Annie, a rescue dog, could not have known her life was in danger, but owner Alison Cole did. Ms Cole, of Woodbury, works at The Taunton Press.
She noticed something was wrong the week before July 4, “just a little red bump; I didn’t think much of it.” Ms Cole left Annie, an 11-year-old, 75-pound hound mix, with her parents when she went away for the holiday weekend and upon returning, she noticed the bump “was swollen and infected.” After a quick trip to the vet, she learned that Annie did not have an infection.
“They said no, it’s a tumor,” Ms Cole said. Annie had bone cancer.
Ms Cole became worried about Annie, “the first dog I have owned on my own.” At the thought of a tumor, she began to worry about her close companion.
“It’s me and her — inseparable. I rush home from work to take her for a long walk, and you always see me with her, hanging out the back window of the car,” said Ms Cole. But July has been a “whirlwind” of highs and lows, she said, as Annie, an otherwise a happy dog, began to feel sick.
“She was unfazed for a while until the past week [July 20–26]. She grew lethargic and I could see that she knew something was wrong, she wasn’t herself,” Ms Cole said. Regarding surgery, she said, “I knew it had to be done quickly.”
The aggressive form of bone cancer had to be removed.
On July 24, Annie was coming out of surgery at Newtown Veterinary Specialists. T Chad Andrews, DVM, performed the surgery, assisted by Christopher Potanas, DVM.
“The surgeons said she is doing amazingly well.”
Her surgery “was better than expected from what I hear from surgeons … with this type of bone cancer, normally what you can see is just the tip of the iceberg, but the vet was impressed because what you see on her, nothing was hidden under the surface.”
She was able to raise funds to cover the sudden expenses for a roughly $6,000 operation, but will need as much as $4,000 more to pay for needed chemotherapy treatments.
Regarding the initial expense, and those to come, Ms Cole said, “I couldn’t afford it on my own.”
She started a fundraising page, Fundly.com/save-annie, to help pay for the costs of Annie’s treatment. In about a week, between July 16 and 23, Ms Cole had raised $4,800 of her $6,000 goal, and was able to book the surgery.
“I had to go through with it, I could see tumors growing,” she said. “[Annie] couldn’t eat and was very uncomfortable.”
Now Ms Cole is aiming to raise enough for the chemo, she said. By July 25, Ms Cole faced expenses for follow-up care. The tumor is gone, she said, “but mutated cells could still come out. I would hate to have done this for nothing. Ideally I would love to do chemo for her.” She now needs to reach an overall $10,000.
“I have promised that if I go above and beyond my fundraising goal I would donate it to DAWS. They’re a great community, they all helped me save my dog when I couldn’t save her,” she said.
Alison And Annie
“Annie and I, we go camping together and hiking together. She is always with me,” Ms Cole said. “She’s not your normal dog, she has a million different emotions and she displays the emotions, she is awesome.”
Ms Cole rescued Annie from Danbury Animal Welfare Society (DAWS), in 2007, where she once volunteered. “I rescued her with a missing eye. Who knows what kind of life she had before I got her. But she has adjusted to life with one eye — still catches birds and things and brings them to me.” Before arriving at DAWS, Alison believes Annie may have been used as a fighting dog in West Virginia.
When Ms Cole first launched her fundraising page, she found strong support from many of her DAWS friends and volunteers.
“I was amazed at how the dog community at DAWS fully backed what I was doing and shared my story, and got donations and e-mails from people I don’t even know,” she said. She is “amazed” again at how the community rallied. “They gave her a chance that I couldn’t on my own.” When Annie was at DAWS she was everyone’s favorite. “Anyone who has ever met her loves her,” Ms Cole said.
Social media helped Ms Cole and supporters spread awareness, and the friends she met through DAWS and friends and family were her biggest support. Both the dog community and the many people Ms Cole has met through years of volunteering for Newtown Relay For Life events “were a big support.”
Follow Annie’s story on Alison Cole’s Facebook page. There, readers can see updates on Alison and Annie’s ongoing effort to get well. On Monday, July 28, with Annie in her postsurgery cone, Ms Cole posted: “She’s eating meatballs like they’re going out of style. Has not shown any signs of pain or discomfort other than the occasional moments where the cone gets stuck on something and there’s a look of pure panic in her eye. She’s doing her best to still enjoy her car rides.
“She’s an awesome patient. However, we will be heading to see the surgeon tomorrow [Tuesday July 29], as this poor pup can’t catch a break.”
According to her post, Ms Cole noticed “a large, hard bump on what’s left of her jaw that wasn’t there the day I brought her home. The surgeon believes it’s one of the pins they used on her jaw that is now trying to push itself out. I can only imagine that it’s painful — but I guess we’ll find out soon since she just finished her last dose of pain meds. Hopefully tomorrow goes easy on us. Thank you all for the continued love and support. Love, A&A.”
Ms Cole confirmed Tuesday afternoon that a pin placed in Annie’s jaw had started to push out. “She isn’t showing signs of pain so the advice is to keep it in place as long as possible.”
Tissue should heal around the pin, “but sometimes they do migrate out,” she said.
Working from home Tuesday, July 29, Ms Cole said Annie “is sleeping under my feet,” but was not enjoying her cone. After a talk with Annie’s surgeon, he is optimistic that with chemo, “We’re in a really good place,” Ms Cole said.