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Well, this is something new…

Friday afternoon, the phone rang. Well, it rings many times a day, including on Friday afternoon. But this one was different.

I could barely understand the person on the other end when she started talking, mostly because she was sobbing so much at the same time. Her first words were: My Sheltie has just been diagnosed with cancer, and we can’t afford the surgery to treat her; will you take her into your program?

I reassured her that we never refuse to accept a purebred Sheltie, regardless of his/her medical condition. The woman was clearly relieved, but her sobbing didn’t diminish a bit, for good reason — her Sheltie had just been diagnosed with one of the scarier diseases known. I started asking her questions about her Sheltie and about the diagnosis to try to figure out whether things were really as bleak as she believed and also to begin planning how we would work her Sheltie into our environment.

Daisy (imagine that: in 20-odd years of rescue, we’ve never had a Daisy, and now we’ve had two in two weeks!) had a small lump on her neck that they discovered on Monday, so Daisy’s mom make a vet appointment for the following Monday (tomorrow). On Friday morning, they woke up and the small lump was now about the size of a racquetball and they thought that Daisy was having trouble breathing. In addition, Daisy had thrown up some blood and her poop was also bloody. So, of course, they raced over to the vet with Daisy and had her checked out.

Some $500 later, they had the diagnosis: Cancer. The vet wasn’t so sure about the bloody vomiting and poop, but suggested that it might be an ulcer caused by the stresses associated with the toll that cancer was taking on her body. A couple of meds were prescribed and they sent her home for the weekend. Oh, one more thing: They estimated surgery costs at about $1200.

Well, this is Utah, and let’s just say that Utah doesn’t pay the highest wages in the country. And the woman’s husband works construction, and you can just imagine how much work he’s getting in this economy. So the $500 was money that they didn’t even have (they had to put it on a credit card), much less the $1200. And that was why they sought Sheltie Rescue — to save their beloved Sheltie’s life, even if it meant giving her up.

We made an appointment for the woman to bring Daisy over the next day, Saturday, but she phoned back within a half hour to say that Daisy had "blood coming out of her bum". They asked if we could take Daisy right now before she was too weak to move, so we said they should come right over (they live about 30 or 35 miles from here).

When they (the woman and her mother) got here, I sat on the floor checking Daisy out. She was pretty freaked out, in part because her mommy was still sobbing her heart out. But we spent nearly an hour interviewing the woman about Daisy overall, especially the doctor visit and the diagnosis. We checked out the meds, too, and they were, ummm, not exactly what we would have been giving for a suspected ulcer. It’s not that they were harmful, but that they wouldn’t be effective very quickly. (We started Daisy on sucrylfate immediately after they left, which is the best thing we’ve found to stop an ulcer from getting worse, and then allowing the dog to eat something for nutritional purposes.) While they were still there, we realized that Daisy was fairly dehydrated, so we gave her a "backpack" (subcutaneous fluids in the loose skin of the back).

Well, Barbara took Daisy to our vets (Cottonwood Animal Hospital, Dr. Porter in this case) for an exam and evaluation. Dr. Porter concurred with the bleeding ulcer diagnosis and confirmed that we were giving Daisy the proper meds (as opposed to what the other vet had prescribed) and that giving her the subQ fluids was necessary. He also aspirated the mass (which, by the way, is very hard, but also very much detached from the underlying tissue, making it likely that the surgery won’t be complicated) and examined the cells. His conclusion was that "it could be cancer, but it’s not completely obvious", meaning that the cells were abnormal, but not necessarily cancer, and not necessarily virulent.

Daisy will probably have her surgery this coming week, as soon as we believe that she has recovered her strength enough to be able to take the surgery…and she’s coming along very well, which is a Reall Good Sign. We don’t know how much it will cost, but we’re hopeful that it’ll be a lot less than the $1200!

Here’s what’s different about this: We agreed with the family that, if Daisy pulls through the surgery fine and the prognosis for the future is good, they can repay us for the medical and associated costs, along with an additional donation, and we will allow them to re-adopt Daisy from us.

This DOES NOT mean that we’re going to become a medical service organization — give us your Sheltie, we’ll pay for everything, you get the dog back, and we hope like hell that you repay us. No way! In fact, we’re not at all sure that we will ever do this again, especially if they end up not repaying us and we have to reposess Daisy and then place her with somebody else. It’s a very limited experiment.

One of these days, I’ll start to feel like I’ve gained enough karma to make up for whatever reason I got sent back to this lifetime as a lower being than the Sheltie I was in my former life!

(If any of our readers feel that they are able to contribute even a little towards Daisy’s surgery and other expenses, please, please, please click on that PayPal donate button over on the right side of the screen!)

On this day..

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8 comments to Well, this is something new…

  • I hope Daisy’s well enough to have her surgery soon. Poor girl! :-(

  • You Guys ae so good. Let’s hope Daisy gets through this.

  • You do such wonderful work. I don’t have much in my paypal account at the moment but I have given a small donation.


  • The things we do for our furry angels :-) You’re a good man Sheltie Jim!

  • Terry — Barbara and I, and our rescued Shelties, thank you so very much for your very kind donation!

    I have a slight update on Daisy. First, she’s doing very well here at our house; she’s still a bit depressed about not being with her people, but she loves to be near me when we’re relaxing in the evening. More importantly, she has an appointment on Thursday for her surgery (we’re going to have a dental cleaning done while she’s under for the tumor removal, too). The estimate at Cottonwood for the surgery is roughly half of what the owner’s vet estimated, which is a Very Good Thing!

    The rest of you — thanks for all of your kind words and your on-going support! It means a lot to us.

  • Hope everything will be ok! Will be waiting for good news from Daisy.

  • I wish I could do more, but I sent in a little bit. Hope Thursday goes well for Daisy girl. Our first Sheltie was named Daisy. I would be crying uncontrollably if I had to give Katie up. These economic times mean more and more people are facing that decision. She did the very best thing by giving Daisy to you…but still it must be gut wrenching. Is your vet giving you some sort of financial break on the bill? Otherwise why couldn’t the owners find a less expensive remedy themselves? Or am I missing something?

  • Dawn, you’re simply wonderful! It’s a cliche to say that every penny counts, but it’s true…and you gave a lot more than a penny. Thanks!!

    Our vet gives us very good discounts (we did, after all, put their kids through college, bought that nice new Mercedes, and paid off the building :) )! In addition, although our vets are far from the least expensive in town, I suspect that Daisy’s people’s vet was taking advantage of them. Further, they were not prescribing the most obvious medications for what is going on with Daisy.

    Anyway, her surgery is scheduled for tomorrow (afternoon, I think), so we should know by Thursday evening what her prognosis is.

    If all goes as planned, her family will repay us the costs of the medical care and Daisy can go back to living with the people she knows and loves. But she’s been a real sweetie here.

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