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Nellie Baby to the Rescue (literally)

Let me tell you about a little tiny 8 pound tricolor smooth coat jack russell who is the most delightfully sweet and loving girl despite her physical handicap. Nellie gets along with absolutely every dog she’s ever met, be it a girl or a boy, and her main interest is the tennis ball. The other thing very important to this little jack is that she can share her company with a human.

The ball

The ball

Nellie came to Jacks Galore from a shelter who was desperately seeking help on an emergency basis with what the local vet thought, after taking x-rays, was a ruptured calcified bulging disc. She appeared also to have problems with her hind legs and was in much pain. In addition she had been fully flea infested with much hair loss; she has also endured several litters despite her obvious neurological problems. Perhaps Nellie Baby had love, but she certainly was never well cared for.

Jacks Galore decided to step in before this little girl was put to sleep, and with the help of the shelter staff, an amazing group of transport volunteers, and rescue partner Maureen who made the impossible happen when she was able to hitch Nellie a ride to Jacks Galore with only 12 hours notice. On Thursday we said we would take her, and she was in our arms on Saturday afternoon. Everyone fell in love with her along the way and showered her with affection. Appointments were already made with the neurologist at the fabulous Upstate Vet Specialties clinic in Albany, NY and phone consultations completed with our regular vet.

Full of life

Full of life

Not an emergency once she arrived, she settled in well and we took her for a long drive on Monday to meet Dr. Bishop, a very brilliant neurologist who made Nellie Baby comfortable and gave her a thorough exam. The results were not as straightforward as we had hoped, for this little jack has degenerative and hereditary disc disease and possible neurological damage to her neck and spinal cord. This of course made us cringe even more knowing that she probably passed on this hereditary problem to her puppies; another reason to keep backyard breeders from continuing to breed dogs that are unhealthy. From the x-ray that we had received from the shelter vet, the neurologist also assumed there was something going on in her abdomen.  He could not rule out she might be pregnant, or have something lodged inside her, so the next step was to make an immediate appointment with our fabulous Dr. Ray and find out exactly what was going on and to reduce some of the preliminary cost before we continue at the Albany clinic. The outcome from our appointment with the neurologist was that an MRI should be done to see whether surgery was even a possibility to correct what was ailing her. She certainly was not in unbearable pain, but she was also not comfortable and has to be picked up quite gingerly; but absolutely has such gusto for life of any jack Russell we know.

The first thing we decided to do was to have Nellie Baby spayed and given a much-needed dental before we went any further since we have to raise funds for the very expensive MRI. So Thursday came along, we brought her to our vet’s office for what we assumed was going to be routine surgery, but yet ended up being a little more unsettling than we had hoped. We got a call late afternoon that there was some sort of mass in her abdomen, definitely not puppies, but our vet would do exploratory surgery.  We were informed that a dental at this point was out of the question because it would be overtaxing her body. During surgery Dr. Ray found an enormous tumor on Nellie’s second ovary. 3-1/2 inches across, this is a huge mass for such a tiny little girl and it was pressing hard not only on her spinal cord but on her bowels. It was no wonder that she was having trouble going to the bathroom, always walking hunched and with much discomfort. The good news on this as Dr. Ray said, he was removing the ovaries anyway and it came out clean.

the tumor, normal size ovary on the bottom

the tumor, normal size ovary on the bottom

Spayed, Nellie is all stitched up, and the mass sent off to the lab for biopsy; we are patiently waiting for the results and are hoping for the best. Best case scenario is it’s benign, it’s just a cyst, and that we will proceed to make sure we get her an MRI as soon as possible to see how to make her enjoy the rest of her life. We will follow with a dental.  The good news is that only a few days after removal of this massive tumor, baby sprung back to life. She runs after the tennis ball, she jumps gingerly in and out of the dog door, and she has certainly found her voice; her vocal cords work just fine!

If the diagnosis is cancer, and depending on its aggressiveness, we might possibly bring Nellie Baby into the sanctuary to live out whatever time she has left, being loved and surrounded by tennis balls. If luck has it, and the tumor is benign, then we will be doing a fundraiser in order to provide this little jack with the MRI so that the neurologist is able to evaluate the best course of action to make sure she is given a fulfilling and pain-free life. Dr. Bishop did say that no matter the results of the MRI he knew very well we should be able to keep her very comfortable even if surgery was not an option. He also added he was very happy we saved her.

So Nellie Baby certainly has some vetting ahead of her, and hopefully with good news we can proceed with her MRI and make her life whole. There is certainly no other little jack more deserving than this one; she will be allowed to heal.  Such a delightfully happy and enthusiastic dog that has a lot of life left. And we’re certainly going to find her that fabulous forever home.

baby