1. Lucy Maroney

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    Guardians: Jackie Maroney & Nat Wachman

    Sisters: Kali, Digit, Link, Greta & Nonie

    My sweet Lucy has cancer.  It is so painful for me to write those words.  Her diagnosis, like most, came as a shock.  We noticed a mild limp and assumed she had banged her leg on the doggie door running out side to get her barks in.  So we wrapped it and gave her an anti-inflammatory.  It seemed to be better the following week so we went back to normal walks and normal life.  Little did we know, normal was over.  When the limp returned the following week along with some swelling, my husband took her to the vet after work, I stayed home to feed the other animals.  He called me, sounding terrified and blurted out, “They think Lucy has bone cancer!!!!!” I thought I heard him wrong, so I asked him to repeat it.  He asked me a couple of questions on speaker phone so the vet could hear and I got through one and then I couldn’t breathe and had to sit down and cry.  All I could think was no, no, no, NO!!!


    See, we had just lost Niko, Lucy’s companion her entire life.  Niko was 14.5 and Lucy was not even 12 so it just wasn’t fair!  We thought we would have so much time with her like we did with Niko.  And Niko lived the last couple of years needing a lot of attention.  She had arthritis so we had our back deck re-done with a ramp, we took her weekly to acupuncture and then laser therapy, and we had lots of meds and supplements for her.

    About 2 months after we lost Niko, we also lost our 10 year old cat, Trixie. 

    In addition to Lucy, we have 2 other rescue dogs as well:

    Kali:    and Digit: 

    along with 3 rescued cats: 

    I have always been in animal rescue and welfare.  We fostered for years, donated any extra cent we had to sponsorship for shelter animals, to organizations who fight to improve the living conditions for animals, and have worked for legislation and laws to protect animals.  Digit had parvo when we took her in as a foster and we spent our entire savings to keep her from dying.

    When Lucy was diagnosed, Nat and I had a long conversation about quality of life for a dog, for Lucy.  She has an amazing life.  She has never spent a night in a kennel or a shelter.  She was rescued off the street as a puppy, she had been on every vacation we have ever taken, she has never gone hungry or spent a night outside (except for camping excursions!).  She has never had a surgery besides her spay, never had a medical condition or injury, or been on meds before this.  I have been her guardian her entire life.  That’s a pretty amazing life for a dog nowadays!  She loves walks, treats, attention, all the things most dogs love.  And she hates vets, pain, loud noises.  So we have limited her time at the vet and with pain.  We have given her the best food, holistic meds, we lift her to limit jumping, and we kiss and love on her every chance we get.  Pain meds have worked great for her and we thought anything further was out of reach for us. We did not want to remove her leg because of extended recovery and arthritis in her back legs so we decided to only do palliative care.  She has had her first zoledronate treatment and we have seen improvement.  We want to continue, but the cost is exorbitant for us.

    Neither my husband nor I had ever had a companion animal that had cancer.  We have been so lucky.  We have grieved with friends and family whose pets had it and thanked Dog it was not us.  But now, it’s us.  We just aren’t ready or willing to lose Lucy now. Because we are a family.  All of us oddballs.  All of us alone until we all found each other.  We are not connected by blood, but we love all our girls and they love us back.

  2. Niles

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    Niles 3You’d never guess that my chocolate lab Niles is 8yo. He’s a puppy at heart and no day would be complete without coming home from work and hearing about his latest mischievous hijinks. He loves to jump the fence in order to come say hello in the driveway when I pull in from work and, on a hot summer’s day, has been known to lay down in his dry paddle pool and wait for you to turn the hose on him. He’s a water dog at heart and has been known to have to literally be pulled out of the Pamlico Sound. He is incredibly adaptable and has been through a very tough year. Last May my husband and I joyfully welcomed our twins at Georgetown in DC. When we brought them home from the hospital a few days later, Niles’ world changed. He went from being the very center of our attention to being on the back burner. He weathered the first several weeks like a champ, being patient with the twins and with us as we struggled to keep our heads above water. We were so busy with the twins and with packing up our rental home and preparing for the move back to Richmond. One evening we decided to take the kids and the dogs out for a walk in our neighborhood. After we turned our usual corner, Niles yelped out in pain. We didn’t know what was happening at the time, only that our powerful and resilient dog was suddenly unable to walk. My mom took him back to Richmond to our vet and he was diagnosed with a tumor and underwent his first surgery. Dr. Anthony removed what he could but told us it was more extensive than he first thought. Niles 2He told us to keep a close eye on the area. You would never know Niles had surgery- he was groggy for just a few days but then went right back to leaping the fence and running in the yard after squirrels with his sister. In February we felt a new lump in the same area and so we returned to his vet and were referred to Dr. Waite at Dogwood Veterinary. Niles underwent a second surgery, his second in 8 months, and this one was more extensive. He recovered very well and after conferring with the radiologist in NOVA and Dr. Waite, Niles started metronomic chemotherapy in March. His response has been unbelievable! His tumor has continued to shrink every month and now Dr. Waite can hardly feel it! He has had no side effects to the medications and there is virtually zero change in his behavior. He is just as feisty, spirited, and carefree as ever. It has been a miracle for Niles and for us.

  3. Baloo

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    BalooI adopted Baloo 7 1/2 years ago from a local shelter. He had been dumped out the back seat of a car onto a sidewalk in front of a gift shop. He was not neutered and had entropian, so his eyes had been getting irritated his whole life. He had surgery as soon as I adopted him and he always had a great attitude. He loves everyone he meets and is the most sociable dog I know. He is well known in the neighborhood, and is always looking for new friends. The diagnosis last Wednesday was quite a shock, he does not seem that sick, but I was told that he would go downhill quickly without treatment. That happened about 3 pm on Wednesday and we were at Dr. Manley’s office at 11:30 on Thursday morning where he had his first treatment. I have adopted 2 dogs from Pixie’s Pen pals, Rodger Dodger on December 10th 2010, he was at Lunenburg, and Benji (aka Bazinga) on October 17th 2013 from Fluvanna.


    2/3/2016 – Baloo had his final chemo treatment on Thursday, it has been 6 months already. He is still doing well and hopefully will continue now the treatment has stopped. He and Dodger have been to the beach twice and to Skyline Drive twice. We are planning another beach trip in a couple of weeks, weather permitting!  Everyone is loving all the snow. Dodger loves to roll and drag himself along it and eat it, Benji was the only one strong and athletic enough to run through it when it was 30 inches deep, and Baloo just loves to be in it. Rosa only thinks it’s fun for a very short time then she runs inside.

    3/22/2016 – We just saw Dr. Rusk last Thursday for a check up. Everything is good, got the results of his latest bloodwork today, and that was good too. His platelet count, which has been low through his whole treatment, has started to improve. Our next check up is on March 16th. Other than some thinning hair, and looking a little straggly, he has handled his treatment beautifully. Baloo is happy, full of energy and managed to gain weight during chemo (he got a little spoiled Emoji ). We just had another trip to the beach (his 3rd since October), a week ago, were on the beach in wind chills of 10 degrees, and it also snowed. I had Dodger with me too!  Since October we have alternated between beach at Kill Devil Hills and Skyline Drive.

    3/24/2016 – Baloo had his checkup last week, 7 weeks post chemo, and all is still good  His hair has thickened up almost back to normal, just his tail is still a little less hairy, but hopefully will come back as well. We go back on April 14th, pretty much every 4 weeks as long as things are going well.

    6/29/2016 – Baloo just had his monthly exam plus blood work and happy to say everything is still going really well. Still in remission and he is feeling great and enjoying the summer. He is now at 11 months since diagnosis and 5 months since his chemo ended. Hopefully we will be back at the beach in a few months!

  4. Eva

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    Eva was rescued from roaming the grounds near the VA Hospital, after numerous attempts and coaxing, over a decade ago.  Her dad and rescuer, appropriately named her Eva: Evasive (dog from the) VA.  She wasn’t too fond of animals outside of her home territory, but protected those close to her…speaking up loudly if she thought you were messing with one of her feline friends.  She was a loving companion at home and a frequent destroyer of leftover dinner plates (whether you were done or not), new loaves of bread, containers of grape tomatoes, and anything else she could manage to counter surf or steal out of your bag.  No matter her antics, Eva was a love, and was cared for and cherished by many special people in her life.
    Eva was diagnosed with mast cell disease in early January, her initial tumor growth first vaguely noted in November-December 2015.  After a very sudden change, she had 1 surgery to remove a 10 cm x 6 cm tumor from her hind leg in January.  We were relieved to be told it was a low-grade tumor with clean margins and she had a good prognosis–much better than expected.  We had also been well-informed by her oncologist of how unpredictable mast cell tumors are and that prognosis could change any day.  Her longtime pal, Heywood the cat, left her side in March of 2015 also from an aggressive cancer, so we were all too familiar with this battle.  At 13+ years, we opted only to keep her on steroids and Pepcid daily, rather than start chemotherapy.
    Recovering wonderfully from her surgery and back to eating Frosty Paws, howling at sirens, and making Three Stooges sounds in her sleep, our happy and mischievous Eva grew a second tumor in March, very near the location of her initial one. This tumor was also very aggressive and grew from 1 cm to 10 cm in about 1 1/2 months.  Other than the obvious, she seemed to be doing extremely well and with the green light from her oncologist, we planned to have a second surgery.   She had a surgical consult 1 week later and in that short time, the tumor was spreading to numerous areas on the inside of her leg, abdominal bruising had begun, and her inguinal lymph node was now very swollen.  To our dismay, her doctors told us she was not eligible for surgery at that point.
    We brought her home heartbroken, kept her as comfortable as possible, loved and spoiled her every day, and when the tumor began to worsen, her mobility became compromised, and her behavior and appetite degraded, we sadly opted to end her suffering.  We know that many others are going through the same struggle and many need the help that you provide. Your work is near and dear to our hearts and we hope that some other wonderful being can benefit from your assistance, in Eva’s memory.
  5. Hollywood

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    We adopted Hollywood in 2008/9 from PenPals. She had been found abandoned in Hollywood cemetery, scared, skinny, and not so sure how to be a dog. She had spent 14 weeks at the Goochland location and learned all her manners and how to be a great family dog. She recently passed and it became even more evident what a part of our lives she had become. My three kids had known her most of their lives and loved her dearly. Hollywood became Molly, which then always autocorrects to “Milky” so then she became Milky. A beautiful, sweet rescue that lived a great life thanks to your organization. I am so glad to see the program prospering and when the time is right we may find a new family pet through your organization again.