Forest, my retired service dog, had to have emergency surgery to remove an intestinal blockage. Late Saturday night we were told that it was a life or death situation and he needed immediate surgery or we should plan to euthanize him. We had no idea that his treatment would require xrays, barium studies, ultrasounds, surgery, and 4 days in the hospital. We knew vet bills add up fast but, I was still floored when the bill came to $6300. We are a single income family due to my health and cannot absorb this. As most of you know I am disabled and dealing with several rare diseases which create a challenging life with many required medical treatments for me. Not all of my care or expensive medicines are covered by insurance and Forest's surgery has broken the bank. If we can get help with at least part of this expense I would be eternally grateful.
Why does this "dog" warrant this amount of medical care? Why not just put him down? Forest gave me back my life. Since I was 12 months old, I have had over 100 surgeries on her vocal cords due to RRP. The repeated surgeries caused me to develop Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS) which causes muscle weakness and passing out with little warning. Because of this debilitation, my world narrowed to a bedroom (having to quit school and work) that I could not leave without my fiancé because of being afraid I would pass out and get another concussion. I was lost in the depths of PTSD and depression wondering if life was worth continuing. Then Forest came into my life. Forest is a cardiac alert dog and can tell that I'm going to have a blood pressure drop before it happens, he lays with me and actually tells me when it is safe to get up. Then I can go about my business. Before Forest, I would have a full "fainting episode" and my body would take a full week to get back into synch. He has been by my side through literally hundreds of medical procedures and flown around the US with me to these also helping mitigate fatigue with balance and pulling support from his harness. For a time we were flying to Boston every 3 weeks for infusions of an immunologic drug as part of a medical study treating one of my diseases.
Forest has given me back a chance to express my love of music. He has been on the stage for orchestra concerts as I play the cello and even traveled with the Hershey Symphony Orchestra to perform at Carnegie Hall (perhaps the first service dog on the stage for a performance there). I have been able to participate with many local theater companies in the central Pennsylvania region playing in the pit orchestras. Forest used to nap through the performances with his "Mutt Muffs" on to protect his ears. He has also allowed me to travel to meet up with support groups for my diseases and to learn the latest and greatest treatments. Forest even traveled with me to California to stay in the Beverly Hills Hotel where we stayed in a private bungalow for an event to raise money for vocal cord research. We met many of the famous "voices" that my surgeon has treated for voice problems and Forest even got to meet Ozzy and Sharon Osbourne at the hotel.
Forest has helped me to return to a full and rewarding life, even though every day is still filled with scheduling and attending appointments and procedures, fighting with insurance for medical bills and medicine authorizations, managing my medi port for home infusions, etc. Forest had a neck injury a couple of years ago that forced him to retire early and Radar, a golden retriever, assumed the service dog duties (well at least away from home, Forest still helps alert at home). At 10, Forest is a stately gentleman enjoying his retirement and watching the world go by. So Forest isn't "just another dog" or "house pet." Nothing wrong with our pets, we love them dearly, but Forest has given so much to me that I couldn't even think of euthanizing him when that was discussed. He deserves every chance I can give him.
Thank you so much for reading this and thank you for your support.