FORT WORTH, Texas — Laura Bates knew what she was getting into when she took in a boxer puppy that had been rescued from a puppy mill in Beaumont.
“I have had boxers before, so I was fully prepared for the path of destruction that a 6-month-old boxer would bring into my house,” she said.
“And it was a doozy to say the least!”
One look into Scout’s face – with that brown patch of fur surrounding her right eye on an otherwise all white body – and all destruction was quickly forgotten; all imperfect behavior was quickly forgiven.
Laura and Scout were immediately inseparable.
“My number one question I always ask people whether I’m going to their house or out to dinner is, ‘Can I bring my dog?’” Laura explains.
Scout even has her own Instagram page.
“Yeah, I’m that person!” Laura laughed.
But a pup that has brought so much love into Laura’s world has also brought grief.
Scout was between a year to a year-and-a-half old when she was diagnosed with cancer.
Mast cell tumors are the most common type of skin tumor in dogs, according to the American College of Veterinary Surgeons.
Boxers and Boston terriers make up about 50% of all mast cell tumor patients, the ACVS website says.
Scout had developed a large tumor in her abdomen but underwent a successful surgery to remove the growth and made a full recovery.
Laura knew Scout was prone to developing additional mast cell tumors because of her breed.
And about a year-and-a-half after her first cancer fight, it came back.
Laura found a tumor on Scout’s paw which meant talk of more surgery, chemotherapy, and even amputation.
“There were tears that were shed,” Laura admitted.
“It’s a little scary, because you just don’t know how aggressive it is until you kind of get into the thick of it and what the prognosis looks like.”
Scout’s veterinarian had heard of a new alternative treatment for canine cancer, but she’d never used it.
She suggested Laura, a chiropractor, put her own medical research skills to work.
They studied up on Stelfonta, an injection approved by the FDA in late 2020, and together decided to try it on Scout.
Stelfonta, brought to market by Westlake-based Virbac, is injected directly into a mast cell tumor.
It kills the tumor and some surrounding tissue, resulting in an ugly wound.
“They prepare you that it’s going to look worse before it looks better, and I would say it wasn’t the best thing to look at. But that only lasted for about nine days,” Laura said.
Eventually, the tumor shrinks, and new skin and fur begin to grow in its place.
“It gradually started to just disappear and one day we looked, and it was completely gone,” Laura said.
Scout was treated with Stelfonta in September.
By mid-November only a tiny scar was visible where the tumor once was.
And Scout is cancer-free, again.
“It’s gone,” Laura said. “It just killed it!”
There was no surgery, no chemo, and significantly less cost and Scout is, once again, a bundle of boxer energy.
“It’s really like it never happened,” Laura said.