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Save Shayna (old)


Have you ever wanted to be a hero?

Now’s your chance to be a real hero, and help save a “miracle dog” who’s in the fight of her life — for her life, against a terrible, recent medical diagnosis.

The good news is that so far, she is doing remarkably well, as the videos down-page (and here) show.

But she needs your help, now, to maintain her fight.

If you already know our story, please donate at the link below. If you don’t know our story, please scroll down for detailed information on what makes Shayna a ‘miracle dog,” the book I am writing about her, her recent illness, and how you can help her to maintain her courageous fight.

Even if you don’t donate, please considering forwarding this page along to others who might.

Thank you.

Update, Dec. 19: See this amazing video, taken today of Shayna getting her toys by name. Thanks to all the supplements and her desire for life, she is doing really well, as you can see.

 


 

Donate now to Shayna’s Health Fund

Click the icon below to make a secure donation through PayPal:


If you donate $10 or more you will (1) receive a free copy of my upcoming e-book, “Saved By Shayna: Life Lessons From A Miracle Dog” when it’s released in the spring of 2013, and (2) be listed as one of “Shayna’s Heroes” on this website, and in the back of the e-book.

Businesses that donate $100 or more will receive (1) and (2), plus a link back to their website in the “Shayna’s Heroes” page on this website, and in the back of the e-book.

Or, if you’d prefer to donate via a check or money order, please email me at jonsutz (at) yahoo.com for details.


 

(1) Background

Shayna is an incredibly smart, nearly eleven-year-old Border Collie-Husky mix rescue, who helped to save my life after 9/11.

For the past four years, I have been writing my first book (actually an e-book, to start) about Shayna, and lessons I’ve learned from being her “dad.” Its central themes: (a) how the “right” first dog can completely transform a troubled person’s life, and (b) the unlimited potential of the human-dog relationship, when it is approached with great care, and mutual respect.

Here is a short video that describes why I call Shayna my “miracle” dog, and the book I am writing about her:

Learn more about the book here. Read the Introduction here. Read one of the “life lessons” I have learned through this journey, “Honor The Joy,” here.

For the first nine and a half years of her life, Shayna enjoyed perfect health. In the summer of 2011, she developed a kidney disorder that was reversed through the care of an amazing holistic veterinarian, Dr. Janice Raab, whose counsel we rely upon to this day.

An April 2012 ultrasound of Shayna’s abdomen, performed to confirm that her kidneys and bladder had returned to normal function (they had) revealed something we weren’t looking for: a tumor on her liver, which, by July 2012, had grown significantly. We scheduled her surgery for September 4.

In late August, I produced this short (3 1/2 minute) video, based on the one above, to help raise money to pay for her surgery.

The surgery went as well as the medical team had hoped, Shayna made a full, speedy recovery, and was deemed cancer-free. I was told by her medical team that everything else being equal, we had added two to three years to her natural life.

You can imagine my relief. Well, you can see the joy on both of our faces, in the first picture taken of us after she was discharged from the hospital, on Sept. 5:

05Sept12, 3:35pm: This was the first picture taken in one of the hospital’s examining rooms, after Shayna was discharged from surgery. She ran into my arms and wanted me to give her a belly scratch, which I couldn’t do (she has a 14″ scar!), so I gave her a spine-scratch, her next-favorite thing. The joy was overflowing in that room.


 

(2) The shocking current diagnosis

30Oct12: Shayna in the middle of the night in the emergency veterinarian hospital, showing her bloated belly. We slept on the floor that night to ensure we were #1 in line in the morning to have an ultrasound done by her radiologist.

On October 28-29, 2012, Shayna she began to experience severe dizziness, had a slightly bloated belly, and her appetite was decreasing.

On October 30, Shayna was diagnosed by the radiologist who discovered her liver tumor as having developed a tumor of unknown origin on her heart, that is: (a) bleeding, and (b) inoperable. Her symptoms were apparently caused by the bloody fluid filling up the sack that contains her heart, and overflowing into her abdomen.

The radiologist drew all the fluid out of her heart sack, and I was told that the fluid in her abdomen would be re-absorbed and expelled within a day or so – which is exactly what happened. She gave Shayna a remaining lifespan of one day to four months. She said that if the same situation arises again, we could repeat the procedure (extracting the fluid from her heart sack), but that it becomes riskier each time.

You can imagine my reaction. As I told a friend not long ago, I’ve never known a love like what I share with Shayna, so it makes sense that I’ve never felt pain like this in my life.

The radiologist and our holistic veterinarian recommended a combination of Chinese herbal medicines that we have been using, which are believed to help facilitate blood clotting, cleanse the body systems, and increase overall health. We’ve also been using several experimental supplements, one of which was designed by a University of Virginia-trained endocrinologist, which is designed to help the body to fight cancer at a cellular level. Our holistic vet also recommended acupuncture and massage therapy.

Note: Read a more comprehensive description of what happened, and has been happening, here


 

(3) The great news: Shayna has been successfully fighting this disease, and now has more energy and stamina than she’s had in years

On the bright side, since this procedure, and implementing these therapies, Shayna has been transformed to some degree: overall, she now has more energy and stamina than she’s had in years. In fact, starting on the first night after her diagnosis, she was so full of new-found energy that we went on a forty-minute walk around the University of Virginia, with practically no breaks – something she could not have done for the past several years, because of increasing fatigue. See the video here.

And, as shown in the video below, taken on Nov. 16, Shayna has resumed running after her tennis balls, which she hasn’t done in years:

Also, every day, twice a day (after lunch and dinner), we continue our toy-retrieval-by-name training. We’ve also begun doing visits and training demonstrations at nearby nursing homes and senior centers, to everyone’s delight.

Here is a video of us doing our training on Nov. 15 – you can see how excited and joyous Shayna gets when we’re on the cusp of beginning, and how well she does with her toys:

Dec. 1 update:

A video taken during our walk through the woods on a warm fall morning; as you can see, Shayna looks and acts like a normal, healthy dog:

Dec. 5 update: GREAT NEWS!!! No fluid!!!

We had an appointment today with our holistic vet, to determine if Shayna’s heart sack and/or abdomen were re-filling with fluid, and if so, whether and when we can re-extract it. I scheduled this appointment because I had been observing some troubling indicators that may, in reality, have nothing to do with this situation, but rather are functions of Shayna’s aging process, and/or of my very-fatigued state right now, due to my fibromyalgia symptoms (described below), which have been spiking since this nightmare began.

The great news is that after a thorough examination and ultrasound of Shayna’s heart and abdomen, we discovered that she is in great shape, there is no fluid in her abdomen, and very little in her heart sack – too little for the vet to even attempt to extract. Fantastic news! So, our next step is to repeat this exam and ultrasound in one month – and to keep using all the supplements and therapies that we’re currently employing.

Dec. 8 update: Video at the University of Virginia

A video taken today that is especially poignant: we took another long walk around UVa, Shayna chased her ball, and we visited our “sacred ground” in front of the Rotunda, where I began my quest for renewal – and asking for help in finding the “right” first dog for me – eleven years ago. I took this video primarily for friends and newcomers who read my description about how unbelievably well Shayna is doing, given her grave diagnosis.

My hope and belief is that with the recommended therapies and supplements, Shayna is going to end up living far longer, and far better, than expected. With your help, I will be able to maintain her care at this level.

Nov. 17: Shayna at the University of Virginia. There are certain moments in the early morning and at dusk when the sun hits Shayna’s coat in such a way as to make it glow. And on this particular day, she seemed particularly joyous, as we took a break from a walk.


 

(4) Why I am initiating this fundraising campaign

Summary: I need to raise money to help pay the cost of all of Shayna’s medications, supplements and recommended complementary therapies. If you agree that she and her fight are worth it, I ask that you donate what you can to help me to pay for all our current and anticipated upcoming expenses, that her health and comfort require.

Some people (maybe you?) will follow the link in my bio, look at my professional website and say, “You sound pretty successful. You bill yourself as a litigation media consultant, graphic designer, copy writer and much more. How come you can’t afford to pay for all of Shayna’s care on your own?”

The answer, briefly, is that yes, I am all those things. But what I never discussed on that site, and didn’t publicly disclose on this site until my first fundraising campaign for Shayna’s liver surgery, is this: shortly after adopting Shayna in 2002, while I was between jobs, I was in the first serious accident of my life, that broke all/most of the ribs on my left side, which never healed properly. Soon thereafter, I began experiencing chronic pain throughout my upper torso (primarily hands, forearms, shoulders, etc.) and chronic fatigue (4-9 hours of energy). I was diagnosed by several physicians as having developed fibromyalgia, a debilitating neuromuscular disorder that produces these symptoms, and left me with the ability to work only on a part-time, intermittent basis. Learn the specifics of how fibromyalgia affects me here.

Since then, I have only been able to work on a part-time, project-basis, as much as possible. The reality is that as I describe in the book, I went from being reasonably comfortable, and poised to reach higher levels of my profession, to losing everything, and struggling economically and spiritually since 2002 to stay above water.

Part of the reason I decided to develop my book about Shayna is to hopefully generate a decent ongoing income, as while honoring her incredible spirit, and our relationship.

Unfortunately, I’ve not been able to finish the book yet, due in large part to my quest to continue finding work to keep everything going, and also because of Shayna’s medical condition over the past few months. For this reason, on Dec. 8 I launched my first Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign to help raise money to enable me to finish the book, and bring it to market in the Spring of 2013.

That’s the situation in which I find myself, and why I have initiated this fundraising campaign. For interested but skeptical parties, and I’m willing to share the documentation that validates my condition, and Shayna’s.


 

Donate now to Shayna’s Health Fund

Click the icon below to make a secure donation through PayPal:


If you donate $10 or more you will (1) receive a free copy of my upcoming e-book, “Saved By Shayna: Life Lessons From A Miracle Dog” when it’s released in the spring of 2013, and (2) be listed as one of “Shayna’s Heroes” on this website, and in the back of the e-book.

Businesses that donate $100 or more will receive (1) and (2), plus a link back to their website in the “Shayna’s Heroes” page on this website, and in the back of the e-book.

Or, if you’d prefer to donate via a check or money order, please email me at jonsutz (at) yahoo.com for details.