It was an emotional reunion in Vancouver Friday between a five-year-old girl and her beloved dog Buddy.
The eight-month-old Bernese-Greater Swiss Mountain Dog-Pyrenees cross was scheduled to be put down after it became clear he required expensive surgeries that the girl’s grandmother couldn’t afford.
But the day before that was due to happen, the family was told the surgeries would be covered by a fund set up by the veterinary hospital, which came as great relief to the family.
“I was thrilled,” said Joan Ehman as she watched her granddaughter get reacquainted with Buddy Friday at Canada West Veterinary Hospital in Vancouver. “I just can’t believe how people can be so generous.”
Ehman said Buddy’s problems became clear as he started to grow after being brought home from the breeder at three months.
“He seemed a bit stiff in his hind end,” she said, adding he was having trouble walking on all four of his limbs.
Buddy was then taken to Canada West, where veterinarians conducted X-rays on his back legs as well as his front shoulders.
That’s when they found the problem was much worse than simple growing pains: the dog had a condition known as osteochondritis dissecans (OCD), where the cartilage cracks and detaches from the underlying bone. The condition was affecting both shoulders as well as his back ankles.
“Unfortunately for Buddy, because it was affecting all four of his limbs he didn’t have a dominant leg to stand on,” said Dr. Sevima Aktay, associate small animal surgeon at Canada West.
Doctors determined Buddy needed two separate surgeries to fix the problem and ensure he could recover two legs at a time. But when Ehman heard the cost would run about $9,000, her heart sank.
“It was just too much,” said Ehman, who had already spent thousands of dollars taking care of Buddy by that point and already had mounting bills as the sole caretaker for her granddaughter, who has special needs.
It was the day before that appointment when an email showed up from Canada West, saying the cost of the surgeries would be paid for by the Jesse Bandit Donor Assistance Fund, which was set up by a previous client to help financially-challenged pet owners.
“I’m forever grateful,” Ehman said. “If more people can donate [to this fund] that would be wonderful.”
The first of those surgeries was successfully completed on Wednesday, which allowed Ehman and her granddaughter to visit Buddy Friday as he recovered. The second surgery will be done after that recovery period is complete.
For Ehman, the fact that Buddy will soon be back home is a huge relief, as he’s already become an integral part of the family.
“He’s so good with her, and she just loves him,” she said. “He’s such a good guy.”