When I first met Jennifer, I immediately developed a sense of closeness to her. Not only because she is beautiful, personable, passionate, but more importantly, her genuine love and kindness towards dogs are so raw and so tangible. The love and care should be mandatory, considering the fact that she is the founder of “Bullies and Buddies”, a Los Angeles based dog rescue. However, after being in the veterinary industry for a while, I’ve realized that the truth is, not everyone does things out of love towards animals, regardless the titles or status quo. Most of the time, people who truly care and fight to do the right things somehow end up struggling a lot. However, Jen has kept her spirit up with a very positive attitude, because there’s really “no time and no room for negativity.”
Bullies and Buddies
10 years ago, Jen was a successful aesthetician working for herself. She was a dog lover, and she established “Bullies and Buddies” in memory of her beloved Lady, who unfortunately left this world as a young dog. When Jen and Diamond first met, Diamond was only 8 weeks old. She was hopelessly adorable, and helplessly abandoned in one of the “kill shelters” in LA. Despite the sad situation, Diamond was spunky, and simply loved life. Having Diamond around, and seeing how she had thrived and transformed into a happy healthy dog under the nurturing home environment, Jen couldn’t ignore the strong force that push her to further dedicate everything she had gotten for the “other Diamonds” who hadn’t found a loving home yet. She had worked so hard for “Bullies and Buddies” that she eventually quitted her day job and focused on the rescue work.
To many of us, our animals don’t just offer “companionship.” They are part of our lives, and more often than not, they give mundane daily routine meanings. To Jen, Diamond has given her so much courage and reasons to get out of the bed in the mornings, especially when things are rough. They went through the beginning period of “Bullies and Buddies” together, from when Jen stood outside of a café every Saturday by herself advocating for suffering dogs, till now that “Bullies and Buddies” has saved hundreds of dogs; from Jen going through difficult times of her life, till now she knows where she stands, Diamond has always been there for her, full heartedly.
Therefore, when Diamond was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, an aggressive bone cancer, Jen was almost defeated. “ I couldn’t breath,”Jen said, “it felt so surreal. We were just hiking and Diamond was totally fine…. Even now, I still hope it’s just a bad dream… I mean how could this be?! I spent so much time and so much effort to save dogs, and my own dog ends up having this awful cancer….”
At the point of our meet up, Diamond had had amputation surgery and went through the first round of chemotherapy. She was bouncy, loving, energetic, as if walking and sometimes, running on three legs was not a big deal, and nothing had happened. “She is definitely a tough girl.” Jen looks at Diamond full of love and admiration. The proud look mixing with heart sore, the unique look that I often see on pet owners who deeply feel for their fur babies who are fighting severe conditions. “But I know, I can’t be indulging in sadness.”Jen took a breath and said, “Because Diamond is so sensitive to how I feel, and I don’t want her to be sad.”
Quality of Life
Jennifer has intentionally cut down her hours at work since Diamond had the surgery. “I want to focus on her. She is my priority.”Diamond recovered very well from her surgery and the first round of chemotherapy. “At first I thought I wouldn’t do much, because I don’t want her to suffer and to linger just for me.”Indeed, even though with many cutting edge treatments and therapies that the modern veterinary medicine offers, many of us are hesitant when it comes to extensive treatments. Finance may be one thing, but more importantly, we don’t want our beloved pets to be miserable and dragging through the last part of their life journey just because the medicine can prolong their lives. As a result, it is crucial to listen, to respect, and to pay attention to what the individual pet can handle. Each of them is so unique. With Diamond, Jen really listened, “She bounced right back the day after the surgery! That really encouraged me to try more and give everyone a chance.”Diamond and Jen went to see a veterinary oncologist to learn about all their treatment options, and they decided to start with the first round of chemotherapy. “Diamond never stops impressing me. She did so well during and after the sessions! She is happy, eating, hopping around, energetic, totally acting like her normal self…. Even though we both know that the fight and effort don’t stop here, we are taking it one day at a time and trying to keep a positive attitude. “
Bullies and Buddies:
To learn more about osteosarcoma:
Written by Helen Chiu, DVM, CVA
@Vetcreations, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
It is impossible to talk about Juelz’ story without mentioning Shaka, who sadly had left this world at the end of 2016.
Shaka was the definition of a “perfect dog.” He was loyal, smart, gentle, calm, happy, nurturing, sweet, docile, loving, and selfless. He put others’ as his priority instead of himself. I always remember that even when the days he wasn’t feeling well, the first thing he tried to do when he saw me, was to stand up and greet me with the sweetest tail wagging and to come close to me, so I can pat him and hug him. It was impossible to not love Shaka. He was not only perfect, but also “ therapeutic.” He had even helped the owner’s little cousin, who used to be scared of dogs, to get over his fear. The boy eventually adopted a pitbull because Shaka had shown him that dogs and pitbulls are actually very amazing!
It’s All Very Overwhelming
Juelz came from an abusively neglecting situation. She spent her first few months in life being left outside in the backyard without much human nor animal interaction other than her brother from the same litter. When she was first rescued by Bullies and Buddies, she was very skittish and was very disconnected from this world. Everything was a trigger to overwhelm her. She jumped when there was a car driving by, she bolted when someone closed the door, she froze and ducked when being approached, she trembled and urinated when in a new environment. She was afraid of people, intimidated by other dogs. The world was so big and scary that she just didn’t know what to do with herself, and she was constantly stressing out with anxiety to the point where she would start biting and showing aggression out of fear. She was not happy because she was trapped in her own mind.
And then, Juelz met Shaka.
Shaka had always been very good with other dogs. He was especially gentle and patient with Juelz. He seemed to know that Juelz had already gone through a lot at a young age, and there was this sweet little girl hiding behind the constantly overwhelmed anxious wild puppy. Shaka earned Juelz’ trust within a short amount of time, and thus Shaka’s human, Mao, kindly took Juelz in because he believed that Juelz would become a happier and a calmer dog by learning from Shaka.
And Juelz did! She did amazingly well by living with Shaka and Mao. She started to trust people, started to socialize better with other dogs, started to open up to new experience and the world, gradually and steadily. All because of Shaka’s loving patience and Mao’s dedicated care.
Love is the best language that translates and transforms. Because of Shaka’s love, Juelz has overcome her fear and started to open up, because of the love towards Shaka, Mao saw what Shaka had seen in Juelz, and continues working on her anxiety, so the sensitive but loving Juelz can understand the world better and face life.
Being young and athletic, Juelz always seems to have endless energy. Currently as the only dog, she especially needs lots of exercise. However, just like an introverted person, Juelz loves to play with her friends, but she needs slow introduction when it comes to strangers and new dogs. Therefore, Mao takes her for long walks away from the traffic and the crowd, as well as to less known parks where she can enjoy running around and catching balls without worrying about random encounters. The Juelz without distractions and noises is engaged and eager to please, and she can learn a new trick within less than 30 minutes!
Juelz has gone a long way to become who she is now. She is happy and curious about the world, thanks to Shaka, Mao, and many others that had/have believed in her and worked with her! It is never easy to heal a soul when it’s broken and hurting. However, giving it a chance with love and understanding, amazing and powerful results will follow.
Written by Helen Chiu, DVM, CVA