Max – Cancer Survivor

I’m Max – a special pug and cancer survivor. Surrendered in September 2013, my owner told APARN I was in good health, was an inside dog, and had always been just a “slow eater.” Once they laid eyes on me, it was easy for APARN to see I’d been a victim of serious neglect – I was infested with ticks, had horrible breath, and I was so skinny my ribs were visible! I only weighed 13 pounds instead of the 20 I should have weighed, my ears were infected, and I had two large tumors on my side. I guess I looked so bad that foster mom didn’t even want to take a “Day One” photo of me because it made her too sad.

Foster mom saw I was a slow, messy eater. My former owner said I had always been that way. I could only open my mouth a little bit and my tongue hung to one side. Guess what my vet found on dental cleaning? Besides the 20 rotten teeth he pulled, my jaw was fractured and likely had been for some time. He wired it to help it heal, but said I likely had nerve damage as well. The wire had to stay in 8 weeks and it poked out beneath my chin, so I had to be careful not to stab anyone.

The vet removed the tumors, stapled me together and put me in the “cone of shame.” I was quite a pitiful sight. When the lab report came in, the vet said they were Mast Cell Tumors (MCT) grade 2, a type of cancer that pugs are prone to. Even though he got good margins when he removed them, MCTs are sneaky and like to come back. So the vet recommended APARN put me on 6 months of oral chemotherapy. It was very expensive, but since I was only 6 years old, APARN said I deserved every chance at having a good life, especially considering the first 6 years clearly weren’t so good.

I visited the oncologist and started on steroids & chemo pills. I checked in with the oncologist every other month for blood work to see how I was doing on the meds.

My mouth issues made it so hard to eat, and I made such a mess, foster mom put me in the bathtub while I ate, so she could just spray down everything (including me) afterward.

The time came for the jaw wire to come out, and sadly it hadn’t really helped – the damage was so old there was nothing more they could do: I would always be a slow, messy eater who couldn’t open his mouth more than an inch. I could see it on everyone’s faces: Max is NOT adoptable. On top of it all, foster mom asked to have me moved to a different home due to the time and effort involved in my care. Foster Mom had given up on me. If I was too much for her to take care of, who would ever love me?

APARN found me a new foster mom, and she seemed pretty nice. She owned a shop and took me to work with her. She found a chip & dip bowl that worked for me to eat from! She took photos and wrote a bio for me, but I was resigned to living with her and her pack, which was okay, because she treated me great, and the other dogs were very nice. I just found myself still longing for that special person though.

The weeks went by, and it was an exciting day when we finally went to the oncologist and we were told my blood work was good and I was officially done with chemo!

There was a surprise waiting for me when we got back to the shop – a nice lady named Heather who said she’d been in love with me for a month, waiting for the call to say I was all done with chemo and ready to be adopted! I couldn’t believe it; a Forever Mom all my own! I was going to be an only pug and
she promised I would be spoiled & cherished the rest of my life! She had a new harness and engraved tags with her, with my name on them! I was so excited!

Fast forward six months: My life now is so amazing; my mom is the best! To think I went from scrawny, tick infested, forgotten pug to living the good life with my very own forever mom! I just had my six month oncology checkup and am happy to report, I am still cancer free!

Ways you can help rescue pugs like Max.

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Foster Parent

To leave no pug behind we need your help. Please consider fostering a pug or two. It can be quite a rewarding experience. Even if you just help one pug and decide fostering isn’t for you, you’d still be making a difference! Apply to foster today.