Platty was supposed to die.
During our weekly rescue shoot at Tulsa Animal Welfare, my wonderful volunteer Alli, said, “You need to come see this sad boy in 203. Someone brought him in and said he was a stray (which we all know could mean ‘owner dumping the dog because they no longer want to care for it’).” We shot a few more dogs, then she said, “I really think you need to photograph him.” So I grabbed another lens and we walked back to the kennels. Knowing Alli, I knew it would be sad, but nothing prepared me for what came next.
I went to speak with Jean, the director, and said, “Is there anything we can do? Get him into foster? A rescue?” She said, “Let’s go talk to Doc.” We went to the clinic and spoke with Doc. She told us, gently as she could, that Platty had only days, maybe weeks left, and she felt it was inhumane to keep him alive in his condition at the shelter. He would need a biopsy, more testings – things a municipal shelter simply doesn’t have the funding to do. I thanked her and turned to leave, tears filling my eyes. Jean consoled me best as she could, but my heart was heavy.
As I walked back to where we shoot, all I could think is someone discarded this once handsome boy and left him to die in a shelter. Someone didn’t give a damn about his last days, instead throwing him away like a broken down toy. It wasn’t right and it wasn’t fair. And the tears flowed.
Platty was supposed to die.
Alli came back in the room with another dog and the more I thought, the more I knew we had to do something. I said, “If he’s going to die tomorrow, let’s give him his rockstar moment. Let’s bring him up, give him treats, love on him and take a beautiful photo so we’ll never forget why we do what we do. So we never forget Platty.”
She went back to the kennel and brought in the big boy. First thing I noticed was his tail. Wagging like there was no tomorrow! I snapped a few shots, then asked Alli if she’d take a few with Platty and I together. First thing he did was flip over on his back, throw his paw on my chest and demand, yes, demand I pet his belly! Of course, I couldn’t say no, so Platty and I enjoyed several divine moments of belly rubs!
He finally tired of that, stood up and looked at me like, “What’s next?!” I wrapped my arms around him and buried my face in his fur. All I could think is, “He doesn’t know he’s sick. He doesn’t know he’s going to die. He’s just happy in the moment. He’s happy – right here, right now. Enjoying the life he has.” A lesson many of us could afford to learn! It was all I could do to not just bawl like a baby once again! But I figured I needed to be professional and like someone once told me, “Suck it up, buttercup!” So I did. And I’m glad I did – I’m not sure who’s happier here, Platty or myself!
Alli took my place with the big lug and proceeded to feed him Cheez Whiz. I mean, come on, what’s better than Cheez Whiz?! He liked that a lot, but soon discovered the crackers she had! Believe it or not, he had no issues scarfing down an entire package of cheese crackers! Then it was on to the Milk Bones! Yep, he could eat those, too! He might have a platypus face, but this big boy didn’t let it stop him! He was eating up the attention – and the treats!
We took Platty outside and let him walk wherever he wanted, despite the fact it was freezing cold and spitting icy rain. He didn’t care. He was happy to be outside! He took us on a little jog around the building, stopping to leave little presents here and there, and sniffing everything in sight. It was almost like he was taking that one last stroll, not forgetting to stop and smell the metaphorical roses.
Back inside we went and put him in his kennel. The whole time, Alli was trying to figure out something she could do, some way she could make his last days better. So, off we go back to Doc with tears in our eyes. Alli explained she wanted to take him home, maybe for a biopsy; how she and her wonderful Mom (also a rescuer) would figure something out for him. Doc shook her head, smiled, and called us a couple of bleeding hearts, but said that would work! The smile I saw cross Alli’s face was worth it all! Platty wouldn’t have to die in a shelter. He would be in a warm bed, surrounded by people to rub his belly, and Cheez Whiz anytime he wanted it!
Platty will never die.
I realize the day will come when the cancerous growth will win its battle against Platty and he’ll have his last belly rub, his last outside stroll, and his last cheese cracker. But because of people like Doc, people like Jean, and most of all, people like dear, sweet Alli, Platty will live on in our memories. His goofy-looking face. That wildly wagging tail. Scarfing down Cheez Whiz like there is no tomorrow. Because of kind, caring souls – Platty will never die.
Update February 2, 2014
Platty had his first vet visit and will be seeing an oncologist soon. He’s going to have a biopsy tomorrow, then on to the oncologist soon as the cancer center gets back with us. To donate to Platty’s medical care, we’ve set-up a YouCaring fund for him at https://www.youcaring.com/plattysjourney. If you prefer, you may also send snail mail to Karel Bagwell, 3000 W. El Paso St., Broken Arrow, OK 74012. Patty said to tell you Cheez Whiz care packages are welcome!
Update February 3, 2014
We wish we had good news, but we don’t. The initial diagnosis confirmed it’s cancer and it’s metastasized into Platty’s lungs. The vet gave Platty maybe two weeks before the ugly C wins. We’re going to get a second opinion with an oncologist, but things don’t look good. In the meantime, we are going to do everything in our power to make Platty’s last days wonderful! Keep tuned to his Facebook page to see what events Mom Alli is going to plan for him and keep up with his daily comments. Thank you all for loving Platty and sharing his story!
Update February 19, 2014
We have much better news! Our oncologist at Oklahoma Veterinary Specialists in Tulsa, OK found out Platty’s tumor is called a Maxillary Fibrosarcoma. It’s an aggressive cancer, but tends to stay localized, not moving much. The more in-depth CT scan we had done doesn’t show any cancer in Platty’s lungs! It did find a tumor on his spleen, which was removed yesterday. Platty is recuperating from the spleen surgery and we’re awaiting results on the spleen. Once we know the spleen tumor is clear, then we’ll be able to have a treatment plan in place for the Fibrosarcoma. Things are looking up! And until then, Platty is posting away on his Facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/plattysjourney, and we’re still raising money for his treatments and funding to help other deserving dogs and cats like Platty, http://youcaring.com/plattysjourney. Thank you all for making Platty a worldwide, positive phenomena.