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Helping Families Weather the Storm

Pat and Almira Dallas moved to Oriental, N.C., to live simply, be by the water and go sailing.

Dogs have always been a big part of their lives, so when they moved from Winston-Salem in 1988, they made sure that life on the coast would include space for canine companions. Pat sold his custom fireplace business and built a kennel at their new house in the country to accommodate their seven bloodhounds.

Within six years, the bloodhounds had all passed away, Pat had opened a new custom fireplace business and Almira was operating a gift shop in Oriental, but they continued to maintain the kennel as a place of refuge for rescue dogs. The frequency of hurricanes has resulted in an ongoing demand for rescue shelters on the coast.

The Dallases still find time for sailing. Now, however, the emphasis was on having dogs that could be avid sailors, too.

Enter T-Bone. T-Bone is a border terrier, a breed that Almira first encountered at a dog show (her dogs have won national championships). He is just the right size and has the right personality to be a great sailing companion.

He and a Chihuahua mix named Sugie that the Dallases acquired as a rescue after Hurricane Irene in 2011 are the eager crew on the good ship Cahoots, their sailboat. They especially enjoy trips ashore in a dinghy, standing eagerly at the front of the boat as it skims over the water.

The couple got T-Bone, who is now 10, when he was about 6 months old. In early March they noticed his eyes looked cloudy and he was tentative going down the stairs, as if he had trouble seeing. After a trip to a local veterinarian and an area eye specialist, T-Bone was referred to the NC State Veterinary Hospital, where T-Bone received a diagnosis: he had stage 5 lymphoma.

The treatment involves a chemotherapy protocol called CHOP, an acronym made from the first letter of four different drugs. This approach involves 23 weeks of chemotherapy, plus monitoring and possible treatment for potential side effects.

The Dallases wanted to do all they could to help their loyal friend but were daunted by the cost of the prolonged treatment. Their home in Oriental was badly damaged when Hurricane Florence struck last year. The cost of rebuilding on top of T-Bone’s expenses seemed overwhelming, and the Dallases were facing a heart-wrenching decision. Fortunately, there was a way out of their dilemma.

It is for owners like the Dallases that the Petco Foundation and Blue Buffalo have created cancer treatment funds at leading veterinary hospitals like NC State. The treatment funds help owners like the Dallases defray the cost of treating companion animal cancers. These generous investments help pet parents focus on providing the best possible care for their pets rather than the cost of care. Pat calls the assistance a ray of sunshine that comes at just the right time for the family.

The Dallases give their experience at NC State high marks. “The people here really care,” Pat says. “They really do love animals. It gets to your heart.”

~Steve Volstad/NC State Veterinary Medicine