Ventura County California

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Chip Chip Cheerio R.I.P.

Update: 3/9/15 Our sweet Chip aka Cheerio crossed the Rainbow Bridge. He got six weeks more of love than anyone thought he could, all at the hands of his foster mom and her loving family.


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Chip now known as Cheerio came into our Sam’s Senior Dog program from the animal shelter with bad teeth and a huge mass on his hindquarters. He bounced between a couple of fosters and landed with Stephanie S. when the plea went out on Facebook that he needed a temporary foster.

He had his dental and the mass removed and is pretty proud of how he looks now. The biopsy of the mass came back benign. Things were looking good for this guy for 10 days. The night before he was to go in to have his stitches removed he started coughing more. He had shown an occasional cough that seemed stress related or from pulling on the leash all along but that night his coughing was more like he was gagging. As the night went on he had more and more difficulty breathing. Foster mom Stephanie consulted VMSG after midnight and was told that as long as he could breath and it did not worsen take him into Ohana as planned. If it got worse, bring him down.

The pair of them made it through the night and headed for Ohana in the morning. Dr. Nicci Quinn examined him and was concerned she could not hear much air movement. After xrays and ultrasound and removal of lots of fluid from the space between his chest wall and lungs Cheerio was again breathing well. The fluid was sent off the the lab and Cheerio and Stephanie went home.

The next day the lab results came back, cancer, and from what was seen on the ultrasound, probably cancer on the chest wall and the outside of the lung. It seems to be a very aggressive cancer because just 10 days before he went under anesthesia and did fine. When Stephanie heard the diagnosis she was heartbroken. After a minute or two of conversation she said he was not going anywhere, he has a home and they will get through this together.

He has an appointment with an oncologist this Thursday to see if there is anything available to give him a good quality of life. The day after they got the diagnosis Cheerio and Stephanie came down to the Ventura Pet Barn for a bath and a visit in the Adoption Center. As you can see in the pictures, they are getting along very well.

Fosters are the bedrock of our adoption program but rarely do we give them this sort of burden. Stephanie offered to be a temporary foster while the foster was out of the country. She has been a cat rescuer but never fostered a dog before. Her commitment to Cheerio and her willingness to be with him to the end are extraordinary. Thank you Stephanie S!

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From his foster Stephanie

chipCheerio is a sweet dog. Now that the “cone of shame” is off, his true sweet personality is starting to show. He does not like to be alone and has become my shadow. His bark sounds like a seal then goes to a howl if he feels I’ve been out of site too long or his food is taking too long to prepare (anything more than 2mins) He likes to go for his short walks, but tires easily and sleeps often. He doesn’t play, but loves treats when training (sit, stay, down and quiet) Cheerio is doing fine with my rescue cats, other dogs and people. My aunt and her C.A.R.L. rescue, Chaunti will be hanging out today dog sitting Cheerio while I attend my own appts. I’m very saddened by his diagnosis and will stick by his side. I had hoped to train him for adoption and forever home placement. For now his place is with me.

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Cheerio and I have been together now for 5 weeks 3 days. Yesterday he passed the 3 weeks left prediction. I couldn’t be more happier that he has chosen to hang around me and fight for his life. What a wonderful Valentine’s Day gift.

His appetite has increased to double, he loves his cat food and treats with his meds (not the liquid med so much.)

He has his own bed and blankets, yet he has commandeered one of the cat beds as his alternate day bed. He barely fits and the cats are ok with Cheerio using their bed. I think he thinks he’s a cat.

I love this ole boy …!!!!

Cheerio’s Foster mom Steph

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Cheerio has his own spot when riding in the car… But if the passenger moves or we stop he’ll move to the front seat…. His look, ‘what do you mean I have to return to my seat.’

Cheerio has his own spot when riding in the car… But if the passenger moves or we stop he’ll move to the front seat…. His look, ‘what do you mean I have to return to my seat.’

While visiting at my son’s and daughter in law’s home, Cheers needed a rest break. Their neighbor made him a cloth bone toy and my grandson wore him out running around outside.

On our many walks, Cheerio insists on walking the lawns of the nearby church daily and eating grass (he has only vomited the grass once, and I believe that the grass helps him feel better). He is choosy on which blades he consumes and will lead me around in circles until he has made his decision. Our lawn just doesn’t have the flavors he is looking for or it’s his trick to extend the walk.

Little does he know, I plan to take him to the church area daily because I know he likes walking, eating and smelling the lawn. Plus, if the urge arises… He’ll ordain the lawn and nearby trees marking where other dogs have treaded before, stating ‘I’ve been here… Remember me.’

And for the last two pictures …. I caught Cheerio asleep and outside his bed… But he heard me and caught me taking the pictures.

Cheerio’s Foster mom Steph

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Cheerio has an internal meter that he uses to determine whether or not another person is allowed to approach me and it doesn’t matter how they’re dressed or what they look like. Several people can be around us, from upper class to down and out, Cheers will be calm unless one or more light up his radar. At which time he will growl, deep bark (no seal yapping for this event) and with hackles raised (looks more like a spine Mohawk) he will stand his ground between me and whomever he has determined is a threat. I reassure him that I am aware of his warning and alert to the chosen person and say “quiet” once quiet, he will still keep his protective stance until the person(s) has moved along. Occasionally it will be another dog… But only if the other dog acts aggressive to him first. Which has made going to the Dog Park less appealing to all involved.
First pic.. The stance, growling and barking
Here he is growling and showing his displeasure of other dogs approaching me at Park for my attention.

Alone at Dog Park early AM… Off leash and exploring.

Alert to Person walking dog across the street.

Cheerio’s Foster mom Steph

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These are the two wonderful people who care for Cheerio (his pet sitters) when I have errands to run or the occasional appointment. Identical twins, my mom Shauna and my aunt Sharon.

Due to Cheerio’s terminal condition I am not doing full training with him. Only teaching him needed commands to keep him and I safe (Wait, Go, Come, Leave it, No, Home and Bed). That being said, I do not feel the need to force him to break his need to feel secure and not abandoned. He is with someone 24 hrs a day… Mainly me. I don’t know what he’s been through but I know what he’s going through and I wouldn’t want to be alone, so why should he. If he wasn’t sick, I would have worked with him to release the separation anxiety and give to him complete training commands so he’d be ready for a forever home.

I’ve chosen to step up to be his final home and I see myself as his Therapy Human (the reverse of a therapy dog). When necessary I have placed him in a tote bag with a towel for padded comfort and brought him into stores with me. If questioned, I state that he is terminal and I am his Therapy Human. I hope you understand my position on this matter and my choice to protect him completely.

We go for 3 or more walks daily which Cheerio enjoys immensely, plus I believe the walks help with his overall well being. He is very much housebroken and let’s me know when he needs to go out, preferably out front which leads to a walk. My life revolves around his life and will do so until he is ready to crossover.

Cheerio’s Foster mom Steph

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Cheerio’s first week with me. He was very insecure, confused and lost. He’d growl and snap at all my cat pack members. I chose not to crate him after I was told how stressed he’d become when in a cage or crate. Instead I made the decision to leash him with harness and sleep on the couch next to him. That way we are close to the front or back door for those needed…. Diarrhea moments. If at anytime he feels I’m out of his sight too long: he pants, barks like a seal then howls.

Cheerio’s Foster mom Steph

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