While cancer is slightly less common in small dogs, all dogs are at risk of developing cancer in their lifetime. Fortunately, FETCH a Cure’s Companions in Crisis program provides hope and options to families facing a cancer diagnosis with their cat or dog. On average, we fund 20 to 40 percent of the cost of lifesaving cancer treatments for pets like Ginny and Rugby, the two Dachshunds featured below, who both received CIC grants to make their cancer treatment possible.
“In the beginning of 2021, our sixteen-year-old Dachshund passed away from a combination of cancer and late-stage Cushing’s disease. She had been my family’s dog all through high school and, when my mom was going to have to give her up when her housing situation changed, we took her in and moved cross-country with her. We have taken in two other rescue dogs over the years, and Choxie (our old girl) was far and away the alpha. When she passed, we expected one of our other two to step up and claim the role. However, several months went by and the dogs just kind of languished and stopped being excited about most things. I don’t know what the mourning process is like for dogs, but I am very confident that is what we were witnessing. My wife and I decided to put in applications at several rescues around the area, not knowing what we would find or if we would be ready to adopt when the time came.
In April of 2021, Ginny came onto our radar through a contact at the Mary Ann Morris Animal Society. We figured that we would never be able to find a Dachshund mix up for adoption, let alone a purebred. We applied, and out of dozens or applicants, our crazy three dog house was chosen. We attached almost immediately at our first visit and we took her home that same night. She has all of the personality that Dachshunds are known for, but with an extra dose of sweetness and affection. We loved her from when we first met and couldn’t imagine our family without her.
Ginny has had severe medical complications since we adopted her. She has had a persistent wheeze and cough that seems to worsen with heavy pollen exposure, but never completely goes away. Our original vet in Fairfax requested an X-ray and echocardiogram on her after hearing a murmur, and used that data to determine that she had an enlarged heart and didn’t have long to live. We got a second opinion from our current vet, and he re-examined the imaging and determined that her problems were entirely lung-based. We had her lungs sampled and cultured and they came back clean from any foreign infection-causing body. Her last round of images were the first to show a distinct tumor in the lung, but she has had respiratory difficulties for as long as we have had her.
All in all, in our time of ownership, we have spent somewhere north of $2500 out-of-pocket for Ginny’s imaging, diagnostics, and medication. Going through all of that just to find out she has cancer is unbelievably devastating. We know she has so much more life to live and love to give.”
UPDATE from December 30, 2022
“My family and I want to thank you from the bottom of our hearts for supporting our dachshund, Ginny, during her cancer treatments. I cannot put into words how thankful we are for your generosity and kindness. Unfortunately, Ginny passed away on 12/19/2022. We miss her terribly and are absolutely devastated. However, we are so thankful that she was happy and comfortable until the end. Even though the cancer treatments did not give her as much additional time as we would have wanted with her (we would have only really been satisfied with forever!), we are confident the treatments gave her a little more time with our family and, most importantly, helped keep her comfortable and energetic in the last few months of her life. Thank you for that precious gift.
I wanted to share a little more about Ginny and how special she was for those that don’t know. We adopted Ginny in April of 2021 from the Mary Ann Morris Animal Society. We immediately knew that we had “won the lottery” because we had adopted (in the words of her oncologist) the world’s happiest, sweetest dachshund. She had a bad cough since the first day we met her, however, we believed it was either kennel cough or bad allergies. Ginny was treated with a few rounds of antibiotics and allergy meds. When her cough didn’t go away after the antibiotics, we had more advanced testing done. We soon found out that she had a moderately advanced heart murmur and we began working with a veterinary cardiologist. Additional x-rays and diagnostics revealed that Ginny also had chronic lung inflammation. In light of this, we also began working with an internal medicine veterinary specialist to manage the lung issues. By the end of 2021 / early 2022, after many many medical appointments, procedures, diagnostics, and different medications, we had finally got to a place where we (and her doctors) felt that Ginny’s heart and lung issues were under control and being medically managed as effectively as possible. Through all of this, Ginny was an absolute trooper and charmed every single vet and tech she met. Everywhere we went, everyone always raved to us about how beautiful and sweet-spirited she was.
In the early fall of 2022 we noticed a small lump developing on Ginny’s chest. We immediately took her in for evaluation but the tests were inconclusive. Her veterinary team was hesitant to remove it surgically due to her history of a weak heart and lungs. Over the next few weeks, the lump grew rapidly and it became more evident that it was likely cancer. We made plans to have it removed surgically in October ’22, but by the time we arrived for the surgery, x-rays showed that it would be impossible to operate because the tumors had spread to her lungs and were so invasive that they were inoperable. We were absolutely devastated, but were hopeful that she might be a good candidate for chemotherapy. That is where you all came in! Your donations helped us be able to proceed with several rounds of chemotherapy, which Ginny responded very well too. I am 100% confident that the chemotherapy helped Ginny have a better quality of life in her last few months of life. Although she was responding well to the chemo, which did keep the tumors from growing, her lungs were much weaker before she developed cancer than the average dog, making her more vulnerable to complications. On Sunday 12/18 she was a happy dog – chasing my toddlers around the house and even was able to go with to a Christmas light display (which she thoroughly enjoyed!). However, she took a sudden turn on Monday 12/19 and her lungs began to fail. She was rushed to the emergency vet and put on oxygen, but her lungs were so weak at that point that we were told she had become totally oxygen dependent and probably wouldn’t survive more than a few minutes once taken off. We kept her on oxygen for a few hours while we considered her options and explored if anything else could be done for her, but ultimately we were convinced by the competent veterinary staff that the best thing we could do was let her go before she suffered further. Ginny peacefully crossed the ‘rainbow bridge’ with our whole family, including her canine siblings, with her and holding her close.
Although we are saddened by the fact that we only got to have Ginny in our family for a mere 20 months – and that she was plagued with so many medical issues during that whole period – we will forever be grateful that we got to know and love her. She was an absolute angel! Ginny was full of spunk, energy, enthusiasm for life (and snacks), affectionate, loyal, and incredibly courageous – everything you could ask for in a dog. As you can likely tell, managing her medical issues over the two years became very expensive and, although it was our joy and honor to be able to do it for her, it did become a strain on our budget at times. Thank you so much for your generosity. It allowed us to make sure she had the very best care until the end of life.
We don’t know much about Ginny’s life before she came to be in our family, but I would like to think some of the best months of her life (despite her many medical conditions) were the ones she shared with us. Some highlights:
* Visiting the beach (Ocean City) in May 21
* Going on numerous hikes and adventures around the DMV
* Endless hours of snuggling with her pet siblings and her babies (i.e. our two toddlers)
* Being the absolute best “nanny dog” anytime us or our kids were ill
* Running in the sprinklers with the neighborhood kids in the summers
* Visiting North Carolina and hiking the trails in November 21
* Being an expert at stealing snacks from everyone in the family
* Celebrating every holiday and special occasion with lots of treats and themed attire
* Visiting Tennessee and hiking the Smoky Mountains in November 22
* Riding in the stroller (or the dog sling) with the babies when she got too tired on long walks or hikes (I think she especially loved that the other two dogs didn’t get to do this)
* Snuggling up by our feet every day while we worked from home
* Sleeping on our laps and looking out the window during lots of long car rides and adventures
And the list goes on and on! If you have made it this far, thank you! I could write all day about how special Ginny was to our family, but instead, I’ll leave you with a few pictures that show just a glimpse of how special she was to us. We will always have a Ginny shaped hole in our hearts and we will never forget her. Thank you again for supporting our family during this difficult time and allowing Ginny the opportunity to face cancer with dignity and support.”
“Rugby has been my best bud for 12 years now; he was born right here in Virginia. My mother had Dachshunds and Rugby came from one of the litters. I was in Alabama at the time, and I knew he was mine the minute I saw him. He looked like a weird little guinea pig. So I returned to Virginia to pick him up. He made the trip back to Alabama with me by plane, and he wouldn’t stop crying unless I was holding him.
After all this time, I still won’t go anywhere without him. He has gone to 8 different states, swam in the gulf, loves a good ball, and becomes quick friends with anyone that will throw it for him.
In May of 2021 Rubgy went in to his regular vet for a routine visit, and we decided on getting his teeth cleaned, but he had a slight heart murmur, so before that they requested we do an ultrasound. Instead of coming home with sparkling teeth, Ruby came home with news of prostate cancer.
We immediately reached out to Dr. Stewart at the Regional Veterinary Referral Center. Rugby started chemo less than a month later. He did great, they saw a little improvement, but for the most part it stayed steady and he handled it like a champ. Once the rounds were finished, he switched to Chlorambucil and Piroxicam and remained on that and was doing good for several months before August 2022.
Ruby wasn’t feeling good, he wasn’t eating, had puss coming from his bladder and things just weren’t going well. We took him to the emergency vet because everywhere else was full and couldn’t see him. They informed us that his prostate seemed enlarged and was pushing again his bowels and kidney. Dr. Stewart suggested radiation, but it wasn’t in my budget so we started him on IV chemo again. He seemed to be doing better, but three visits in the imaging showed the prostate was larger, not smaller, despite what we were feeling. He still seems steady, but Dr. Stewart recommends radiation or taking him off the chemo.”
FETCH is honored to be able to help both Ginny and Rugby receive the lifesaving treatment they need so they can spend more quality time with their loving families.