By Pink Naftolin
I rescued Sadie five years ago, and it was love at first sight. Sadie couldn’t write this blog post, so as her “Doggie Dad”, I will.
I adopted Sadie when she was 8 years old. She is a sweet, loving black Labrador Retriever / Hound mixed breed with a full grey beard and crossed eyes. She had been surrendered to Brampton Animal Services back in 2011 by her former family, with nothing but a bag of dog food. How lucky I am to have been able to rescue Sadie and welcome her into my home on Labour Day weekend in 2011. The truth is, she rescued me, too. I had lost my previous rescue dog Theo to cancer at age 14 a few months before I met Sadie. I often refer to her as my “miracle dog”; since meeting her, my life has never been the same.
I’m a numbers guy. Taxes, audits and accounting (including forensic accounting) were my specialties. I am now semi-retired and have turned my attention to the health and welfare of all “four-legged kids”, which has been a life-long passion of mine. I have rescued all of my “kids” over the years. And while I’m a University of Guelph alumnus, my relationship with the Ontario Veterinary College (OVC) began long after my time at University in the 1970s; it’s only been in recent years when I needed to access advanced veterinary care for my pets. OVC saved my dog Theo after being diagnosed with liver cancer when he was just seven years old. Theo lived for another seven years before succumbing to hemangiosarcoma, a form of cancer in blood vessel cells, at age 14 in 2011.
Sadie (left) and Beau (right) at the 2016 Smiling Blue Skies Walk for Canine Cancer in Toronto.
My girl was diagnosed with cancer in April 2016. She has what is called a histiocytic sarcoma in her front left leg. Histiocytic sarcomas are very aggressive tumours, and can spread to other areas of the body, I learned. I’m not a stranger to canine and feline cancer –Sadie is my third dog to suffer from this terrible disease. I have also had three cats battle cancer. My daughter’s dog, Beau, a six-year-old Golden Retriever was diagnosed with cancer a month before Sadie and has been treated at the University of Guelph’s Ontario Veterinary College (OVC), too. My daughter and I have both been on the same roller coaster ride during the past year; different battles, but the same vicious disease.
Since last April, Sadie has gone through surgery to remove her spleen after a mass was discovered, chemotherapy and two rounds of radiation therapy (once in June and again in October). Leaving Sadie at OVC for her radiation schedule involved treatments once a day for five straight days. I can’t thank everyone on the oncology team enough for going above and beyond to make Sadie and myself feel at ease, and for providing constant updates to me when I had to leave her in Guelph. Everyone on our care team have been terrific listeners – they went out of their way to talk with me and answer my questions; believe me, I had a lot of them. Words can’t really describe how grateful I am.
Before I left from Sadie’s last appointment at OVC this October, she was presented with a piece of paper entitled “Sweetheart Award”. I had tears in my eyes. Everyone who was around signed the keepsake for me. I have framed it and I will treasure it forever. Without OVC and my family veterinarian Dr. Ruth Weintrop and her team at Leaside Animal Clinic, it’s quite possible my Sadie may not be with me today. How fortunate I am that my girl is a fighter and is still here.
Every September, Sadie, Beau, my daughter and I do the Smiling Blue Skies Walk for Canine Cancer in Toronto. My daughter and I both attended this year’s walk in the Toronto Beaches with our “fur kids”. Being able to support the cancer research and discovery happening at OVC is important because it gives me hope that one day, pets and “pet parents” may not have to go through everything I have with my own. This year was especially important to me because of Sadie’s journey the past nine months. My daughter and I had decided that we would attend the walk no matter what happened to Sadie or Beau this year – we would be walking it whether we had two dogs with us; one dog; or an empty leash in honour of our companion. That’s why it was so special we could be there with both Sadie and Beau.
We completed Sadie’s treatment this fall. This month, I received the best present I could have ever asked for: we received a series of test results back, and there was no sign that her cancer had spread anywhere else in her body. I gave Sadie the biggest hug I have ever given her, and I felt sheer joy and relief when I got the good news; Sadie wagged her tail. What a journey the past year has been.
Sadie will turn 13 on January 29. I am so grateful for everything OVC did to help get my Sadie back home where she belongs.
Thank you for taking the time to read about our journey on this roller coaster of emotion.
Pink and Sadie at her “Barkmitzvah” in December 2016