By Leslie Gallagher
So by now I’ve had Maverick for a couple of weeks and the bills were starting to pile up. I was more than a little bit anxious about how I was going to finance this latest adventure as Kenny, my last “project” had cost four arms and ten legs. We were doing several hours of physical therapy a day as well as acupuncture so I was paying my staff and my veterinarians out of my own pocket to work on him. I also have at least two vets coming in to work each week on a part time basis doing acupuncture and fortunately both of them graciously offered to do Mav’s acu for free (thank god!). I really wanted to hire a part time physical therapist as well that was super knowledgeable about casting and splinting as that is not my area of expertise. I was thinking that with a PT coming in daily to supplement all the other therapy that he was getting would really give him an extra kick. He needed at least four hours of therapy a day.
I also knew we needed to buy him several quad wheelchairs as he was going to grow out of each one quickly. A quad cart can easily run $1200! We were also thinking about getting some custom made Dynasplints for each leg which ran about $600 each. And he would need several as he grew….. And then we needed some No-Knuckling socks for the back feet ($125), custom made Thera-Paw dorsi-flex booties ($250), Walkabout Harnesses for both front and back legs and so on, and so on, and so on. I was also talking to a prosthetist to see if we could have some custom made splints fabricated for his land exercises, which of course he was going to grow out of as well. Every inch that he grew, which I knew was going to be about once a week, would mean changing out devices that would continue to fit him. How in the hell was I going to pay for all of this?!!!
Enter Lauren, our rock star receptionist who also happens to be a whiz at social media. Lauren upon seeing the stricken look on my face as I calculated how much all of this was going to cost, immediately reassured me that she would set up a fundraiser on social media. Everyone in the office assured me that once people read about Maverick’s story and saw the photos and videos of him they would HAVE to send us some money to help out. Who can resist the call to help a paralyzed puppy walk again for Pete’s sakes???!!! I wasn’t convinced. Yes, he is adorable and yes, his story is very compelling but could we raise anywhere near what we needed to get this dog walking again?
If Kenny’s bills were any indication, Maverick was going to cost about $40,000. Dr. Tyneway thought it would take me 6-8 months to get him up again and that would mean four hours/day of rehab. I couldn’t even wrap my brain around such a large amount. Lauren thought that we shouldn’t try to raise anywhere near that (thanks Lauren!) as it would scare people away from contributing. She suggested we set a much lower amount of $14,000. Seems less daunting and much more do-able. Except that it wouldn’t fund even half of his bills!!
Some, ok a lot, of people might say that that is an INSANE amount of money to spend trying to get a puppy walking again. More than a few people would suggest euthanasia, “just go get a healthy puppy!!” A ton of people might say that I’d gone off the deep end (fair) and that I needed to have my head examined to even consider spending that amount of blood, sweat and tears to help this puppy lead a normal life. I understand all of that. My own mother would be on that side. She can’t stand how hard I work, how badly I’ve been injured and how stressful it is on my psyche and my body to take in and try to fix all these babies. I can see her practically in tears, begging me not to take on another project that is going to cost me physically, emotionally and financially. And she’s right. These things wipe me out. They wipe my husband out. They stress my other dogs. I feel horrible guilt at the strain it puts on my marriage and my pets. I know I’m not giving them the time, energy and love that I should have because I’m so overwhelmed with trying to fix my paralyzed charges.
But if I don’t do it, who will? Maverick doesn’t deserve to die because of a vaccine gone wrong. Kenny didn’t deserve to die because some bonehead dropped a metal gate on his neck. Sophie, the dog that I started this company for after a groomer dropped her in a tub and left her paralyzed, didn’t deserve to die. Yet every specialist I schlepped her to told me just to put her down. When I finally got her walking again (with rehab) I look back in disbelief at all the veterinary professionals who strongly suggested euthanasia. With a month of swim therapy she was fine! I have the skills, the talent and the drive to help any innocent animal who is injured through no fault of his own. In our society its way too easy to euthanize an injured animal because someone doesn’t have the time, energy, resources or funds to fix the problem. It happens every day probably thousands of times in the US. Animals are euthanized at insanely high rates, often for frivolous problems that are easily fixable.
Not on my watch. I may only be one person but I’ve mobilized a whole team of awesome, eager, dedicated people, all of whom I’ve trained to do rehab. And dammit, we are going to raise the money and we are going to give this dog the most normal life we possibly can. He’ll never be perfect, far from it unfortunately, but hopefully with all of our love and dedication and some outside funds to help us, we will get Maverick walking again!
So here’s where our community shows its totally awesome colors. As soon as we started telling clients that we were going to start a fundraiser, people jumped in. “How can I help?” I must have heard that every single day. And just as awesome, as soon as I posted on Facebook that we were hiring a PT part-time to come work on the puppy people came out of the woodwork offering to do therapy on him. Not one of them was an actual physical therapist, which was what we needed, but the fact that so many people offered to come by was amazing. I put each and every one of them on puppy-petting and playdate sessions. He was thrilled!
Even cooler? People started leaving cash on my desk. $5s, $10s, $20s, even a $50 dollar bill. Checks started dropping on the reception desk.. BEFORE we’d even started the fundraiser! People started asking to add a Maverick donation on their credit card along with their dog’s therapy session. One client gave (and continues to give) multiple donations, cash, checks, or then going online to contribute every time he brought his dog in. He’d sit on the floor with Mav, tickle his tummy until Maverick giggled and then dropped another donation on the desk. It was so incredibly humbling. Heartwarming. Everyone wanted to help this puppy.
Then the on-line fundraiser started. Clients we hadn’t seen in years contributed. Family members of existing clients contributed. The on-line numbers weren’t huge but they got us over halfway. And an amazing friend and client whose dog died over a decade ago offered to give us beautiful dog-themed sweatshirts and t-shirts with gorgeous sparkly dog paws on the back for every donation of $100 or more. I was speechless. The generosity became overwhelming.
And my own staff, as if they aren’t incredible enough, jumped in with Lauren (coolest receptionist with marketing skills. Ever) setting up Maverick’s Facebook page, working from home to keep it going and then even offering to come in on her day off to help out. Amanda and Erin both offered to babysit Maverick and take him home evenings to give Bryan and I a bit of a break. Clients even offered free babysitting services anytime so that Bryan and I could go out to dinner and have a night out for a change. (I can’t leave a paralyzed puppy alone for one second which makes for zero husband time!).
I am absolutely in awe of the love and support that is out there. For one very special puppy.
If you’d like to contribute towards Maverick’s recovery please call the front desk at Two Hands Four Paws. Thanks!