Haley the Wonderdog

Deep amber fur, gleefully bouncing around, leaping, jumping — a happy-to-meet-ya kind of pup, enthusiastically pulling on the leash to greet any passerby. That’s how I first saw her.

Ten years ago, Haley lived across the street from me and the corners of my mouth would turn up each time I’d see her being walked. The spectacle of it was at once compelling and charming. When I had the chance to meet her, it was all over for me. She had my heart.

She was meant to be an assistance dog, but was “career changed” because she couldn’t attach to one person. I think she must have realized that there were so many lovely people in the world, she had decided that working with just one would be a severe misuse of her resources.

I couldn’t believe my luck when I had the chance to adopt her when she was 5 years old.

At a routine senior wellness check-up when she was 13, Haley’s vet found a suspicious spot on her spleen. We tracked the spot for over eight months via ultrasound. Aspirates were inconclusive for cancer, but eventually a tumor burst and she underwent an emergency splenectomy (removal of the spleen).

She was subsequently diagnosed with hemangiosarcoma and spent four days at the emergency hospital, where she received several blood transfusions. Ultimately, she recovered through an integrative approach of traditional and alternative medicine. The prognosis for Haley was not great: one to three months post-surgery, but I decided to take a chance and make those months the best they could be by starting her treatment plan right away.

She thrived under this plan, experienced no side effects and continued to be her normal happy waggy senior self.

A true wonderdog, she was one of fewer than 10% of dogs to survive hemangiosarcoma over one year, treated exclusively with gifts from nature. Her phenomenal story was featured by the American Holistic Veterinary Medicine Foundation and shared by Dr. Karen Becker, a leading integrative vet, resulting in almost 5,000 likes. I have created this site in her honor to show how dogs with cancer can live better and longer.

After her diagnosis, she became a certified therapy dog through BARK and visited “fellow seniors” at an assisted living facility almost every week for nine months. She was also an ambassador for The Grey Muzzle Organization, a nonprofit that helps at-risk homeless senior dogs and supported many other organizations throughout her life.

Because of her success story, she participated in critical research on hemangiosarcoma: the dog disease research program at The Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard and in the study, “Genetics, Early Diagnosis, and New Treatments for Hemangiosarcoma” at the Modiano Lab at the University of Minnesota. Both institutions are currently seeking samples.

It was an honor and a privilege to be her companion and caregiver and as a friend once told me, “the world was a better place with her in it.”

Haley passed peacefully at home at age 15 on August 18, 2013 and though she may be physically gone, she will live on in my heart where she took up residence a decade ago.

Haley the Wonderdog has been featured by: AKC Canine Health Foundation, American Holistic Veterinary Medicine Foundation, Dr. Karen Becker, Dogwise Publishing, Grouchy Puppy and WordPress.com.

About the Editor
Haley the Wonderdog, a site devoted to helping dogs with cancer, is published by RD Moreno in a sleepy seaside town in the Los Angeles area. She is an animal caregiver keenly interested in researching and evaluating how evidence-based natural medicine supports optimal health and wellness.

RD holds a Bachelor of Arts and is a Natural Animal Therapies Consulting candidate at the College of Integrative Veterinary Therapies. She is certified in pet first aid, a member of the International Association for Animal Hospice and Palliative Care and a positive reinforcement training enthusiast.

She is also editor of The Paw It Forward Project, a blog that showcases good deeds for dogs and other critters.

RD is mom to three naturally-reared pets: Harper, a happy-go-lucky Golden Retriever and two inordinately fluffy Persian cats, Quinn and Paxton Butterfield.

Attachment without selfishness, playfulness without malice, fidelity without deceit.
— Queen Victoria, from the epitaph of her spaniel, Dash