River is a beautiful one year old dog, believed to be part Australian Shepherd and part Akbash. She belonged to a very loving family but she developed severe health problems a few days before Christmas. River’s owners took her to an emergency veterinary clinic and received some tough news. The cost of diagnosis and treatment was going to be overwhelming, and the complicated care she would need for her illness would be impossible for them to manage. Grief stricken, they believed that their only option was to end River’s suffering and have her euthanized. River lay helplessly on a blanket on the floor, too weak to move, yet still able to lick their hands and wag her tail slightly. As River was seconds from death and the couple said their tearful goodbyes, Serena, a veterinary assistant at the emergency hospital realized that she had fallen in love with this gentle dog. When River’s final moment came, Serena asked her owners if they would consider a last resort that could spare River. Serena is a university student, pursuing a career as a veterinarian. Her mother is also a veterinarian who owns a clinic nearby. Together, their experience and access to treatment could provide River with the ideal home and a good chance at successful management of her illness. River’s beautiful personality was obvious and the decision was not difficult. With very mixed emotions, River’s owners gave her to Serena, knowing that this would be the second chance at life that she deserved. In the days following, River was diagnosed with a complex heart defect. She is responding to treatment and may soon be eligible for surgery to correct the problem. But meanwhile, River is feeling better and she is loving life. She had not truly experienced snow until this fresh snowfall landed in her home town of Millbrook, Ontario recently. She was absolutely delighted with her first sight of it and she rolled with sheer joy in the driveway. She pawed at the chunks and even licked at it curiously. When it came time to walk through the drifts in the back field, she was ecstatic. She repeatedly plunged her head deep into the snow, possibly sniffing for mice, or possibly just for the feel of it on her face. She leaped and bounded through it as only a happy dog can. Knowing that River was literally moments from death, watching her experiencing her second chance at life with such complete joy is a heart warming experience.
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