Don’t miss the Canine Cancer Research Alliance’s Wag Love Life on September 9!
When Mari Maeda lost her dogs to cancer in quick succession (one was only two years old), she was totally devastated. “Dogs aren’t people,” she said, “but I honestly had difficulty getting out of bed for a year. I finally started talking to lots of people and learning about experiences that they were having with their dogs. And I also started talking to cancer researchers about the possibility of helping dogs. And these researchers have been focused on mice and people, but their eyes light up when they realize that they could partner with veterinary oncologists and help dogs, while possibly accelerating getting therapies to people, as well.”
Modern veterinary medicine for dogs with cancer includes surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy. “Cancer usually develops resistance to therapy,” though, Mari said. “There are new cancer immunotherapy technologies being developed in laboratories – many in the Pacific Northwest – and they have the potential to bring long-term cures in dogs. So, I’m extremely optimistic. I believe there’s a potential for many breakthroughs in the coming years.
Mari’s organization, Canine Cancer Research Alliance (CCRA) was formally founded in 2017.
“We focus on finding researchers with promising ideas, helping them team up with veterinary researchers and clinicians, and providing seed funding to them to get research projects launched,” Mari explained. “Several of us at CCRA have a scientific background and we focus on facilitating teaming and supporting new collaborative projects. And we look for synergies between projects. We’re also partnering with other nonprofits and initiatives, such as Fred Hutch and the Dog Aging Project at University of Washington, to leverage the strength of different groups.”
CCRA’s goal this year is to launch three pilot projects that will lead to canine clinical trials. “None of us want our pets to suffer, and we are placing huge emphasis on safety as well as making sure there are minimal adverse effects from any therapy,” Mari explained. “Our goal is full cure, so that even a two-year-old diagnosed with aggressive cancer can live a long healthy life till old age.”
One of CCRA’s volunteers had a dog whose face was disfigured after a cancer surgery. “She was walking her dog in the city one day and came across a cancer fundraising walk,” Mari recalled. “She wondered if there could be a dog cancer walk where all canine patients and survivors would be welcome. Wag Love Life is open to all participants, with or without a dog, and the goal is to have a fun morning, celebrating the awesomeness of our dogs. It’s a family and pet-friendly event. We’ll have a tent to make flower garlands for the pups who want to dress up as well as arts and crafts vendors. Participants can get health and wellness information from healing arts practitioners such as animal massage therapists, reiki healers, and veterinary doctors. After a walk or a run, there will be plenty of free donuts and good coffee. We even have working K9s doing search and rescue demonstrations and a special Taiko drum performance to celebrate the year of dog.”
To learn more, visit waglovelife.org
CCRA is looking for volunteers and would also like to hear from anyone who’s going through the cancer journey with their dog, and from anyone potentially interested in enrolling their dogs in one of their future studies. For information, visit ccralliance.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org.