Buster Blue: May 27, 2012 – August 26, 2013

Our sweet Buster Blue passed away yesterday.

May doggie heaven be full of big bones to chew….


….big fish to catch…


…fluffy down pillows to sleep on…


…baby ducks to sniff…

…no baths….


…and new best friends…



Pythiosis: Swamp Cancer

Buster’s death was sudden. We didn’t even have a chance to say our goodbyes. For the past few days, he wasn’t able to keep food down and just lost so much weight. We thought it was just something he ate that didn’t agree with his stomach, or just sick. Yesterday, Scott brought him to the vet – we were just expecting antibiotics and instead, the vet instructed us to bring him to the emergency center.

After an ultrasound, the vet told Scott that Buster needed surgery. There was a foreign object in his intestines. This didn’t surprise me, as Buster has a habit of getting into things all of the time, he’s chewed up remote controls, stolen eggs from the hens, chewed up our car fender and eaten tennis balls.

After just a few minutes in surgery, the surgeon came back and just shook his head. Buster was in very late stages of intestinal damage from Pythiosis. The right thing to do would be to just not wake him up and let him go. He’s in a lot of pain and would just continue to get worse.

I was at home with the boys while Scott explained to me the best he could over the phone what the surgeon recommended. I was afraid to bring the boys to see Buster, as he was all hooked up for surgery….I didn’t want them to see Buster after death. So we said goodbye to Buster in a prayer and in our own little way.

Do you know about Pythiosis? It’s a water & mold infection.

From Pet MD: 

“Belonging to the phylum Oomycota, Pythium insidiosum is a parasitic spore that is capable of spontaneous movement (or a motile zoospore) that enters the body through the nose/sinuses, esophagus, or through the skin. Infection then usually settles in the dog’s lungs, brain, sinuses, gastrointestinal tract, or skin.

Affected dogs will exhibit subcutaneous or cutaneous masses, which develop as lesions on the legs, tail, head, neck, perineum, and/or the inside of the thigh.

Pythiosis is typically thought of as occurring in swampy areas in the southeastern U.S., and has thus been nicknamed “swamp cancer.” Signs of pythiosis usually appear in the fall or early winter months, and while this organism does typically thrive in tropical and subtropical waters, such as ponds, wetlands, and swamps, it has been found to occur as far west as the central valley of California.”

Basically, warm, standing water encourages parasite growth. Where we live in Gulf Coast Florida, we are surrounded by tropical swampland. With all of the constant rain this summer, our property is the ripe environment for Pythiosis. The dogs play and drink from our ponds, small flooded grassy areas in the front yard.

“This infection is caused by direct contact with water that accommodates Pythium insidiosum, a water borne fungal parasite. It is usually swallowed or inhaled by the dog, and from there makes its way to the animal’s intestinal tract.” — Pet MD

Because it is a rare, very aggressive disease and not many vets have ever seen Pythiosis, or even heard of it, it’s often fatal by the time the dog is diagnosed. In fact, this was the first time that our vet and surgeon have ever experienced seeing Pythiosis first hand. The disease does not respond to anti-fungal medication. There have only been a handful of cases where the pet has survived.

Here’s what you can do:

Do not let your dog drink from or play in still, stagnant, warm, fresh water ponds, wetlands, swamps or large puddles, especially in the Gulf States. Do not let them eat grass from these types of waters. In fact, children should not play in those types of waters either.

Pythiosis Resources:


AKC: Pythiosis “Swamp Cancer” 

Indiana Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory

Veterinary Partner

National Institute of Health: Pythiosis in Dogs

National Institute of Health: Gastrointestinal pythiosis in 10 dogs from California

Low Country Dog: Ask the Vet

Rottweiler Health: New diagnostic test for Pythiosis

Michigan State University: Canine Pythiosis



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Comments 349

  1. Michele Squire

    I am so sorry to hear about Buster’s passing. My sincere condolences to you and your family! Thank you for letting us know the important information about swamp cancer–I know it will help save many pet lives!

  2. Susan

    Very sorry for the loss of your sweet doggie. Not sure how old your kids are but there is a beautiful children’s book called Dog Heaven that I read to my kids. I lost my beloved cat Wuggie this summer after 18 years and I miss him so much. I know Buster will remain in your heart always. Love to you all.

  3. Jo A. True-Burkholder

    As an avid animal lover I’m so sad to hear about your Buster! What a beautiful boy he was, and taken way too early. Dogs have such a short life to begin with. Seems bacteria is growing in many waters, and have affected and have been fatal to both humans, and now our pets. Thanks for the reminders, I’ll definitely keep in mind when my Lab wants to get in the water. We’re surrounded by by many creeks in my area, and my Lab wants to sneak away and swim!

  4. NurseJen

    Jaden, my heart weeps for you and your family. Our pets are our babies — I tell everyone my dog is my first child, and my daughter is my second. It makes no difference if we have them for a decade or for a month. They are bonded to us, heart to heart and soul to soul.

    May he find swift passage to the Summerlands.

  5. Dyepotgirl

    I’m so very sorry to hear about your dog. As an animal lover and dog mom I know how devastating this is. We lost our Corgi several years ago when he had similar problems as your Buster Blue. I took him to the vet thinking he had a simple stomach bug and it turned out to be anything but. We didn’t get to bring him home from the vet either. I think that makes a tough situation even harder. I’m so sorry for your loss.

  6. Maria Pucko

    So sorry to hear of the loss of Buster Blue. Thank you for posting his story and alerting us to the disease. We will check to make sure that our water bowls are inside the home
    as we live in Miami. Will pray that your family is comforted in this time of loss.

  7. Lyn

    I am so sorry to hear about your family’s loss Jaden. Pets become such an important part of our lives and it’s so painful to loose one of our best friends. Your tribute to Buster Blue was beautiful and so thoughtful.

    I also want to thank you for sharing the information with us. I’ve passed this onto my brother who is in your area. I’m sure he will be very appreciative.

  8. Cathy

    Jaden, my heart goes out to you and your family. Buster Blue was a beautiful puppy and you will always have many joyful memories of him. Thank you for sharing your sad story. It may help save other animals and children. May Buster Blue rest in peace. He will always live in your hearts.

  9. Maxine

    Please accept my sincere condolences on the loss of Buster Blue. Our dog passed over 20 yrs ago and we still miss him…our Buddy.

  10. Dona Lee

    I am so sorry and sad for your loss. So young. It is always horrible to lose a member of the family. Your Buster Blue was adorable and lucky to have a loving family for his short time on Earth. Thank you for telling us about this parasite. I live just south of you and was unaware of the problem. Sending my sympathy to you and your family.

  11. Lisa G

    I just happened to come and visit your blog to find recipes and as horrified to see the photo of your gorgeous dog Blues “from and “to caption. My heart goes out to you and am so very very sorry. Im sure you are still raw and broken.I have 2 Chihuahuas and cant even begin to fathom what I would do if I lost them (obviously it will happen someday, I abhor the thought) but to something like this pythiosis even more abhorous (not even sure if thats a word but Im sure you get what Im saying) I will take heed of this awful illness/disease and share it with those I know.
    Will be praying for you and your family.
    Lisa G from CA

  12. Donna

    I was so sorry to hear about Buster Blue. We lost our beautiful Athena this summer and the pain is still with us. Thank you for the information; we have many areas of standing water and this year has been especially wet, so I have posted the information at work to warn others.

  13. Nana

    Oh my! How tragic! I’m so sorry for your loss and very grateful for the information. 🙁

  14. Jennifer

    My thoughts are with you and your family…I feel like I know you, and my heart aches for you. My four dogs are waiting at Rainbow Bridge for Buster Blue and will keep him merry company until we’re all together again. Then what fun we will have! I’m just sorry that Buster Blue was so very young, but he had a good life with you. Thank you for having the heart to take the time to warn others of his affliction in the hopes of saving others while your pain is so raw. Take care….

  15. Kim Beaulieu

    I am so sorry Jaden, sending lots of love and hugs your way. We are huge pet people here. They are family to us. We lost our dog 2 years ago and it broke my heart. So much empathy for you and the family. xx

  16. Lindsay

    I am SO sorry. I can’t even imagine losing a pet so suddenly. You and your family are in our thoughts and prayers.

  17. Coleen Neilson

    I am so very sorry to hear about your sweet Buster Blue. Our little guy (fox terrier) Leo passed away a few months ago,so I do know how you are feeling right now!!! hugs ,and lots of them, to you and your family.

  18. Dee S

    Jaden, I am so very sorry to hear about Buster. Many blessings to you, your husband, your children and to Buster’s buddy, Coco, during such a difficult time. I loved reading about Buster. Your goodbye to him made me all misty. Goodbye sweet boy.

  19. Vicki Bensinger

    Hi Jaden, It’s been a while since I stopped by but just happened to find a post in my junk mail. I am so sorry to hear about your dog. This terrifies me since I am planning to take my dog to the vet today for some odd lesion he has on his neck that is oozing stuff. He has a habit of drinking from everything and especially the streams while we were in the mountains over the summer. This is his second bout with this and it’s come back. I’m going to mention this to the vet so they can check to be sure it’s nothing like that.

    So scary. I’m so sorry for your loss. I hope your family is handling it ok. It’s never easy! All my best.

  20. Jeannie

    Hi Jaden,
    Im so sorry to hear about Buster Blue. My heart goes out to you and your family. I lost my baby girl kitty Gracie to Feline Leukemia in 2004. Like Buster Blue it was sudden. She just started throwing up one day and I took her into the vet thinking that it wasnt anything major. The vet told me that she was very sick and that she was going to die. My heart was broken. She was supposed to have a year to live but didnt have that long. After five months she developed a tumor and I had to let her go as she was just too sick. I send my sympathy and prayers to you and your family and wish you all the best in your time of sadness. All the best,
    Jeannie Smyth

  21. Patti Burgess

    Came here to ask about something else and saw you lost your beloved pup. So sorry about your loss. He looks like a cane corso! We have two of them if that’s what yours was. What an odd disease to get. Will be on the lookout as our dogs love to so the same and we live in SC right on a stagnant “pond” behind our house.

  22. Shannon Marie

    Poor baby Buster Blue. I’m so sorry for the sudden loss. I’m sure the kids were devastated. I shared on Pinterest to spread the word on Swamp Cancer. Thank you for sharing your story!

  23. Diana Bode

    I was saddened for the loss of your beautiful dog…I got tears in my eyes and glad you shared with others the medical problem for animals and maybe you have or will save another loss of an animal by telling others of this rare disorder. God Bless your family and hold on to the good memories you all shared with Buster…I’m sure he is in Doggie Heaven.

  24. Suzanna Hocq

    I just read about Buster Blue. I know thisis late, but I wanted you to know I cried. I love all animals and we have 2 rascals of our own. I have been married 38 yrs. and have always had dogs in our home. It is certainly hard enough to say goodbye when you know it’s coming, but to not be able to say goodbye had to be awful. The whole situation was a nightmare I’m sure. My condolences to you and your family. I know Buster Blue will be sorely missed….

  25. Beth

    I am so sorry about the loss of your baby. He was very beautiful. I have never heard of this disease. This must be a terrible shock.

  26. arwen

    i am so sorry about buster. I too lost a beloved familiar over the summer and i know how it is. I’m sure Buster is in Heaven being snubbed by Mr.Cat and they are both eating delicious people food whenever they want.

  27. Rosemary

    Your dog was just passing through nature ~ to eternity ! ALL things are reunited. Even so, my heart hurts for your loss of beautiful Blue ! Give him the mourning he deserves ~ but keep the happiness in his memory. God love you all.

  28. Cheryl Fisher

    So sorry to hear about the passing away of Buster Blue. May the many memories of the time he was with you and your family bring you comfort in this time of loss.
    Thank you for sharing this sad time with us all as well as helping educate people about this terrible disease and parasite.
    God be with you during this difficult time.
    Cheryl dog mum and dog lover

  29. Andrea

    I stumbled across your blog today and I am so sorry for your loss. He was a beautiful dog. We live in Virginia and have a fresh water spring that results in a swamp-like environment. I’ll be sure to watch my four-legged babies.

  30. Lynn

    I recently lost my beautiful boxer girl named Hershey to Pithiosis. I live in north Alabama; not in a swampy area. I went looking for ‘stagnant water’. I did find some in a Little Tikes slide. I want to get this water tested. How do I go about it?

  31. Pat Hodges

    I know that this comment is terribly late but I just read about your sweet boy. At first I was not going to comment but then I remembered that even though he left for the Rainbow Bridge some time ago he is still very much alive in your heart so I just wanted to say that I am very sorry for your loss. Saying goodbye to a beloved fid (furry kid) is never easy, even when it is the right and loving thing to do. I commend you and your family for loving your friend enough to do what was best for him.
    I have just started reading your blog and must say that your heart and humor, both in and out of the kitchen, have made me a constant follower. Thank you.

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