WA - 2016
My name is Rae and I am the life-long guardian of a much beloved pet angel Rally. Rally came into my life as a foster dog back in May 2008. I had been a volunteer with the Seattle Animal Shelter and held a number of roles with them over 6 years-one being a foster parent. Rally was my 4th foster dog-I had become known as someone that could work with the abused dogs that needed loving rehab to navigate life. Rally was by far the most shut down and terrified foster I worked with, out of 8 total for the shelter. She had been surrendered to a municipality north of Seattle where she couldn't get the nurturing she needed and was set for euthanasia. SAS had been called up to take 5 dogs from that shelter, and the animal care officer saw Rally, and just knew I could save her. I brought her home with me on Mother's Day-and she began her journey in experiencing love and human kindness/safety for the first time in her life. She was covered in wounds and scars-including bb's in her shoulder, and had no idea what it was to be a dog-not food or treats, not toys, not splashing in water, not going for a walk, not even belly rubs. As she began to emerge from her shell (along with the help of a senior golden retriever) I fell in love and adopted her in July 2008.
Her name became a testament to her resilience and ability to keep giving new things a try, to learn from others (humans and dogs), and to move forward in joy. She also helped 4 additional foster siblings, all abused and scared of the world, through their rehab and find their forever homes between June 2010-Sept 2011. She has brought me much love, joy, and companionship and we have a mutual partnership in life.
In mid-January, just a couple weeks ago, a lump the size of a half golf ball appeared overnight on her right leg at the elbow. I took her into to vet and it was biopsied. The tests came back, and the lump was Spindle Cell Tumor (cancer). Due to the location, the aggressive overnight growth, and the nature of the cancer Rally needs/needed surgery ASAP. I was devastated and I was really scared. I just cannot imagine my life without Rally yet. There was no question in my mind that the surgery was to take place-at all costs, I just didn't know how I'd pay for it, as I live on a modest income.
I found Brown Dog Foundation only a couple days before surgery, I didn't know if there would be enough time to submit my application and be approved; but I submitted my application as a Hail Mary the day prior to surgery-and Brown Dog Foundation, along with incredible efforts of our case manager and staff at the vet clinic, came through with nothing short of a miracle!
I have prided myself on being a responsible, upstanding, and contributing person in the community all my life. So why the financial need?: I have experienced long-term unemployment, although trying consistently to secure viable full-time employment and having no luck swing my way-yet. I lost my job through corporate downsizing and am in a professional field that gets cut early and brought back late when economies go bad. I had done everything "right" in my life to be a responsible person: put myself through undergraduate school, put money in a retirement account, had money in savings, had no credit card debts, my car was paid off, lived well within my means; bought a house through reliable programs after the housing crisis; earned my graduate degree to be more eligible for jobs; have no addictions...The house and most of my belongings had to be sold, the savings and retirement accounts used to survive, and the credit card used for emergencies (and daily prayers the old car that needs replacing keeps running). We've even been on the brink of living in the car. I never could have predicted the outcomes I've experienced since losing my job. I am hopeful a job will land my way very soon-as there has been renewed interest in my applications, finally. BUT-I'm still waiting for that happy event.
In the mean time, through it all, Rally has given me a purpose to keep trying in the face of tremendous losses; she has given me a purpose; and she has given me unconditional love and affection. She is more than a dog to me. She has kept me alive. She has helped me to rally time and time again.
Now, with the help of Brown Dog Foundation, I can provide her another opportunity to Rally and to keep sharing her love...
For more information about Spindle Cell tumors in dogs, please visit VetInfo.com.
PUPdate, July, 2019:
I wanted to give you all an update about Rally. She's been doing amazing well after her nanotechnology treatment in Nov to stop her spindle cell tumor from growing. So far the treatment has halted the tumors' growth and her leg seems to not give her any real troubles. She has become happily obsessed with walking to the local village area and "working her fans" in shops that give treats to dogs and bringing joy to many who meet her along the way. She has quite a growing fan base in our community. She's very much still engaged in life, still learning new ways of being a dog, and acting as guardian angel. We celebrated her 11th homecoming anniversary on Mother's Day with a trip to the ocean [photo attached].
AND, Yet Again: She's entering ROUND 4 of the FIGHT FOR HER LIFE. So she, and I, could use all the positive thoughts and love sent her way as possible from those that have supported her so much. Last weekend, I felt an obstruction in the back of Rally's throat. I thought it might be some random food object lodged in there, and immediately got her to the vet. It is not that simple a situation. We were referred to our oncologist - as the vet felt is was very likely a melanoma. We just happened to have our 3-mo check in for her spindle cell tumor on Wed, so we were able to shift the appt to include a consult. We saw her oncologist Wednesday and she is always straight up with me yet is caring and kind in her delivery and sincerely brings the human/humane to all our interactions.
The straight forward situation: Rally has a melanoma cancer growing off her left tonsil. It is mushroom-shaped and currently blocking 80% of her airway. In 80% of situations, by the time a melanoma is diagnosed - it has spread to other parts of the body. Without any intervention [or without my diligence in her care and shifts in behavior/energy/mood] she would have days to live, as the tumor would asphyxiate her as it continues to grow.
The MIRACLE: Against all of these probabilities [and the probabilities in the last 3.5+ yrs] there is virtually no sign of melanoma in her lungs; her heart is showing being strong enough to undergo surgery; her lymph nodes came back clear as of today; there are 2 vaccine options available to fight/stop/slow down the progression of melanoma; AND the oncologist does the procedures that is required on Mondays - so we don't have to find another specialist to help in the intervention =we don't have any time delays, and we/they have an ongoing history & knowledge of Rally so no need to advocate on my part for special day of procedure setup [Rally cannot not be kenneled due to early life trauma] so I'll be laying on the floor in a room with her through her sedation and before her intubation tube is removed until she is ready/cleared to come home.
So she is set to undergo surgery and Electro-Chemo Therapy Monday, July 8 in the morning to remove the tumor and treat the immediate site to kill what cancer may be left in the surgical "margins." If all goes well, she & I will be returning home Monday afternoon. With recovery and care, she should be back to her usual routine of walking 2x/day, working her fans for treats in the local stores, saying hi to her fan club throughout our area and hanging out with her "bestie" and 2nd family that live in the other 1/2 of the townhouse we live in.
So, so long as the tumor does not grow significantly over the weekend, against all odds, she should be able to continue to rally again in her life. Take good care - all of you. And if Rally's story illustrates anything it's that it's worth shooting for the long shot.
PUPdate, August 2018: Rally is still going strong! Here's a photo of her enjoying the summer sun from her favorite perch outside the door.
PUPdate, September 2016: I wanted to share with you an update. You all helped save the life of my dog Rally in January. That act of kindness has meant more to me than I can possibly express. I am forever grateful. And grateful to still have Rally-who is doing incredibly well and has bounced back to being a youthful and joyful dog. She truly is a pet guardian angel to me.