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By: Jana Meador

The sun shined on the sky and the outdoor temperature reached pleasant 80 degrees in Austin, Texas.

An unexpected Valentine entered my life early on February 12, 2008. The sun shined on the sky and the outdoor temperature reached pleasant 80 degrees in Austin, Texas. Me and my rat terrier Benny took a nice walk when we stumbled upon a large black Labrador. This is how we met Buddy. I looked about and saw there was no one else on the street. The black lab slowly walked through the neighborhood, cautiously sniffing the ground in hopes to find something to eat. He had no collar on. His black, shiny coat looked healthy, and he seemed to be well fed. Buddy followed us to the house. I opened the wooden gate, and he casually walked in as if he lived there.

The next day, my new four-legged friend helped me to put up about 60 fliers out in the neighborhood, proudly walking by my side, in hopes of finding his owner. How could no one be missing such a mellow, potty-trained and quiet dog? The answer came two days later, when I took Buddy to my veterinarian’s office at Burnet Road Animal Hospital. Doctor Everett E. Simmons told me, that the sweet-natured Labrador suffered from heartworms. This serious, cruel disease is spread on a dog from an infected mosquito. Tons of white, long spaghetti look alike worms developed in Buddy’s heart. This disease can result in heart failure and other organ damage. Over the course of the following days, Buddy coughed and had low energy. According to the doctor, the chances of survival are 50/50, depending on the dog’s age and overall health. Buddy’s age was estimated at 1-1/2 years old.

Although the heartworm treatment can be costly and requires long-term medical care, I decided to give Buddy a chance on his new life. The same day we started his six-month long and exhausting treatment. During this entire time, Buddy had to be kept in an enclosed area. He would not enter a crate, so I placed blankets and dog bowls on the bathroom floor. This is where he remained for six months. When Buddy had to go out, we would walk slowly and carefully, because the veterinarian said that any excitement or physical activity could mean death for his heart weakened by the infestation of worms. I have never seen a dog suffer so quietly and patiently like Buddy did. He fully cooperated with his treatment. During this time, he received several weekly shots that were basically a rat poison, killing the worms inside his precious heart. During this long six-month period no one really knew whether Buddy was going to make it. After the six months were over, Buddy was pronounced heartworm free and thus became one of the luckier dogs surviving this disease.

I mentioned him to my dear friend Vlasta, who forwarded some news about Buddy to her German friend Christa and her husband Roger. The elderly pair lived in a large house and had recently lost their yellow lab. Christa was still grieving. When she heard about Buddy, she and her husband agreed to meet with us. It was love at first sight. They liked the name I gave him and decided to keep it. Buddy has since flourished into a confident, awesome and healthy dog. Christa an avid swimmer, tried many times to get Buddy to join her in the pool. But he always chickened out. He keeps a good company on the green grass, while she swims her daily laps. Buddy is the favorite among all her adult children and many grandchildren.



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