One dreary Sunday morning, my friend Cathy happened to look out the front window and saw this little furry thing running through her yard in the pouring rain.
Cathy grabbed a towel and went outside. Luckily, the little dog was not too fast, and Cathy caught up with her at the end of the cul-de-sac. She was shivering, cold and welcomed the help.
Cathy took her in and wrapped her in a blanket. She gave the dog a warm bath and some food, and introduced her to the pack she currently had.
The little dog acted like she had been there all her life. She had no fear, no hesitation, and moved quietly and gently with the poise of a queen through the pack. She was warm, fed and loved. She loved to lie on pillows; after all, they were soft and comfy.
Because Cathy had a wild bunch of dogs at her home, she asked her friend Melody if she could take her. She knew at Melody’s the dog would have love and a calm place to stay. When taken to Melody's, the little dog made herself right at home. She rarely barked and absolutely loved to eat. Melody decided her name would be Ginger Muffin. She was eating one earlier that day at the bagel shop and decided this little dog was so spunky, she deserved that name.
Fliers were posted in hopes of finding Ginger Muffin's owner. She did not have a tag, nor did she have a microchip. She was well groomed; she had to belong to someone.
One day as Melody was caring for her, she discovered there were lumps under Ginger Muffin's neck and her teeth were bad. The rescue made an appointment, and off went Ginger Muffin to the vet. The lumps were biopsied, and the results came back. It was lymphoma. Not just cancer, but the end stage of cancer.
The vet estimated Ginger Muffin was 11 or 12 years old, and said she possibly had just a few months left. Could this be the reason that no one was looking for this precious little dog? Did someone dump her because they could not afford her treatment? All kinds of thoughts started going through everyone’s minds.
The rescue decided not to place Ginger Muffin up for adoption, but to give her a loving, comfortable home for the rest of her life. She was not in any pain, and she was on a special grain-free diet and prednisone. She got pretty perky and enjoyed trips to and in Dunedin.
On Tuesday, almost two months later, Ginger Muffin fell ill. She had bloat, which is common in dogs in the end stages of cancer. Melody and her friend Rachelle rushed Ginger Muffin to the vet, but with her age and condition, there was nothing to be done. Before she could suffer any more, the decision was made to end her pain.
Ginger Muffin's sendoff was in her first foster family's backyard. All of her foster parents were there to wish her a peaceful journey home. Many others who knew her came, too. Her furry body was wrapped in a cozy blanket, and flowers, treats and toys were put in her box for the journey. Everyone said their goodbyes, toasted her with ginger beer and wished her well to the rainbow bridge. Cathy’s words were, “Her time was short … but she made a big impression for such a little thing running through the rain into our lives … and then, just that quickly, running back out again.”
Remember, sometimes the most costly methods of treatment are not the only methods. There are low-cost options and even holistic medications to keep your friend comfortable.
These national organizations offer financial support for pets with cancer:
In the Tampa Bay area, the following organizations offer support for pet owners in need:
- Animal Coalition of Tampa, Tampa (spay/neuter and vaccination assistance)
- Humane Society of Tampa Bay, Tampa (pet food and vaccination assistance)
- Pasco Animal Welfare Society, Port Richey (spay/neuter assistance)
- SPCA Suncoast, New Port Richey (pet food)
- SPCA Tampa Bay, Largo (spay/neuter assistance)
- SPOT, Pinellas Park (spay/neuter and vaccination assistance)
Some but not all vets take an all-or-nothing approach, either full-blown cancer treatment or euthanasia. Please do your research and decide what is right for your pet. Just like us, our pets all are at different stages in their lives, and their health.