Why My Dog?

Why My Dog?

by Chris & Lynn Stevens
(Cotswolds, Great Britain)

Star was a rescue dog, we got her when she was just 16 weeks old and was the most manic dog we had ever owned, but then she is a Collie!

It is now a week since we were told that she may have cancer, yes 'may'! The vets did a whole range of tests and sent bloods away but only came back with a 'Maybe' for a cost of £600, though they could not wait to start her on chemo (£2000+), for if they were sure of only one thing it was that chemo had to be the way forward.

Both my wife and I spent days in tears and unable to think in a rational manner, all we could think about was that our seven year old dog was going to die. I would like to say that this letter ends with another 12 months of life for our wonderful, beautiful friend and companion, but the truth is we are both pensioners and the fees asked for by the vets were just impossible for us to raise.

We have had to make the decision to spend as much quality time with our dog as we can and to make sure she has everything she wants in the time left to her. Not what we would want, but this is, I think, the reality for a great many dog owners all over the world and, believe me, when I say it leaves a very bitter taste in the mouth. The up side to all this - We have had many dogs over the years but this wonderful collie has made us happier than we could ever have thought and I'm sure we are better people now than we were 7 years ago because of her!

If we have another few weeks in her company then so be it. She has always given us nothing but love and I hope we returned that love in bucket loads. I know we did and by God we will always miss her with a passion, as we do with all of the other great dogs we have had the honour to have shared our lives with.

Insurance? No we could not afford insurance - not after she reached 5 years old, insurance companies don't want to insure older dogs otherwise they would reduce the premiums, wouldn't they?

We hope this letter helps all those readers who find themselves in a similar position. Please do not beat yourself up if you can't raise the funds for treatment, just remember all the good times.

(Submitted Thursday, April 11, 2013)

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May 09, 2013
by: Chris & Lynn

Hi Elaine and we would both like to say thank you so much for keeping in contact.

Well we had many trips back and forth to Dog Trusts around Worcestershire/Warwickshire and both tears and joy meeting all the dogs. We had selected an 8 month old Collie called Pat but after two visits and many hours with him it was obvious that Pat had no interest in us at all so we needed to start again. Tears...

Then we met Max, a 2 year old Collie and he picked us. Joy.

We collected Max on Sunday 5th May. He is a really sweet-natured, well so far, two year old tri colour Border Collie dog. A little underweight for our liking (16.5kg) and height wise he is on the small side but likes his food and treats. He travels very well in the car and is not fazed by it at all. He was very very nervous when we got him home and refused to leave the kitchen at all for the first four or five hours but had no problem eating his food and after leaving him be he eventually crept in to the lounge to have a look around.

Like all males he made a bee line for the lady of the house which pleased Lynn no end as all our other dogs have been bitches and have tended to favour men/me. Anyway all went well until he decided to chance his paw and try and sit on the settee with me, we don’t and have never allowed our dogs to do that, I gently but firmly said ‘No Max’ at which he took umbrage and returned to the kitchen for the rest of the evening!

He is clean and other than the settee incident has stuck to the kitchen, in the corner under the kitchen table! He refuses point blank to get on the nice comfortable bed, prefers to lie on the hard floor for some reason?

Lynn has been playing ball with him in the garden and like every Collie we have ever had dealings with he is either smart, autistic has O.C.D. or perhaps all three? The ball has to roll down the slope a certain way or he chases after it, picks it up, returns to the top of the slope and aims it directly at Lynn! If it goes too far left or right he collects it before it reaches Lynn and begins the whole process again! Oh the cat from up the road just came in to the kitchen and he never made a move, just laid on the floor looking at it?

Can't take him out for walks until the 17th as he has only just had his last shot. I do think that maybe there should be far more guys at the re-homing centre as he appears to respond far better to the girls and whilst not afraid of men. He is a little more wary of us or is it just me? He doesn’t like the camera being pointed at him but then neither does Lynn and she bites whilst Max just runs away!!

After 5 days in our house Max is now well established and is just starting to become bored with playing in the house and garden but he is captive and the fields and pastures he can see remain out of bounds for another 9 days.

All we have to do is stop calling him Star!

Chris, Lynn & Max

May 08, 2013

Hi Chris and Lynn,

Been thinking about you both.

First congratulations on your new dog shortly to have a forever loving home. I take on rescue's too. I also went to the kennels for a couple of weeks to bond and get Spike, the dog I told you about before. He is still battling on by the way despite all his issues, and had a tenth birthday party a couple of weeks ago. I just take each day as a blessing with him.

Of course you will have very mixed emotions, but Star will be looking down and Star was well loved, and will be happy you have a new friend to make you happy again and I bet Star even had a paw in making it happen.

You will never forget Star and that love for Star will always be special and held dear in your hearts. But this new male will get love and give love, and will be special in a different way. This dog has a second chance of happiness with you. Perhaps Chance, or Lucky for names, as I think he is lucky to find such caring people like you. Just a thought or two.

I admire you for taking on a rescue and giving a dog a new start in life.

Please keep us posted.

Elaine and the greys

Apr 28, 2013
New pal
by: Chris & Lynn

It's been a week since we said goodbye to one of the best dogs we have ever owned, if not the best, it's been hard, sad and a whole bunch of other emotions that we are unable to express in words and believe me we have tried. I have said that we have been standing in a tunnel and that there was a light at the end of that tunnel with a shape emerging out of the shadows and it had four legs and a tail that was wagging!

Well it's now taken shape, it's another Collie, an eight month old male and another rescue dog. Are we happy? Yes. Are we sad? Yes very. Do we feel disloyal? Very much so but life without a dog is, for us, no life at all and we will never forget any of our dogs and as we have them in our garden we can give a little nod, say good morning and goodnight every day for the rest of our lives so that helps a lot.

We have to wait at least another two weeks before we can pick him up and we need to think of a name for him but we will be going to the rescue centre a couple of times a week to get to know him and gain his trust so maybe a name will just pop up with the more time we spend in his company but so far he looks like he is a typical Collie! Any ideas any readers may have for a name would be most welcome.

Chris & Lynn

Apr 20, 2013
Thank you
by: Chris & Lynn

Dear Elaine

Thank you so much for your kind words, both Lynn and I are finding this time very difficult but from experience of all the other dogs we have shared our lives with we know that things will get better over the coming weeks and months.

At some stage, even though at this very moment we are saying we will never have another dog because we are too old, not fit enough and any number of other reasons, we will be taking that trip to a Dog Trust or Battersea and even though we come away in tears, every single time, because we can't take on each and every one of the animals there, we know that we will, one day, leave one of those venues with another pup or dog and we will start the whole process all over again.

And why? Because our lives are always better with our dogs than without. So whilst we sit here in our garden feeling very sorry for ourselves with boxes of tissues and our memories, we can, and do, see the light at the end of the tunnel and that light is broken by a shadow and that shadow has four legs and a wagging tail, we can't make out what type of dog it is just yet but we know in our hearts that it is waiting for us to recover from our loss and will be ready and willing to fill the current void with as much love as we could cope with or wish for.

In the meantime I continue to photograph other peoples' dogs, always trying to capture that one moment when all of their dogs true personality rises to the surface and that picture,that one moment is there for the owner to cherish for the rest of their lives.

Thank you.
Chris & Lynn

Apr 19, 2013
by: Elaine in England

Dear Chris and Lynn,

Just logged on again and saw your post.

I can not tell you how sorry I am to hear of Star's passing. I extend my heartfelt condolences to the both of you.

Please believe me I know what pain you are going through right now.

I was pleased to read that you were able to let Star go in her favourite garden with you both at her side.

And tonight if I may I will light a candle for your beloved Star.

Please know we are all here for you if ever you need us.

May your memories of Star and your new found friends here help to bring you some comfort in the difficult days ahead.

My thoughts are with you both.

Elaine and the greys

Apr 19, 2013
To boldly go
by: Chris-Lynn-Star

We said goodbye to our dog Star just over an hour ago, we tried to do it in the early hours of this morning but the emergency ‘out of surgery’ number failed to reply to us so we were left to listen to our beloved dog cry and whimper all night until the emergency vet on call rang us at 0730 hours explaining that the mobile system is terrible and she had only just got our voice mails! It helped us so much to know that she had had a good night sleep while we tried to comfort our dog!

Star spent the last few hours of her life in the garden doing the things she loved to do and she was able to do it in bright sunshine and with the heat of the sun warming her frail body and when the time came to put her to sleep, a vet did it in that very garden, we cuddled her so hard it probably hurt. We have now buried her in that same garden along with our other dogs, all of whom we loved, all of whom we miss and all of whom have gone some considerable way to making us better human beings. This I know is a concept non animal lovers/owners find it impossible to understand but one day they will lose someone they love with all their heart and then and only then will they truly understand the loss and that is why we animal owners are better people, because we already have that knowledge.

If anyone would like to have a look at Star and other dogs I have had the privilege both to know and photograph please visit www.petsinfocus.co.uk
and thank you all so very much for your support, it meant more to us than you can imagine.

Lynn-Chris and especially Star

Apr 17, 2013
No results yet
by: Chris-Lynn-Star

Hi Elaine and thank you for caring.

Awaiting the 2nd blood results but should have them later today, 17-4-13.

If we don’t get a 100% answer today we will look at doing as you suggest and we would like to thank you for your input. Star has not eaten a full meal now for 6 days, we have tried everything and the only thing she has taken was the steak. If it were not for the internet and sites like these where information can be searched out and digested at a pace laymen can absorb we would be looking to throttle the vets.

We have also asked my nephew’s wife, she is a vet at a teaching hospital in Cheshire, for advice but it seems vets are the same as doctors and will not go against each other. However we now know steroids cannot be given before they are 100% certain that it is cancer and this is proving to be much more difficult in our case because Star is so weak they fear she would die under the anaesthetic! It seems to matter little to them that she will die due to starvation anyway!

We are now much more able to put into context what humans with cancer go through. There is no help given to us other than pain killers and the relatives are left to watch their loved ones fade away, unable even if they wanted to, to assist with their departure with compassion or dignity.

It would now appear we pet owners and lovers are expected to suffer in the same manner! If we sound a little bitter, then believe me we are and no one, not the pet or the owner, not the wife or the husband, should be made to watch as their loved ones suffer and waste away. It is not good for the soul, it stinks.

Apr 16, 2013
Still rooting for your baby
by: Elaine

Hi Chris & Lynn,

I see you have had more blood tests and awaiting results. I was wondering if your vet had referred you to a specialist centre if they are struggling to come up with a diagnosis.

I was referred to Pride Vet Centre in Derby. It's a teaching vet hospital too. I was just thinking if you get your vet to refer you to a specialist, you can take all the test results to the specialist and he/she may be able to tell you for sure. I realize cost is an issue but they will have more knowledge. It cost me about 120 for consult about an hour - we discussed all the test results and options etc, and my dog was examined thoroughly.

It is best if you can get an expert in the cancer field if only to get correct diagnosis.

I will continue prayers for your baby.

Love Elaine and the greys

Apr 15, 2013
Bloods, Diet and Vets
by: Chris & Lynn

Today we had more bloods taken and they have gone to the lab but the vet says she is 90% sure it is lymph cancer. Still no steroids given, vet says not till 100% certain. We are now at the stage where we feel the vet practice only wants to take yet more money from us and cares little if nothing about our dog!

We have begun a new diet, it's called 'You can have anything you want as long as you eat' and it consists of steak, sausages, chicken, fish and anything else we can think of. Any and all ideas are most welcome, it worked today - Star had half a pound of steak.

I've added a page of photographs of both my dog and others I know with cancer to my business website but I do not feel it right to advertise it here. If people find it and enjoy it then we will be happy.

Apr 14, 2013
Thinking of you all
by: Sue

Hi Chris and Lynn

My heart goes out to you both. My boy who is 9 has just started chemotherapy he has just been diagnosed with lymph cancer.

I know what you mean about cost I could only do this because I insured him.

My vet was very good and picked it up on his first visit when I thought he just had swollen glands.

We were given the choice of take him home for 3-6 weeks on tablets or try chemotherapy.

I have changed his diet and took him off his dry dog food as he was finding it hard to swallow. I feed him green veg, tin salmon, sardines and tuna and chicken and beef and I give him supplements and so far so good.

It's difficult and I understand and feel your pain and let's hope your baby does a U-turn. Thinking of you all.

Apr 13, 2013
Further tests
by: Chris & Lynn

Elaine, thank you for your very kind words. We have now spoken to another vet and more bloods and lab testing will be done on the 15 April so fingers crossed. Our girl is now off her food and drinks only occasionally, but she has always done this as she prefers her drinking water to be as dirty as possible, but still wants to roam the fields all day if given the chance, and we do give her that chance.

We did pose the question 'could it be' lung worm, she loves snails, maybe she could be French! Or dog flu (vet said no such thing as dog flu) or as a result of a bite from another dog - she got bitten, only a nip under the chin, a couple of weeks ago, to the vet but they assure us that from all the x-rays and the ultrasound already done that they are still almost certain it is cancer but the new bloods will be checked for any signs of any other infection as well 'this time'.

Last time the lab were only told to look for cancer cells and so did just that throwing the samples away when done and then came back with the following comments 'We have never seen anything like this before' and 'We are very keen for the opportunity for further investigation'. So if any of the new tests help then they will be worthwhile but we can only wait and try Star with food she has taken to her heart, sausages.

Apr 12, 2013
Don't Give up hope
by: Elaine England

Hi Chris and Lynn,

I am so so sorry to read your post. Your little star certainly seems to have given you joy in your life.

I have had several rescue dogs and several dogs with cancer, so I know how this diagnosis feels and know from experience it's costly. Are they sure it's cancer and what type? Could you take her blood lab reports to another vet for a second opinion. And look at alternative therapy.

Take lots of photos and enjoy each and every day together with star. And please don't blame yourselves - you took a rescue into your home and your hearts and gave her a wonderful life and that speaks volumes. I wish you lots of more quality time with Star bless you both.

Elaine and the greys, Spike and Hazy

Apr 12, 2013
Will do it
by: Chris&Lynn

Thank you so much for your comments. We have been onto another vet, today 12 April 2013, who says from the way we describe things they would give a very similar diagnosis, but of course they would only be looking at the lab reports we already have and so would arrive at the same conclusion?

Star is a little weak and unable to undergo deep anaesthesia so they are unable to take a proper biopsy. Please don't misunderstand me, I am not attacking the vets.

The change in Star's health has been both sudden and rapid and of course we would want to believe that they are wrong but we can see things are bad and whilst we will try anything and everything it always comes down to insufficient funds and that is our fault and not the vets.

Thanks you so much for your support and we will try diet changes and anything else we can for as long as we can.

Apr 12, 2013
Keep fighting
by: Pennys Mom

If you can afford it, take the test results to another vet. Find out what kind of cancer it is, if it is cancer. Before you give up, try the holistic route. It may not cure the problem, but it may give you more time. I opted out of chemo for my dog and tried the herbal route and 9 months later she is still happy and relatively healthy. It was a lot less expensive, too. This is a wonderful website for getting information and help. I use it all the time.

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