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Sep 152012
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Katie with mom Linda and Amanda

Katie was a sweet dog.  She was all heart and full of love, but somehow, found herself alone, without a family, and a temporary resident of a high kill shelter in Georgia.  Linda told us that when Katie’s time at the shelter was up, the people there couldn’t bring themselves to euthanize the poor girl – her exceptionally sweet demeanor had won her a stay of execution.  Soon after her brush with death, a wonderful organization in Warrington, PA, Nick of Time Rescue, pulled Katie out of the Georgia shelter, and brought her to PA.  That is where she and Linda met, and began their beautiful seven year relationship.

Linda and her daughter, Amanda, went to Nick of Time to find their dream dog.  They had already chosen a puppy when one of the staff at Nick of Time asked if they might consider another choice.  The dog that the rescue worker brought Linda and Amanda to see was a black, two year old collie black lab mix.  The rescue worker thought that this dog might be a better fit for the family, especially since Linda’s eighty year old aunt would be moving into the house.  The staff member also informed Linda of a sad truth about certain dogs waiting to go to their forever homes – she explained that black dogs are often overlooked and usually the last to be adopted.

There was an immediate, special connection between Linda and Katie.  She decided to take Katie home, right then and there, and as Linda says, “[Katie] has been one of the biggest blessings of our lives”.  If it is possible, I am sure Katie felt the same way.  It took a while for Katie to shed some abusive baggage that she had been carrying from her life before Linda.   Signs indicated that Katie was kicked in her former life, as she was terrified of people’s feet.  It also took her years to bark.  She was probably beaten for barking too.

This past July, Linda noticed that Katie was exhibiting signs of pain in one of her legs.  Katie still had a zest for life, but climbing stairs or jumping into the family car was clearly uncomfortable for her.  Linda took Katie to her local vet on July 17, 2012 and Linda listened as her vet delivered the devastating news that Katie had Osteosarcoma.

After long and careful consideration, the decision was made not to amputate Katie’s leg.  Instead, Linda enrolled Katie in a pain management study going on at UPenn.  Making decisions about what to do for our beloved pets when their life is in the balance, is one of the most difficult things that many of us will ever have to do.  Rather than put Katie through the trauma and negative side effects of chemotherapy, and the unknown side effects of a an experimental vaccine, Linda opted to do what she could to minimize Katie’s discomfort, and maximize her enjoyment of life for the rest of her time.

Katie continued to struggle with pain during the month of August, but Linda told us, “She is back to being a chow hound & inhaling her food”.  She also continued to enjoy being outdoors.  She took her time to delight in the scents carried on the breeze, and frequently enjoyed a roll in the grass with her tail wagging a mile a minute.

When she wasn’t outside, Katie always loved to snuggle with Linda and Amanda, and curl up with Pumpkin. Katie seemed to be experiencing the most discomfort at night time, so Linda spent the nights downstairs, sleeping on a couch, so that she and Katie could be together without Katie needing to climb the stairs to Linda’s bedroom.

Unfortunately, the cancer in Katie’s arm continued to progress, and her bone continued to deteriorate.  One day, Katie fell and was in terrible pain.  Linda and Amanda picked her up and rushed her to The University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine.  The tumor had made Katie’s bone so fragile that it may have broken under her own weight while she was walking.  Linda had to make a decision, and she knew there was only one choice to make.   Saying goodbye to Katie was the hardest thing she ever had to do.  It was also the only fair thing to do for Katie.

Katie was nine and a half years old when she died. The first two years of her life were rough, but she spent the next seven and a half years in a world of abundant love.  All Katie ever wanted was to be petted.  In Linda’s words, “Katie had years of love, spoiling, and happiness, and she gave us the same, 100% of the time, in return.”  Linda says that now with the nights turning chilly, she misses the warmth of her sweet girl: “She’d snuggle and keep me warm at night.  It’s just not the same without my big lovable, Oaf.”

Katie’s life may have been cut short by cancer, but she received a life’s worth of love with Linda, Amanda and Pumpkin, and she gave at least that much back.  Pets like Katie are a true gift.  They are a supplement to our lives that offer us incalculable benefits.  They are a treasure.

Rest in Peace, dear Katie.

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