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Updated: Nov 14, 2023

With a terminal cancer diagnosis, we wondered if Diva would spend the rest of her days at our shelter. Then something wonderful happened.

6-year-old Diva was surrendered to Dutchess County SPCA in February 2023. She has terminal cancer. Diva entered DCSPCA’s hospice program and we removed her malignant mammary tumor, continuing to monitor her condition. We knew that Diva might spend her last days at the shelter.

Then something wonderful happened.

Rebecca and Nick, a couple from upstate New York, heard Diva’s story. They had lost their dog to the very same cancer that Diva has. They were determined to ensure that Diva’s final days were joyous ones. They traveled hours to DCSPCA’s shelter to meet Diva and take her home.

We don’t know how long Diva has. But we know that she is unconditionally loved and having the time of her life with her new family.

We checked in with Rebecca and Nick to see how Diva is doing.

DCSPCA: What inspired you to adopt Diva?

REBECCA & NICK: 2 years ago we adopted a 9-year-old dog named Luna with the intention of spoiling her during her final years, which is exactly what we did. This past summer she developed a tumor so we had it taken out and biopsied. It was mammary cancer and there wasn't anything we could do to keep it from returning. We knew we didn't want to put her through anymore surgeries so we decided to just keep loving her the way we were before until she was in pain. In December she formed another tumor and right after Christmas we had to put her down because the cancer reared up essentially overnight and she was no longer able to eat, drink, or stand.

When we saw Diva, her story reminded us so much of Luna. We had no intention of getting another dog so soon but she had the same cancer as Luna and we couldn't let her live her final days in a shelter. We knew we could love her and we knew we could care for and support her in whatever ways she needed. It was a no brainer for us.

DCSPCA: How is she doing now that she is home?

REBECCA & NICK: Diva is super comfortable at home. Her appetite was strong from the beginning, she sleeps through the night, and she rarely barks. She is still scared meeting new people but she warms up quickly. She's a master escape artist from the crate so we gave up and now that she has access to more of the house during the day she is having fewer accidents. She spends her days napping on the couch and finding something to get into, no matter how hard we try to keep everything out of her reach.

DCSPCA: What are some of her favorite things?

REBECCA & NICK: Diva LOVES playing fetch. Every morning before work, every day after work, and every night before bed we play fetch. She also loves cuddling on the couch and being anywhere we are.

DCSPCA: How has adopting Diva changed your life?

REBECCA & NICK: There is so much more joy in the house. Diva follows us everywhere (and she's incredibly quiet so we trip over her ALL THE TIME). She has such a youthful, inquisitive face and just looks like a puppy which melts our hearts. It's wonderful to come home and have her be way too excited to see us. Having a dog in the house is something we missed and now it feels complete.

DCSPCA: What would you say to someone who is considering adopting a dog who has cancer?

REBECCA & NICK: Realize that you are doing this for the dog. We know we are going to outlive our dogs, so for us it doesn't matter if we're going to have them for a few months or 12 years. We're going to love them.

Depending on the dog, it's not as intimidating as it may seem. Diva has been easy so far. She already had her tumor removed and we know we aren't going to do any surgeries for her because it's not what's in HER best interest (we wouldn't suggest adopting a dog with mammary cancer and trying to prolong the dogs life with multiple surgeries and chemo that ultimately won't work and will make the dogs final days or months that much harder). So far she doesn't require any medicine or special treatment. We just get to spoil her and she is a normal, happy dog.

For Luna, it was a lot more work because we did the surgery. She was in a cone for a few months to keep her away from the tumor and then away from the incision after the surgery. The care was a lot because it was a mammary tumor and there are very few ways to effectively wrap the area.

If you are willing to love and care for a dog, knowing that the inevitable heartbreak is coming sooner rather than later, adopt the senior dog or the dog with cancer! They are truly wonderful and have so much love to give.

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