Leo, the Gentle German Shepherd

Guest Blogger: Andrea B.
April, 2023

Where do I begin – Leo is the love of my life.  He is the most gentle, lovable, caring dog in the world, really he is, just ask anyone.  He and his sister Lea turn seven on July 31, 2023.

It was not quite six weeks ago when my bff Kim came to visit and she had just made it in the door and was greeted by Leo and loving him up when not a minute later she said, ‘What’s this on Leo’s jaw?’ I immediately felt it and was shocked that I had missed this huge firm mass the size of a lemon inches below his ear.  I immediately called the vet who was closed due to the weekend.  We decided to wait until Monday to seek medical attention.

There I was at the Small Animal Clinic in Pueblo 8:00 AM sharp on Monday.  They aspirated the growth and the result knocked the wind right out of me.  ‘Cancer cells.’  Thank God they had a surgery cancellation that morning and the tumor was removed and sent to CSU Ft. Collins for pathology.  Histopathology came back and confirmed adenocarcinoma of the salivary glands which had invaded his vascular system.  There was no time to wait.  I wanted to get chemo through his blood as quickly as I could.  I was referred to and immediately called Treeline Veterinarian Cancer Center in Boulder (“Dr. Oberthaler is the best”, I was told).  She consulted with me that Thursday by phone and Leo and I headed North that following Monday.

Saturday night about 4:00 in the morning I was jolted up, ‘I cancelled his pet insurance in December to save money.’  Then the panic really set in.  Okay, who am I kidding I’ve been panicking since I first felt that stupid tumor.  After the first round of chemo, surgery, metastatic x-rays, meds, and some supplies I was right near $2,500.00.  Chemo would cost $860.00 every three weeks for eighteen weeks plus some additional metastatic x rays along the way.  I’m single, Leo and Leo don’t have a fur daddy, but I knew that money could not come in between me and my baby.  I reached out to family and it was my sweet God daughter Haley that informed me that she started a GoFundMe page for Leo.  I hated to have to ask for handouts but I thought what else am I gonna do?  Then people I didn’t even know (and some I did;) started sending Leo money.  I was overwhelmed by the thoughtfulness and generosity of strangers and family.

Later, my boss informed me that, since I work for the state of Colorado, I could receive a 20% discount from CSU Ft. Collins veterinarian hospital.  But, you see, Leo and I had already formed a relationship with Dr. Oberthaler and it took me a few days to get the nerve up to call and tell her that I had no other choice but to take Leo to CSU for a second cost opinion.  Dr. Oberthaler didn’t cease to amaze me when she informed me of KarmaSue AND that, since I was fundraising, I could also receive 20% off of her services.  We visited Dr. Oberthaler last week and Leo even dressed up in his KarmaSue bandana for her.

OMG so the best part!! I applied to KarmaSue and received generous funding which really took the edge off.  I am now not so stressed.  I can breathe and be relaxed around Leo.  Since that amazing day, I have been cancer-stress free.

As far as Leo, well he’s everyone’s dream dog, favorite dog, well-mannered dog, lovable dog – all true and actual statements.  He’s never met a ball or a body of water he didn’t like.  He knows how to spell so we have spell park, walk, ball, snack, bone, and some others all backwards.  Up until the day he was diagnosed, I used to wonder how many years I could possibly have with them – if I fed them the best food, exercise them, socialize them, take them for regular vet checks… and I did all of that.  I don’t think like that anymore.  I do not know how much time Leo will have but I do know that he will have the best time.  I know I will never take one day for granted.  I know that I have done everything I could to extend his quality of life and give him back just a fraction of the love and life that he has given me.

Having a reality scare like what cancer will do to you really makes you think differently, appreciate more, and love exponentially, just when you thought you couldn’t love them anymore.  Knowing that there are kindhearted, caring people like those at KarmaSue gave me the hope I needed when I started believing that there wasn’t any.  Britton has kept in touch with me weekly, her emails are uplifting and show her true character and emotion, she is a person who truly loves helping people and their pets and I am so grateful to have crossed her path.

Special note: Leo’s family is still raising funds to assist with his treatment. If you feel compelled to do so, please donate and/or share their GoFundMe page. Thank you so much!

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