On May 28, 2020, Ms. Mitchell brought Napoleon in because he was lethargic and vomiting. “One day
he was bouncing off the cabinet’s for a treat, to the next day on the floor lethargic and not really
moving. It is very hard to think about without feeling sad and crying,” said Ms. Mitchell.
Once arriving at Animal Medical Clinic, Dr. Bliss and our team immediately began evaluation Napoleon.
Napoleon’s abdomen was very tense and Dr. Bliss felt a small firm mass as he palpated Napoleon’s mid-
abdomen area. Dr. Bliss kept Napoleon overnight for further evaluation and IV fluids, and exploratory
surgery was scheduled for the next morning. During surgery, Dr. Bliss found a large mass on Napoleon’s
left kidney. A biopsy was taken to find out what it was.
“I made the decision right or wrong at that time that he deserved a chance at life and I truly did not
believe that it was his time,” said Ms. Mitchell. “Little did I know that this was the beginning of three
long months of having a mass in his body that could rupture at any time. Every day I stress about this
choice. Would I come home to my Noop on the floor expired? To know that I caused him more pain was
just something I couldn't fathom. I was still crying every day as it was. Losing my friend and Cosmo to
lose his brother was just heart breaking.”
Napoleon was sent home the day following surgery to recover. The mass turned out to be a benign cyst,
not a cancerous tumor. Dr. Bliss and Ms. Mitchell decided to monitor it. “The size of mass was not on
our side but Dr. Bliss was hopeful that this was truly the only issue. He was doing super great.”
On June 17, 2020 Ms. Mitchell called and said, “Napoleon is not himself. He is not eating and he is
lethargic.” Napoleon came in to be evaluated. Dr. Bliss wasn’t here so Napoleon’s care was entrusted
to Dr. Young. Dr. Young stated that Napoleon’s abdomen palpated non-painful and his incision from
exploratory surgery healed well. He recommended that Napoleon return the following day to proceed
with an abdominal ultrasound examination.
The next day, Dr. Thomson performed the ultrasound and found that a mass involving the right adrenal
gland had grown into the vena cava, a major vein in the abdomen. Adrenal gland tumors may be non-
cancerous (benign) or cancerous (malignant). If cancerous, the prognosis (medical forecast) is usually
poor. Napoleon was in bad shape. Dr. Thomson recommended Ms. Mitchell to be referred to a
specialist to pursue treatment.
“Again, as I said before he deserves his chance and that is what he gets,” Ms. Michell said. Determined,
she sought a specialist to help treat Napoleon. There are only two specialists in the state that could help,
one being at the University of Florida’s Small Animal Hospital in Gainesville. Florida. Ms. Mitchell took
Napoleon to UF and awaited surgery.
“So, I left him with the biggest hug and let them take him, for what might be the last time I would see
him. Had I made the right choice? That was always at the back of my mind. Many of my friends and
family thought I had lost my mind. Yes, I may have but I know that when I have my Noop and his
brother Cosmo by my side I am most sane.”
Dr. Maxwell from UF said Napoleon stayed strong and pulled through like a champion. This type of
cancer and surgery risk has a 30% mortality rate. After blood transfusions and three days in ICU,
Napoleon was sent home to recover. Due to the extensiveness of his surgery, Dr. Maxwell did not think
it was a good idea to remove the left kidney at the same time due to the high risks.
Once Napoleon was fully healed, Ms. Mitchell scheduled his third surgery in three months. On August
8, 2020, headed back to Gainesville. “I always made sure Noop (Napoleon) was groomed and looking
handsome for his girls at the hospital. He became the star. As crazy and scary as a kidney removal may
seem and is, my heart felt lighter. I just knew that he had this and that Dr Maxwell and her team had the
touch needed to get him through.”
The adrenal mass turned out to be a malignant pheochromoctyoma. Pheochromocytomas are
uncommon in dogs, accounting for somewhere between 0.01% and 0.1% of all canine tumors. So far,
there is no evidence of recurrence. Napoleon has recovered and seems to be his happy, energetic and
healthy boy –free of masses.
A note from Ms. Mitchell – “For all those that were involved and made our lives brighter during this ugly
time: We truly appreciate and thank you with all our heart.”