This past weekend I had the pleasure of photographing Deuce and his family. I knew this was a special story, a special bond, and a special dog. I began this session with a heavy heart, but I left feeling inspired.
"My name is Deuce, I am a seven year old American Staffordshire Terrier and probably a few other things. See, my fur mom doesn't have any papers for me because I am an adoptee. My mom and dad found me online 7 years ago in their pursuit for a companion. My mom wasn't fond of me at first because I was a “pit bull” breed and my dad really wanted me, so he convinced her to come and see me. Mom being mom fell in love with me instantly.
I had been taken from my birth mom at a very young age and adopted by a family who didn't treat me very well or take care of me properly, so they put me up for sale. When I was first brought home by my fur mom and dad, I had a very swollen belly and a lot of intestinal/allergy issues due to a bad diet and lack of nutrition. I was so happy to be home with my new family, I stole the hearts of everyone I met. Everyone kept telling me how funny I was, they say I have a BIG personality, that’s because I'm a true rock star.
In November of 2013, I started to develop symptoms of what my veterinarians thought was pancreatitis. This is very dangerous, so they put me on medication and told mom to keep a close eye on me. I started to show signs of improvement and everyone was so relieved, and then I took a turn for the worse. Within a month I lost close to 20 pounds, I couldn't stop vomiting and was severely sick and depressed. Mom just knew there was something wrong with me still so back we went to the vet, my veterinarians took such good care of me, they put me on an IV and took lots more tests. That’s when they discovered I had a foreign body inside my tummy, oops I guess that bag wasn't edible. I had to undergo an open stomach surgery, Mom and dad were told to prepare for the worst, I was very weak, dehydrated and had lost a lot of weight, no one was sure I would make it out alive. When mom received the call that I was in recovery, her and dad were beyond happy. I came out of surgery like a champ, and my recovery was easy-peasy.
During my recovery and the year to follow, my fur mom and dad separated, but they still share custody of me, so I'm super lucky because now I have two families who love me!
Over the next year I developed a bit of a limp in my back left leg, mom brought me back to the vet for a check-up and they thought it was just a twist or maybe some arthritis starting in my hips. Over the next few months it came and went after exercise, but fur nanny just gave me lots of massages and I seemed okay. In October/November it started to worsen, I started to walk with more of a hop and, again, we were back and forth to the vet. Mom tries to avoid putting me under anesthetic due to the risks, so they decided to just keep an eye on it. By mid-November, mom just new something wasn't right, so she decided to get the x-ray. When she got the results right before Christmas, she cried a whole lot. They told her from what they could see on the x-ray I had Osteosarcoma, a bone cancer which is very aggressive and spreads quickly. They said they could amputate my leg, but that it would probably only give me a few months at best. Mom thought long and hard about the decision and decided to go ahead with the surgery in the New Year. In early January 2014, my leg was amputated, the tissue was sent away to a specialist for analysis, and I went home one leg lighter. Everyone was so worried about me, but I was just fine. Even though it was snowy and slippery out, I was out and about within hours of being home. My recovery went so well, I couldn't wait to show everyone what I could do with my three legs! After about three weeks the results came in from my amputated leg and it turns out it wasn't cancer! See, I'm really rough on myself and I love, love, love to run and play and jump and it seems I must have fractured my leg at some point and the blood stopped flowing to it and the bone died. So it did need to be removed, but the good news is it wasn't cancer, it just looked like cancer on my x-ray! My whole fur family was overjoyed with the news and especially me because I got to have a super duper awesome summer with fur mom and my fur step-dad and brother. We went to the camp every weekend and there are so many fun things for a guy to get into around there. I chased cows, ran the dirt roads, went swimming tons, I even took a spin on my fur step-dads four wheeler, it was the bestest summer ever!
On one of our last weekends at the camp, just five weeks ago, I took a seizure unexpectedly. We rushed home to my veterinarians and they took a real good look at me, but there wasn't too much they could do at that point because I seemed fine, so they sent me home and told mom to keep a good eye on me. Unfortunately, I took another seizure a day later and this time it was worse. I was showing a lot of concerning signs, almost that of a stroke. My vet sent me up to P.E.I to the special hospital for a lot more tests! Mom and nan were so concerned, but I was just happy to be going to P.E.I with my two favourite people. The doctors there were super nice and took real good care of me. Unfortunately, my results weren't so good, the doctors told my mom that I have a brain tumor. The doctors were hoping it was going to be an operable tumor, but after two trips to P.E.I and an MRI, Spinal tap and CT it turned out it was not. The doctors told mom that I have 1 to 4 months at best, but I said I’m a fighter and mom said she’s not giving up on me just yet! The doctors didn't even think I was going to wake up from the anesthetic they put me under to run the tests, but I surprised them all! After all the tests, mom and nan took me for a walk around P.E.I and I wore my special rock star t-shirt that everyone from home signed for me with lots of love and good wishes. We even stopped into Cows to get an ice cream and all the great folks on the boardwalk stopped to take pictures of me and come say hi. I tend to attract a lot of attention wherever I go! Mom says it’s because I'm so special and have so much personality.
So, it’s been 5 weeks now since my diagnosis and I'm still here! When we got home from P.E.I, mom did what she does best and started researching about my condition and what she could do to help me. I've started a new delicious diet with lots of fresh meat, vegetables, and fruit and I'm on a whole slew of Chinese medicine, supplements and medicinal herbs. We aren't sure how long I have left, but right now I'm okay and we are just taking it day by day. My fur family is so worried and sad, but I'm just fine. I'm getting so much love and attention and extra treats! I'm still running and playing and picking on my brother.
Fur mom say’s I'm an inspiration to everyone who meets me, but I say I'm just a guy living life to the fullest with a family who loves me to the moon and back. My mom thought she was saving me that first day she seen me, but I ended up saving her, so I think I've done my job here and if god wants to call me home, I think I've earned those wings! Thanks for all of your love, support and donations towards my treatment, my fur family has done everything they can and without your help and contributions I might not have made it this far!"
Love you all,