Happy to Be Here

Happy to Be Here
July 3, 2010 by Steve Duno
Duno and Flavio.jpg

Hi, I'm Steve Duno, pet behaviorist and author.  I've been solving pet problems for going on twenty years now; I've trained thousands of dogs, including many lost souls who found themselves on the razor's edge between life and death- dogs with behavioral issues ranging from profound destructive behavior or separation anxiety, to full-blown aggression that can ordinarily result in euthanasia.  What can I say; I'm a sucker for a lost cause, and I don't like the needle.  I have also published eighteen books over the years- I seem to have a lot to talk about.

 My career started in 1989, when I found a flea-bitten feral Rottweiler/shepherd mix, the offspring of guard dogs on a marijuana grow in northern California.  I took a chance on him, and he on me; it would become the seminal decision of my life, and the subject of my newest book, Last Dog On The Hill: The Extraordinary Life Of Lou (St. Martin's Press 2010). 

To my delight, Connie Wilson reviewed Last Dog, and enjoyed it enough to not only give me a great review, but to allow me to guest blog for the website.  It's a great opportunity, and for that I thank Connie from the bottom of my heart.  I hope my relationship with you, her and Modern Dog Magazine lasts a dog's age.

 I'm excited about being able to share with you my thoughts on dogs.  Though training issues will be covered, I want the blog to be more than that; I want it to tackle more prescient issues- what dogs mean to us, how we help or hinder them, trends in training and perspective- my reflections on the condition of dogs today, my "Be The Dog" philosophy, what's right, what's not right, and what I think we can do to improve what remains the closest, most enduring partnership on the planet- the bond between dogs and humans.

I'd like to hear from you, so feel free to post your thoughts on what I have to say, whether you agree or not.  Hopefully you will enjoy my point of view on things, and perhaps begin to see your pooches in a different light. 


Steve Duno



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Comments (2)

Willa is my dog, she is a 2 year old rottweiler, weighs 100 lbs. and is the sweetest most loving girl...i would only be so lucky to own a dog with so much compassion, and not only for her family, but other human beings as well. When we would visit the dog park she would make her rounds to all the humans she would see, she could care less of the other dogs were gone and the park consisted only of humans, i almost think she would prefer that. She loves her family and is so gentle and kind, as a nickname we call her "momma", and she definitely lives up to that.This being said you can understand why I am determined more than ever to find a way to help her. I will do anything to get her life back, no matter what it takes. I am really scared that if we can't get her fixed soon then life is going to look very bad for her. She is becoming depressed and is in urgent need of help. Willa has had issues with her legs since she was 6 months old. At 1 1/2 yrs old she was finally given a confirmed diagnosis. They told me that she had torn her ACL on both hind legs and needs TPLO surgery, In addition, she has elbow dysplasia in both forelegs and requires an arthroscopic surgery. The joint disorder, she has been cursed with, has caused her to have Osteoarthritis, a very painful condition that is only getting worse by the day. The cost of surgery for just one TPLO was estimated, by Dr. Bausman from Veterinary Specialists of the Valley, at anywhere from $4000-8000. the elbows are a little less expensive, costing around $2000 per leg. These are just estimates and I did a thorough search for veterinarians who may be able to help her, for less money and quality work, and I have come to the conclusion that an average price tag for one leg would be around the neighborhood of $2500-$3000. I am mother of 4 boys, I am a house wife and mom, my husband's income is the only means we have and the increasing costs of living weighs heavily at times, I am sure you can concur that because the effects of today's economy seem to hit hard with everyone. I truly understand why every doctor I have spoken with will perform the surgery only if I am able to make payment in full for the cost of the procedure, I am sure there is a lot of risk to put such an expensive surgery on the line without payment for services. I am an honest person and I only want what's fair for Willa, if I had to put up my house for Willa or sell all of my possessions to keep pay for her medical treatment, then that is what I would do, she is just as much a part or our family as my children and I would never think that a doctor would refuse to treat my child, not because I couldn't pay for the medical treatment, but for the fact that I CAN pay only in installments, and I would never think to not pay what I promised because I know that the doctor who saved my child, or my dog, deserved so much more. This is the problem I am having with Willa, I am having a very hard time finding a veterinary surgeon to arrange a payment schedule, everyone I have contacted all say the same thing, payment in full at time service is rendered. There has been little hope for Willa, but one day I decided there had to be something I could do or someone i could find to make this surgery happen. I couldn't just sit by and watch her suffer anymore, that is when I took on this mission to save Willa's life. I began researching ways to create a legit fundraiser to cover the cost of her treatment. It is important to focus on my dog's needs, but I couldn't help but feel selfish, i felt as if i was going to be begging for handouts and i didn't feel it was right to do this unless i made a promise to continue the fundraising after Willa receives her surgeries to help other people who have situations as i did and don't know where to turn for help. i want to help those people and their animals, not only to gain funds for their medical debt, but to also provide guidance and support, knowledge can be just as profitable and maybe this will entail them to do the same for others. When everybody pitches in, no matter the outcome, there is always an achievement at the end. I created a Facebook page and set up a fundraiser application that began promoting her urgent need for help. I also began an inventory of what i own so i could try to sell items and put that money into Willa's fundraiser account. I even listed my vehicle for sale, which is not a luxury but a necessity for me to own, but I can always replace a car, my dog is not something I can just throw away because tomorrow i could just find another one that looks like her, she is special and part of our family, I can not lose her and I cannot let quality of life diminish. Willa is no longer bearing weight on her left hind leg and no matter how many supplements and confined rest i put her on, her condition is not improving, what is worse now is the fact that I can see her other hind leg feeling the effects and is slowly becoming more and more unstable every day, I honestly think that if i cannot get her surgery soon, then she has only a matter of days before she will no longer be able to walk. She is very heavy and I cannot carry her around, and I cannot stand the thought of her living day to day soiling herself and not being able to enjoy just a mere walk down the street to feel the sun. It is not fair for her to watch all the other pups run and fetch balls, as she rolls a ball around her kennel with her nose, knowing she cannot get up to bark at the cat or chase the squirrels in her backyard, it is all heart breaking. I hate to ramble on but I am so desperate for someone to help my sweet girl. This is pretty much my last shot at hope, you have to understand it is crucial that I get her surgery at least if one leg is fixed then it will bide more time to come up with the rest of the funds for her other surgeries. Her time is very limited... I pray that her legs last as long as they can because eventually, if this lasts any longer and she loses all mobility it will leave me with no other choice but to do the unthinkable, i would have to euthanize her...to even fathom such an idea is incredibly painful especially knowing that this is a treatable medical condition. How unfair and unjust would that be to end her life knowing that it didn't have to be that way. I can pay for the surgery, but I do not have enough funds to pay the full amount up front, I need somebody to understand that, i can make monthly payments until the debt is paid off, I will even offer the pink slip to my truck as collateral proving my promise to pay. My father is willing to put the deed to his house on the line if it meant Willa would get the help she needed. I plan to keep promoting Willa's fundraiser and any funds i may raise are allocated into a special account that i set up and in order to access the funds i have to provide proof that the money is being spent on Willa's health care. when i reach my goal and Willa's surgeries are completed, any money left in her fundraiser that was not used for her treatment will be donated to a non-profit charity organization in our community that specifically provides aide to those pet owners who do not have the means to pay for their animals medical expenses. I have just begun this fight and i will not let my dog lose out, not for something that we can fix and cure. W i l l a' s E A R T H v n i o e e i g a r m h l y a t t l h s I intend to make this a fundraiser with greater meaning and greater cause... I feel that we should not only bring hope to Willa's life, but to save the lives of other animals, in and around our community. they are innocent, they are dependent of us, they trust us... Every Animals Right To Health...that is Willa's wish. We can make that happen... www.facebook.com/WillasEarth
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