Chocolate Chip's Story
Brown Dog Foundation was founded on October 16, 2006 in memory of Chocolate Chip, a chocolate labrador retriever that touched many hearts in his short, ten-year life. Chocolate Chip was 4 1/2 years old when his first family took him to the Johnson City pound to be euthanized. It seems he had a mast cell tumor and most likely, they didn't have the money to treat him. However, they failed to mention to the Pound that they expected him to be "put down" and the Manager thought Chip was such a great dog, that he contacted Labrador Retriever Rescue of East Tennessee to find him a permanent and loving home. Lab Rescue's Vet found the lump and decided to remove it in hopes of giving Chip a few more years of life.
In September, 2000, Carol Smock (founder, Brown Dog CRM Consulting) read Chip's heart-wrenching story on the Lab Rescue website and decided to arrange a meeting to become his adoptive parent. The introduction went very well and after his surgery, Smock brought him home on October 16, 2000. Over the next few years, Chocolate Chip, a loyal and loving companion, moved with Smock to Dallas and Chicago, and in 2003 they made their permanent home in Nashville, TN. In September 2004, Smock rescued a 9 month old as a companion for Chocolate Chip, they named him Toffee Nut. Chip and Toffee enjoyed taking long walks, playing at friends' homes, car rides, dog park trips and travelling to Illinois for Christmas.
In March of 2006, Smock found a small lump on Chip's leg and took him in for tests. The lump appeared to be a lipoma (benign fatty tissue), but the Vet recommended surgery since Chip's bloodwork proved to be excellent. Smock was unemployed and decided to wait a few weeks before scheduling the surgery so she could save the money. Before surgery could happen, Chocolate Chip awoke very sick on May 7, 2006. He was breathing heavy and his face was looking thin. On May 11, 2006 an x-ray of his chest and abdomen showed cancer in his abdomen and around his heart, yet his lymph nodes were not inflamed.
An ultrasound performed on May 12, 2006 revealed Stage IVb Lymphosarcoma surrounding his heart and in his abdomen. Chip's liver was also compromised, but the doctor couldn't tell without a special and expensive test just how much so. And, he had developed a heart arrithmia. The thinning in his face is called MM and is typically caused by a lesion in the brain that causes muscle atrophy - most likely Chip had brain cancer as well. An initial Chemotherapy treatment was administered and Smock took Chocolate Chip home to observe him for the weekend and consider the options.
Chemotherapy treatment is very expensive for a dog and Smock worried that being unemployed at the time may prohibit her from being able to seek treatment. It would be a very difficult decision to make because Chocolate Chip was always a very healthy dog, yet she couldn't deny that money was an issue. On Sunday, May 14, 2006, however, Chip's liver began to fail and the decision to let him go was the only right decision to make.
As a result of this experience, Smock along with five friends and her sister, created Brown Dog Foundation as a 501c3 public charity that provides funding to families who find themselves in similar situations - a sick pet that would likely respond to treatment, but due to an unforseen circumstance, there is not enough money immediately available to make it happen. Her hope is that knowing this foundation exists, dog-owners will have their dogs tested for cancer more frequently.