Three Legged Dog Club
Cassie's Club Members

We're all part of a special plan.
After four weeks of sleepless nights and trying not to break down in front of the people I work with the emergency animal hospital finally had a diagnosis for our beloved Maxwell... Cancer.
He was so weak, and had fought so valiantly, we just couldn't allow him to endure any more. He was so exhausted that after just a few minutes each visit he would lie down at our feet, or in our laps and fall deep asleep. One last time he gave us that big puppy face look and lay down. We nodded to the vet and in a minute it was over.
He was only six years old. It didn't seem possible that his time with us was over. It still doesn't. Day after day during our visits to the Sonora Veterinary Hospital to see Maxwell, we would see handlers walking dogs in the landscape around the clinic. When we inquired we found out that the back half of the clinic was an animal rescue. Our path to our "new" best friend had begun. While searching the internet and trying to decide on a breed for our next dog, we happened upon the Desert Labrador Retriever Rescue site. There she was, the cutest little white/tan lab. My wife immediately recognized the parking lot where we had spent so many unhappy evenings. Reading the profile we were surprised to learn that Guera (pronounced wher-a, meaning Blondie in Spanish) only had three legs. Her left rear leg had been removed after being hit by a car and left for dead on the side of the road. Not much is known about her sad beginnings. Obviously she had been running loose and was struck by a car. But her behavior tells us that she had also been abused by a man in her life. She warms up to women immediately, but she cowers around men. Every day she seems to be getting more relaxed and I hope that soon she will trust that not everyone is planning to do her harm. In just a little short of one week she has gone from wobbling and falling down, to tearing around the yard like a little she-devil. Sharp turns still present a problem but I am confident she will soon master them as well. This morning Gloria put her outside and stacked two of the three sheet metal panels into the dog door (wooden shutters prevent the single piece panel from being inserted). Not one minute later she appeared in the bathroom as we were getting ready for work? Yep... she had removed the panels and let herself in! This is one very smart dog. Only time will tell if she will move our hearts in the way that Max was able to do. Every dog is different, and we are not expecting "Eileen" to compete with Max's memory. She will have to make her own mark in our life and we are pleased to give her the chance.

Rick and Gloria Snider
Phoenix, AZ


Enzo is a 4 year old, 5 pound Chihuahua. At 11 months old he broke both of the bones in his lower right front leg and despite the grumblings of many people who said we should just "put him down" my family decided cost was no consequence for Enzo and took him in for surgery that involved placing a very small titanium plate onto one of his bones. The vet was fantastic and after months of recuperating we were getting ready to go in for the removal of the plate they had inserted to keep the bone together when the unthinkable happened; his leg refractured. Another surgery was performed and we got all the way through the removal of the plate this time. We thought we were in the home stretch when Enzo stepped just the wrong way one evening doing normal doggie things and we were back in the Animal Hospital again trying to figure out what to do now. It turns out that the leg refractured through one of the not completely healed screw holes that had attached the plate to his tiny bone while the site of fracture was healing. After family discussions with Enzo's vet and scraping together funds, a different surgical approach was taken using an external fixation with a "Kirschner Apparatus." Things were looking up! Despite twice daily cleaning to make sure the pins sticking through his skin didn't become infected, the fracture appeared to have healed enough for the apparatus to come off. A soft cast was placed on his leg because of the history he had refracturing through the screw holes of the second titanium plate and we were going to the vet office every week (an hour drive) to check them. One week had been really rough for him he had seemed a little depressed from not being able to play and just be a puppy, or thought maybe he had caught a little bug. He had been holding up his casted leg when you'd go to kiss him on his head and I thought he was telling me "Mommie, please take this thing off of me, I just want to run and run and play." I called the vet and we decided we would come in a few days ahead of schedule for a little check over. I was sitting in the waiting room when I heard the most horrifying SCREAM from my little guy coming from the back and I knew it had happened again and we were back to square one. The first things that go through your head are "how can this be happening to him again, he doesn't deserve this!" You feel like a failure because even though you are fighting for him and following all your post op instructions from the vet, and your little guy is still in pain! By this time we had become a regular fixture at the office. All the nurses and techs knew Enzo and in fact whenever he was there for his check ups or surgeries he would make his rounds of the staff as they all had to hold him (and he never had to stay in a kennel, he was always being carried around by someone in the office). So needless to say, when everyone heard he was in line for another surgery I wasn't the only one in tears (even Enzo's doctor was). Together with the doctor we decided despite the poor outlook that we would try a final time to save the little leg with another plating procedure. Enzo remained in a cast and had to go in for X-rays to check the status. We didn't even get through one X-ray before it was apparent that the leg was not going to make it. He had so much vascular damage to it the bone just couldn't repair itself anymore. So through tears of sadness we decided that was nothing more to do but amputate. I thought what an awful mom I must be to be doing this to him at such a young age. I thought for sure it would make him mean and I felt so guilty leaving him another time with the surgeon. When I picked him up the next day instead of sadness in those beautiful brown eyes, I saw relief. Relief from the pain and burden of a constantly casted leg (this was now about two plus years of being in and out of the vet). Within two days that little puppy personality that I saw slowly wilt away started to peek through the little storm clouds he'd been under. I never in a million years would have thought he would be a puppy again and he was, and still is!! The doctor even joked that Enzo had long decided he didn't want four legs, and you know sometimes it crosses my mind when I see the way he "milks" newcomers for sympathy, which for him means MORE CHEESE! He runs and plays like a kid again (but never ever allowed to jump up or down!). It is the worst feeling to know you are doing the right thing for your little guy by doing all you can, following doctors orders but instead things keep getting worse. The overwhelming feelings of frustration you get at people tell you, "You are nuts to spend so much money on a DOG, why don't you euthanize him and get yourself a new one?" It's just heartbreaking how people don't understand!!! Granted there are many things I could have bought with the thousands of dollars we paid for Enzo's medical care, but they never could have bought the love in those big brown eyes.
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