Category: Grateful Pets

Puppy Saved!!

Meet Puppy Zeus 🙂

This handsome fella is Zeus. His Mom Daisy (a chihuahua) came to Helping Hands Affordable Veterinary Surgery and Dental Care in December of 2016 in need of an emergency C-section. Mom Daisy had three boys and one girl. The little boy above was born with a cleft palate.This can be a life threatening condition for a newborn puppy. It makes it very difficult for the puppy to nurse resulting in slow growth and weight-loss. Ultimately it may lead to aspiration pneumonia if the milk enters the cleft and infects the lungs. It was immediately clear this puppy would need around the clock care in order for him to have a chance at survival. Our Rockstar Licensed Veterinary Technician Sarah Jane volunteered to take the puppy home and give him the care he needed…to give him every chance.

Sleepy puppy

Sleepy Puppy Zeus

What Happened Next

She had to tube feed him every four hours for the first week. He did well and then graduated to syringe feeding. A little more than a week after that victory, he graduated to bottle feeding! He took to the bottle very well. At about four weeks old, his puppy teeth came in. At that point Sarah Jane introduced wet, mushy food on a plate. He sneezed some food out exactly two times, then moved forward like the little  champ he is! His favorite activities are eating, sleeping and playing with his puppy toys…in that order.

Hungry puppy

Hungry Zeus tries to eat Elaina’s nose!

What Happens Now

So Sarah Jane has named him Zeus and as he approaches six weeks old, he has met all of the treatment goals she set for him. He is chubby and healthy  and ohh, soo cute! Now that he has gotten this far, the question on everyone’s mind is…will he require surgery to correct the cleft palate? At the time of his birth, it appeared that very little of the soft palate was involved and that it was more of a cleft lip. So we are all in a ‘wait and see’ stage together. As we know more, so will you…stay tuned for more Zeus chronicles:)


Dog ACL Repair – Pickles’ Story

Dog ACL Repair - Pickles Smiling

Meet Pickles

Pickles was rescued as a puppy in 2003 from the Humane Society in Topeka, Kansas. He is a happy-go-lucky guy and always looks for interactions with other animals or people. Through our many adventures, Pickles has enjoyed an active lifestyle. He has always enjoyed running, playing, and hiking with his family.  Little did Pickles know a dog ACL repair was in his future!

Pickles is an Active Dog

Pickles is an Active Dog


Realizing Dog ACL Repair Was Needed

After many years of his highly active lifestyle, Pickles began to show pain in his right knee, often limping especially after playing. After a visit to a veterinarian, he was put on an anti-inflammatory medication to treat his knee. However, Pickles was determined not to slow down and subsequently ended up tearing his anterior cruciate ligament.  This is technically a CCL in dogs – cranial cruciate ligament, because dogs walk on four legs instead of two. We had a prior great experience with Helping Hands Affordable Veterinary Surgery and Dental Care for prior affordable pet dental care. We knew of the quality services offered and that this is where Pickles would need to go to get the caring attention he needed.

Veterinary Surgery for a Dog ACL Repair – Notes from Dr. Lori Pasternak:

Pickles came to Helping Hands in December 2015 as a result of an torn Anterior Cruciate Ligament.   There are a few different ways to repair an ACL tear (TPLO & TTA to name a few), but at Helping Hands we only perform the most affordable way called the lateral suture technique. We simply replace the torn ligament with a new one. We get calls with lots of questions and confusion about dog ACL surgery options. To better inform our potential clients we produced a short video to explain the different procedures:

VIDEO – Torn ACL in Dogs – $995 Surgery to Repair the Cranial Cruciate Ligament

On average, we repair a dozen or more torn ACLs in dogs in a week. Sadly, it is a common injury in pets and people. But the good news is… if your pet behaves during recovery, they will walk/run a pain free life like Pickles is now enjoying.

Look at that Cute Face!

Look at that Cute Face!

After Pickles’ Dog ACL Repair

Pickles had a very successful surgery and the folks at Helping Hands were very accommodating in providing us with the resources to make sure his recovery was successful, even going to the point of contacting us directly to check on him! The comprehensiveness of the care provided by Helping Hands enabled our Pickles to make a full recovery. We would not consider taking Pickles, or our other fur baby, anywhere else but Helping Hands for surgery or dental work.




Dog Leg Amputation – Miss Jack

Miss Jack’s Story

The short version is that Jack showed up outside my door Christmas Eve 2011 when I was living in Sierra Leone. My house had been broken into and I had asked my landlord for more security and this was the result: 

When she was two months old, she was badly injured when she was pushed off a third story balcony by my neighbors. There’s only one vet in Sierra Leone and we weren’t able to repair her leg, but she healed well enough to begin using the leg and coped well for two years. 

Miss Jack at Beach

During the summer of 2014, it was clear that her leg was causing her too much pain and I started to see specialists to figure out how to help her, but as a recent college graduate working at a nonprofit, figuring out how to afford the surgery scared me. I happened to run into a dog on a walk that summer who had just had her leg amputated at Helping Hands and her person couldn’t say enough good things about the quality of care. I researched and discussed with my primary vet and set an appointment. 

These pictures are from just after the surgery – you can see how happy she is. The relief from the pain was immediate and she healed beautifully. 

Miss Jack after dog leg amputation surgery at Helping Hands Veterinary Care

Veterinary Surgery for a Dog Leg Amputation – Notes from Dr. Lori Pasternak:

Miss Jack suffered a fracture in her left elbow while living in Africa. Surgical treatment was not available and she was crate rested until it healed.  Her owners kindly adopted her and brought her home to America. Once in America, her lameness continued to worsen and the poorly healed elbow posed a very difficult if not impossible challenge to repair. The fracture involved the elbow joint and had healed abnormally. The owners opted to have the leg amputated to quickly alleviate her pain. Dogs and cats do very well on three legs (check out our amputation video to see for yourself). Miss Jack was back and better than ever quickly after her amputation surgery. She is one lucky dog to be given a chance for a pain free life. She doesn’t care about only having three legs as long as there is no more pain.

Miss Jack 18 Months Later

Here she is a year and a half later, as regal as can be. The only (temporary) loss was that she could no longer shake her paw on command, but she quickly figured out how to offer her right paw instead.

Miss Jack 18 months after leg amputation surgery at Helping Hands Affordable Veterinary Surgery and Dental Care

Miss Jack 18 months after leg amputation surgery at Helping Hands Affordable Veterinary Surgery and Dental Care

Tylers Tales – A Dog Living With Cancer

Tyler Too

Tyler Too’s Story

Tyler Too, a Boston Terrier, has devoted her life to caring for others.  As a therapy dog, she loves to visit hospitals and nursing homes— bringing smiles to everyone she meets.  But five years ago, this sweet dog became the patient when she was diagnosed with cancer.  Thanks to wonderful care by her veterinarians, including veterinary surgery at Helping Hands, today Tyler is strong and healthy. Now, she continues to help others with her very own website – – a special place for children with cancer and other serious medical conditions.  Tyler shares her experiences and feelings coping with cancer—offering hope, encouragement and even more smiles. (Wait until you see Tyler wearing her wigs!)

Veterinary Surgery to Remove Growths from Tyler Too – Notes from Dr. Lori Pasternak:

Tyler Too has been to Helping Hands on several occasions as he continues to grow lumps and bumps. Some have been benign and a few have been diagnosed as mast cell cancer.  Mast cells are responsible for allergic reactions in the body. Like when you get a bug bite and a bump forms then quickly goes away. That is the mast cells acting normally. When mast cell become cancerous, they form the lump and then keep on growing and do not go away. They can form anywhere in the body, but mast cells prefer the skin, which makes them easier to remove. Occasionally they will shrink, then regrow, so if you see a lump on your dog that grows, shrinks, then grows again, it is likely a mast cell cancer. Please have any lump or bump checked out right away by your regular veterinarian. The smaller it is when you have it removed, the easier for your pet and will be less expensive. Also the sooner it is removed, the less chance it will have to spread to other parts of the skin. There are many forms of skin cancer and mast cell cancer is only one type. Sadly, there is still no cure for cancer, but Tyler Too keeps on truckin’.

Tyler Too Blonde Wig

Since Tyler Too knows chemotherapy can lead to hair loss, he tries on a blonde wig.

Note from Tyler’s Person – Susan

I was heartsick and terrified when I learned Tyler had cancer.  But writing Tylers-Tales has been my therapy.  This little dog has brought so much joy to our family.  I am grateful for every day that she has been with us – and to Helping Hands for giving us many more years of enjoying her.

Dog Gall Bladder Surgery – Maxx’s Story

Maxx on table in exam room

 Maxx is not Feeling Well

Our story begins on New Year’s Eve, when I returned home from work to find that Maxx had thrown up a couple times. Being the proud papa of 3 fur babies, a sick pup was nothing new. My partner and I initially thought he had just eaten something that upset his stomach. We made Maxx some rice but noticed that he wasn’t eating which is sort of a surprise because he eats just about anything. It wasn’t till the next day that we realized he only got sick after drinking water. So we gave him ice cubes which he would lick like a popsicle without getting sick. He still didn’t have an appetite nor was he his normal spunky self but he was moving around, keeping the ice down and was even going out on lead to potty. So we got online knowing that our vets office would be closed for the holiday.
Based on the symptoms and what we were able to mark off the list, we felt that something was making him nauseous. We opted to give him a small dose of over-the-counter anti-nausea medicine thinking this would settle his stomach. Which it did but after another day with no appetite, we were really worried. That evening, Maxx drank some water and ended up vomiting. This time it was full of bile, stunk and was very dark.

Visiting the Veterinarian

We immediately headed out to the nearest 24hr emergency vet. He was obviously dehydrated so they recommended fluids and several tests. They wanted to keep him overnight so we agreed and left them with nearly $3000 for the services they thought he would need based on initial exam. After the specialist came in the next day and reviewed the lab results, x-rays, ultrasound and I’m not sure what all else, they reported that fluid was building up in Maxx’s gall bladder. It had not ruptured, they didn’t know what had happened and couldn’t explain why but if we paid another $4000 his gall bladder could be removed.
Problem solved, I think not. Maxx responded well to the antibiotics, fluids and anti-nausea meds. We ended up bringing him home after 2 days as he was able to eat solid food – all be it moist. We continued our search while he was at the clinic. Checking the web based on the details we had and the test results. We also had them faxed to our local vet and checked with others in the area. The answer was the same everywhere.
All the vets agreed that the gall bladder should be removed but many did not perform this procedure. If they did, it was just as expensive if not more. Then we found Helping Hands and booked an appointment to come in that week. From our initial phone call, they made us feel at ease. They even provided information on a hotel which offer a special rate. Oh did I forget to mention, we live in Atlanta, GA and Helping Hands is over 8 hours away. The reviews and articles we had read about them were very positive and they offered the procedure at a price that we could afford. Even with travel expense, the cost was far less.

Incision Site After Gall Bladder Surgery for Maxx

Incision Site After Gall Bladder Surgery for Maxx

Removing Maxx’s Gall Bladder – Notes From Dr. Lori Pasternak:

Maxx was diagnosed by ultrasound as having a biliary mucocele. This is when the digestive fluids supplied by the gall bladder become thickened and cannot easily be passed into the intestines to aid in digestion. The thickened liquid forms a sticky ball within the gall bladder. The treatment is to simply remove the gall bladder which is why Maxx ended up at Helping Hands. Dogs can easily live without their gall bladder just like humans. Rarely do they need a special diet since their diet is consistent, unlike ours.


Maxx’s Recovery from Surgery

We picked Maxx up from surgery and brought him back to the hotel where we stayed another night so that he could have some additional time to rest before traveling home. I have fashioned him a sterile area by laying plastic sheeting over the floor. Then topping with clean towels & sheets (brought from home). Then I placed his cleaned crate with fresh linens on top. He was eating baby food, drinking water and going potty before the end of the night.
Though slow and mostly relaxed, he was able to walk but we kept activity to a minimum and crated him for sleeping that night. Maxx woke up with quite an appetite and was ready to go potty, we continued feeding him baby food and began mixing low fat moist dog food. Later that day, we made the journey home. He was a trooper and even got a bit of his usual spunk back when we met some travelers at the rest stop.
We brought him home and kept him separated from the other dogs in a similar set up as the hotel. Gradually weaned him off the baby food and onto just moist and then a combination of moist and dry. We are currently feeding him a mostly dry diet but have changed his food to a lower fat kibble with occasional moist food. Maxx was ready to walk every day.
We did follow up with our local vet for post-operative exams and lab work. He has continued to improve and is really back to his old self but better. So hard to believe that I was just spoon feeding him worried if he would make it through the night two months ago. We thank Dr Lori and the amazing staff at Helping Hands. Maxx is a part of our family and if it weren’t for them I’m not sure what we would have done.

Update – Three Months Post-Surgery

Maxx has bounced right back to leader of the pack. He is running, jumping, playing and seems so happy. He has a great appetite and all his #’s are back in line. We’re actually getting ready for the lake here and he’s ready to go for a swim.