My dog, Maggie, is a really weird dog because she is the only dog that I have ever met that does not like to be pet or have her belly rubbed. Maggie is a purebred mutt, with a little bit of German Shepherd, Irish Wolfhound, Golden Retriever, and Jack Russell Terrier. Yes, I know you must be thinking that that many different dog breeds mixed together must be pretty weird looking, which Maggie definitely is. Her hair is wiry and extremely coarse, except her legs, which have short, soft, and golden hair. Each strand of her hair has at least three different colors on it, with variations of golden, black, light brown, dark brown, white, and reddish blonde. Her fur is so coarse, that it acts like scotch-guard, so when she runs through mud or water she comes out clean and dry. She has a little beard that is the same color of her legs that tickles you when she gives kisses. All of the different colors that Maggie has on her make it very difficult to wear any color of clothes without her hair showing up on you. Despite her odd behavior and looks that only a mother could love, she is one of my best friends, and my family and I knew that we had to do everything we possibly could to save her life.
February 25th, 2017. This Sunday was and will continue to be one of the worst days of my entire life. February 25th is the day that one of my best friends was diagnosed with cancer. On Saturday the 24th, I woke up to a sound on my bedroom door, and I realized that it was Maggie. My other dog, Belle, who sleeps in my room, got up and started barking because she was excited that her friend was awake. It was still dark outside, so I looked at my alarm clock and groaned when I saw that the blue illuminated screen read 4:15am. I was really confused because Maggie is a very well-trained dog, and she never gets up or tries to wake anyone up before 7am. This was my first sign that something was wrong. I got up and let Maggie inside my room, and she jumped up on my bed, and laid down. I got back in my bed and went back to sleep, with Maggie lying cuddled up next to me, acting as a little personal heater to keep me warm. When I woke up again, it was 9:30am, and Maggie was still sleeping, which was odd because she is usually up by 7am, jumping on and licking me until I wake up. I woke her up, put on a jacket because it was cold outside, and let her and Belle outside to go to the bathroom. When we came back inside, I fed both of the dogs, but Maggie did not eat her food. This was weird because Maggie usually sucks up her food as fast as a vacuum cleaner. I told my mom about Maggie not eating and she said not to worry about it, so I did not. Later on, Maggie was giving me kisses and I noticed that her tongue was very pale, so pale that it was almost looked like snow. She was also letting me pet her, which she usually growls at me for. This weird coloration and behavior made me really nervous, so I told my mom. She said that she would call the vet and we would go in later.
Three hours later my mom, Maggie, and I were on our way to the Causeway Animal Hospital. We arrived at the Vet and waited in the small waiting room that smelled like dog food and cleaner for about twenty minutes before Dr. Ponsen was ready to see us. When Dr. Ponsen was ready to see us, she called us into the exam room, and then did the pre-exam routine. Maggie hates being touched, and she usually tries to bite Dr. Ponsen, but she just lay on the exam table and did not even move. After the pre-exam was over, we told Dr. Ponsen about what was going on with Maggie, and she said that from what she has heard and seen, that it looks like Maggie has anemia. Anemia is a deficiency of red blood cells or of hemoglobin in the blood, which is a serious matter. The normal red cell count of a dog Maggie’s size is 38 and her count was 12. Dr. Ponsen told us that Maggie needs to get blood transfusions immediately in order to regain the amount of red blood cells that she needs. She also said that if we would not have come on that day that Maggie would have most probably died. We were so happy that we caught the anemia in time and that it was treatable. We got three blood transfusions that day, but we had to leave Maggie at the Vet overnight so she could be monitored. The problem was that each transfusion was $1,500, so we had just spent $4,500, but we were prepared to do whatever it took to help Maggie. My mom and I went home and were not really worried because we thought that Maggie was going to be fine. We were very wrong. We got a call from the Vet the next morning that Maggie’s body had rejected the blood transfusions, and that rejection usually only happens when there is a cancer in the blood. My mom, dad, and I rushed to the Vet to see Maggie, going quite a few miles over the speed limit.
When we got to the Vet and got to see Maggie, she looked like a completely different dog because she usually jumps on us and is very excited to see us, covering our faces with kisses. On this day, Maggie did not even get up to see us, she just stayed on the ground, and she had lost enough weight that we could see her ribs and backbone. We then had to go to a special Vet that was specifically for pets with cancer, called MedVet, which made the news of Maggie’s cancer finally sink in. We went to MedVet and waited while the doctor was looking at Maggie and running some tests on her. We had not eaten breakfast, so we got some pop tarts from the vending machine and some coffee from a little cart in the waiting room, which was calming. Maggie’s doctor finally came out and got us, brought us into a little room, had us sit down, and then told us that Maggie had a terminal cancer, called lymphoma. She told us that the average life expectancy of a dog with lymphoma with chemo is about four months, and without chemo is less than two weeks. I thought the answer was easy and should have been “Yes, of course! Start her on chemo as soon as you can,” right? Wrong. I did not realize at the time what the cost of chemo was for a dog, but I have recently found out that chemo is a big bank breaker. For the amount of time that we needed to have Maggie on chemo, it would have cost around $15,000, which is a very large amount of money, especially when we are in the process of looking for a car for me. We went home for a few hours to decide what to do, and my parents decided that the money was too much and it was not worth it because it would only prolong Maggie’s life for about four months. The doctor told us that her quality of life while on the medicine would be painful, and that the percent of dogs that the medicine works on is 15 percent, so my parents decided that we would put Maggie down the next Tuesday. I was devastated because I thought they were giving up too easily, and there had to be something we could do. I called my grandmother, who also loves Maggie, and told her about what was going on, and because she has quite a lot of money, she offered to help pay. I was so happy that I ran to tell my parents, and they felt bad about taking my grandmother’s money, but they knew that she would not have offered if she did not really want to help. We sat with Maggie and cried because we knew that even though we got the money to get her medicine, there was still only 15 percent of dogs that it works on.
On Sunday, April 16, we gave Maggie her last dose of chemo medicine. All that was left to do was bring her to the Vet to get tests and wait. My family and I sat in the Vet’s waiting room and waited for about two hours, with nothing to do other than bite our nails, shake our legs, and twiddle our thumbs. Finally, the Vet came out, and she was smiling. She told us that the medicine did not just work, which had a fifteen percent chance, but that Maggie’s cancer was gone, which the Vet has never seen happen before. We immediately started crying, not knowing whether to hug each other or Maggie. What we did know, is that we are extremely lucky to have our little miracle Maggie still alive and happy today.