Welcome to Whistler’s assistance and fundraising site. Some of you may know of our greyt doggie Whistler the greyhound, and his many travels – all across the USA, from North Carolina to Washington State in the Pacific Northwest, then to the Colorado Rockies – and in 2012, all the way to Uruguay in South America! Here, he’s called a galgo, but the Galgo Español is actually a different breed of dog than the true “American Greyhound” (or English or Irish Greyhound) – so he’s a Galgo Estadounidense (A USA-ian Galgo – because after all, Uruguay is in America too!)
Now he has the biggest challenge of his life – deadly bone cancer that came on with serious limping only this past October. Followed by pain, and fast-advancing loss of function of his now-ruined right shoulder and leg. The right shoulder and leg always was a “hot spot” for him, and we suspect that he may have had an early training injury. Old injuries can become new injuries, and microfractures in bones can lead to cancer when mis-coded DNA causes bad cells instead of good bone to grow. By late December, despite a 3-week period where moderate pain meds had him using the leg again and walking to the beach, the devastating debilitation of this deadly disease struck back – with visible growths, loss of muscle and nerve capabilities, and constant pain. To the point where on January 6, Mark had to carry him home the last block – all 32 kilos (75 pounds) of hurting dog.
We felt we had to put him down the next day, or at most a few days later. But we decided, in consultation with local vets, to give him one more chance. We upped his pain medication significantly, adding a mix of different-mechanism drugs.
Whistler came back! For a few days, he almost was using the leg again, though it was clear that he shouldn’t bear weight on it. What’s more important is his energy, personality (goofy, loving, and stubborn) came back, his eagerness to walk (hop) one or three or 5 blocks further before allowing us to head home (he can plant himself firm to the ground unmovable even with only 3 working legs!) – all back. Our dog was still there, if we could take away the pain.
After much reflection, and the dog himself showing us that with the pain gone, he can hop around on 3 legs like a champion and still be his goofy lovable self, we’ve decided to give him a shot at the big challenge – another year of life, hopefully, if we have the cancerous leg amputated and then get him the right chemotherapy to slow down recurrence and metastasis.
We don’t like to do the “ask for donations” bit, but we’ll need help in order to give him his best chance. That’s why we’re hoping that friends, lovers of greyhounds and other dogs, and anyone who’s attuned to survivors of cancer whether canine, feline, or human, may want to help us out with a secure donation via PayPal.
Please help us help Whistler win!
Your donation is secured by PayPal – you can use your existing PayPal account or simply use your credit or debit card through their checkout system. The special form will show you that the donation will be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org – Mark Mercer’s personal email account which is attached to his PayPal account. Rather than set up a separate donation program, a GoFundMe, or some other added intermediary, since Lisa Mercer and Mark Mercer have verified PayPal accounts and we know how to whip together websites, we’ve quickly thrown together this non-fancy site. The donation page itself is hosted at PayPal, on their secure server. This website you’re viewing, https://mercers.com/whistler, is a secure site with its own HTTPS/SSL/TLS certificate, managed by us, on one of our Virtual Private Servers of our Southern Cross Web business.
There is no separate donation account – the complexities of setting up a new, US-dollar, PayPal or other service-connected account, while we’re in Uruguay, would be overwhelming at this time. The funds instead will go into our regular PayPal account, which goes to our regular USA bank accounts. We can use their debit cards to withdraw funds or pay by card for our needed services for Whistler, or transfer it to our Uruguayan bank, Banco República. Those channels are already all set up and working, so we can quickly use your donations to help Whissie. We’ll be quite willing to give explanations of the ongoing expenses for Whistler. We’ll be posting about his surgery, post-op, rehab, chemo, and his life as it unfolds. We appreciate your trust.
(Please realize that this is a personal donation, a gift from one person to help another in need, rather than a donation to a registered charity. We are private individuals, and your donation is not tax-deductible nor does it go into any separate foundation or account. Because Mark’s PayPal account is also used for his freelance web client work under our Southern Cross Web branding, your credit card receipt from PayPal may show payment to “SOUCROSSWEB” as the business name.)
We have the money set aside for his surgery, performed by a team of veterinarians from the faculty of the Veterinary School of the Universidad de la República Oriental del Uruguay, put together by a good friend and local veterinarian, who is Whistler’s “Tía Mariana”. But the chemotherapy will be a financial challenge, and it has to start within 2-4 weeks after the surgery, needs to happen 3-6 times, and can be hundreds of US dollars each treatment. Likewise, we need to make some additions and alterations to how we live in our little casita 3 blocks from the beach – on that very dusty dirt road. We need to get rugs for everywhere, because we can’t risk him slipping on the lovely but dangerous tile floors. Additional dog furniture. Likely lots of taxi rides, car rentals, or other transportation arrangements. More medications for pain, and the expected post-op infections. Though our freelance web and writing business has let us live here, afford our own healthcare, afford to take care of our dog (and until Aug 2013 when he passed away, our cat Blackcomb, Whistler’s “little big brother”), it’s been tight. There’s not enough of a cushion to do everything that Whistler needs for the safest and fullest recovery, without some help.
We’re reluctant to ask for help, especially because some of you may even have helped us get him here, when the failing US economy, career-ending job loss in the Great Recession, and health care unaffordability, led us to “fall off the hemisphere” in the North, to the emerging Southern Hemisphere. Thank you for your help, love, support, friendship, in all the many ways people helped us reunite with our lovable goofy family fur-child. Whether it was emotional support in dark times when we thought we’d have to give him up, help with the expense of moving him here when we found that he was too big for “pets-as-baggage” reasonable costs, surprise packages of pet food in the mail, prayers or good thoughts and visualizations, you helped us help keep him with us as his “forever home”, even when our home had to change several times.
Whistler has now been with us for 2 years, 3 and a half months here in Uruguay, and it’s now been the place he’s lived longer than anywhere else in his 7 years and 2 months. Twice as long as he was in Tacoma, Washington, a full year longer than he was in Raleigh, North Carolina, where we adopted him in 2009 when he was only 18 months old.
With the surgery, he has a chance of about a year’s more survival with a good quality of life – though there are no guarantees. Without it, the pain is becoming more than even a seriously-increased medication regimen can control – plus that large growth you see in his shoulder area in the photo isn’t real, functional bone – nor is the humerus going to the shoulder – it’s becoming “moth-eaten”, exploding from the inside, and fragile like eggshell. Nerves and muscle are atrophying, so the leg is just dragging around, getting in his way, useless but a huge risk of a pathological fracture if he accidentally puts weight on it. An infection source if he drags the top of his paw over something that abrades it – already we have to rig a “bootie” to protect it on walks, and that doesn’t work well. Of course, the biggest issue with leaving the leg on is – it’s toxic, full of cancer, and every moment it’s still part of him, cancerous cells can be spreading to the rest of his beautiful strong body.
The lung X-Rays from a week ago, and blood/urine analysis from last weekend (Jan 10-11), show him still clear of detectable cancer elsewhere. But that won’t last – and all authorities always warn that it’s likely started to spread anyway. That’s why dogs need expensive chemotherapy after the amputation surgery, in order to have a chance at that median 1-year survival rate. They heal quickly, in most cases, and removing the cancerous limb removes the pain – so it can be a good life. Whissie’s already shown us he’s willing and able to hop for blocks and blocks, including back to the seaside, if we can do the right thing for him. In the week of advanced pain therapy following the day that Mark had to carry him home a block, he started hopping around for several blocks – showing us he can do it, if only we can take away the pain.
Thank you for reading this. We’ll have more about his condition, and we’ll be sharing much more about greyhound and dogs in general fighting osteosarcoma and similar diseases. There are some excellent resources on the web, from the various Greyhound adoption groups, from the “4 Legs 4 Hounds” greyhound cancer treatment and information site of Ohio State University, and many others. For tonight, we wanted to get this basic quick-and-dirty site up on the social web, so that people can learn about Whistler and share his story.
Whatever you can do for our hound, so that we can help him live out the rest of his time as well as can be, we so deeply appreciate. That includes your comments, which we welcome you to leave below, sharing this on your social networks and by email or reblogging, and your good thoughts, hopes, visualizations of good outcome, and prayers if you pray. Whether or not you can help financially, thank you for stopping by, and for your caring for this wonderful dog and others like him – and their people like us who love them. Bless you.
Thank you from Lisa Marie Mercer and Mark Mercer, and most of all from Whistler the Greyhound!