Stories from Pet Parents

Parvovirus No Match for Rescue Dog.

by Constance Walsh

Parvovirus No Match for Rescue Dog.

by Constance Walsh


My kids and I adopted Liesl from Saving Spot Rescue on April 6th. We were told she is a mini Aussie Shepherd of about 8 to 9 weeks. My 2 kids, 8 and 13 years, and myself fell in love upon meeting her. Six days later she started to show signed of parvovirus.

I had her tested at Mohawk Animal Shelter and she tested positive. Mohawk presented two options and I went with Animal Specialty Group, it being a teaching hospital and closer to where we live.

My daughter and I went immediately there. They were attentive and isolated us, and then talked with us about what her care would be and how this virus was most likely going to unfold. I was in shock. Here we had this beautiful puppy for 6 days and all of a sudden we were checking her into a hospital, and with the complete possibility of her not making it and returning home with us.

My daughter and I tried to say goodbye to Liesl. I tried to explain to her what could happen but I was weighted down and she was feeling my confusion and sadness. I had my son picked up by someone else and then we went to pick him up and tried to explain to him Liesl’s situation. I gave him the option of going to visit with her and say goodbye in case she didn’t make it and he decided he didn’t want to go because she was isolated in a cage and behind glass and he would not be able to pick her up and hold her.

Liesl’s parvo case was quite severe. Animal Speciality Group was amazing. Dr. Myers was our first doctor and she came to speak with my daughter and I. She was kind, thorough, honest, and full of compassion. She answered all of my questions and showed tenderness to my feelings of shock and unbelievability.

Dr Myers continued to check in with me 2 times a day about Liesl’s condition. Our puppy’s health would decline and improve each day in different areas. She developed an infection on top of the parvo. She needed to have a food tube put in place and all of the doctors and nurses shared with us the fight within her and her sweetness.

The kids and I would visit in the late afternoons after school. It was hard we couldn’t touch her and had to try to speak with her through a crack opened glass sliding door. Liesel often seemed lifeless yet her tail would wag a bit.

After about 6 days we were at a crossroad. Liesl was still not interested in eating and was regurgitating the food they were administering. The cost of her care was increasing and Saving Spot Rescue was not taking any responsibility and was not helping with her costs at all. A puppy had been returned to the Rescue place for parvo when we first met Liesl and submitted our application. The owner of the Rescue dismissed that our puppy could have been exposed to the puppy with parvo even though it was a puppy from their rescue center.

Dr. McMahon who oversaw Leisl’s care at ASG spoke with me and gave me a bit of hope. She expressed that if Liesl had made it this far she was likely to pull through. That I just need to be patient and give Liesl more time. ASG had become committed to getting her through this illness.

I feel ASG saved Liesl’s life and I am so grateful. They also showed incredible compassion towards my financial struggle and gave us a break on the final bill. Everyone we encountered from the people at the front desk to the individuals who cared directly for Liesl to the doctors who guided and oversaw her care and compassionately informed me and my family were patient, compassionate, genuine people.

Leisl is becoming a playful chubby puppy and we are all enjoying getting to know her.

– Constance Walsh

A Guide Dog in Training Beats Parvovirus.

by Monique and Gene Newman

A Guide Dog in Training Beats Parvovirus.

by Monique and Gene Newman

Makayla: Surviving Parvovirus

Four-month-old Makayla, our guide dog puppy-in-training had just completed her series of puppy vaccinations when one week later (just days after this photo) she began vomiting, became seriously lethargic, and diarrhea soon followed.

Testing at GDA (Guide Dogs of America) determined that she had come down with dreaded Parvovirus. GDA immediately sent us directly to ASG for your expert care. We left one very sick little puppy with you, very concerned about whether or not she could possibly survive this deadly illness.

It was Easter week and we were praying for Makayla and for you as you cared for her. Four days of hydration and excellent treatment to combat the virus, and she was on the road to full recovery.

This little girl grew into a lovely adult who completed the majority of the guide dog training before her 2nd birthday. Subsequently, Makayla was later released from the program and our family was able to adopt her as our companion. Now five years old, she has been an excellent mentor to four other guide dog puppies that we have raised, including our current pup.

Makayla is healthy, frisky and such a love…we can never thank you enough for helping her survive parvo.

– Monique and Gene Newman

Liam: Love of a Lifetime, Star of the Rally Ring

by Carole Raschella

Liam: Love of a Lifetime, Star of the Rally Ring

by Carole Raschella

Liam's 13th Birthday


In October of 2009, two weeks before his 9th birthday, my vet found a mass on Liam’s liver. I knew the prognosis wasn’t good and that the surgery itself was difficult. In fact, the first surgeon we contacted refused to do it, but that turned out to be a blessing in disguise because we were referred to ASG and to Dr Bilbrey. With no hesitation, he performed the surgery and removed the tumor, which though large, was confined to one lobe. And Liam himself? Let’s just say he came through with flying colors and recovered completely. Liam, by the way, was an 85lb Irish Setter, and at nine years old, already in his senior years. There was nothing simple about this operation.

Two years later, in May 2011, when he was going on 11 years, my vet found another mass, this time in Liam’s intestines. So back to ASG and Dr. Bilbrey who identified the mass as an adenocarcinoma of the small intestine, a relatively rare but deadly cancer. However, even though Liam was now going on 11 years, he was otherwise healthy and had perfect bloodwork, so the chances of him surviving the surgery were certainly better than the alternative. It was worth it. Liam was worth it.

Afterwards, Dr. Bilbrey told me that he thought he had good margins, but said that without chemo, microscopic cancer cells were likely to seed elsewhere. Because Liam was always healthy and had never shown any symptoms, I didn’t want to risk the stress of chemo spoiling his last few months. Instead I ploughed through endless research on line and developed a protocol that consisted of a long, endless list of supplements. Whether they worked or not I’ll never know, but they didn’t affect his well-being, which was all that mattered to me.

But this isn’t about alternative medicine. What matters is that due to Dr. Bilbrey’s knowledge, experience and superior abilities, Liam never experienced a recurrence of the cancer, and was in perfect health for the remainder of his life, which was not for the next few months, but continued for another four years! I am unable to express in words how much that has meant to me. Dr. Bilbrey is a truly gifted man and I will never be able to thank him enough for  that precious extra time with Liam.

I would like to add one more comment. I know we all say our dogs are special, but Liam really was more than that. For me, he was the love of a lifetime, unlike any other dog I’ve had over the past 40 years. It’s not just me though. He had an effect on everyone he met. Years later, people still talk about his antics in the rally ring, but it was his freestyle performances, with his own music and choreography, that made him a star.

However, he isn’t the only one. It was Dr Bilbrey’s skills and dedication that saved Liam’s life, not once, but twice. Which, as far as I’m concerned, makes him a star of the first magnitude!

Liam passed away in my arms on March 12, 2014. He was at home, on his own bed and completely at peace.

My thanks to Dr. Bilbrey and to Animal Specialty Group. I will be grateful to all of you forever.

– Carole Raschella and
Liam, Sunshine’s Gift Of Galway, CGC, CD, RAE2

Cookie, the Car-Hugging Labradoodle that Suffered from a Fractured Pelvis

by Craig Mazin

Cookie, the Car-Hugging Labradoodle that Suffered from a Fractured Pelvis

by Craig Mazin


Our year-and-a-half old Labradoodle, Cookie, is a total ding-a-ling. That’s probably why we love her so much.

Unfortunately, that’s also why she decided to run out into the street in the split second before we closed the front gate. And that’s also why she saw a car coming and thought, “Oh, cool. A big metal dog! I think I’ll go give it a hug.”

In the minutes after she got hit, we took her to our terrific local vet, Kym Mitchell. It was clear Cookie was in bad shape. Aside from a fractured pelvis, she had cracked a rib and punctured a lung, which was also badly bruised. After a chest tap, Kym drove her directly to Animal Speciality Group.

By the time she got there, she was fading fast. Unresponsive, no vision, gums turning blue and on death’s door.

The team at ASG quickly stabilized her, but it was clear that she was going to need a lot of help to make it through the night.

Not only did the ASG team keep us completely informed every step of the way, even at late hours of the night, but they saved Cookie’s life. I’m happy to say the vets there just gave her a clean bill of health. She’s back to being the same ding-a-ling she was before her accident, and we wouldn’t have it any other way.

I have no doubt that we and our kids would have lost our beloved pet if we didn’t live so close to ASG. I can’t say enough about how well they performed across the board. Even if the result hadn’t been so positive, I’d feel the same way. Traumatic injuries aren’t always curable, but I have faith that if an animal can be saved, the good doctors at ASG  will save it.

On behalf of Cookie, we thank you!

Craig Mazin
La Cañada, CA

Quatsch: A Doberman’s Refusal to Eat

by Karen Saunders

Quatsch: A Doberman’s Refusal to Eat

by Karen Saunders

Quatsch 12 Wally pix

Back to work: Obedience Competitor, Agility Training and Therapy Dog

March 17, 2012.  It was raining and cold. Quatsch, our Doberman, age 4, who I compete in obedience and rally trials with, who had been on the cover of Dog World in October 2011, refused to eat.

I called my vet at home, since Quatsch (a German idiom meaning “I don’t believe you” or “baloney”) always eats her food. When I brought Quatsch home from the breeder I was told “If my puppies don’t eat, something is very wrong.” I had taken her temperature, it was normal, but her gums were very pale. As I talked to my vet I saw Quatsch throw up blood. It was a Saturday night, so we started with the local emergency vet. In the car, on the way to the emergency vet, she had diarrhea, again, it was bloody, and I was scared.

Within eight hours the emergency vet realized they did not have the diagnostic tools they needed to find out what was wrong with my dog. They gave me a choice of three places I could go. I chose ASG where I knew one of the technicians and where a friend had her dog successfully treated for a variety of problems. I had heard of their excellent reputation.

ASG started to access the situation. The only thing I could remember Quatsch chewing was a “safe” bone purchased from a pet store.  It was a large knuckle type bone.  ASG diagnosed that somehow a splinter had to have broken off and punctured the stomach or intestines.  They tried to pinpoint the location of the puncture, but were unable to find it through X-rays.

They couldn’t operate without knowing where the problem was. The next few hours were crucial. They kept me well informed, explained they would have to do blood transfusions and would give her a substance that would coat her intestines and stomach to hopefully prevent any more blood loss. In the meantime I contacted our pet insurance carrier, Trupanion, to learn what I needed to do to cover Quatsch’s medical bills.

This is the first dog I have ever insured, but after losing two dogs to cancer and having major surgery on a third dog, I could see that as a dog gets older vet bills are inevitable. I just never thought I would need the insurance for a four-year-old healthy dog.

It was a very long week, but Quatsch pulled through the transfusions and procedures to come home.  Slowly, we returned to her regular schedule as a working therapy dog that visits patients at Verdugo Hills Hospital and working with troubled, abused teenage boys at a residence home. The boys were worried about their friend that is one of the first living beings that has given them unconditional love. They wanted her back in their lives. As she improved, she returned to her agility training and obedience work.

Then, seven months later, it happened again. I was just home from a business trip; Quatsch had stayed home with my husband. She refused her dinner. I checked her gums and they were pale. It was after 5:00 pm, my vet was closing. I didn’t waste time; I loaded her in the car and drove to ASG.

They accessed her and realized she was having a recurrence. I called my husband, the night before he had a pork chop.  He searched the trash and the bone was missing. Somehow Quatsch had found it. After an anxious few days and another blood transfusion, Quatsch was healing again.

Our pet insurance followed through, we paid roughly 10 percent of Quatsch’s bill ourselves, leaving us able to tell ASG to do what they needed to cure her.

It has now been more than seven months with no recurrences.  The hardest thing Quatsch is allowed to chew is a raw carrot or a cookie.  She is back to agility and almost ready to compete.  She has represented our obedience club at Top Dog competition in November.  But, best of all, she is back to visiting her teenage boys who love to play with her, tell their troubles to her, and benefit from all the love she has to share.

– Karen Saunders

Loving Eddie the Sweet Dog Diagnosed with IMHA

by Margaret, Barry, and Lily

Loving Eddie the Sweet Dog Diagnosed with IMHA

by Margaret, Barry, and Lily

Uncle EddieWe heard about the lab (labrador retriever) litter and arrived in Vacaville, California on Halloween to look at the puppies. We named our new puppy Uncle Eddie, after a favorite uncle, which was strange because our dog, Wally, was actually Eddie’s uncle. For the first day, Eddie made it clear he believed everyone loved him and were as glad to see him, as he was to see them! His job was “official greeter,” running up cheerfully to each new arrival only to leave a trail of his white fur on pants, skirts, and sweaters. We called this fur baptism being “Eddified.”

He loved all dogs and to all puppies he was the cruise director and their camp counselor, leading them in games and shenanigans. Never a growl or fit of temper crossed his good nature. He danced on with his day until arthritis claimed his jaunty gait. He was so sure of his popularity that whenever a camera came out, he found his way into the photographer’s composition unbidden to pose for what he was sure was his portrait, never mind it wasn’t!

No matter how good the dog, ever dog has some flaw! Eddie’s was to disappear. More than once our tears evaporated to relief that he was “found,” although in Eddie’s mind he was never lost at all. Our Houdini vanished through a neighbor’s fence right before our very eyes, and we never did find that opening in the hedge that none of our other dogs seemed to notice. After I cried myself to sleep one night after one such disappearance, we discovered him the next morning on the kitchen loggia, curled up asleep on the forbidden wicker sofa.

He was definitely the cat with nine lives! Not even a near drowning in the swimming pool could take Eddie down, even though he took in so much water that he couldn’t bark for a week. When he was nine, severe arthritis challenged all drug treatment, acupuncture, physical therapy, and diet; leading to a painful stem cell treatment he endured with the grace and good nature of his “Eddieness.” He survived IMHA (Immune Mediated Hemolytic Anemia), undergoing three blood transfusions and a long haul of various drugs. One rainy night, we say goodbye to him, fully believing his time had come. There more tears than raindrops that fell that night. But he rebounded, as he always did!

At the darkest time of his IMHA treatments, he saw a veterinary internist, Dr. Schulman, at ASG. Dr. Schulman saved his life and I guess Eddie knew it. He seemed to understand the efforts made on his behalf, and despite all his discomfort and all the blood tests, he looked forward to seeing his doctor who lavished him with forbidden cookies, sitting on the floor with him, and genuinely loving Eddie, as we all did. True to form, he took it upon himself to greet each dog and person waiting in the hospital until his name was called.

Our friend left us last Sunday. He left the house quieter with less fur to fly, we sleep a little later in the mornings, and we have more time now that we don’t have the pill regimen anymore. We’ll be able to take trips together now. But we miss him, our Eddie Pie. Eduarito. Little Man. Ringleader Extraordinaire of the Puppy Club. Eddie has disappeared for the last time, vanished forever from our sight.