopped to investigate. The broken fuel line had to be addressed asap. The rocks from the gravel road were flicking up and had cracked the plastic connection for the Touratech auxiliary tank. We've had this part damaged before so its no surprise and we were carrying one spare connector which we simply fitted on the spot. To protect the connector however we grabbed an empty 500mL ...

Read More

Snow in the Sahara
Snow in the Sahara

December 09, 2016

The Pack Track entered Africa with great excitement and trepidation. There is so much to see in Africa, such different cultures to explore. But it is a challenging continent (roads, climate, poverty) and a volatile continent (conflict). We had rested enough in Europe and felt ready for the next adventure, not to mention warmer climates! We took the Trasmediterranea ferry from Algeciras to Tangier Med. This is the slow, run-down looking ferry and coincidently the cheapest option at €77 for 2 people and 2 motorbikes.  We'd checked the prices online which indicated a cost for dogs but decided not to book online after our recent ferry debacle in England resulting in a missed ferry, additional 600km+, hotel expenses and more riding in the cold, wet, England rain. So, when we turned up to the ferry terminal in Algeciras we were happily surprised the dogs were allowed on for free and when we were on the ferry, motorbikes tied down in the parking area, the girls were allowed to sit insid...

Read More

United Kingdom 2016
United Kingdom 2016

August 28, 2016

Told in the collective first person, jointly from Stu and Janell Clarke's perspective.It was a big decision to take a break from travelling and to work in the UK. To this day we debate whether it was a good idea or not. Janell felt she needed some stability, to know where she was going to sleep every night, buy food for more than a few days and have some routine in our daily life. It could also be an opportunity to make some money for Africa and money to spend enjoying ourselves exploring the UK. Stu wasn't so sure about this plan, by his calculations we had enough money for Africa and wasn't keen to be sticking around in England through the cold months. It would give him time to work on the Pillion Pooch design and run a kickstarter campaign, an idea he'd been playing with in the US but just never had the time to really sit down and work on. It was agreed, we'd spend 6 months living and working in England. Janell was happy to get a job, she knew she'd enjoy the social aspect of wor...

Read More