John Paul Pet Products
and Paul Mitchell Schools
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Tennessee Fund, 2012
Koda was four months old when our family adopted him from an animal rescue shelter in New Jersey (where we lived until five years ago.) While most of the dogs at the shelter were settled in the back of their runs and seemed very shy, Koda was full of excitement! He was friendly and lovable and we instantly knew he was the one for us! This was our very first experience with adopting a rescue pet (we had recently lost of Labrador Retriever, Jasmin, whom we purchased from a pet store) and we definitely wanted to adopt, knowing that there were so many beautiful animals waiting for good homes. Koda was stubborn and strong-willed and provided many challenges for us along the way, but all he has to do is look at you with his big soulful eyes and your heart melts! He is so unique with his beautiful brown and rust coloring and gorgeous tail (which he loves to show off); whenever we are out people always ask what breed of dog he is and comment on how handsome he is (which he loves!)
A little over two and half years ago, Koda suddenly became extremely lethargic and exhibited symptoms of what we thought was a bladder infection. His vet tested for various things and kept him for observation twice. Both times when I went to pick Koda up, I knew that he was not doing any better just by his energy level and mannerisms. The vet had mentioned Addisons Disease, but wanted to rule out other causes, noting that the test for Addisons was very expensive. After a few days, Koda was not recovering and we had the test done. Thankfully, the results concluded that it was Addisons Disease and he could be treated, but unfortunately treatment is also very expensive. Having no choice, we began a regiment of Percorten and Predisone, which were approximately $80/month. At the time, my husband was making good money and I was working part time (I had left my career in New Jersey after 17 years with the same company to support my husband's job promotion and relocation to Tennessee.) It was taking a bite out of our budget, but we had absolutely no choice since without the Percorten,Koda would not live.
Approximately two months later, my husband came to me suddenly and said he was leaving after twenty years of marriage. I had absolutely no clue and was left to take care of our sixteen year old daughter and now sell our home (that I loved), and taking care of Koda and his medical needs. Although I did not want to, several times I asked my soon-to-be ex-husband to take Koda since he was more financially able to care for him. His answer was always no because his new girlfriend (now wife) had cats and "that wouldn't work." And, although he was sending money and paying child support, it did not cover Koda's medical expenses. Fast forward over two years and our house is sold and I no longer receive any support of any kind. Trying to work through the situation, I have been attending school full time (with a 3.92 GPA) while also working full time. My goal is to finish school and gain employment (I am currently very interested in the medical technology field.) Every day I question myself and think about what life would be like if I had chosen to not support the relocation. I would be near all of my family and friends (I have no family, with the exception of my daughter who recently started her freshman year at UT) here in Tennessee. I would also still have my job in New Jersey, where I made over double my current salary.
Through all of this chaos and change, the one constant is Koda's medical condition. A few months ago the vet told me the price of Percorten was raised by the drug company and now I would have to pay $100/month just for that medication. After doing research, I found the patent date for Percorten is not due to expire for another six years. Not taking into consideration any renewals, I am looking at a six year minimum without the possibility of a lower-cost generic. Percorten is not a choice, it is a necessity for Koda. Going from a decent combined income to something extremely less while maintaining his medical costs is daunting. Koda has always been such a lovable guy, such a great watch dog and such a comfort for me in the good times and the not-so-good times. I know I have a responsibility to care for him, but moreover, I want to care for him. He is my buddy and what to see him live as long as his condition allows.
After months of paying the higher costs, the situation encouraged me to try and find discounted medication and possible assistance, which led me to the Brown Dog Foundation. Their help is going to enable me to give Koda the care he needs and I am thrilled and extremely grateful to know such help exists. Hopefully, one day, I will be able to help someone in such a manner and pay back the kindness that has been extended to me. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!