In late February, Canine Cupids welcomed a brand new foster mom, Kristie Ruhland, who was supposed to be participating in a 50K cross-country ski race in Hayward, Wisconsin, called the Birkebeiner, or Birkie for short. While Mother Nature did not come through with the snow, fate delivered a skinny and frightened brindle and white dog into her care.
Most of Birkie’s previous life is unknown, but there is evidence that she was bred and then discarded. She was emaciated, had double ear infections and tons of skin issues. She shrank and crouched when presented with a leash. All of that is heartbreaking, but is pretty normal for a dog entering foster care.
As it turns out, Birkie’s needs were far from normal. At her vet appointment, she tested positive for heartworm. Her foster mom, Kristie, agreed to the extensive care needed and Canine Cupids agreed to cover her medical expenses.
You would think that would be enough for this sweet girl to deal with, but during one of her visits to the vet, she had some mammary tumors aspirated, and the results were suspicious. Berkie went back to the vet to undergo a biopsy. They were cancerous.
A decision had to be made on what to treat first, the heartworm or the cancer. Anesthesia is risky being infected with heartworm. However, if the cancer metastasized, then her life expectancy would be less than a year. The decision was made to have Birkie undergo a full mastectomy.
Birkie is healed from her mastectomy surgery and all is well so far. She had three drains and multiple staples and stitches forming a 19-inch incision. In addition to the tumors, three of her body lumps were also removed.
Birkie had her first heartworm shot on May 1, 2017, and had her second shot at the end of the month, with the third one on the following day. The hardest part will be keeping her calm for six weeks after that last shot, according to her foster mom.
Despite all of the pain, uncertainty and medical issues, Birkie remains a bright and happy girl and flourishes under the love and care of her foster mom. She continues to heal while learning to be someone’s pet and likes to play with her foster brother. Birkie loves to snuggle and curl up in the bed. Her foster mom says, “She has been so resilient through this all and has taught me a lot about being happy.”
Update from Foster Mom: It’s PJ time again. We are trying our best to be lazy per the doctor’s order. Birkie is being such a trooper with the heartworm treatment, but when you look in her eyes and the way she holds her ears, it’s obvious that she’s not quite feeling like herself. She still wags her tail, though, because she has a lot to be happy about.
To date, her treatment has come in over $3,000 with more vet expenses to come!
STORY AND PHOTOS COURTESY OF ANNA OLSON-SAJDAK