Life Saving Dog

Marika Warden of Ithaca, New York, with Suki the Havanese life-saving dog, photographed by Ray Possen“Robin, Marika needs a dog. Her life depends on getting this puppy,” my sister said, speaking of my daughter in the same tone as the doctors who insisted Marika’s life depended on getting a bone marrow transplant. So in the fall of 2009, in the middle of our struggles with cancer, we got a jolly new Havanese puppy. She became the lifesaver we all needed. We couldn’t help but laugh as Suki climbed to the tops of couches, to the shoulders of anyone sitting on the couches, and atop Marika’s bed where she slept happily among the stuffed animals or under Marika’s chin.

In the end, Suki could not save the life of my daughter. But after, nudging me up from bed and out of the house each day, and snuggling with me at night, Suki saved mine.

Robin Botie of Ithaca, New York, photoshops loving hands all around Suki, her inherited Havanese dog.I would go so far as to recommend that anyone who has lost a loved one should get a dog. I would say Suki is my best friend. I would do anything for my beloved, inherited, life-saving dog. So why did I tell people all week, as we waited for the dog oncologist appointment, I would not let Suki get chemo or radiation?
“If she has cancer, I won’t put her through all that pain and discomfort,” I told them. But I told myself I couldn’t afford it. In fact, as soon as I learned there was a chance of cancer, I had set a limit on what I would invest on my precious friend. Knowing people who’d spent thousands of dollars on their dogs with cancer, I didn’t know of a single cancer-surviving dog. I wasn’t going to take a chance on losing my dog and my money.

The oncologist appointment was followed by long hours of waiting and not being able to focus on work. Finally the doctor called with the results of the fine-needle aspiration biopsy. On the floor with Suki in my lap, I hugged the phone. I hugged Suki, closed my eyes, and buried my face into the soft fur on her head. Hanging up, I cried. Then I stood, lifting Suki, and danced with her in my arms. No cancer.

Happy Birthday to my joyful Suki who turned six on Saturday.

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16 thoughts on “Life Saving Dog

  1. Elaine Mansfield

    How did I miss this beauty? I have no answer. I love you and Suki. I’m grateful there is no cancer. Willow, my life-saving dog, the one that took two tries to find, cost me plenty with her bad knees. Something like $12,000 I figure. It was that or make her into a three-legged dog, but then it would have been a two-legged dog. Now as she runs like the wind on our walks, I am 100% sure I did the right thing. She is the animal of my heart.

    Reply
    1. Robin Botie Post author

      OMG, gotta love that Willow-dog. And the Suki. I just got home from being away a whole week. Amazing how much love those sweet animals can show. Cheers, Elaine.

      Reply
  2. Lynne Taetzsch

    What a relief, Robin. I’m happy for both of you! And I agree with not letting a beloved dog suffer through cancer treatment. Hopefully she will share her life with you for many more years.

    Reply
  3. Wendy Bennett

    Held my breath until the last words… Whew! A HUGE gush of relief… 🎈

    Reply
    1. Robin Botie Post author

      Cheers, Wendy. And thanks for the little red balloon. Don’t know exactly what it stands for but it feels just right today. We can breathe now.

      Reply
  4. Annette Corth

    WHEW! I am almost as happy as you are at the good news about Suki. May she live many years to bring comfort and joy to you.

    Reply
  5. Carole LaTour

    I am happy and relieved to hear the good news that Suki is cancer free. Tears in recognition for the hope we cling to desperately in this journey of grief.

    Reply
    1. Robin Botie Post author

      Cheers, Carole. I’m still clinging. To Suki, I mean. It’s like being given another chance at life. Not since my daughter died have I gone through such intense emotion. This time it ended victoriously. And I feel like I’m kissing the world everyday with my heart and my eyes.

      Reply

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