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This fundraiser ended on 01/05/11

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****Please do also read all of the updates I have posted by clicking on them on the left hand side of the screen. That will help you see the progress we have, and continue to make. Thanks!!

My 5 year old Pug/Pomeranian Richard has been diagnosed with a large mass called a cholesteatoma. This consists of a large cyst like mass originating in his right ear canal, causing destruction and loss of bone in his middle ear cavity. The mass takes up a large portion of the right side of his face.

The first symptoms began about a month ago, when he began vomiting frequently over a 24 hour period. We saw an emergency veterinarian at that time who believed it to be a virus or fluke, if you will. She took x-rays of his abdomen, but found no evidence of anything alarming at that time.

From there we nursed him back to health and had about a week of no symptoms at all. About twelve days ago, I noticed a slight head tilt in Richard. I feared a stroke, or something similar and took him right in. They did a full neurological exam, checked all of his bloodwork at that time, and we waited. We came back two days later as his symptoms were already progressing. He now had signs of being dizzy and disoriented as well. They did a thyroid panel, another neurological work up, and put him on antibiotics to rule out an inner ear infection. We discussed the possibility of "Vestibular Syndrome", which creates similar symptoms and comes on for "no given reason" and goes away on it's own after 3 days to 3 weeks. Again we were told to wait and see if any of these things made it better or made it clearer on what was really going on with him.

After another two days, I called my vet as Richard's symptoms were clearly only progressing further. He would fall down at times, couldn't jump up onto furniture anymore, and his walking was compromised. He would walk into things and hit his head. He cried often and was visibly uncomfortable. The vet suggested an immediate consult with a neurological specialist at the University Teaching Hospital. At the consult they did an even more extensive neurological exam. The findings were that he had limited movement and control of his left side, with a severe head tilt to the right side. These symptoms led her to believe that something was going on in his brain. Perhaps a tumor, cancer, a brain bleed of some kind. Her next request was to have an MRI done asap. We scheduled that for the next morning. During the MRI they found something, and called asking to do an additional Cat Scan, and spinal tap in order to fully diagnose their findings. We had the results by 4pm yesterday. As I said at the start of this story, they found a large mass in his ear canal. Starting from within and growing significantly into a mass that takes up most of his right side, it is something that requires removal as soon as humanly possible.

He now requires a surgical consult this week, and surgery to remove the mass as well. The prognosis is good and optimistic, but comes with a few risks. They will go in and completely remove the mass along with his ear canal. After surgery he will stay at the hospital for a few days for monitoring and pain management. Once he comes home we nurse him back to health and hope that we never see signs or symptoms of this again. In 50% of dogs that is the case. Never look back, never with symptoms again. The surgery eliminates it completely. In the other 50% the mass will regrow and present itself after about 1 or 2 years. Richard is in the most likely to succeed category of this study, as his symptoms have not persisted to the worst possible ones that are present if this is left unnoticed for too long. Luckily we found it when we did, and he has not had the additional symptoms. (Jaw locking up, unable to eat, persistent vomiting, etc)

We need help being able to get Richard this surgery. I have already spent approximately 3500-4000 dollars from start to present with all of the testing done, vet visits, specialists, medications, etc. I have maxed out my care credit payment plan option, my credit cards, and my savings account. So I am down to this as my only option. Or worst case scenario, I will cancel my life insurance policy and use whatever money comes out of that to help. The surgery and surgical consult this week are quoted at being between 3000-4000 dollars on their own. So in order to get this surgery and to move forward with getting Richard well, I am asking for help. Any amount helps. Prayers, thoughts, well wishes help too. We need all the help we can possibly muster up.

I have had Richard since he was a 7 week old baby. He is the other side of me, if you will. We rely on each other to make it through the day to day to day. He is not "just a dog". He is my friend, my baby, my world. If I am sad, he sits next to me and won't budge. Licking my tears away. We have been through so much together. I can't start to think about what it would be like without him here. Watching him suffer without any ability to help him or fix him, or even fully understand what has been ailing him has been excruciating. I love this dog with all of my heart.

Currently, Richard is wrapped tight in a baby blanket and requires someone holding him at all times. He is being kept somewhat sedated and completely comfortable until his surgery. The tightness of the blanket helps his feeling of imbalance and makes him feel more secure. His walking isn't stable at all, and he can't really be allowed to attempt it at this point. We will spend this weekend holding him close, and loving him up non stop.

Asking for help is difficult, and isn't something I prefer to have to do. But we need help. There isn't any doubt about it.

Thank you for listening to our situation and for considering helping me to help him. Our gratitude is beyond measure.
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