If you’re following Nikki’s Story,
This “chapter” occurred in Nikki’s last life.


Four-month-old Nikki in his last life

Nikki (left) four-month-old Royal Standard puppy and fully grown Aaron as a miniature poodle in their last life with me.

“Please God, No!” I whisper. “I can’t go through this again and I’m not sure he can either!”

Nikki, my 80 pound royal standard poodle, was studiously licking his paw for the third time that morning. I overlooked the first cleaning, hesitatingly ignored the second, but the pattern was chillingly obvious now. I didn’t want to know—still, I had to check it out.

I held my breath and eased onto the floor where my 12 year old “little boy” gingerly tended his right front foot. Cautiously, I pulled back the lush, soft, black fur on his pinkie toe and cringed. The bed surrounding his shiny black nail was weeping and the toe was swelling—I reeled!

We’d been here before. I can’t remember how many times. This is how it always started—first the licking and swelling, then the limping and antibiotics, followed by more swelling and more antibiotics as each toe quickly grew enormous, overwhelmingly painful, and hot—and finally the surgeries.

The pattern began several years ago when a toe was removed on Nik’s left front foot. Some months later, a second succumbed on the right; a third was severed, a fourth, and yet another was amputated on the back until this exquisite, long-legged, almond eyed, gentle giant had to carefully tread to keep his balance on the slick white tile floor that ran throughout our house.

Feet, once perfectly trimmed to display delicately chiseled toes, were now disguised by his thick, black coat that was carefully shaved underfoot weekly for maximum traction.

Our vet couldn’t understand it. Sections of the first toe were sent to two separate labs for biopsy. No fungal infection was found, but heavyweight bacteria types had been documented. Questions needed answers—were the infections secondary to the initial problem? If they were, what was the primary problem?

The consulting dermatologist guessed it was vascular. Trentel, a vasodilator, was prescribed.

Finally, the last go-round exploded the bombshell—squamous cell carcinoma! Cancer was eating away the feet of this champion-sired prince who never once whimpered throughout his ordeals, but always respectfully acknowledged our attempts to give him comfort.

Even when his stomach recently twisted a painful, life-threatening 360 degrees, he gratefully kissed our strapping, sweat-soaked, six-foot plus vet Dr. Pete, as he feverishly worked to save him by throwing Nikki over one shoulder, trying to bounce his stomach back into position.

The “waltz” didn’t work. But Nik was temporarily stabilized. With an IV-drip in place, we frantically set out in blinding rain and bumper-to-bumper rush-hour traffic on an endless hour-long  ride to the awaiting crash cart that  hustled him into emergency surgery.

We’d been through the mill these past years. Could he (we) handle another invasion so soon? My mind jammed to a slamming halt.

But this time we’d take a different turn. I knew what we were battling now—reachable, touchable cancer of the nail bed, a disease not all that rare in large black Poodles and Labrador Retrievers. A skin cancer, or practically a skin cancer, I reasoned. And I had just the thing for skin cancer, an escharotic paste  made by an herbalist for his own lesions.

It “kills cancer in one application,” says the accompanying literature. And according my own experience, it did! I had successfully treated several small skin tumors on all three of my dogs.

“Okay, let’s go for it. What do we have to lose?” I mumble, painting the thick, black herbal tar around the nail bed, including the red, swollen area below the first joint. As ever, Nik is saintly serene and a casual sniff at the horse-radishy sharp scent tells him his paw is “off limits.”

Nik and I wait the specified 24 hours. The following morning, cotton swab and alcohol in trembling hand, the delicate task of cleaning begins.

Reluctantly, the dark, sticky goo gives way to reveal a white 0.5 cm “pearl”— a translucent tumor glowing atop the nail bed.

Thrilled beyond words, I override the instructions to “wait for the body to expel” the invader on its own and begin to push and prod ever so gently to see if the enemy will come away, but it’s stubborn. “Maybe a clean swab will give better traction,” I think to myself,  scurrying for more supplies.

I’m back in seconds, but Nikki has taken over and the milky mass  barely  hangs on. With one final boost, the pearl is free. Heady with elation, I drop it into a small alcohol-filled container and continue to cautiously work around the nail bed.

A much smaller strip of white shows itself in the pad of the toe. Too aroused now, I grab the small projection between my finger nails. With a quick tug,  out it comes; a little spurt of blood follows. Nonplused, Nikki  finishes up, instinctively cleaning despite my “leave it alone now, Nik.”

Next day, the slight swelling is down. Five days later, the wound has healed, leaving no evidence that anything has transpired.

The cancer never did recur in that toe. But it wasn’t the last toe we saved thanks to the black bloodroot escharotic paste.

Note: When using bloodroot paste, never, but never, coax a tumor out. It is important to allow the body to expel the tumor on its own. I later found out that tumors have been known to have a root longer than a foot in length.

Filed under: Bloodroot: Herbal Pastes and Drugs

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