KJ came into my life exactly when I needed her. I'd just lost my horse and my right lower leg in an accident with a drunk driver while I was riding, and while I was in the hospital, my 11-year-old pit bull Tina died unexpectedly from a hemangiosarcoma. It was killing me not to have an animal of my own to love.
KJ had just been rescued from dog fighters in Florida, and she was recovering from a bullet to the leg, a miserable case of heartworms, and a badly infected wound where her ear should have been.
She was timid and terrified of almost everything. If you reached for her, she'd flatten herself and try to disappear. The sound of a person sneezing could send her scurrying like a cartoon tornado. Some days, she couldn't manage anything but sleeping in a cardboard box in the corner of my room.
But she got braver every day. She met all her new aunties and uncles and gradually learned that no one was going to hurt her anymore. She learned to trust me, and soon instead of running for another room when something scared her, she'd hide behind me instead. And then she got really brave -- so brave that even when something terrified her, like a person in a hooded coat or a long shadow or a weird-shaped bag on the sidewalk, she'd stand between the scary thing and me, sometimes whining or shaking, but always protecting her mama.
KJ doesn't do dog things. She doesn't understand toys. She doesn't chase squirrels. She doesn't play fetch. She lives for snuggling, tasty snacks, butt scratches, zooming away from the perfect potty spot, and performing jazzy original music and choreography for me, her grandma, and her aunties and uncles.
Despite the hideous things people have done to her, she's the sweetest little sugar piglet in the world. She makes me happy every single minute that I spend with her. She's the best sidekick I could ever dream up.
So it is breaking my heart to see her in so much pain that she doesn't understand. Her little hippo body has already been through more than anyone ever should, and now she can barely walk because of a ruptured disc in her cervical spine. It started with her feeling sick and droopy. Then she started shivering and crying in her sleep and stumbling. She's torn up her sweet little toes dragging her paws.
I've spent the last six weeks keeping her on a mighty cocktail of painkillers and muscle relaxers and anti-inflammatories, bringing her for scans and exams, taking her to acupuncture and electroacupuncture appointments, and making sure she moves as little as possible. It seemed like it was working. She was moving better and crying less. But last week, she suddenly went downhill. She's in severe pain for a long time after every short potty walk, even a couple of hours after her dose of painkillers. It's clear that conservative treatment isn't doing enough, and she needs ventral slot surgery.
An MRI and surgery plus the associated anesthesia and overnight monitoring are estimated at $7,000-$8,000. I've already spent more than $3,500 on regular, emergency, and specialist appointments, medications, mobility aids, and imaging. So I'm still far from that $8,000. It's an impossible amount of money for me. I could sell my car and still not have enough. It's more than I earn in five months at my full-time job.
But this little girl is my best friend in the world.
You have all done so much for me already, and it's really difficult to ask for help with this. Those of you who know me know that I didn't let what happened to me two years ago ruin my life. I didn't wallow and complain or sink into a dark place. But I lost more than anyone should that summer, and I'm not ready to lose another best friend.
I can't do it alone. I hope that with your help we can get my bestie dancing and zooming again. If you're able to contribute, it would mean so much to me. And if you're not, I'm happy to have your love and support for my precious lady. She deserves it.
- Jessica He
- Heather O'Donnell
- Jodie P
- Jared and Amy Barnwell
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