Archive for June, 2013

Therapy cat, Bentley visits a cat-lover by special request

Monday, June 17th, 2013

Bentley Cat VisitDiana Kramer, a life-long cat lover who is struggling with chemotherapy and radiation, was thrilled to receive a visit from Bentley, on her birthday.  “ He was so soft, and such a chubbo! He sat in my lap and purred.  That was lovely.”

After Bentley’s visit, Diana went out to dinner for the first time in many months, and her children believe that her ‘cat therapy’ was the reason she felt well enough.

Thank you Pet Partners, for your invaluable gift.   Kathleen Lacock, her daughter


Retiring therapy dog “graduates” alongside students

Monday, June 10th, 2013

High School Therapy DogPrince, a 9-year-old golden retriever, is retiring after nearly five years of helping students at Portage High School in Illinois, and the occasion is being marked in traditional high school fashion. Prince’s photo was included in the annual yearbook, and he’ll join graduates in this weekend’s ceremony sporting a custom cap and gown. Bred by Lutheran Church Charities, Prince lives with his handler, school guidance counselor Tim Kunstek. “It’s pretty phenomenal how much the kids love him,” said Kunstek. Yahoo/Shine (6/6)

One very furry high school graduate was honored this week with a yearbook photo of his own.

Prince “the therapy dog,” bred by Lutheran Church Charities is a 9-year-old golden retriever who works in the guidance office at Portage High School in Indiana. He’s retiring and as a parting gift, he had a professional photo taken and published alongside the class of 2013.

“We’ve never done anything like this but it was a nice way to say goodbye to Prince,” Melissa Deavers-Lowie, Portage High School’s yearbook adviser, told Yahoo! Shine. “Parents and students thought it was so cute and funny. And on Sunday, he’ll lead the graduating class of 2013 onto the football field for the ceremony.” Naturally, he’ll be dressed for the part, wearing a custom-made red cap and gown.

“Prince comes to school and works with me in therapy groups,” Tim Kunstek, Portage High School’s guidance counselor and Prince’s handler, told Yahoo! Shine. “It’s pretty phenomenal how much the kids love him.”

Prince, who lives with Kunstek and his family in Portage, has worked a 9-5 gig for the past 4.5 years. Every day, he rides to school with Kunstek and spends his morning greeting students as they arrive at school. He also sits in on counseling sessions with Kunstek and his students, and patrols the hallways, making sure kids are going to class. During lunch, he hangs out in the cafeteria. “Kids would sit on the floor and feed him Tater Tots and other treats, but he started gaining weight, so we’ve scaled back on that,” said Kunstek. And Prince travels for work: In the wake of the tragic shootings in December at Sandy Hook Elementary School, he was on hand to ensure the children had a smoother transition back to school. “The kids at Sandy Hook loved him and all the other therapy dogs so much that Lutheran Church Charities is now trying to raise money for therapy dogs at Sandy Hook,” said Kunstek.

At the end of a long day, Prince heads home with Kunstek for dinner. Upon his retirement, he’ll remain with Kunstek and work part-time, possibly with kids. And he won’t be forgotten: His Facebook page boasts more than 1,500 likes and he keeps his friends updated with photos of his life at school and at home.

But Portage High School won’t be without a therapy dog for long. Isaiah, a 1-year-old golden retriever, is in training to be Prince’s replacement. “There’s something really calming about golden retrievers; they have a big effect on people,” said Kunstek.

Research explores the ways dogs help people heal

Monday, June 10th, 2013

therapy dogIn findings that support what many animal owners already know, Washington State University researchers conclude that spending time with dogs is good for people. So good, in fact, that canine companions can help address mental health disorders among humans. The study looked at teens in residential treatment centers for substance abuse. The participants’ mood and attentiveness improved after spending time with dogs, and symptoms of depression, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder dropped dramatically. Researcher Lindsay Ellsworth said canine companionship may stimulate the release of opioids. Discovery (6/7)

Dogs may help to correct certain human mental health disorders by beneficially affecting brain chemistry and function, a new study suggests.

The research shows how interacting with dogs improves mood among teenagers living in residential treatment centers. In this case, the teens were in therapy for drug or alcohol abuse.

“We suggest that the dog interaction activities and/or the dog itself could potentially serve as a non-drug stimulus that may heighten the adolescents’ response to naturally occurring stimuli therefore potentially helping to restore the brain’s normal process,” said Lindsay Ellsworth, who led the research.

Ellsworth, a doctoral candidate at Washington State University, brought dogs from the Spokane Humane Society to the Excelsior Youth Center, also in Spokane. Teen participants were all males.

During daily recreation time at Excelsior, some of the teens played pool, video games or basketball. Another group interacted with the dogs, by brushing, feeding and playing with them. Before and after the activities, the teens filled an assessment used to scale and study emotion.

 Teens who spent time with dogs experienced heightened joy, improved attentiveness and serenity. Symptoms for participants being treated for ADHD, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder dramatically decreased.

Ellsworth suspects that social companionship with dogs may stimulate the release of opioids, psychoactive chemicals that can relieve pain and promote pleasurable feelings. Certain drugs — legal and illegal — bind to opioid receptors in the brain, but the doggy-produced high is natural with no side effects.

Repeated drug use can significantly alter opioid systems, leaving the person feeling lonely or depressed. Social companionship with dogs appears to help alleviate these negative states.

“The relationship between humans and dogs has been in existence for thousands of years,” Ellsworth explained. “They actively seek out their owner’s attention and, from the human perception, they provide displays of affection.

She described how one teen at the center with behavioral problems benefited from the animals.

“During his first couple of encounters with the dogs, he had to learn how to control his behavior in order not to startle the dogs,” she said, adding that “his tone and voice eventually became quieter, his stroke softer, his moves more calculated versus spontaneous, and he appeared to become more aware of himself and how he was acting.”

After sessions with the dogs, his interactions with staff improved, becoming “positive and productive.”

“It could be a really novel, cost-effective and beneficial complement to traditional treatments,” said animal behaviorist Ruth Newberry about using dogs to help treat substance abuse. “This could be a win-win innovation for everyone involved, including the dogs.”

Jaak Panksepp, chair of Animal Well-Being Science at WSU, added, “This is wonderful research, and highlights how companion animals can promote therapy with teenagers who have emotional problems.”

Ellsworth suspects that dogs similarly benefit the mental health of adults, children and seniors too. Interaction with cats likely also stimulates opioid release, particularly for people who are already feline fanciers.

Taking the itch out of pet allergies

Thursday, June 6th, 2013

dog scratchingPets with allergies are often extremely itchy and uncomfortable, sometimes causing harm with their excessive scratching, writes veterinarian Donna Solomon. Most commonly, dogs exhibit allergic symptoms through their skin, respiratory tract and gastrointestinal tract, according to Dr. Solomon. Coordinating diagnosis and care with a veterinarian is the best way to establish a plan that will fit each pet’s symptoms. The Huffington Post/The Blog (6/4)

We all scratch our head or rub our eyes once in a while and think nothing more about it. Most dogs and cats will occasionally lick their feet or rub their face against the carpet and it too, means absolutely nothing. There are some pets, however, that are consumed by this activity to the point that they traumatize their skin till its raw and inflamed. These pets are suffering and need a therapeutic plan of action to help control their itching.

Itchy pets may be suffering from parasites, like fleas and mites, food allergies, autoimmune diseases, skin infections, inhalant allergies or contact dermatitis. The exact etiology for a pet’s itchy behavior can be determined by a comprehensive physical examination by a veterinarian along with a good history provided by its pet owner. Regardless of the cause, the following discussion hopefully will be helpful to a pet owner and their itchy pet.

My response to six questions a pet owner may ask about their itchy pet:

  1. What are the symptoms of an allergic pet? A classic allergy patient may have all or some of the following symptoms, which I am going to group into two broad, but not exclusive, categories: the respiratory allergy patient and the dermatological (skin) patient. Similar to people, the respiratory allergy pet may have red eyes, clear runny nose, dry cough and sneeze. The dermatological allergy patient may scratch its ears, rub its face, lick its paws and anus and scratch its sides and between its legs. For food allergy patients, it is rare for them to show just gastrointestinal signs like vomiting or diarrhea. They frequently show dermatological signs as well. Your allergy patient may do all of the above with varying severity or maybe just do one or two of these activities.
  2. How do I know if my itchy pet has allergies? Your history plus a good physical examination by your veterinarian will help lead to the appropriate diagnosis. In addition, your veterinarian can collect a blood sample and send it to their laboratory to identify which allergens your pet is allergic to by measuring your pet’s antibody levels to specific allergens. Alternatively, a veterinary dermatologist can perform an Intradermal allergy test to identify which allergen your pet is allergic to. This test does require sedation, shaving your pet’s fur and multiple skin injections. I recommend allergy testing your itchy pet if you are going to proceed with a desensitization program. The desensitization program involves giving your pet “allergy shots” at home to decrease your pet’s immunological response to allergens in its natural environment. Desensitization helps 50-75 percent of the patients by reducing the severity of their allergic presentation. It does not cure them.If your veterinarian suspects food allergies, there is NO RELIABLE blood or skin test available to date to identify which ingredient your pet is allergic to. The only way to identify food allergies is by performing an eight to twelve week food trial where you feed your pet only one protein and one carbohydrate source during this trial period. If the pet’s itchy behavior diminishes during this food trial, the owner can then introduce one new ingredient each week to see how the pet responds. If the pet starts itching on the new ingredient, then the owner will avoid feeding it in its future. If the pet does not improve on this new diet, I’d recommend trying another protein source. Food trials can be time consuming to perform but can be really rewarding if successful.
  3. Why does my pet have allergies? You may think of your pet’s skin, gastrointestinal or respiratory tract as a porous membrane that allows allergens to pass through. Your allergic pet is immunologically responding in an exaggerated manner to these intruding allergens. This exaggerated response may manifest itself by itching, sneezing, coughing or diarrhea.
  4. Why does my pet only itch sometimes? Some itchy pets have seasonal allergies, which means it is only problematic at a specific time of the year. For instance, tree pollen is worse in the spring. Grass allergies during the spring and summer. Ragweed is usually problematic in the fall. Most allergy pets have multiple triggering allergens and may show their symptoms multiple times throughout the year.
  5. Why does my pet itch all the time? Pets with food, dust and mold allergies may itch all year round. Unfortunately, some pets may initially present as seasonal allergy patients but as the years go by, may proceed to year round or non-seasonal itching.
  6. What can I do to make my pet more comfortable?
    • Keep your pet’s hair short. Long hair can act like a dust mop and hold onto the environmental allergens.
    • Bathe your pet with hypoallergenic shampoo at least once or twice weekly. Use cool water. If your pet has a skin infection, make sure you’re using a shampoo that can help flush the hair follicles and remove the cellular debris. If your pet has a highly resistant staphylococcus skin infection, make sure your shampoo contains chlorohexidine. If your pet has a yeast infection, I recommend ketoconazole-based shampoos.
    • After bathing your pet apply a moisturizing conditioner on your pet. This helps rehydrate and calm the skin.
    • Spray a topical anti-inflammatory or immune modulating product on your pet’s skin. There are a number of pharmaceutical products that help strengthen your skin’s barrier to intruding allergens — just ask your veterinarian which one would best for your pet. One of my new favorite products is called Duoxo Seborrhea Microemulsion Spray. It’s extremely safe and you just mist it on your pet’s skin.
    • Give your pet an antihistamine. There are numerous antihistamines on the market. I believe that every antihistamine has a 50 percent potential to make your pet less itchy. For dogs, I like to use Zyrtec or Clariton. For cats, I like to use chlorphenaramine. Ask your veterinarian for a dosage for your pet.
    • If an antihistamine alone does not work, try a combination of antihistamine with a touch of a steroid, called Temaril P. This product enables you to give a steroid to your pet at a much lower dose than if you would give a steroid to your pet on its own. This product is available by prescription only and dispensed by your veterinarian.If your pet is severely itchy and uncomfortable, in some instances, I will prescribe immuno-modulating drugs, like oral steroids or modified cyclosporine. A steroid, like prednisolone, can be given orally once or twice a day and provides great quick relief to your allergy pet. I never recommend long-acting steroids, like Depomedrol, which can stay in your pet’s body up to one to two months. The potential negative side effects of long acting steroids (like liver and kidney disease and aggravating diabetes mellitus) are too high for me to risk. Modified Cyclosporine (Atopica) is a great drug to reduce your pet’s inflammatory response to allergens. It is a more expensive drug than prednisolone, but has less overall side effects for your pet. Cyclosporine may take a week or two to work but it is very effective. The most common side effects of cyclosporine are diarrhea and loss of appetite but I rarely see this in my allergy pets.
    • Don’t overlook a secondary skin or ear infection. If your pet has a skin or ear infection as a result of traumatizing its skin, you must treat with antibiotics or anti-fungal medication for an appropriate time period. Don’t stop your antibiotics prematurely. I recommend at least 2 to 3 weeks of antibiotics beyond the last appearance of a bacterial skin lesion. To help your pet’s skin recover from a skin infection, I frequently prescribe a topical spray, called Vetericyn VF, to speed up wound healing and kill bacteria. For fungal skin infections, I may continue the anti-fungal medication for at least 1 month after it’s disappearance. If you are not having success with your antibiotic, have your veterinarian do a bacterial culture and drug sensitivity test to make sure you are giving your pet the right medication. In addition, a skin biopsy may be indicated to confirm or dispute the diagnosis. For chronic re-occurring ear infections secondary to allergies, I have had great success with a new product called Easiotic. After the ear infection has resolved, I have the clients treat prophylactically ONCE weekly during their allergy season to decrease inflammation in the ear.
    • Make sure your veterinarian skin scrapes your dog for a mite infestation prior to placing it on medication, especially steroids. It is not uncommon in my young itchy pets to discover an underlying mite problem. The treatment for a mite problem (like sarcopte and demodex) is dramatically different than an itchy allergy patient.
    • Give your pet Fish Oil. Fish oil is a great source of Omega 3’s (eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid), which helps moisturize and decrease inflammation in the skin. This can be purchased at a veterinary clinic or drug store. Ask your veterinarian for your pet’s dose. I typically dose 20 mg /lb of body weight ONCE daily of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). If you dose correctly for EPA in most fish oil products, the docosahexanaenoic (DHA) dose will be correct. For instance a 40 lb dog would get 800 mg EPA per day. (On the bottle of your Fish Oil it should list how many mg of EPA are in each capsule and dose accordingly.) It takes up to six weeks to see the benefits of fish oil on your pet.
    • For my respiratory allergy patients I frequently prescribe an inhaler with a steroid, called Flovent, to help reduce their coughing. It’s really simple to use and takes only 15 to 30 seconds to administer once or twice a day. Since it takes around one week to see the benefits of Flovent, I will frequently prescribe an oral steroid to help them during the first week of therapy. Ask your veterinarian which product is best for your pet.
    • For red runny eyes I always recommend flushing the eyes with an over-the- counter saline eye irrigating solution two to three times per day to help flush the allergens out of their eyes. I especially recommend using this on your allergy pet after it has played outside. In addition, I frequently recommend using an eye lubricating solution, like Refresh, to help lubricate their eyes during their allergy season. Finally, in some patients that are only showing red eyes and not responding to the previously mentioned products, I will prescribe topical steroid ophthalmic drops to help with their burning red eyes.
    • For my outdoor allergy pets, I think it’s a good idea to wipe their feet when they enter the house with hypoallergenic children’s diaper wipes to reduce some of the outdoor allergens that they can tract into the house.
    • Don’t forget your flea and tick control. I’m shocked how many times I find fleas on my itchy pets. Buy it and use it!

Allergies in pets are not only frustrating for the pet but also for the owner. No one likes to be woken up in the middle of the night to hear their pet chewing on its feet or scratching its sides. Although this list of things to do for your itchy pet may seem daunting and time consuming, the rewards can be very dramatic and fulfilling to all involved. So, let’s begin today to help reduce your pet’s allergy symptoms by discussing my advice with your veterinarian. I hope you and your pet have an itch-free summer!

Pets and owners can shape up together

Monday, June 3rd, 2013

finalAHF_PawLogoExercise is good for pets and people. Dog owners reap such benefits as better heart health and lower stress levels. In places such as Mississippi, where dog longevity is particularly low, according to the Banfield Pet Hospitals 2013 State of Pet Health survey, people are encouraged to get active with their pets. Veterinarian Troy Majure recommends that owners and pets engage in at least a half-hour of activity each day, and with dog-friendly exercise classes and gyms popping up, owners and their furry friends have many options. The Clarion-Ledger (Jackson, Miss.) (tiered subscription model) (5/31)

urns out, man’s best friend also can be man’s best fitness buddy.

In Mississippi, where pet longevity is among the lowest in the nation, a neighborhood stroll or a Frisbee toss can prove beneficial for both dog and master.

In the 2013 State of Pet Health survey compiled by Banfield Pet Hospitals, a national pet hospital chain with locations in PetSmart stores in Jackson, Flowood and Gulfport, dogs in Mississippi have the shortest average life span in the nation, with Alabama and Louisiana coming in second and third, respectively.

The survey took in 7,354 dogs and 913 cats in Mississippi. The results are based on spay and neuter rates, incidents of pet disease such as obesity and arthritis and other environmental factors.

Troy Majure, a Jackson veterinarian and co-host of Mississippi Public Broadcasting’s “Creature Comforts” pet talk show, suggests pet owners aim for at least 30 minutes of exercise daily while keeping their four-legged friend — and themselves — hydrated.

“I do believe my clients are more aware of obesity than they were 10 years ago,” Majure said. “You don’t want to do too much too quickly, but steady improvement will help as far as exercise.”

Owning a pet, especially a dog, seems to have heart health benefits, according to the American Heart Association. Dog owners are 54 percent more likely than other adults to get recommended levels of exercise. In addition, a pet can lower stress, and pet ownership is associated with lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels and less obesity. Some dog owners get in two-a-day workouts because they don’t consider taking their dog out as exercise, so they still workout on their own time.

Other dog owners have gone beyond the neighborhood stroll, enrolling themselves and their dogs in group fitness classes with names like Bow Wow Bootcamp, Tai Chi Wa Wa and Pupilates at K9 Fit Club, a chain of dog friendly gyms with locations in Illinois, Tennessee, Pennsylvania and Florida.

K9 Fit Club founder Tricia Murray told Reuters that a serious purpose lies behind the cutesy class names.

“Some people I deal with are morbidly obese. They’re intimidated by gyms,” Murray said. “The dog’s not going to judge you. And they’ll never cancel on you.”

But cats, Majure says, are a different story.

“You can’t make a cat do a lot of things. However, there are games you can play,” Majure said. “Everybody thinks cats are pretty sedentary, but they have their moments.”

Officers pay tribute to police dog with kidney failure

Monday, June 3rd, 2013

plymouth-dogPlymouth, Mass., police offered a moving tribute to one of their fellow officers, a German shepherd named Kaiser, last week. Kaiser was euthanized after an increasingly difficult battle with kidney disease. Members of the department lined the walkway of the Court Street Animal Hospital, saluting Kaiser as he walked in one last time. His partner, Officer Jamie Lebretton, on the Plymouth Police Working Dog Foundation Facebook page: “I will never forget you or our accomplishments. You made me a better person, a better handler, and a better cop. Till we meet again Kai. I love you and will miss you daily.” WBZ-TV (Boston) (5/31), The Enterprise (Brockton, Mass.) (6/1)

PLYMOUTH (CBS) — Plymouth Police gathered Friday to say goodbye to their friend and K-9 partner German Shepherd Kaiser.

On Wednesday, the Plymouth Police Working Dog Foundation announced that Kaiser was suffering from kidney failure and would be laid to rest on Friday.

Kaiser battled this disease with vigor and toughness like I have never seen before. Although, as of late, the disease has taken the upper hand forcing him out of his craft and ultimately out of this world,” Officer Jamie Lebretton wrote on the foundation’s Facebook page.

 Kaiser joined the force in 2011 after being donated to the police department by a local family. He worked primarily with Officer Lebretton.

Shortly before noon, officers gathered outside the Court Street Animal Hospital to salute Kaiser one last time.

He was laid to rest in the Angel View Pet Cemetery in Middleboro.

Afterward, Lebretton posted the following to his friend and partner on Facebook:

“RIP my boy. I could not have asked for a better partner or friend. May you rest easy and wait for me at that sacred bridge. I will be there my friend. I will be there. I will never forget you or our accomplishments. You made me a better person, a better handler, and a better cop. Till we meet again kai. I love you and will miss you daily.”

Luxating patella: A painful but treatable problem

Monday, June 3rd, 2013

luxating-patella-dog-kneeLuxating patella, a painful condition in which the kneecap slips out of position, is common in smaller-breed dogs but can also occur in larger dogs and cats, according to veterinarian Roger Grothaus. Four grades are used to evaluate the severity of the condition, notes Dr. Grothaus. Surgical repair is indicated for grades two through four, the most severe. Owners may not realize the knee is the source of their dog’s pain, but a veterinarian can make the diagnosis with a physical exam. “A lot of times an owner will come in and they will think it’s the dog’s hips that are bothering them, but it’s actually the knees,” Dr. Grothaus said. The Blade (Toledo, Ohio) (6/3)

Liz Dickens’ dog Winston is able to paint again thanks to a surgery he had on a faulty kneecap.

The sassy English toy spaniel enjoys creating watercolors with the help of his owner, but before he had his luxating patella repaired, he couldn’t even walk without crying out.

A luxating patella is a condition in which the groove the kneecap glides in is too shallow, causing frequent dislocation. It is a common congenital, developmental defect in small-breed dogs.

“He started to scream when he moved and would shake,” said Ms. Dickens of Toledo. “Now he is a brand new boy. He even greets me at the top of the stairs, which is something he had stopped doing.”

The 7-year-old dog, whom Ms. Dickens adopted from an animal shelter in California where she used to live, started acting strangely early this year.

“He would isolate himself, and I just thought he was just out of sorts, so I left him alone,” she said. “Then it got worse. If one of my other dogs brushed by him, he would scream.”

Ms. Dickens’ vet, Dr. Roger Grothaus of Reynolds Road Animal Hospital, diagnosed Winston with a grade three luxating patella. The ailment has four grades, with four being the worst.

“With grade one, it can be managed with joint lubricants and anti-inflammatory drugs and weight reduction, but in Winston’s case, he definitely needed surgery,” Dr. Grothaus said.

Ms. Dickens could not afford the expensive procedure, but at the suggestion of friends and family, she started a chip-in page to raise funds. Within 24 hours, the popular dog — who has his own Facebook page — had received enough donations to pay for the surgery, which was performed Feb. 6.

One of his other kneecaps has the same defect but not to the same degree. Ms. Dickens is saving money for the second surgery.

Dr. Grothaus saw Winston every week for a month after the surgery and used laser therapy on the repaired knee to help it heal faster. Ms. Dickens also took Winston to the Toledo Pet Farm to use their hydrotherapy tub.

Luxating patellas can occur in larger dogs and even cats, Dr. Grothaus said. Diagnosis is made through palpation of the knee to see if it slips inside the joint more than would be expected, he said.

In grade one, the patella can be manually luxated but returns to the normal position when released, Dr. Grothaus said.

In grade two, the patella can be manually luxated, or it can occur spontaneously. The patella remains luxated, or dislocated, until it is manually put back in place by a human or when the animal extends the joint and moves the leg in the opposite direction of the luxation to restore it without help.

In grade three, the patella remains luxated most of the time but can be manually returned into place by a human, but the animal can’t do it itself. In grade four, the patella is permanently luxated and cannot be repositioned manually.

Grades two and higher require surgery, which typically runs $1,500 to $2,000. The repair is aimed at deepening the groove for the kneecap and correcting the misaligned kneecap mechanism, Dr. Grothaus said.

The condition is very painful and affected dogs will cry out in pain and hold the leg up. Over time, the chronic dislocation will lead to arthritic changes in the knee; loss of motion and pain are common problems, he said.

“A lot of times an owner will come in and they will think it’s the dog’s hips that are bothering them, but it’s actually the knees,” Dr. Grothaus said. “Knees are the most common injuries in canines in general.”

Now that Winston has had his knee surgery and recovered, he is back to painting again. Ms. Dickens puts the paint on a piece of paper, and Winston walks on it to create the artwork.

“He likes the treats he gets while painting, but he doesn’t like the bath afterward,” Ms. Dickens said. “He also likes to eat the yellow paint. Just the yellow.”

Angel Fund Gave Lucy a Good Leg to Stand on

Monday, June 3rd, 2013

Lucy BeemLast summer, Sue Beem – a retiree who lives in Orange – lost her dog.  On July 1, she and her god daughter decided to find another one.

“We went to all the shelters in this area and we found this little girl [a poodle] at the Santa Ana shelter. She was so cute and they told me she was between six and eight years old.  That was a little older than I wanted but that was all right.  So I took her and I went right to my vet – I call her Doctor Laura and I’ve been going to her for years.” (Dr. Laura Weatherford works at Tustin Santa Ana Veterinary Hospital.)

“Doctor Laura said that the dog was closer to eight to ten years old than six to eight.  But that was all right.  If she had stayed at the shelter, they would have put her down. Doctor Laura examined her and she removed some teeth . . . and I took her home.”

Sue decided to name the dog Lucy. Not long after she acquired Lucy, the dog “just stopped using one of her legs. She would play ball and everything else and then all of a sudden she would just not use that leg. She was walking on three legs.  So I took her back to Doctor Laura and she examined her and she said that cartilage had slipped off the knee joint as well as the hip joint and that she would need surgery.  And when she quoted me the price, I said: ‘No way can I afford it.’ And she said, ‘Well, we’ll see if we can get some help from Angel Fund.’  And we did.”

Most of Sue’s income is from a monthly Social Security check. Angel Fund contributed $400 to Lucy’s medical bill and so did the hospital. Sue is grateful for that assistance.

Lucy is doing fine now, Sue says, although the dog is a little overweight. “She’s going to go in for liposuction, I think.”

Sue is Lucy’s biggest fan.  “She’s the greatest dog!  She is by far the sweetest dog I’ve ever had. And I’ve had a lot of poodles since 1960.  And she is so loyal.  She never, ever leaves my side. If I’m there and somebody else tries to take her, she won’t go. She simply won’t go unless I say it’s OK. She is a wonderful, wonderful little girl.”