Primary Veterinarian Information:
I am submitting this on behalf of Michelle P., a lovely young lady who (in 2006) came to us requesting a puppy to train as her service dog. We interviewed her, took her application and then placed one of our very special, most calm Doodle puppies with her. At that time, we did not have a training program and the Gabby Jack Ranch was just a dream. Michelle received and trained our very first donated service dog puppy, his name is Max.
Max is an F1B Labradoodle and his mother, Bayley, and Father, Chase, are still living with us and are in good health. Max was trained by Michelle with the help of trainers in Arizona and California. Max was quick to learn and loved Michelle from day one. His biggest training challenge was to learn not to dig in his water dish! (Yes, he is a Doodle.)
Michelle quickly became a dear friend to me and to my husband and we are so proud of her and of Max. They inspired us to create a program of service dog donation and training.
On one particularly touching day, my husband (Dave Reynolds) visited Michelle and Max at Michelle’s office. Dave returned and told me that he was very moved as he watched Michelle walking back to her office, down a long hallway, using her dual canes for walking while Max ambled along beside her, carrying her bag, leash dragging on the floor and his tail gently wagging. People called out to Max but he remained steadfast at Michelle’s side, his only recognition of the new friends reflected by a more noticeable wag of his tail. Dave understood then just how special a service dog bond is. It is far more than a working relationship; it is a devotion that exists beyond our ability to express.
On another visit, Dave invited Michelle and her date to dinner; but he was very touched and sad that the discussion was not focused on “what do we want to eat?” but rather, “where do you think we can go without being asked to leave because of Max?” This is a question that no person with disabilities should need to consider. Michelle has become an advocate to help educate businesses and explain their customers needs when they enter with service dogs.
As Michelle says:
“Max means everything to me. I could not function well at work or home without him. He can quite literally pick anything up. He can pull off clothes (socks, pants etcetera). It is not an exaggeration to say when the pain of muscle spasms & spasticity gets really bad; my will to persevere is tied to him. I'm aware that I need to keep going for him; he needs to eat and go out.
“He steadies me when walking. He improves my social life through contact with others, especially if they are afraid to talk to me. There’s really no aspect of my life he doesn't improve.”
A few weeks ago, while at church, Michelle noticed that Max was coughing and had labored breathing; very shortly thereafter that he was in extreme distress. An emergency visit to her vet resulted in an x-ray showing a large mass on Max’s lung. Max was then rushed to a specialist vet where he had emergency MRI and biopsy and they discovered cancer. The tumor was 10 cm and an aggressive form of lung cancer (a bronchoalueolar carcinoma). The oncologist is recommending chemo, but everything Michelle has read says that this type of tumor doesn't respond well to chemo, they claim that targeted radiation after surgery is more effective.
Michelle is confused, heartbroken and seeking second opinions. This battle will be a long and expensive one for Michelle and Max. Michelle does not have much money and has been asking friends and relatives for help. I suggested that she apply to the Doodle Messenger. I told her to read Sully’s story because I felt that she would get a measure of hope from this otherwise dreadful diagnosis for her beloved companion, Max.
Currently, Max is home and recovering from his surgery. The vets say that they were able to get the entire tumor and that they did not find cancer cells in his lymphatic system. They are concerned about microscopic cells that escaped and may be found elsewhere. The vets are suggesting chemotherapy but Michelle has been confused as to whether to use a more targeted method with radiation. There will be treatment in the future for Max and expenses will mount for Michelle. For now, the shock is settling in and Michelle is considering all of Max’s options.
Max is in good spirits, he is eating, drinking and eliminating normally. While choking back tears, Michelle told me, “I just want to help him live.” Thank you for considering help for Michelle and Max. They are truly a remarkable team and love each other very much.
Founder, President and CEO
Gabby Jack Ranch TM
A division of Canine Service Connection, a non-profit corporation
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