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Mastiff, 9    years old

Diagnosis: Ameloblastoma 

Treatment:  Surgery

Charleston had a rough start at life. As an 8-month old puppy someone had dumped him on the toll roads and left him to fend for himself. After multiple days of being chased by Animal Control, they were finally able to catch him. He was brought to the Medical Clinic at the Animal Shelter where I worked. I immediately fell in love.


Upon examination, it was discovered that Charleston had over 50 open wounds all over his body. They appeared to be bite wounds, and it was assumed that he was used as some sort of bait dog as he was small for his breed. It was also discovered that Charleston had bilateral hip dysplasia, as well as elbow dysplasia.  


While Charleston healed in the medical clinic, I used that opportunity to give him extra attention every single day. I would spend time with him before and after my shift, as well as on my breaks, cuddled up to him in his kennel. I was lucky enough to be the recipient of many of his sloppy Mastiff kisses. He spent over a month with us in the clinic until he was medically cleared for adoption by our shelter veterinarian. 


One day I arrived at work only to hear that Charleston was marked for euthanasia. I was absolutely devastated. I immediately learned that the decision was not a medical one, but was coming from the director of the shetler who did not want to adopt out an “aggressive breed” at our city shelter. I begged and pleaded with him, but he would not budge. I was told that if I wanted to save him so bad that I had to adopt him myself or he would be put down. Although I was not looking for another animal companion, as I already had adopted 2 dogs and 2 cats from my work, how could I say no knowing I was his only hope. 


Charleston was amazing from day one! He fit in perfectly with my crew at home and was always on his best behavior, even with the cats. He was immediately part of the family and quickly became an ambassador for his breed, proving to everyone that he came in contact with that although his shortly cropped ears may be scary to some, he was truly a gentle giant. 


During the 8 years I have had Charleston his health has always been pretty good. That is, up until recently. In late March of 2020, he happened to yawn right in front of me and I noticed a huge mass in the back of his mouth. I immediately made an appointment with our family veterinarian and took him in for the soonest appointment so a biopsy could be performed. The biopsy results came back as an ameloblastoma. My heart sank. I was referred to an oncologist who said Charleston needed a full-body CT scan to make sure there was nothing else going on in his body. The CT scan results showed that surgery would be the best option for him, and would be considered curative. But unfortunately it was also determined that Charleston would need two surgeries. One for the mandibulectomy of the lower back right side, and a second for a spot they found on the K9 and the surrounding bone of the front left side. Both surgeries could not occur at the same time because it would cause instability of Charleston's jaw and affect his ability to recover and eat post-surgery. 


Just one month prior to Charleston’s diagnosis, Humphrey, my other senior dog in the home, had to have an emergency splenectomy for a splenic mass that ruptured. His surgery totaled almost $10,000. Four years prior, I was in a near-death accident and was disabled, and am no longer able to work. So, as you can imagine having large vet bills, especially only one month apart, proved to not be feasible for me on a fixed income. Luckily the surgeon’s office was kind enough to recommend that I apply for grants, and provided me with a list.


We were fortunate to be the recipient of a couple of generous grants and Charleston was able to have his mandibulectomy in mid-April, 2020. Unfortunately the biopsy results from that surgery did not come back with clear margins and Charleston would have to undergo a revision of that same surgery in order to remove all of the cancer. This is where Lexi’s Legacy saved us! Thanks to Lexi’s Legacy Charleston underwent his second surgery in early July, 2020. It killed me to put Charleston through the same surgery knowing this time how hard the recovery would be, but Charleston is one tough boy. He is a little over 5 weeks in his recovery and although it was rough the first couple weeks, he is feeling stronger every single day and getting back to his sweet and lovable, but bossy self! Charleston still has one more surgery to undergo to be considered cancer-free, but we are confident that he can handle anything after watching him endure so much in the last few months. 


None of this would have been possible without Lexi’s Legacy. We will forever be in debt to them. Not only did they save Charleston’s life, but they saved mine as well by allowing my furry family to stay together. We are extremely grateful to Lexi’s Legacy, and to all of their supporters and donors, for making this happen and for making us feel like family!

Kelly O. - 2020

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