Four- and two-legged friendships forged through treatment

A pair of Kansas-area pups who both received treatment at MU’s College of Veterinary Medicine received top-notch care and became instant buddies.

Nelli and Oliver

June 13, 2023

During the past two years, two golden retrievers visited the University of Missouri College of Veterinary Medicine, each diagnosed with a similar form of cancer.

Nicole Schuh and her 5-year-old dog, Oliver, of Lenexa, Kansas, visited MU’s Veterinary Health Center (VHC) for the first time in December 2021 with a nasal sarcoma. Ally Myers and her 8-year-old dog, Nelli, whose Overland Park, Kansas, home is about 15 minutes from Lenexa, followed in July 2022, visiting the VHC for radiation treatment of a nasal chondrosarcoma.

Oliver and Nelli already shared a resemblance with similar face shapes, as well as fur color and length. With their radiation treatment, the retrievers’ snouts began to lose fur and scab over where their tumors were located, leaving them even more alike. When Schuh shared a side-by-side photo of Oliver’s progress on a Kansas City golden retriever Facebook group around Christmas, she and Myers made contact with each other. “Ally commented on that with a photo of Nelli,” said Schuh. “We noticed that their facial markings looked very similar. We just kept messaging to give support and it was nice to have each other to talk through those situations.”

Through that initial conversation, the owners realized that their dogs were not only treated at the VHC, but they were both treated by Whitney Wyatt, a radiation oncology resident at MU.

A few months later, Schuh and Myers met up at a local dog park in the Kansas City suburbs where the dogs became instant friends. “Nelli doesn’t usually care about socializing with other dogs, more so humans or me, but when Oliver and Nelli met for the first time they just ran around together,” Myers said. “It was so sweet to see.”

Since then, Schuh and Myers have stayed in contact and brought their pups together at the dog park a few more times.

Oliver and Nelli are both doing well. Both dogs have had recent follow-ups with similar results. While neither dog’s cancer is completely gone, their tumors continue to shrink, and they are active and thriving, and aren’t experiencing any negative symptoms. “I’m so thankful for MU and for Dr. Wyatt,” Myers said. “They’ve given me more time with (Nelli) than I would have had.”

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