By Leslie Gallagher
All of our clients were in love with Ken. And he loved them right back. What was not for him to love? He spent his days on a big fluffy bed in the middle of our 6000 sq ft doggie gymnasium, receiving visitors from 9-6pm. When he wasn’t getting treatment, he was getting petted, hugged, kissed, fed ridiculous amounts of treats, and generally being adored by every person who came through our doors. Everyone knew his story and everyone was rooting for him. Even people who were afraid of big dogs and especially big scary Dobermans would creep over to Ken and tentatively scratch his head. Within a few minutes they’d be lying next to him having deep conversations about the meaning of life. Ken won everyone over with his charm and incredible good looks. When we did his therapy I could hear the silent cheers from the clients rooting him on. People photographed him and even filmed him getting his treatment.
Besides people opening their hearts to Ken, they also opened their wallets. I can’t tell you how touched I was when someone would walk up and hand me some cash and say, “It’s for Ken.” I practically burst into tears sometimes as I knew they couldn’t afford it, yet they wanted to help. Clients who were struggling to pay their own vet bills would hand us $20 or $50 and say, “I wish I could give more”. It was so moving. We even built up a little Ken fund with donations from some of the nicest people I know. We had been burning through expenses for treatments, medications and vet visits, on our own dime and we knew there was still a potential mountain of bills ahead. We hadn’t asked for money but boy, did it help.
Finally, one day a client who I hadn’t thought was that interested in Kenny took me aside. “What’s it going to cost to get his MRI and surgery?” I told her about eight grand. She said, “Let me help. Let’s try to raise money for it and whatever we don’t raise, I’ll give you my credit card to cover the rest.” I almost fell out of my chair. I told her it was too late, that it had been over a month since his injury. She said, “What do we have to lose?” I love this woman!!!!
So, I called the neurologist and sketched out the scenario and my concerns about how long it had been. He said, “Bring the dog in for an MRI and let’s look. Maybe there’s something we can do. I will work with you on the price.” I didn’t want to get my hopes up and I had no idea if we could raise the money and I really had no idea if it was even worth it at this point to do the MRI but I had to try. Ken was in pain and he was nowhere near where he should have been at this point. I owed it to him to try to raise the money and get that MRI.
About a month previous to this we had held an event called “Specially-Abled Pets Day” to celebrate all of our clients with special needs pets and to feature special-needs pets that were up for adoption. Annie Hart from the Bill Foundation brought a severely disabled Havanese to the event and a wonderful client of ours adopted her on the spot. Needless to say we were all thrilled. We had also set up a fundraiser at this point, to help us raise money for Kenny’s care and we had reached almost $1000. We had a great story about Kenny on the fundraiser site but, to be honest, fundraising is not our forte! When Annie heard that we were trying to raise funds for an MRI and possible surgery she jumped on it. “Let me help! I’m really good at this!!” An offer we could not refuse! Annie worked her magic. She reached out to her Bill Foundation “Villagers” and asked them to give up a few of their daily Starbucks and donate money to Kenny’s fund.
Oh.My.Goodness. The response was nothing short of astonishing. Annie’s request must have struck a chord because within a week we had raised another $5000!!! People from around the world sent in donations of $5, $10, $20 and more. We were blown away. With that money and our incredibly generous client’s credit card we made the appointment for the MRI/possible surgery and started packing our bags. Road trip! Kenny was going back to the neurologist!!!