GRAND RAPIDS, MI — Buzz, a cadaver recovery dog, recently diagnosed with cancer, is no stranger to death, and now fights to stave off his own.
The 10-year-old chocolate lab has worked for most of his life as a human remains detector dog, or cadaver dog, alongside his partner and owner, Special Deputy Sue Stejskal.
The duo has worked together since Stejskal got Buzz from a special breeding program as a 14-month-old puppy. Together, they have helped the St. Joseph County Sheriff Department solve numerous cases involving land and water recoveries.
About three years ago, Buzz first began having health problems that were remedied by prescription dog food and medication, Stejskal said. When she sensed something was off with Buzz this past December, Stejskal didn’t expect more than a change in medication.
But, “when they said the ultrasound would take half an hour and an hour plus later I’m still sitting there, I knew something was wrong,” Stejskal said. At BluePearl’s pet hospital in Grand Rapids, Dr. Kristopher Sharpe told Stejskal the prognosis: canine lymphoma.
“I felt like I had been hit with a ton of bricks,” Stejskal said.
After coming to terms with the condition, Stejskal is now committed to maximizing Buzz’s quality of life. The condition is terminal, but with chemotherapy, average remission time is between a year and a year and a half, according to BluePearl oncologist Dr. Christine Swanson.
For now, Buzz seems to be as happy as ever.
“Dogs live in the present,” Stejskal said. “As long as he’s in the game, he’s enjoying life and everything, we’ll keep going.”