As the pet parents of every dog who is diagnosed with some form of cancer quickly realize, we’re all in this together. Fighting the fear and panic that grip us is universal. We reach out for accurate information, second opinions, the best surgeon, oncologist, holistic vet, diet and meds. We accept support from other families battling canine cancer, from friends and family, from our personal faith and prayer chains and from organizations like 2 million Dogs. All of this makes it possible for us to approach the positive attitude and amazing courage with which our beloved dogs face this disease.
My service dog partner, Emily and I said yes to Puppy Up! with 2 Million Dogs after she was diagnosed with mast cell cancer. Luke, Murphy and Hudson were walking through our town in March 2009 when we learned they would be walking shelter dogs at Animal Friends Humane Society here in SW Ohio. I wanted so much for Emily to meet the boys. The same thing which always challenged us, a lack of wheelchair accessible transportation, kept us from meeting them but couldn’t stop us from being involved. We walked our miles in our neighborhood and would have been honored to walk into Boston with them. Since that wasn’t possible I asked Nature’s Variety, makers of the raw diet which was part of Emily’s successful treatment, to sponsor the cause and they did, for $5,000! We also immediately said yes to The Canine Hereditary Cancer Consortium (CHCC), Canine Comparative Cancer Study, by donating Emily’s DNA. When I learned about the 2012 Calendar as a way to raise funds for this wonderful organization another yes was generated. Reading all the stories, seeing the wonderful spirits of each dog lighting their eyes, tells me once again that Emily is in good company.
Emily and I gratefully said yes to each day we were given. She gracefully overcame great physical and emotional challenges. As a very young dog she gave birth and survived domestic violence in her previous home, sustaining facial nerve and dental damage while protecting the woman.
For us, as foster mom and foster dog for our animal rescue, Wildwood Pet Network, Emily quickly became our ambassador and nanny dog to foster kittens, puppies and ducklings. We said yes, to beating the heartworm we discovered Emily was carrying and then yes again to creating a life together as family.
We knew we could always count on each other and so when my health began to change I hired a trainer and at age seven Emily enthusiastically said yes to being my service dog partner. We trained together for three months and in that time Emily learned everything she needed to learn to be my mobility assistance dog. Our special bond deepened as my physical challenges increased. As with all good service/training relationships we continued to shape ours, taking great delight in training and our working partnership.
As my needs continued to change Emily adapted to meet them, often problem solving the solution herself. Whether retrieving dropped items (phones, remotes, pens, keys, pieces of paper, etc); shopping and paying for things in the store; pulling me in the manual wheelchair or adapting to assist me in the motorized wheelchair; riding the van lift with me or sitting proudly on the bus seat with her safety harness on, the joy on Emily’s face (and on mine for that matter) radiated. We tackled Emily’s ACL injury rehab with water and physical therapy and the unfailing support of our friends – Emily led us in her successful, non surgical recovery with typical zeal.
Just by being herself Emily proved that dogs can learn at any age, are capable of much more than is generally expected and that rescue dogs rock!!! When we worked in public she served as a wonderful ambassador for dogs in general as well as for dogs who serve. People were always amazed, delighted and inspired as this beautiful cocker spaniel with sparkling eyes and a great big doggie smile did her job with joy and devotion.
No matter what kind of day I was having she made my heart sing. I am so grateful that Emily and I chose to live each day with joy and not in fear of the day when we would be parted in this lifetime. The morning that I awoke to discover that my beloved girl had died without warning while sleeping next to me changed my life and the lives of everyone who cares about us. Cancer did not take her life, her heart simply stopped. To say that we all love and miss her, and always will, hardly seems enough.
I am so very proud of Emily and 2 Million Dogs – of what they have and continue to accomplish. I hope you will choose to help eradicate cancer with your votes.
Thank you for this opportunity to share the story of 2 Million Dogs and dear Emily. Please feel free to forward this message.
Emily’s Mom, Janet
To donate (vote) for Emily and help eradicate cancer, please visit by midnight (CDT) September 17th: