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National Fund, 2012

Exactly three years and two months from tomorrow a skinny, sad looking brown dog wandered into my life and changed it forever. In 2009, I worked in some of the most rural areas of Central Florida, and one day while visiting some of my sites I spotted an emaciated, scabby brown dog hanging around an abandoned trailer. He was flea infested, more than 15 lbs underweight, had sores and scratches all over him, but despite all this he was friendly as could be. I went back and checked on him for the next couple days bringing him food, which he always scarfed down, and water. On my very next day off I went out to the trailer and he was still hanging around. There was no one in the area to claim him, and judging from his shape he had not been cared for in a long time. So after some failed attempts to get him into the crate I brought, we were able to lure him into the backseat with bacon. I was not convinced I was going to keep him, I just wanted to help him- but then as we drove and hour and a half back into town and he slept with his head on my lap, I knew he and I were meant to be. We headed to the vet where they confirmed his severe malnutrition, infection, and sores, but with some love and nutrition he would be just fine. The vet guessed he was about a year old and I couldn't understand how someone could just abandon such a young, lovable dog. After only a few months, he went from the 45 pounds that I found him at, to the 65 pounds he was meant to be. I named him Chance because I was giving him a second chance at the life he deserved to have. Over the next three years during his annual vet visits, the only ailment that was sometimes detected was a slight murmur but that was not even consistently heard.

As recent as last year, he was at the Emergency Vet for a water moccasin bite and the murmur was not detected at all. Then, in April of this year, at a normal vet visit the slight murmur that was sometimes (but rarely heard) turned into arrhythmia and a visit to the Cardiologist was strongly recommended. After an Echocardiogram, the Cardiologist informed me that my sweet pup, who had already had a really rough beginning, was also born with multiple heart defects. These defects- mitrial valve dysplasia, tricuspid valve dysplasia, cortriatum dexter, pulmonic stenosis, pulmonary hypertension, atrial fibrillation, and pericardial effusion- basically meant that my four year old buddy was already in the beginning stages of congestive heart failure. The Cardiologist had never seen a dog with this much wrong with his heart, especially one that up to this point, had no symptoms. He started on a medication to help improve blood flow from his heart and for four months he seemed fine.
Then, one day at the dog park he collapsed. He was only out for a couple seconds, but it was very scary. The next week I made him another Cardiologist appointment and was told his heart failure had progressed. He was prescribed two more medications, one that I could afford, but the Vetmedin was way too expensive – nearly $7 a day. Chance’s cardiologist visits and other medications had already nearly filled up my CareCredit limit. I looked to the internet for assistance with medications and came across the Brown Dog Foundation. I was touched by Chip’s story and thought this was fitting because I needed help with my own brown dog. I started to get together my paperwork to apply for the assistance, not even sure Vetmedin would help. Then, while going through the application process, we had another close call and an ER Vet visit where he was given some of the medication I was seeking assistance for, Vetmedin. This medication (in addition to his others) took him from looking like he could say goodbye at any point, to acting like the normal dog with no symptoms that he had been just a few months earlier.
He has now been on Vetmedin for about two weeks and his behavior is like night and day. Instead of acting like a lethargic, sick dog with heart problems, he is acting like a normal, playful, energetic four year old pup. Without the help from the Brown Dog Foundation, I would not be able to afford this medicine that helped to save Chance’s life and continues to improve the quality of his life every day. He does not have a long life left, but Brown Dog Foundation has helped to ensure that his life is a quality one- and for that we are both very grateful.
A photo of Chance (LEFT) when they received our approval letter.
A photo of Chance (RIGHT) at the Christmas his mom didn't think he would live to see!