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Goldendoodle Gets Leukemia; Goes Into Remission with Medication

By Christy True
published: February 13, 2024 • 3 min. read
Goldendoodle swimming

Diagnosis:  Lymphoma
Cost: $10,224 Healthy Paws reimbursed: $7,929
Coverage options:
 80 percent reimbursement | $250 deductible

Whiskey Boy is a nine-year-old goldendoodle, a retired service dog, and best buddy to pet parent Kat. Kat and her husband Bobby run a distillery in South Carolina where Whiskey (get it?) has become a mascot and even has his own label. Kat started training Whiskey as a puppy, and he was by her side every day as they restored a circa 1857 building for the business.

“He is my team member and is never far from my side. He is as smart and loyal as they come, handsome and fun,” Kat said. “He’s made friends with folks from all over the world – they love him. Customers return when traveling through our state and ask for him, disappointed when he has a day off!”

Whiskey, who lives with Oliver, a 15-year-old poochon, and Doc, a six-year-old doodle, loves chasing small critters, long walks through the woods, surfing the waves, digging out sand crabs, riding on the golf cart through town and visiting his dog friends on grandma’s farm, Kat said.

2 Goldendoodles and a poochon.
Whiskey, with his canine siblings Oliver and Doc.

Whiskey gets cancer

In the summer of 2022, Whiskey started showing signs something was off. He had vomited, was rapidly gaining weight, acted lethargic and became clingy. They took him to the vet, but a physical exam and bloodwork revealed nothing concerning.

Goldendoodle winning a prize
Whiskey boy, with pet parent Kat, has been certified as a Canine Good citizen.

A few months later, Kat went to grab Whiskey’s face to kiss him and noticed his lymph nodes were large. They immediately took him back to the vet, who diagnosed him with lymphoma, a blood cancer. It all happened so suddenly that Kat and Bobby were heartbroken and shocked, but they didn’t waste any time getting Whiskey treatment.

They went to a clinic specializing in cancer, and the vets started Whiskey on a course of chemotherapy. Whiskey received several oral and injectable drugs administered weekly over a period of months. At first, it did not go well, and Whiskey had a severe reaction to one of the drugs and had to be hospitalized. A few times, they thought they might lose him. Once that drug was removed, Whiskey improved, and the cancer receded.

Now Whiskey is on a maintenance drug protocol to keep the cancer at bay. Recent tests showed no sign of swollen lymph nodes, and his bloodwork was normal. He had one setback when he was showing signs of discomfort, and he was diagnosed with a urinary tract infection (UTI). He is on antibiotics and seems to be improving.

Goldendoodle swimming
Whiskey boy competed in dock diving competitions.
Protect your pet

How Whiskey is doing now

Whiskey is doing well and is back to chasing squirrels and long walks in the woods. He’s lost some weight but needed to anyway, so he’s now at a healthy 89 pounds. Knowing they could have lost him already to fast-moving cancer and not knowing how long the remission will last, the couple treasure each day with their beloved pooch and hope to have their “doodlebug” for a couple more years.

“He’s been through a lot, and we’ve been right beside him, helping as best we could,” Kat said.  

“Since diagnosis and beginning treatment, we’ve had extra time with him that we wouldn’t have had. This is bonus time we treasure and appreciate now that the shock has worn off and tears have stopped flowing daily. We have had time to absorb his diagnosis, and we have been blessed to enjoy this wonderful friend until he says no more. We will take it day by day.” 

How pet insurance helped

Having Healthy Paws dog insurance allowed Kat to focus on Whiskey’s treatment and not worry about whether they could afford to help him.

Goldendoodle with hat on

“Because of Healthy Paws, we simply loved on him and nursed him; we never worried about how we would pay for his care. While we were devastated by his diagnosis, and weeks passed before we could even function normally, the bulk cost of treatment was paid promptly by Healthy Paws. All we needed to do was submit bills and the doctor’s notes! It sure was costly and we couldn’t have done it without Healthy Paws!,” she said.   

Kat signed her doodles up for insurance because Doc is a chewer, and they feared he’d get into the wrong thing. They never considered that Whiskey would be the one to need it most.

The claim scenarios described here are intended to show the types of situations that may result in claims. These scenarios should not be compared to any other claim. Whether or to what extent a particular loss is covered depends on the facts and circumstances of the loss, the terms and conditions of the policy as issued, and applicable law.

Insured persons providing testimonials in this report have not received compensation for their statements.

Christy True and Tomas
By Christy True

Christy has been writing about pets for Healthy Paws for 28 dog years. She also coordinates media requests and manages the Healthy Paws Foundation. A background in journalism may be why she enjoys writing about offbeat animal studies and the latest viral pet trends. She has been owned by several dogs, and she volunteers with a local dog rescue. Outside of work, she can usually be found sliding down a mountain near her home in Bend, Ore.

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