A Dog’s Tale of Her Journey Back to Health
Hi. My name is Sadie Mae, and I’m a Catahoula/Rottweiler mix. I came into my owner’s life when I was 12 weeks old, the day before my owner’s birthday. In a strange way, I arrived to teach him, but it took him a long time to realize the gifts I have to offer.
He was walking through the farmers market and stopped to look at me. He looked into my eyes and immediately fell in love! When my owner took me home, he brought me out to his garden. I didn’t know who he was, and when he wasn’t looking, I ran away and disappeared. My owner felt terrible for losing me. Miraculously, I survived through the night. The next day I had a little bark, and my owner was able to locate me. This was the best birthday present anybody could ever have!
I am a very good and kind loving loyal dog. I watch everything my owner does. I protect him. My only bad habit, at least in the eyes of my owner, is that I love to roll in poop and other smelly things! But I am a hunting dog, and it is in my blood. I love to howl with my owner at the ambulance and fire engine sirens. I live a bit out in the country and have several acres to roam. Every night, I chase away the deer and coyotes from my owner’s garden. When I was young, I used to charge out the door barking at full speed, knowing that at some point I would find something to chase. I used to bring home dead deer legs and turkey wings. My owner would roll his eyes and say "great!"
Every day, I shower my owner with unconditional love and affection.
A year ago, when I was 8, I started to get sick. I would go to my owner’s bed and rub the side of my face on the blanket. My owner did not recognize the signs I was trying to show. The irritation became worse and worse, and eventually it started to become so painful I would cry out in pain. At first, my owner thought it was a tooth infection, but when my vet visited, we found out it was a big lump at the top of my jaw. We did a biopsy and found out on New Year’s Eve it was a large tumor. It was growing up into my jaw and creating a lot of pain. It took a long time to schedule an appointment with a specialist. I would cry and whimper every night. My owner felt really bad and told me he felt sad for not paying enough attention to me. How could somebody be so unaware of the type of love and affection I had to offer? My owner started to cook nice meals for me. I would get to eat fresh greens from the garden and cooked meat. Sometimes he would make a stew for me.
Eventually, I was fortunate enough to schedule a visit with an oncologist in Marin. They did a CT scan and determined that I might have a chance with surgical removal of the tumor. Strangely, this was exactly 8 years to the day that my owner adopted me when I was a little baby. I was fortunate to get an appointment the following week. I was scared, but the doctors took good care of me. They had to cut out part of my jawbone to get to the tumor. It was very close to my eye, and we were worried I might lose my vision. Fortunately, the operation went very well, and the following day I was able to go back home.
Then I had to go to the UC Davis veterinary hospital for radiation treatment. Radiation treatment is not very fun, but I got through it. I was away from my owner for more than 3 weeks because I had to have 16 radiation treatments in a span of 23 days, and it wasn’t possible for my owner to take me back and forth that far every day. I stayed with Dawn* in Woodland. She is a very nice person, and she took very good care of me. When it was all done, I was so happy to see my owner again!
Unfortunately, my jawbone later got infected, and it did not heal. It was infected for 3 months and eventually I had to go back in for another surgery. The bone was successfully removed, and the infection ceased.
My owner qualified for financial assistance through a generous grant from the Blue Buffalo Foundation’s support of the Petco Foundation pet cancer treatment program at the UC Davis veterinary hospital. The grant helps support treatments for dogs like me with cancer. The project is designed to support pet parents of modest means or pet parents whose pets provide a service to others.
I am very thankful to everybody that took care of me and helped me heal. My owner is very thankful and appreciative. He gets another chance to realize how much loyalty and unconditional love I bring to him every day. He still cooks for me. Whenever I want to chase a ball, I bring it to him, and he stops what he’s doing so he can throw it for me. He also made a special place so that I can sleep close to him every night.
Life is so short, and we are so grateful we get to have more time to share!
Thank you to UC Davis and the Petco Foundation for all of your help and assistance!
--Sadie Mae 🐾
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*Dawn Gillette, a former veterinary technician at UC Davis, owns All Species Animal Care in Woodland, California. Located near the UC Davis veterinary hospital, All Species Animal Care provides medical boarding for animals needing ongoing care. Dawn was able to board and transport Sadie Mae to UC Davis for her multiple radiation treatments.