Cherry Garcia, one of the 51 Pit Bull-type dogs rescued from Bad Newz Kennels in 2007, has continually proven how resilient and brave he is, and the past week has been no different – except that he underwent surgery to remove his hind left leg due to a painful, arthritic knee.
Last Tuesday, Cherry, a dogfighting survivor of the most heavily-covered dogfighting ring bust ever, underwent major surgery that will now allow him to live a pain-free life. Paul Fiaccone, Cherry’s dad, told BarkPost:
[Cherry] would go through patches where he would hop a bit on that leg, then [the patches] became [a] day here or a day there where he wouldn’t use it. As he got older they became more frequent and lasted longer. The past month it was pretty constant.
Cherry had ACL surgery in 2009 while at Best Friends Animal Society. Unfortunately, he’s had issues with his back left knee since then. Amputation as a form of treatment became a reality more recently, though.
We found out that this was a possibility about [a year-and-a-half] ago. Cherry always battled knee pain and we had x-rays done routinely. Our vet would compare x-ray to x-ray to see how fast and what was changing. It was pretty clear he had arthritis and it was moving fast.
As to be expected, Paul and his wife, Melissa, were in shock when their veterinarian first discussed the possibility of removing Cherry’s back left leg.
I think the first reaction is, ‘Wow, that is a very drastic treatment. Does it really need to come to that?’
Paul and Melissa sought a second opinion, were given pros and cons by their veterinarians and scoured the internet but always came back to one thing – wanting to give Cherry the best quality of life possible. With that at the forefront of how they were to move forward, what would be next came easy.
I don’t think we really made the decision. I think given the facts in this situation, there was only one decision. The decision was the easy part, the process of the going through with it was the hard part.
Paul, Melissa and Cherry weren’t alone in this process, though, as Cherry has thousands of devoted fans who quickly rallied around his family.
Cherry’s fans were very supportive as usual. Of course concerned, some had other ideas or things to try, and some were shocked. Some have never heard of this kind of treatment. We have always been an open book with Cherry. We do not hold back and we share real-time views into Cherry’s life. It is not always good but we try to use every single thing we share as an educational tool. Someone out there might not have experienced what Cherry is and people can learn. We can learn.
Cherry’s surgery was on Tuesday and went fantastically well, but Paul and Melissa had to wait until Wednesday to see him as the veterinarian didn’t want Cherry to become too excited the day of his surgery. As soon as Cherry was able to see his family, Paul knew that they had done what was best for Cherry.
When he came through the door motoring to me and the tech said, ‘He ran down the hallway,’ you get a sense of, ‘Yeah, we made the right decision.’ We have some obstacles in the road ahead but he will be fine. It was just a relief. We knew if we made it through the surgery we would be good.
And to Cherry’s family, nothing has really changed. Cherry’s little brother, Novi, who recently just turned four, said it best according to Paul:
Rosalie is a little young to grasp it but Novi knows what is going on. Really, we have always taken the approach of being transparent parents….When we sat down last night and told him, he was excited Cherry would feel better. Of course the first thing he did today when he saw him was count his legs ‘1, 2, 3; Cherry has 3 legs now and he is awesome!’
For other families whose dogs may be suffering from pain like Cherry was – and amputation is a possible necessity – Paul believes a second opinion can be extremely helpful, as it was with Cherry.
I would encourage anyone out there to get multiple opinions. If you do not have a vet that is willing to collaborate with [other] vets or specialist[s], it might be time to look for a new vet. Our vet has always been great. Not only has she been incredibly helpful and correct with her diagnosis, she is willing to work with any specialist we [choose]. Collaboration between doctors yields the best diagnosis and treatment plans.
In fact, Cherry’s family felt so confident with their decision and choice of veterinarian that “the day [they] brought Cherry in [for surgery], [they] had zero questions.”
Despite this being a major surgery, Cherry is expected to be completely healed in a relatively short amount of time – 10 to 14 days – which is probably a good thing as he will have a furry little sister waiting to play with him again.
As far as Cherry’s health is concerned, his family wants his fans to always remember this:
Just know that we will do anything to help Cherry live a happy healthy life. That he is constantly being monitored by doctors and that when situations like this arise, we have a wealth of information and resources to help us make a the best possible decision for his well-being.
Even with Cherry’s fanbase of over 15,000 followers on Facebook, his parents have heard everyone’s well wishes and are extremely appreciative of the support they have received for Cherry.
We just want to thank everyone for all the positive messages. Believe it or not, we read them all and they really helped us get through this so thank you.
To watch Cherry’s recovery and all of his adventures that will follow, you can ‘like’ his Facebook page.
Featured image via Vicktory 4 Cherry