My name is Jana, and my rescue dog Roxy and I had been fostering dogs for a while. I saw pictures of a beautiful blue pitbull named Joyce at East Valley Shelter with a giant mass on her back and it made my heart hurt. A shelter affiliated vet volunteered to remove that mass but it was a highly complicated procedure and she did not do well. She suffered a stroke during her surgery and when she woke up she was unable to stand or walk. Of course this made me want to help more so I volunteered to foster this girl through a local rescue. At first, I carried her everywhere she needed to go. Her care was more difficult than expected because she was determined to re-learn to walk. She was always so happy go lucky despite her condition, so I re-named her Joy. She learned to push herself up on her front legs first, then she gradually learned to drag her legs. I was not experienced enough at the time to know that she needed shoes to protect her feet and she started to drag her back legs resulting in major wounds on her back leg, thus requiring specialized wound care interventions. We were then referred to CARE rehab, and the rescue raised some funds to help with her rehab needs. Sadly, just before we started rehab we got word that her 10+ pound mass was cancerous. Joy was diagnosed with mast cell cancer. So, we were faced with fighting cancer and starting rehab to learn to walk. Of course many people said we should “just put her down”, but this was not an option. Joy not only wanted to live, she wanted to thrive and to run one day. She had two surgeries prior to rehab and had two more during her rehab process plus she started IV chemo. Despite not feeling her best Joy gave rehab her all. She worked hard every other day at rehab and continued with her home exercise program after I got off work. I have never met anyone or anything more determined to thrive. With the help of Dr. Waldman and the amazing staff at CARE rehab, not only did Joy learn to walk, she learned to run. She also managed to beat cancer after several more surgeries.
It goes without saying, I’m the biggest foster fail ever and my baby girl continues to thrive. I will always be grateful to CARE rehab for giving my girl her leg function back. Most people thought that she would never walk again, but after 6 weeks of rehab, including acupuncture, she learned to run. We went to the beach to celebrate her graduation. I could not be more proud of my baby girl, nor more grateful to CARE rehab.
Jana, Joy, Roxy, and the new addition, Toby