Sammy and her story

By Kathleen Knoll, GTHS Volunteer and Adopter

I didn’t know I needed Sammy, a very lovely Cocker Spaniel who appeared at the GTHS on August 25, 2015. I am a so-called Crazy Cat Person. I have lived with cats continuously since I was around 7 years old and at this moment am ‘staff’ to two lovely felines. I volunteer as a Dog Care Team Lead at the shelter every Wednesday and have really enjoyed doing it, as it is challenging and very rewarding. It is a pleasure to work with such a dedicated team of individuals that are so focused on caring for animals in need. I wanted to learn about canines and thought the risk of adoption another cat would be extremely unlikely especially if I confined myself to staying only with the dogs and avoiding the cat room. (Full disclosure while helping out with the cat care team over Christmas I did adopt Zelda a beautiful tabby and very spunky little kitten!)

On August 26th I came into the Shelter to find a little Cocker Spaniel known only as impound number WB 189. She had been picked up by Wasaga Beach ACO and delivered to the shelter the day before. Upon introduction by one of our young volunteers I was told she was very pregnant and possibly in labour so we needed to monitor her closely. Her belly was huge and very distended, she was shy and timid but very friendly and the look in her big brown eyes was that of a very sweet, gentle and trusting soul. I was more than happy to spend time with her and give her a lot of attention and affection. Her name was unknown so I called her Missy short for “missing”.

Sammy, several days post arrival, leaning against Kathleen for her photo
Sammy, several days post arrival, leaning against Kathleen for her photo

In short time Sammy was transferred into the guardianship of the GTHS and she was booked to be assessed by a Veterinarian. Dr. Pankatz at Mountain Vista Veterinary Hospital quickly established that Sammy’s distended belly was not the result of pregnancy. An ultrasound performed by her revealed an abdominal tumour that was massive and would require immediate exploratory surgery.

My heart sank a little when I was informed of her medical issues. I knew the shelter team would have to raise considerable funds to help save this sweet, gentle senior dog. I was so excited to learn that she had been placed into the Guardian Angels Program.

Late Saturday August 29th we found out that Sammy’s blood test results were normal and she was well enough to proceed with surgery, I was ecstatic! The GTHS had given her the green light and her veterinarian Dr. Pankatz was cautiously optimistic about a positive outcome. This precious little dog was scheduled for surgery early on August 31st at Mountain Vista Veterinary Hospital.

Sammy, pre-surgery at Kathleen's home
Sammy, pre-surgery at Kathleen’s home
I was lucky enough to be off work on the day before her surgery and was able to get permission to spend the day with Sammy. I brought her to my home and we enjoyed the day going for walks, sitting outside on the deck and getting her a much needed bath before her big surgery. Sammy had many treats and cuddles (also a few very disdainful looks and hisses from my cats) on Sunday.

I was able to transport her to the hospital for surgery on Monday. I was so happy that she was well enough to go ahead with the surgery. I was really trying to keep it together for Sammy’s sake, but I was very worried as the outcome of her procedure was unknown. Complications can arise quickly during surgery and if the tumour was metastatic (cancerous) a very difficult but humane decision would have to be made.

It seemed like an eternity but after a few short hours I received a text from the shelter that our little Sammy had pulled through and a mass of 3 kg (6.8 pounds) was removed out of her belly. The mass had been attached to her uterus was successfully removed and a hysterectomy had been performed. I was absolutely thrilled that the procedure had gone well and earlier that day had agreed to foster Sammy to give her the care and attention she would need to recover post-op.

I picked her up at 5 pm the same day and although she was still under the effects of the anesthesia her stubby little tail still managed a little wiggle. She was understandably quite wobbly and very dozy but was happily lifted in my vehicle and returned to my care.

With each day she got stronger and since the initial first day of visit to our home which was before the surgery she has been accepted only slightly begrudgingly by her feline siblings Emmy and Zelda. Even Gord, my husband, who was more than a little reluctant to commit to her adoption said only yesterday “it seems like she’s always been here.”

Sammy is very, very lucky and she is grateful for all the support from the GTHS and from all you who donated to help fund the cost of her surgery. We are also very lucky and happy that she is now part of our family.

Sammy, post surgery, in her new home with Gord
Sammy, post surgery, in her new home with Gord

I was informed that in shelter lingo I am a “Failed Foster” as I did not return after her recovery to the care of the GTHS. I am proud to admit that I have never been so thrilled to have “failed”! I am also happy to profess that I am now a Cat and Dog Person!

Stay informed on GTHS events, initiatives and programs. Learn how the GTHS team is serving the pets and people of the South Georgian Bay Area. Read heart-warming Happy Tails about GTHS Alumni. See a lot of really cute pictures of dogs and cats!