The Georgia Buchla Cancer Research Fund initiative, a fundraising effort benefiting the Dr. Modiano's U of M Veterinary Medicine Oncology Research Fund, was begun in the name of Georgia, our history-making agility Boxer. From her debut at the American Boxer Club National Specialty in 2010, where she wowed the crowd with her uncontrolled exuberance during the obedience recall "fail," to only a year later becoming the youngest Boxer in US history to earn the Master Agility Champion Title (MACH), to becoming the only Boxer ever to earn 7 MACHs, the ride with Georgia was nothing but pure joy.
The Day Our World Changed:
On September 10, 2014, after a weekend agility trial in what we hoped would be a routine visit to the veterinarian, Georgia, was diagnosed with metastasized hemangiosarcoma (an incurable and aggressive form of cancer) at the young age of 6. The oncologist's educated guess was that Georgia might have only 1 to 4 weeks left based on the fact that there were masses on her spleen and liver, and nodules in her lungs. As the reality of the situation sank in, we started to ponder all that lay ahead. As a result, we withdrew Georgia from further agility competitions, concluding that her career was over.
Guidance From A Friend:
While we were still in shock over this unexpected turn of events, Jasmine Lyon, a close friend and our agility trainer, reached out to offer her support. We discussed our fears, hopes, and how to proceed knowing that we could not predict Georgia's future in light of this diagnosis. Jasmine suggested we evaluate how Georgia was feeling that upcoming weekend and to consider allowing Georgia one last run in agility, knowing that participating in agility events with Todd brought her such joy. With a very short window of opportunity, we made the decision to go for it and to celebrate Georgia's agility career together with friends for one last time. With 19 double Qs and needing only 1 more to earn another MACH title, Georgia ran her final agility runs on September 13, 2014, three days after her diagnosis and her first chemo treatment.
In true Georgia fashion, she wrote a story book ending to her agility career, running her heart out for Todd and earning MACH9 to the cheers and tears of many friends in attendance whose hearts were also broken by this terrible news. What an incredible gift she gave us that day and a fitting close to an incredible agility journey.
Fighting A Good Fight:
Also in true Georgia fashion, she amazed her oncologist and vet techs when she responded so well to the chemotherapy treatments. We were reminded, however, that hemangiosarcoma is not curable and Georgia could have 10 days or 3 years. Unfortunately, as much as Georgia fought, she could not overcome this cancer and succumbed on December 27, 2014. We are comforted in knowing that Georgia was never sick throughout her treatment and even on her last day on Earth, she was playful and happy. While we are devastated and heart-broken, we are so grateful for having 3 ½ months after her diagnosis to enjoy every moment we could with her and ensure she knew how much we loved her. We soaked in every extra moment we were given with her - taking walks on her favorite trails, watching her give her brother the stink eye when he got out of line, giving her a home cooked diet of yummy meats and veggies, and having her with us at Thanksgiving & Christmas.
Georgia's journey is complete but unfortunately, until we have a cure, others will also have to walk this devastating path. It is our desire, more than ever, to do our part to give our beloved companions the best chance for a future in which this dreaded silent killer is defeated. We feel the best way to do this is to use this opportunity to raise funds that will go 100% directly to fund canine cancer research. If you are like us, whether you own a Boxer or another breed, you know that the day will come that you will have to say goodbye to your beloved friend and all too often, the reason for these sad occasions is cancer. We hope you will join us in honoring Georgia, and thousands of other dogs well-loved dogs that have fought cancer, by considering a tax-deductible donation to the Modiano Oncology Lab at the Animal Cancer Care and Research Program, University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine. All funds donated will go directly to fund canine cancer research. No amount is too small to help us fund research that will hopefully one day result in making progress towards eradicating this dreaded disease and other cancers affecting our canine friends.
We are so thankful for the friendship, support, and love we have come to know through Georgia. It is amazing to know how much the time we had with her affected our lives for the positive and will continue to do so as her legacy to us. We have been richly blessed!
For more information on how you can contribute to canine cancer research by submitting blood/tumor samples from affected dogs, please visit www.georgiacancerfund.org.
Todd & Sherry Buchla
"The bond with a true DOG is as lasting as the ties of this earth can ever be." - Konrad Lorenz
(The video below documents Georgia's diagnosis and final agility runs. Her tribute video - "Georgia Tribute - A Call To Action" can be found at www.youtube.com/sherrybuchla.)