What can I say about Aries? He is my savior. Many of us bring dogs into our lives because we want to add to our families. I brought Aries into my life because I needed him just as much as he needed me.
Aries came to me as my first foster dog. I researched breeds of dogs that I wanted to rescue and landed on Great Pyrenees. Their beautiful looks, their dedication to their owner, and their gentle nature were characteristics that I knew I wanted in my life.
When I moved out of the apartment and into my house, I decided it was time to get a dog. I was too nervous to commit to adopting a dog so I reached out to Texas Great Pyrenees Rescue (TGPR) in August 2014 and decided that I would foster for them. “I get the experience of having a dog but without the responsibility,” I thought naïvely. TGPR called me one month later and told me that they had a 10-month old dog in boarding that desperately needed a foster home. I thought this was absolutely perfect and went to pick him up the next day.
When Aries came marching around the corner of the boarding facility, I was shocked. He didn’t look like a big, white, fluffy Great Pyrenees. He had black badger markings and was blue ticked throughout the rest of his body. He had wiry hair that felt slick. This couldn’t be the right dog. The only Great Pyrenees physical trait he had were his double dew claws. Well, he was the right dog and as the tech and I got him into the crate in my car, I couldn’t help but wonder if I had made a mistake. What was I doing? I can’t foster a dog! On the way home he was scratching to get out of the crate and started crying. I felt overwhelmed but also became determined to help him.
Aries came home with me and as he attempted to settle in, I began to realize that this dog wasn’t okay. He couldn’t tolerate men. He had obviously been abused by them. You had to let him come to you. He would break out of his crate and destroy anything he could if he was alone. Days turned into weeks and weeks became months. Aries was trying desperately to let his guard down but simply couldn’t. One thing I learned very quickly was that in a breed specific rescue, if the dog doesn’t look like the breed, it is very difficult to find them a loving home. Aries had almost no interest while he was with me.
As New Year 2015 was approaching, I decided to go on a road trip to Arkansas to visit my friends. I had someone come and stay with Aries. On January 1st, I got a phone call from the person watching him telling me that Aries had gotten out and she could not find him. I immediately drove the 10 hours back to Austin. After two days and roughly 46 of those 48 hours searching, I got the phone call that he was caught in between a house and fence. I sped as fast as I could to that location. When I ran up, I saw him scared and cowering in the corner. But the moment he saw me, he began wagging his tail. I started crying with relief. From that moment on, I knew. This dog was mine and I was never going to let him out of my sight again.
The next four years, Aries became a new loving dog. I fostered over a dozen puppies and dogs and was able to get all of them into homes. Aries helped these dogs’ transition from shelter and street life to happy and acclimated so they would be ready for their forever families. Not only did he change other dogs, but he changed himself. He learned to trust again. He became a dog who knew that I would never let anything bad happen to him so he didn’t have to be scared. When he was three and a half, I decided to rescue a little sister for him. My rescue corgi, Rainny, joined the family. This 115 lbs dog became a BIG brother to a 7 lbs baby corgi and was instantly obsessed with her. To this day, they are almost always touching in some capacity. I have never known two dogs who love each other more.
In May 2019, I noticed that Aries was limping. I saw that he had a knot on his front right leg and began to Google. The first thing that pops up when you search “knot on dog’s joint” is osteosarcoma. My stomach dropped. “No way, he doesn’t have cancer. This dog has never been sick a day in his life,” I thought. However, being the overprotective mom that I am, I set up an immediate vet appointment. His general vet came in and gave him x-rays. While I was told he couldn’t 100% confirm, the vet said that Aries most likely had cancer. I burst into tears. How could my sweet boy, who had overcome so much, be so sick? He wasn’t acting sick. It simply wasn’t possible. My vet told me that Aries needed to get a biopsy to confirm the diagnosis. I went to a surgeon that was recommended and put Aries under for the procedure.
A few weeks later, I get a call back from that surgeon – the tests were negative! I couldn’t believe it! My boy still had something wrong with his leg but it wasn’t cancer! To say I was elated is an understatement. I went back to my regular vet and we went on a course of aggressive medication to see if this was a viral problem. After no change, my vet, once again, recommended that he undergo another biopsy. This time, I decided to go to the best doctor I could who is the wonderful AVES clinic and Dr. Stein. This time around, the news was not joyful. It was confirmed – Aries has osteosarcoma. It was time to accept that this was real. I had to take immediate action.
Obviously, all the vet visits, biopsies and medicine cost a lot of money. It took me thousands of dollars to simply diagnosis Aries. I still had to get his leg amputated and chemotherapy to provide him with the best level of treatment and chance to keep living. My funds were nearly depilated. I knew I had the ability to pay for the amputation but I had no more means to cover the chemo. I started my research. I was not going to give up on Aries. Through my research and dedication, I came across this amazing organization called Dogslife. I read about Maverick and the love and support that Matt and the rest of the team have toward helping dogs with cancer and I applied. A mere two days before Aries’ first chemo treatment, I received a phone call stating that Dogslife had decided to take on Aries’ case and help us cover the chemotherapy. For the first time in months, I felt a sense of hope and relief. I found the additional support we so badly needed.
Dogslife gave my family the greatest gift we could have ever asked for. Aries is the love of not only my life, but my mom and his doggo sister. He is our hero. Dogslife is our hero. We are so grateful for everything this foundation has done. There are no other words to say other than thank you. Thank you so very much.
- Torey Musha (October 2019)