I am so sad to tell you that on Sunday we said goodbye to Mary. On Saturday night, she suddenly started to not feel well and by Sunday morning she let us know that she was ready to let go. The vet thinks she probably started to have an internal bleed from the tumor that had extended into her abdomen.
It was such an honor and a privilege to care for her over the past six months. The first time we ever saw Mary, she was sitting in the back seat of a car of someone who had found her wandering the streets of Sacramento. In all of the 38 years that I have been doing animal rescue work, I have never seen an animal that was so emaciated. Every bone stuck out from her skin and she could not walk. Her face was sunken in from starvation, yet her huge brown eyes begged for help.
So we took her in knowing that she probably would not live very long. She was diagnosed with a very advanced anal cancer that our veterinarian said was inoperable. We were told to take her home, slowly start to feed her, and give her the best end of life possible. And that's exactly what we did. Our veterinarian predicted she would not survive more than a month.
But one month passed, and then another and another. And Mary made herself right at home in our house. She was fed five small meals every day plus lots of treats that she always ate with gusto. I feel so honored that she bonded with me very quickly. In fact, she never took her big brown eyes off of me. Wherever I was - there she was - lying on the floor next to my chair, watching me make her dinner, or under the piano as I fumbled through a Chopin nocturne.
I do feel that somehow, for some miraculous reason, Mary was meant to find her way to us. It's amazing how in just 6 short months, this beautiful, gentle being made her way into the hearts of so many people.
I miss you so much Mary. You will live in our hearts forever.
-JP Novic, CAPE Executive Director
Although Mary lives her days with bright eyes, hearty barks and mealtime enthusiasm, the reality is that she has an inoperable cancerous tumor in her abdomen.
The tumor continues to slowly grow. It's size is evident on her hind end, displacing the base of her tail, pushing it towards her right hip. The exterior tumor is the size of a softball but thankfully, Mary does not seem bothered by it. Except for some bleeding, her potty habits are healthy and unchanged.
Last April when Mary arrived at CAPE, because of her prognosis, CAPE's veterinarian suggested that she could live for a week to a month.
Yesterday, five months later, Mary trotted into the veterinary clinic for a check up. CAPE staff and our veterinarian agreed that we could learn so much from dogs - here was Mary, a dog diagnosed with the worst condition, yet her love of life and all the simple parts of her daily experience have brought her the gift of five more months.
Today is just another ordinary yet beautiful day for Mary.
It was a beautiful day on April 21, 2018 when Mary became part of the CAPE family. In the days that followed, she had a bubble bath to rid her of a flea infestation; visits to the veterinarian where she was diagnosed with an inoperable abdominal tumor; a nutrition plan of five meals a day that was developed to gently bring her body back from the ravages of starvation.
During her veterinary exam, we were told that she may have one week or one month to live. Here we are 16 1/2 weeks later, and Mary is nowhere near leaving this life.
Although the tumor continues to grow, Mary does not seem at all bothered by it. She carries on each day with an attitude that all is normal and good. She gets excited at her mealtimes. She is patient and calm with all people and dogs. She ambles about the house and outdoors without any pain or concerns.
Mary's daily life is a thing of beauty. And she is not interested in changing a thing.
Hardwood floors are wonderful when you have a home full of animals. They are easy to clean and look great too. But we noticed Mary sometimes had trouble keeping her balance, slipping and sliding as she moved from one spot to another.
Mary is not one to complain. And she never gives up. But to make her life easier and to add to the beauty of her experience, we decided to adorn her with her own set of cute running shoes.
They are not only very stylish, Mary's shoes have grips on the bottom to help prevent her from sliding across the floor. With her shoes on, Mary's confidence has increased now that she realizes how much easier it is for her to move about the house.
Enjoy these photos and video of Mary looking sporty with her new "kicks."
Although she is living in a CAPE hospice foster home after her diagnosis of abdominal cancer, Mary is able to motor around the house and the outdoors under her own steam.
Mary participates in all the household activities - barking at the UPS driver, joyfully partaking in her daily meals, napping with fellow elderly canines. Her energy has been steady although some days she is reminded that her body is not always able to cooperate.
The soft couch with the red blanket is Mary's favorite place to settle her bones. We have watched her pull herself onto the couch many times. But if a person is nearby, she emits a little "Boof" meaning "A little boost perhaps?"
Gently cupping her back legs, we lift her onto the blanket where she rests her head and closes her soulful eyes.
Recently a small, 10 lb. Chihuahua named Princess dropped by for a visit. She brought her own bed and left it in the living room where she could easily find it. Mary found it too. The perfect attribute to this bed was that she did not need a boost to settle in for a nap.
When you've known extreme hunger, every meal becomes a miracle. For Mary, her five meals a day are a wondrous experience.
Mary, although in hospice due to cancer spreading throughout her abdomen, has a healthy, throaty bark, and an excellent appetite. As long as she is able to continue "telling" us how much she loves her meals, and as long as she is able to relish gobbling them up, Mary's life is a thing of beauty.
We hope you will enjoy watching Mary readying herself for one of her meals, and the joy she has in making them disappear. We thank you for your support and for following her story.
Just like you, we have all come to love Mary. She has no demands, but she gives back affection, curiosity, tolerance, and a bark or two. Everyday she accompanies CAPE staff as they walk through the sanctuary, caring for the animals. It never fails that later we will find her curled up on the couch, her favorite red blanket tucked around her.
But Mary is slowing down. In recent days we have noticed that her energy is decreasing. The tumor on her hind end seems a bit larger. We worry that the cancer has spread further.
She still gobbles up her meals, and wags her tail while barking when her favorite people arrive back home. We know that the beautiful life being given to her has not gone unnoticed. Mary drinks it in daily, with Maya, her "hospice nurse" always at her side.
To see Mary stretching her legs during her early morning walk across the sanctuary, anyone would be amazed to learn that she has an inoperable tumor growing throughout her abdomen. Mary came into CAPE's world three short weeks ago after being found starving, flea infested and wandering the streets of Sacramento.
In this short time frame, we at CAPE have come to appreciate her stoic attitude. She is not altered by the cancer. Her daily discoveries of a new bowl of food; a rub between her ears; a fly that buzzes over her nose - are all a dazzling to Mary.
Mary endured starvation, loneliness, and winter temperatures during her time of homelessness. To see her safe, well-fed and enjoying the simple things in a dog's life bring comfort to us all.
This week we are excited to report that Mary has gained 3.1 pounds! There are few things more rewarding than nourishing a hungry animal. When she arrived at the CAPE Animal Sanctuary, Mary was skin and bones. Following the advise of our veterinarian, Mary was given several small meals a day to help her system adjust to being fed healthy food.
Mealtimes to Mary are one of her many new joys in life. She polishes her bowl leaving it sparkling clean. She is patient for treats and is polite while the other dogs nibble their snacks.
We have learned that Mary loves music. While the piano in the living room is being played, Mary will saunter nearby and wag her tail in time to the music.
Mary is enjoying her new found life, and it continues to gain in richness each day. We at the CAPE Animal Sanctuary have gained the most by having Mary as our new family member.
Since she arrived at the CAPE Animal Sanctuary where she will live out the rest of her life, Mary has not caused a single ripple moving into the household.
Each day, she ambles along with CAPE staff as they walk along the quiet road near the sanctuary. Mary is inclined to just soak up the sun, breathe in fresh spring air and lazily watch passing insects.
Tomorrow she will be meeting some of the animals who live on the sanctuary. You will not want to miss what happens as she goes nose to nose with a mini donkey and sees a chicken - for the first time?
Watching Mary enjoy the simple life, free from fear, starvation, or exposure to the elements makes our hearts soar.
Even though she is in hospice care, Mary is enjoying a beautiful life. Thanks for your support.
“Until we extend our circle of compassion to all living things, humanity will not find peace."
~Dr. Albert Schweitzer