For each PuppyUp Walk, the Event Manager and their Walk Team select both a Human Cancer Hero and a Canine Cancer Hero, to be honored during the Walk ceremonies.
These Heroes are chosen because of their exemplary attitude towards their particular type of cancer, showing bravery and hopefulness in their fight against this terrible disease.
The 2018 Fredericksburg Canine Hero is Nugget. His story is shown below.
From Nugget’s Mom Jennifer:
Nugget is a blessing in my life, and even though he’s been through abuse, cancer, and being abandoned multiple times, I know my love for him is a blessing in his.
Around the time I met him, I was going through a lot of medical problems. I was having non-epileptic seizures brought on by anxiety and stress. I didn’t know it at the time, though, so I was home from college and couldn’t drive. I was scared, confused, and not sure what was happening with me medically.
So, my dad suggested I foster dogs at Old Dominion Humane Society while I was home. Then, after a few dogs came and went during my fostering career, came Nugget.
He had just been returned by his previous owners who had adopted him almost a year before, in 2016. They said that they couldn’t travel with him, probably due to his extreme anxiety and abandonment issues. He also looked pretty old, with a white snout and missing teeth, so most potential adopters looked over him, which was why he was there a year prior before his first adopters.
He nervous panted constantly—from the time he got to my house to a few weeks in. Every sudden noise would jolt him out of beagle sleep, and when there was a thunderstorm, he’d shake. This was one of the main reasons why we connected so well. When he was anxious, I couldn’t be, because I had to take care of him. And he took care of me too. Just being together helped us be calm.
But…then he got adopted. That was the first time I cried over him.
The second time was a few weeks after his second adopters returned him. I’d adopted him right when the papers went through. He was to be my emotional support animal at George Mason University, and we absolutely adored each other. After a week of keeping him in my dorm, I started to realize the weight issues.
He was losing a lot. Nugget, as most beagles, is a food connoisseur. He’d gobble up a bowl, I’d give him another thinking I must not be feeding him enough, and then he’d gobble up more. He also peed a lot, and just looking at a water bowl made him want to drink every last drop in it—and then some. That, plus the weight issues, wasn’t normal.
The vet diagnosed him with a malignant thyroid tumor.
Four years prior, my last dog died of cancer. I remember the last day I had him, right after his tumor burst. His eyes swelled with pain, as if begging me to stop it. I had just gotten Nugget, and I had never connected so well with a dog before. The idea of going through that with him so soon sunk my heart. Thankfully, however, it hadn’t spread. Nugget was to live at my parent’s house in Spotsylvania, where he would have surgery and then chemotherapy.
Throughout this time, even though he’s a nervous boy, his spirit never diminished. He’d wag his tail whenever there was food or treats, and he always wanted to play with his toy duckies—even if it wasn’t to the full extent he used to after surgery. I think Nugget knew that I had a lot of anxiety about what might happen to him—if the tumor would come back. He didn’t want me to see him in pain. He wanted me to know that he was okay.
The vet who administered the chemo was really surprised about how well he took it. For once, he wasn’t nervous at the dreaded vet office. He laid there, content, as they put the IV in. He knew something was wrong, and they were helping him. They said he was the best patient they ever had. He even became the screensaver on their office computers.
He was diagnosed last November. It’s almost been a year. As of now, Nugget is doing wonderfully. He’s had a check up a few weeks ago with perfect thyroid levels and no sign of cancer. He’s playing more often, meeting new dogs and people, going on car rides, and enjoying the best out of life. Cancer and anxiety never kept him down. He has taught me that my anxiety should never keep me from being happy either.