Brandi’s family thought they’d have years to spoil her. After a lifetime as a breeding dog in a Pennsylvania puppy mill, she was rescued into the good life last December. When her family found out that their puppy mill rescue had an inoperable cardiac tumor, they decided to give Brandi a great life they could and have been working on a bucket list so she can have the time of her life while she’s here.
“She was found wandering near a puppy mill, discarded after producing many litters of puppies,” says Debbie DeSantis, a professional dog trainer who adopter Brandi. “Although the rescue told us she was just a few years old, we think she’s more like five to seven-years-old. She had blood in her urine and we suspect she was dumped because she had health issues.”
DeSantis is no stranger to dogs with health issues. She has rescued a wide range of dogs over the years from Shih Tzus to Shelties to Golden Retrievers like Brandi. She’s dealt with cancer and a wide range of illnesses and is very familiar with the complex world of veterinary specialty medicine. Brandi had a large bladder stone that was remove when she was spayed.
“She continued to have blood in her urine and during an ultrasound, they found the cardiac tumor,” she said. “She’s now on a course of chemotherapy and is taking a range of other medications. She was such a shy dog to start, but she has blossomed into this happy, friendly dog that just wants to meet people. We’ve decided that we’d like to give her a very special life while she’s with us to make up for her puppy mill years.”
When they got the diagnosis at the beginning of the year, the specialist thought Brandi had just a few short months left. A mix of antibiotics, other medications and chemotherapy have helped with the unexpected – buying Brandi more time - six months so far. Her family is now working on a bucket list to help Brandi experience the great things the world has to offer for the short time that she has left.
“She loves people so I love taking her places where she can interact,” says DeSantis. “She is an unofficial greeter at the vet, putting her head in people's laps. Since her immune system is compromised, she can’t do the dog park or pet stores where there are other dogs. She does love going to park with the kids. I’d love to take her to the beach to see the ocean, take her for doggy ice cream or maybe get her on TV to tell her story. We are working on a list and would love some ideas.”
Before she found out how dire Brandi’s situation was, DeSantis had hoped she’d become a therapy dog like another puppy mill rescue in her home. That won’t happen, but she hopes there will be plenty of opportunities to get out with Brandi to spread the word about puppy mills and the hell on earth for the dogs left behind in the mills.
“I never miss the opportunity to tell people not to purchase dogs in pet stores or online – to consider adopting a rescued dog,” she adds. “As for Brandi, she has no idea that she’s on borrowed time. She’s still very happy and is enjoying life to the fullest.”
In the meantime, that bucket list continues to grow. She’d love to get Brandi’s story told in a newspaper like the Philadelphia Inquirer, a magazine like Rescue Me, or to hit the big time on Ellen, Rachel Ray or Oprah. She also has noted animal lovers Betty White and Ed Rendell (Pennsylvania’s former governor who was instrumental in passing some key laws against the mills) on her list. She admits these are long shots, but then again, Brandi’s last few months have been long shots as well.
DeSantis has set up a fundraising account online to help pay for some of the veterinary costs. She is also continuing to look for items to add to the bucket list. You may add them below or check out Brandi’s Facebook page and leave some ideas there.
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