Jasper was born in Langley and his owners are looking for litter mates to obtain stem cells.

Family looks for litter mates to help Langley-born labradoodle fight cancer

A Coquitlam family is hoping to find dogs related to their labradoodle.

by Dana Gee, Special to the Langley Advance

If you have a labradoodle dog that was born on July 9, 2006, in Langley you might be able to help save another labradoodle’s life.

Jasper has T-cell lymphoma and stem cells from one of his siblings could keep him running and loving his family, the Saitos, for a few more years.

Jasper was one of 12 puppies born to parents Bella and Romeo at breeder Christine Filipczyk’s farm in Langley nearly 10 years ago. Romeo and Bella apparently bred again, but unfortunately a fire destroyed all the breeder’s records.

To help try to find Jasper’s relatives Jasper’s people took to social media asking for help. The Coquitlam family will pay all costs and are offering cash incentives for people with related dogs to come forward.

“Most people are sending prayers and wishes and offering to help where they could,” said Andrea Saito, who says thousands of people have visited Jasper’s FB page and Instagram.

So far three siblings have been tested but none was a match.

Jasper’s cancer journey began back in January when Saito discovered lumps on his neck. Those lumps turned out to be swollen lymph nodes. Jasper had cancer and the prescribed course of action was chemotherapy.

But that does not translate into a cure; it just buys a bit more time. In Jasper’s case he could get about six months more of life.

Not satisfied with that, the Saitos did some research and discovered that four veterinary clinics south of the border have had success curing lymphoma in dogs using stem cell therapy. The vanguard in that therapy was the nearby Bellingham (Wash.) Vet Clinic.

Jasper has been treated there for the past couple of months. He is undergoing chemo in preparation for stem cell therapy. And, yes, he is starting to lose his hair.

While Bellingham Vet Clinic is the first clinic to do this work, Jasper’s vet, Dr. Edmund Sullivan, said they simply built on work that had already been done by researchers just down the road.

“What we did here is we adapted the therapy from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center (FHCRC) in Seattle,” said Sullivan, who has been a vet for 30 years. “Fred Hutchinson originally developed bone marrow transplant techniques for humans, but what a lot of people don’t know was that information that they generated in the beginning was with dogs.”

Sullivan found out about FHCRC when a client asked him if there was anything beyond chemo for his cancer-stricken dog.

“My patients are dogs. It’s my duty, really, to find treatments for them,” said Sullivan.

What Sullivan found were reports about dogs being treated for bone marrow cancer in the 1970s and ’80s. The reports had all been co-authored by Rainer Storb, a doctor at the FHCRC. Sullivan contacted Storb.

“He said to me: ‘I’ve been waiting 20 years for this phone call. We’ve known how to treat dogs with lymphoma for many years, but no one asked,’” said Sullivan, who was invited to Seattle by Storb to learn the techniques.

Now, 12 years later, Sullivan is hoping that Jasper’s match can be found and he’ll get another few years of life.

“He’s in pretty good shape. If he didn’t have lymphoma you would think he was a younger dog,” said Sullivan. “He’s 10 with a disease that could be treated and then perhaps he could make it to 15. I know he’s older, but it is the same as if it was your grandmother or grandfather. You would probably want to treat them if it was reasonable.”

If all goes ahead, the treatment will ring in anywhere between US$10,000-$15,000 — a hefty price tag, but one that Dr. Stanley Coren, professor emeritus in UBC’s psychology department and well-known dog expert, says we will pay if we can, because dogs “are part of the family.”

“We treat them very much like children,” said Coren, author of the best-selling The Intelligence of Dogs. “The average dog has a mind equivalent to a human two- to three-year-old and we recognize that and we talk to our dogs the same way we would talk to young kids.”

“I know he’s a dog, but at the same time he’s our dog and if we choose to do this for him that’s our business,” said Saito who sons Joshua, 20, and Colton, 16, have grown up with Jasper.

“I’m not asking people for money, I’m just asking them if they have a dog and they want to help save Jasper. I would have never even done this if I didn’t need to find his siblings.

“He’s just part of us, so giving up wasn’t really an option,” said Saito. “Luckily, right now we can do what we can for him.”

PHOTO:Andrea Saito with her 10-year-old labradoodle Jasper, who has T-cell lymphoma. (Mark van Manen/PNG)

For more from the Vancouver Sun, click HERE.

Just Posted

PHOTOS: Charity Langley car show starts tradition of caring for people with cancer

Ken Johnson wanted an event that to feature his late friend’s vehicle, and it grew into a car show.

Self-guided Langley mural walk first of many new tourism experiences

Brochures are available for visitors and residents who want to check out some Langley City wall art.

UPDATED: Langley’s downtown business entity given 10-year extension

Langley City’s businesses can strategize future after new BIA bylaw was approved, president says.

VIDEO: Geocaching attracted adventure seekers to new Langley City event

Dozens of teams came out to discover a mix of art and nature during a new treasure hunt.

LETTER: Hat obnoxious, manager not bigoted

One Langley Advance letter writer takes exception to another’s comments about an MAGA hat incident.

REPLAY: B.C.’s best video this week

In case you missed it, here’s a look at replay-worthy highlights from across the province this week

Tens of thousands give heroes’ welcome to Croatia team

Euphoria gave way to a mixture of disappointment and pride for Croatia fans after their national team lost to France in its first ever World Cup final.

Former NHL goalie Ray Emery drowns in Lake Ontario

Police say the 35-year-old’s death appears to be a ‘case of misadventure’

Air quality statement warns of smoky air for Kamloops area

Environment ministry says area on north side of Thompson River may be affected by wildfire smoke

Pussy Riot claims on-field protest at World Cup final

Russian protest group claimed responsibility after four people ran onto field in police uniforms

Fans party on Montreal streets after French World Cup win

To city is home to nearly 57,000 French nationals

SilverStar officially opens Gondola

The brand-new gondola is now offering scenic rides for visitors on SilverStar Mountain Resort.

VIDEO: Man climbs crane in Abbotsford

Police, fire called to deal with climber last night

B.C. VIEWS: Making private health care illegal again

Adrian Dix battles to maintain Cuba-style medical monopoly

Most Read