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This fundraiser ended on 07/31/12

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Niko's Surgery Fund... to offset the cost of surgeries needed asap for a mass on his spleen, cruciate ligament repair and bladder stone.

Hello!
My name is Debi and my Eskie, Niko, and I need your help. American Eskimo Dogs are affectionately called Eskies and I'm a very proud Eskie Mom :)

This is Niko's Surgery Fund. The goal is to offset the cost of 3 surgeries that he's going to need in rapid succession ASAP, as well as the extensive pre- and post-op care that will be required. There will be gifts and incentives to reward your generosity :)



About Me and My Little Guy

Niko is 13 1/2 years old. He came home at 6 weeks old and he's been the light of my life ever since. I've never been away from him and I can't imagine my life without him. I can't imagine coming home and not seeing his wagging tail, bright eyes and cute puppy smile.

Anyone who knows me knows that Niko is my child with 4 paws (the only child I have). He's my pride and joy; my heart and soul; my best friend. He's mommy's special little guy and he ALWAYS comes first. It's hard to put into words just how much he means to me and how much of an impact he's had on my life.

He captured my heart at 5 weeks old the first time I held him in the palm of my hand, belly-up and chewing on my finger while he held it in his tiny paws looking up at me with those big, bright, brown eyes. The week I had to wait to bring him home was the longest week of my life!

Since he came home at 6 weeks old and 3 1/2 pounds, he has showered me with unconditional love and lots of puppy kisses. He has helped me through some horribly dark and difficult times, giving me a reason to get up and keep going. He's my reason to get out of bed in the morning and allows me to feel joy even on the hardest days... just by looking at his cute, smiling face. When I'm upset, he's right there to lick my tears. When I'm happy, he's there to share my joy.

Niko is pretty much a little furry person. He has his own adorable personality. He's incredibly smart and his vocabulary is unbelievable! He likes to drink from a cup and will "ask" you to get him his cup from the counter... yes, he has his own cup and of course he needs water fresh from the faucet ;)

He often rolls around on his back, wiggling back and forth and loves it when you rub his belly! He likes to go for walks and roll around on the neighbor's front lawn. He's very playful and knows most of his toys by name. He loves his "Wilson" (tennis ball) and will drop it at your feet when he wants to play fetch. He's also partial to toys he can swing around and has a collection of monkeys with long arms and legs that are perfect! One of his favorites though is his Scooby, a stuffed Scooby-Doo that I bought him for his 7th birthday. Scooby has a special place on Niko's waterbed in the living room. They take naps in the afternoon and hang out all day. Whatever you do, don't try to put Scooby in his toy box because he'll go get him out right away... and put him back on the waterbed!

I have never hesitated to do or buy anything for Niko. He's always had everything he could ever need or want; no matter what the cost. He may be 13 1/2 years old, but you'd never know it. When he first started showing signs of arthritis, I found the best supplement I could for him... Cosequin DS... and within a week he was back to his old self. He's gotten it every day since and it has enabled him to still be playful and energetic and do things that he had stopped doing... like jumping up on the couch to look out the bay window :)



What Brought Us Here

On Wednesday June 13th, I took Niko out to do his business before leaving for an appointment.

When I got to the bottom of the stairs, he had stopped a few steps up and was waiting, back paws on one step and front paws on the next one up, just like he usually does at the bottom landing when he wants me to carry him up. When I went to pick him up (one arm under his bum, the other under his belly as I always do), he let out such a squeal I took away my hands, which had barely touched him, and stumbled backwards! He refused to let me pick him up and proceeded to slowly and carefully make his way up the stairs with me following right behind.

Once he got upstairs, I watched him walk around a bit and he seemed ok except his back leg was a bit stiff. He ate a cookie and went into his crate (he can tell when I'm leaving). I was only going to be gone about 45 minutes.

When I returned, I opened the crate, but he wasn't coming out... even though I had the mail and he gets very excited about mail delivery because he gets a cookie... his "mail." He tried to get up, but it took him like 5 times to successfully come out and when he did his leg didn't look right to me. I immediately called the vet and told them I needed to bring him in, unsure if he possibly had stepped on something or hurt himself; thinking maybe a splinter in his paw, a leg cramp or a dislocated knee or hip. We left right away.

I carried him in and Dr Jeff examined his leg. Definite injury... he blew the cruciate ligament in his left hind knee. That was terrible news, but it was about to get a whole lot worse.

As Dr Jeff was checking him out further, he said he felt something in his belly and that, before we deal with the knee, he needed to get x-rays to look at his belly and get some labwork.

When he brought me to look at the x-rays, my jaw dropped. He said "He has a mass in his belly." I was devastated. It felt like someone had shot me in the heart. He said it appears to be in his spleen, but we would need to get an ultrasound to be sure what we're dealing with so we scheduled one.

His labwork was good and did not indicate a rutpure, so he didn't feel the exorbitant expense of rushing him 40 minutes away for a stat ultrasound was necessary, especially since I'm with Niko all the time.

Then he took chest x-rays because that's the first place a hemangiosarcoma would typically metastasize to. Luckily that was clean.

We need to deal with the mass before he can have the surgery he needs on his knee. So all he could do for his knee right now is give him pain meds and told me to try to keep him off it.

He needs to be monitored 24/7 for signs of a rupture and brought in immediately if I see any of them. And if it's during time when they're closed, I'm to call one of the 24 hour vets we discussed and get him to their Emergency Room ASAP.

If the mass is splenic and benign, they'll remove it because you can live without your spleen. If it's malignant, that's disastrous because the spleen is part of the hematopoietic system so the cancer would've already gone into his blood stream... to everywhere. His chest x-ray was clear though so I assume we'd have options to discuss.

Once the mass is dealt with, Niko will need a full orthopedic workup incluing x-rays of his leg and surgery with the orthopedic surgeon to take care of the ligament in his knee.

As if that wasn't enough, we had an incidental finding on the abdominal x-ray... a stone in his bladder that will be too large to pass through his urethra. So, eventually that will need to be dealt with, but as of now it's the 3rd priority (unless it was to move and obstruct his urethra).

So I walked in thinking it could possibly be something as "simple" as a splinter in his paw....... and proceeded to get hit by a Mack truck of bad news. I was stunned, completely thrown for a loop... and devastated... I still am. I think I'm still in shock. My poor baby :(



Humbly Asking for Help Because I Have To

Niko is as cheerful as ever, flashing his cute smile and giving lots of love. He doesn't even seem to know he's sick, but of course that's probably just because the pain meds are working their magic for now.

Unfortunately his Mommy has been struggling due to exorbitant medical bills of her own. And Niko has already had surgery twice in the last year. He has a history of sebaceous adenomas and because he's had surgery for these multiple times and they're known to reoccur, he isn't eligible for health insurance (ya know that pesky "pre-existing condition" clause...UGH!). He's also on allergy medications that cost about $75/month; in addition to his arthritis, heartworm and flea prevention pills.

I hate asking for help... ESPECIALLY financial help. I try to do it all alone. And I consider Niko to be MY responsibility. But I had to realize that this time, staring 3 major surgeries in the face, I can't and, if I let my pride get in the way, it will cost Niko his life. That's not fair to him. He has ALWAYS been there when I needed him. Now he needs me to put aside my hesitation and embarrassment and do this for him. So, with humility and a grateful heart, I'm putting up this page because I will never forgive myself if I don't do EVERYTHING I possibly can to help him after all he has done for me.

The vet visit, x-rays and labwork the other day cost me $580.50. The ultrasound tomorrow morning will be another $250 - $275. So we're easily over $800 just to get a diagnosis. I'm hoping to give Niko as many more happy, healthy years as possible to share with his Mommy. He means the world to me. I love him with my whole heart and soul.

The reason I'm not waiting until I have a definitive diagnosis to put up this page is because surgery will need to be paid in full at time of service and, if his spleen was to rupture, he would need emergency surgery. So, it's in his best interest for me to do this now. Also, once the ultrasound is done, things will likely move fast. So I wanted to take the time, while my precious boy is asleep calmly at my feet to share his story, in case I don't have time to do it properly later. I also really have no idea what the final cost will be, but I'm guessing from my experience that it will actually be well over $10,000 so I'll probably have to raise the goal later.

I set up a Facebook page for Niko so I can post pictures for you to see, do fundraising and post updates on his progress. The name of the page is Team Niko. You can find it here... https://www.facebook.com/pages/Team-Niko/363269863739062. Niko and I hope you'll join our team :)

Thank you SO much just for taking the time to read our page. We'd love it if you'd pass it along to your animal-loving friends :)

I know that most people are struggling right now, Niko and I certainly are not alone, but I believe that those who are able to help will find us and I extend my most heartfelt gratitude for each and every donation. No donation is too small; every dollar counts. All the money donated will go to off-set the cost of Niko's pre-op, surgical and post-op care for the surgeries he needs for the cancer, cruciate ligament repair and bladder stone removal. If there is any money left over after paying Niko's expenses, I will donate it to other Pet Medical Fundraisers here on GiveForward :)

Prayers are also appreciated very much. I'm terrified, so it brings me comfort hearing your words of prayer and support from around the world. Words simply cannot express how much it means to me for you to help me save my precious Niko's life. So THANK YOU! Although they are only two little words, there is a waterfall of gratitude behind them.

Love, (((hugs))) and kisses,
Debi & Niko

P.S. I don't feel right just taking, so I want to reward donors...

1) I am the owner and designer of Designs by Debi (http://www.Designs-by-Debi.com) and make handcrafted jewelry and accessories. Everyone who donates will receive a code for 20% off any purchase made through my ArtFire Studio at http://www.DesignsByDebi.artfire.com, even clearance items.

2) Everyone who donates $10 or more will get a "Dinner and a Movie Discount Card" which is actually good for a whole lot more than dinner and a movie... It's an all access discount card good for thousands of deals on dining, shopping, travel, recreation and services all over the USA (including online) for an entire year to use as many times as you want.
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