Animal Rescue of Fresno: The Cookie That Wouldn’t Crumble

By Wendy Hunter

I walk with my dogs which keeps me fit. I talk to my dogs which keeps me sane. I can't think of anything that makes one happier than to cuddle and play and start the day with a warm puppy. ~Audrey Hepburn

Spring is here! Spring has sprung! There’s a spring in my step! All right, that’s enough of that. If you couldn’t tell by all the coughing, sneezing, and nose-blowing of the allergy-afflicted public, the season has definitely made a serious change. If the shelves of your local drug store are slowly being depleted of Visine and Claritin, now you know why. When I was a kid here in Fresno, I had horrible hay fever, and my mom hooked me up with Chlortrimeton, which was basically a med that kept me in a zombie like state for the better part of summertime. Luckily, I grew out of my allergies, and even when I moved back home from the Bay Area, I never welcomed them back. I get a little sneezy and my eyes water like the devil at times, but I attribute that to age and my desperate need for stronger glasses…

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Mother Nature decided that all the fruit trees should bloom early again this year, so the buds of pink and white scatter across the streets, and cover the ground like a silky blanket of snow petals. The bees balance delicately on flower stems, collecting nectar and gathering golden puffs of pollen around their tiny legs. This past weekend, my family decided to load up the car and take a tour of the Blossom Trail. Unfortunately, pretty much all the trees had bloomed out, except for a few little orchards that still had some glorious pops of color sprouting on cherry and almond branches. We consoled ourselves with the multitude of snacks previously purchased at Simonian Farms, just at the beginning of the trail. Loading my arms up with goodies galore, I spent a small portion of my stimulus check, and didn’t think twice about it. Because, my friends, chocolate covered raisins should really be their own food group.

Spring is not only a time for the rebirth of all things green, but it also happens to be the time when lots of puppies are born. However, many of these squirmy balls of happiness are not wanted, and that’s why we have so many at ARF right now. It’s the same old song and dance: oh, I didn’t know siblings would mate; I keep forgetting to get them fixed; we just can’t afford to keep all 12 puppies right now. People, puh-leez. So here we are, almost into April, and it’s a PUPPY PALOOZA at ARF! Smooth, scruffy, curly or wiry, we have them all. They are full of energy, attitude, and cuteness. You might remember my recent article from January, where I wrote about a copper colored mommy dog, and her little pups. Roxanna and her offspring were all adopted, each one finding their fur-ever home. 

One of these adorable critters was Riley, now known as Cookie. Red and white, like her mommy, Cookie has the face and markings of a small Collie. Within two weeks of being in her new home, Cookie started throwing up all the time. Her new owner was quick to call her vet, and she was able to get the puppy quickly scheduled for a visit. It was determined that Cookie had Vascular Ring Anomalies. In a nutshell, anything she ate or drank came right back up. Yeesh, that sounds so seriously unpleasant and brings back horrid memories of party nights out in San Francisco...ugh. So what exactly is Vascular Ring Anomalies? Well, instead of me trying to explain it, here’s some helpful information for your viewing pleasure:

Studies show that the most common vascular ring anomaly found in canines is the aberrant right subclavian artery of the heart. This does not produce clinical signs. The persistent right aortic arch, which is the malformation clinically represented in over 90% of canines, forms a complete ring around the esophagus, narrowing the passage. The aorta, which would normally form as the main blood vessel leading from the heart, instead results in a ring around the esophagus, leading to a constriction that can become serious. 

Cookie's family
In the fetal stages of development, aortic arches (blood vessels) encircle the esophagus and trachea. In some instances, arches can form in an abnormal way or location, resulting in pressure on the esophagus and trachea, which can cause a narrowing of the organs and subsequent regurgitation of solid food as a puppy is weaned.

And if that doesn’t make any sense, just think of it this way: Cookie can’t keep anything down.

Most of you animal lovers know that you’re not allowed into the vet’s office during these days of COVID. Which means that Cookie’s new owner was sobbing in the car when the vet gave her three options for the diagnosis: 1) Euthanasia, 2) Return puppy to ARF, and 3) Go to Monterey through the ER, racking up more than $11,000. Distraught, Cookie’s owner contacted ARF, and our fearless leader, Lind G., promptly got on the phone making calls. Our volunteer coordinator, Mindi M., also did some research on Vascular Ring Anomalies, to understand fully what could be done for this puppy. After asking for guidance from some reputable vets we’ve worked with before, we were directed to take Cookie to the UC Davis ER. After some extensive testing, it was determined that Cookie’s esophagus was not stretched out, and she would be a good candidate for the required open heart surgery. This was terrific news, but it did come with one major problem: the operation would run close to $10,000. We knew that Cookie’s family didn’t have that kind of money, and ARF certainly doesn’t have piles of $100 dollar bills laying around . We had to think of a way to assist the family, and give Cookie a fighting chance for a good long life.

Just to make the situation a little more stressful, Cookie’s owner had to learn how to feed her little pup, to ensure she was able to gain a certain amount of weight each week. This would allow her arteries to grow, and make it easier for a successful surgery. She turned to ARF’s Mindi M., who has a dog with a similar condition. He is fed in a high chair, and must remain in an upright position for 20-30 minutes after eating or drinking. It may seem like a lot of trouble, but it was the only possible way Cookie would be able to keep her date with UC Davis. During this whole pandemic, ARF has been unable to hold any of its usual fundraisers, complying with all regulations regarding large gatherings: No Pancake Breakfast, no Valentine’s Day Bake Sale, and no Annual Open House. Basically, no fun allowed. But in this case, we needed a big chunk of change in a big hurry. We had already paid $600 for Cookie’s preliminary testing, but that ten grand was still looming in the distance. And so, once again, we turned to our supporters in the community for help. We decided to hold a two-day Yard Sale, with masks required and social distancing observed. We put out a plea to the public via Facebook, emptied our storage units, and prayed for blue skies.

In the end, our event for Cookie was a great success, and we couldn’t have been more pleased. Between the Yard Sale, online donations, and ARF apparel purchases, we were able to meet our goal. Cookie had her surgery on March 23, as scheduled, and it went very well. She is now recovering, and probably being spoiled she should be. The mission of Animal Rescue of Fresno is to eliminate suffering and promote the welfare of dogs through direct action and education. With your generosity, we were able to save the life of one little puppy. Your kindness and charity never go unnoticed in our eyes, and we appreciate each and every one of you. So whether you made a $50 donation, bought an ARF shirt, or spent $3.00 on a set of vintage Coke glasses, we see you. Your love for the ARF dogs overwhelms us, and we send you our gratitude. Saying “thank you” never seems like enough, especially during these trying times. Because of kindhearted people like you, Cookie’s life just got a little sweeter.

The window is open and a warm, delicious little breeze comes wandering in. It smells of magnolias and dogwood and it whispers in our ears enticing little stories of gurgling brooks and cool woods. Yes, we have got spring fever and got it bad. ~Country Life, June 1922

Animal Rescue of Fresno
4545 E Dakota Ave.
Fresno, CA 93726

 Check out more animal rescue stories in our Pet Perspective section on Kings River Life, and the Pets section here on KRL News & Reviews. Check back every month for another animal rescue adventure from ARF. Advertise in KRL and 10% of your advertising fees can go to a local animal rescue. Learn more about ARF on their website.

Wendy Hunter has been volunteering with ARF for four years. She grew up in Fresno and recently became an Office Assistant with Fresno County. She has been writing all of her life, though never professionally, and currently writes personalized poetry for birthdays, weddings, pet remembrances, etc.