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My Service Dog Died & Another is Needed

Organized by: ALY PETERSEN

ALY's Photo
ALY's Photo

THE STORY:

My name is Alyssa Petersen. My now deceased father (A Shriner and 32degree Mason) had raised me to believe there was always someone less fortunate than myself, and to do volunteer community service work to help people. I served for 5 years as volunteer Law Enforcement in Arizona, and for 4.5 years was with the AJ Mounted Rangers earning money for the children and less fortunate within our community. I am now facing major spine surgery for cervical (neck) spinal stenosis. My surgery will be covered by my health insurance, however the below story of Luka, my service dog, explains why I am asking for some assistance. Right now the estimate is $2400 (for the puppy), but I am setting my goal at $3400 to be able to get the new pup through basic obedience and Certified Service Dog training, but I will be happy JUST getting a new dog. (I CAN afford the occasional Vet care and daily feeding etc. by myself.) ANY funds raised will ONLY go to this cause and will ONLY be used to purchase another health screened puppy. Unfortunately, purchasing another dog to be trained as a Service Dog can be an incredibly expensive proposition for someone with a permanent disability with a limited income. This is the MINIMUM cost for a DNA screened (for any markers of cancer or other serious health problems), X-Rayed hips for dysplasia, cleared for Von Willibrands disease etc, etc. In other words, a healthy pup, with a life expectancy of at least 10 years... I seriously considered getting a rescue dog, (all of my dogs before Luka WERE rescues), but a Service Dog needs to have a certain temperament, mentality and no “baggage” so to speak, (usually from bad handling by their previous owners), because of their responsibilities to their “person”. As defined by the Justice department and the A.D.A. “They ARE NOT PETS, they are dogs who are specifically trained to perform tasks and major life activities for the benefit of a person with a disability.” But you do become very attached to each other... I brought Luka home in March of 2007 when he was just 8 weeks old; he weighed only 12 pounds. He grew to be a beautiful 95 pounds, 28 inches at the shoulders! Just the height I needed for assistance! Luka had never been just a dog, he was always my fur baby. He was so eager to please me, his basic obedience classes were a snap! His Instructor felt he would be a wonderful ambassador for the Doberman breed! He fulfilled her prediction many times over in his lifetime. Luka never asked anything of me, just lots of love… He was a true “Velcro dog”, always by my side and very attentive of me. 5 years ago, I started having balance issues, falling toward the right when simply walking on level ground. THAT was when my cervical (neck) spinal stenosis appeared, and reared its ugly head. I needed help to stand sometimes while getting dressed, even putting on shoes could cause me to fall over. If for some reason I had to get down onto the floor, I was having difficulty resuming a standing position. I was declared permanently disabled. A friend suggested I take Luka through “Service Dog” training as a mobility/helper dog. Again, in true Luka fashion, instead of taking the normal 2 years to graduate, he was the “6 month wonder” at “Paws 4 Life” in Arizona, graduating and certified on April 5, 2014! He was my Superstar! Then, late in April of 2014, the unthinkable happened… I found a small lump at the rear of his jaw. Immediately, I called his vet, Dr. Jenna Krohn, and set an appointment for the next day. At that appointment, Dr. Krohn did a “needle biopsy” of the lump. It came back as “Spindle Cell Carcinoma”. Two days later, she had him in surgery. The Dr. was able to get the “lump,” however, that vile tumor had wrapped its tentacles around his carotid artery and vein… which was too dangerous for her to remove… and she had found other little bumps in his body, did 2 other biopsies, and she stated she believed it was through him already… (You can see the tumors on his eyes in the photo.) Finding out Luka had Spindle Cell Cancer was truly heartbreaking for me. Dr. Krohn had explained chemo and radiation rarely helped with this kind of cancer as it was so potent and virulent. She told me because his general health (great), weight (perfect) etc. He could probably live another 18 months to two years… When he cried out while trying to get into bed on January 12, 2016, I knew it was time. He was experiencing his first obvious pain… Luka crossed the “Rainbow Bridge” on Jan 15th, at 4pm… I realize that some people would be of the opinion that I should have put him down immediately, but I could never do that to Luka; he was like my child. I did absolutely everything I could do to try to help him live a longer and happy life, as He had done for me… Let me sincerely thank you in advance, for ANY assistance you may offer. No amount is too small... If you can't donate, I’d like to ask you to please share on social media… Thank You for your time and consideration!

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