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. Leah

    “Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened” ~ Dr. Seuss
    Buster was a blessing to your family. I’m sure you’ll be smiling a lot in the future. Condolences to all…

  2. pamela ortiz

    Ms. Jaden,
    My deepest condolences to you and your family! As an animal lover, particularly dogs, my heart breaks for you! My prayers are that God wraps you in his loving arms, gives you comfort and peace in knowing Blue is no longer in pain. May Blue lay loyally by His royal throne and meet you at heavens door to welcome you home when you meet again! Though his time with your family was far too short, may his spirit of playfulness, love, joy, laughter & love help ease the pain of his loss, so that one day you can revisit old pictures with a smile and not a tear! I am truly so very sorry and will keep you & yours in prayer! May Blue always live in your hearts & the memories of him bring you comfort in time! <3

  3. Shahirah

    I am so sorry to hear about his death. It is just those things in life where we can only enjoy what little time we have with others.

    We had a white shepherd, and she was my mother when my mom left. She died of an overdose of anesthesia during surgery.

    I feel your loss.

  4. Bel D

    I am so sorry for the loss of your furry loved one. I know this couldn’t have been easy to write about, but I want to thank you for telling us all about this disease especially because this is so relevant to me since I too live on the Gulf Coast of Florida. I will be making sure that I pass this information along to others that I know so that they too are informed.

  5. John A.

    Miss Hair:
    My condolences, regarding your loss. I have suffered the loss of a number of dogs over my lifetime, and it never becomes any easier. They are so much a a comfort anytime they are needed, and they don’t care if you are not well dressed, or your hair is combed, they like you as you are. I am sure, he is looking out for you, and will joyfully greet you when the time comes.

  6. sandy weinstein

    i am so sorry for your loss. what a cute name and dog. i hope that he has fun in doggy heaven. he had such a short life…he deserved more….i have not heard of this disease. thank you for the information.

  7. Dorothea

    I’m so sorry for your family, you must be devastated. Thank you for alerting us – especially in Florida (east coast).

  8. Deb Adams

    Jaden, I am so sorry to hear about Buster. I know you all miss him very much. Thank you for posting the cause as we have never heard of it. I’ve shared with all my friends who have dogs or love them in SW FL. I’ll definitely be keeping our dogs out of those swampy areas. We will keep you and your family in our prayers.

  9. Joyce

    My deepest sympathy. What a beautiful looking pet and probably such a joy to have. May he rest comfortably, out of pain.

  10. Valerie Koyanagi

    I am so sorry to read about the suddent loss of one so young. We just lost our black lab Boomer just over to months ago. He was lucky to have lived 15 years and I was in his life for only 2 of them. I know how much they are your family members and Buster Blue has left behind many memories in such a short time. Thank you for your informing us of this disease. We had a place in Melbourne Florida and hope to come back in the future. Loving thoughts are being sent to you and your boys.

  11. kim s

    This has me all choked up! I’m so sorry to hear of your loss :/ What a beautiful puppy! I hope you find comfort in knowing you now have a little puppy angel watching over you and your family! ((((Hugs)))) to everyone!

  12. Charlotte

    Nothing of comfort can be said by another, loss is a very private thing. I hope the love and joy will be with you forever and the sadness leave to make space for joy again…

  13. Charlotte

    I have shared this on facebook to honor Buster Blue>> many people are becoming aware!
    Thank you for sharing his story

  14. TwinKim

    Jaden, I’m so sorry for your loss. I’ll be keeping you and the family in my thoughts and prayers. Know that Buster Blue had a wonderful, wonderful life filled with love and joy and the difficult decision you made to give him a pain-free goodbye means he didn’t have to endure confusing and painful days.

  15. Lori H

    I am so sorry for the loss of your beautiful dog. I’ll pass along your story to other dog owners I know.

  16. Charlotte

    Timeline Photos
    Do not stand at my grave and weep
    I am not there; I do not sleep.
    I am a thousand winds that blow,
    I am the diamond glints on snow,
    I am the sun on ripened grain,
    I am the gentle autumn rain.
    When you awaken in the morning’s hush,
    I am the swift uplifting rush
    Of quiet birds in circled flight.
    I am the soft stars that shine at night.
    Do not stand at my grave and cry,
    I am not there; I did not die.

  17. Ketmala Phoumalavong

    Thinking of you and your family and sending you my sincere condolences and prayers. May your beloved Buster Blue be surrounded with light and love in Doggy Heaven and may his memories soothe you all now and always.

  18. Susan

    I am so sorry for your loss, and that you had so little time to prepare. What a beautiful dog. My best wishes to you and your family.

  19. Sarah

    sooo very sorry. Heartbreaking. The joy of owning the pets always has to end in a sad way. Makes me teary

  20. Patricia

    I am so sorry for your loss of your puppy, Buster Blue. Keeping you and your family in prayers.

  21. Deborah

    I am so sorry that your little guy had to go. Truly a sad story, but thank you for sharing the information with others so that other deaths may be prevented. I have lost several dogs, and it never gets easier. It’s such a pure relationship. I wish you and your family peace.

  22. Christine

    I am so sorry. I couldn’t imagine suddenly losing a family friend like that. Thinking of you and your family.

  23. Darlene Ahmed

    Jaden, my heart goes out to you. I am so very sorry for the loss of your beautiful Buster Blue. I understand too what it is to suffer that devastating loss of a loyal friend. All I can say is these wonderful creatures are put on this earth to enrich our lives and ease our burdens along the way. Be grateful for the happiness he brought to your life in his short time here.

  24. kristin

    I am deeply sorry for your lost –

    Thank you for this post as I have never heard of this before but am now aware!

  25. Sharon Adams

    Very sorry to hear about the loss of your beloved pet. Always sad to lose a loving member of our family. I do want to thank you for sharing the information about this disease. We all have to be diligent about the safety of our pets but sometimes we just don’t know about the hidden dangers such as what is described in your article.
    It will take awhile for your family to recover from this but hopefully all your wonderful memories will help.

  26. Liza E

    I am very sorry to hear about your dog. Losing a pet is very sad. I was sent the following when my cat died a few months before he was 20 years, it is a a sad but lovely poem:

    Rainbow Bridge

    Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.

    When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge.
    There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together.
    There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.

    All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor; those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by.
    The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.

    They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent; His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.

    You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.

    Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together….

    Author unknown…

  27. caryl hodgdon

    My sincere sorrow for the pain you and your family are feeling now. Such a lovely happy pup and he lived a n apparently idyllic, though short, life with a loving family.

  28. Anelle

    I’m so, so sorry to hear the awful news. It’s never easy losing a pet. Hoping your family lots of peace as you deal with this tragedy.

  29. Leslie

    I’m glad he was able to spend his short life with you..I bet it was the most enriching experience for him. He was well loved and that’s really a great life for anyone..no matter the length of time we spend here. xoxo

  30. Janice

    I am so very sorry for your loss. What a very short life he had, but it looks like it was beautiful one. My thoughts are with you and your family.

  31. spirit_kim

    I am so sorry to hear about the loss of your beautiful animal. Thanks for the heads up.

  32. Tim Kelly

    I am sorry about your dog. My mother died of cancer last year so my 2 dogs right now are my best friends. I would hate to lose them. Thank you for this information.

  33. Cora

    Oh, Jaden, I am so very sorry about your puppy. So cute and too suddenly gone. Sending hugs and prayers to your family. Thanks for sharing the information about pythiosis.

  34. Adriana West (cadmentr)

    So sorry for your loss, Buster was a blessing for you and your family. Know that he is in a much better place where all your wishes and hopes for him are true.

  35. Debbie

    So sorry for your loss. As a dog owner, I appreciate the information. I will be praying for your family.

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