A member of our community is hurting, and as much as we love rescued dogs, the only thing we love more are those who continue to keep up the good fight on their behalf. Please open your hearts: this could be any one of us given the right circumstances. [divider]
My name is Therese. I’m sure there’s a lot of people out there who know me within the Greyhound community and there’s probably some that do not. Although this is extremely difficult for me to admit – I need your help.
Eleven years ago, I adopted my first Greyhound, Hannah. From the first gaze into her beautiful soulful brown eyes, I realized what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. I wanted to surround myself with anything and everything ‘Greyhound’.
After Hannah’s tragic death just three weeks after I adopted her, I went on to adopt more Greyhounds until a total of seven knew me as Mom. I fostered many others as well. Some were seniors, returns and some were special needs. I loved every minute I’ve spent with each one.
After adopting the rest of my Greyhounds (Romeo, Jackie, Heisman, Ashley, LuLu and Patrick) I started doing little fundraisers here and there to help groups with unexpected costs of medical bills but it never seemed like it was enough. Something more was needed so I created a worldwide event called Greyhound Planet. For the last ten years, the Greyhound Planet event has raised well over $1,105,368.41 for Greyhounds. In addition to Greyhound Planet, I started holding larger fundraisers to help groups with all sorts of things such as emergency medical bills, special needs dogs, building adoption kennels and hauls out of Oklahoma to help brood mamas, retired sires & even young kids get one step closer to their forever home. I’d often stay up late at night making sure the financial goal for each fundraiser was met or exceeded. If it wasn’t, I’d donate my own personal money to make up the difference. ALL the money I raised went to the dogs for what they needed. I never asked for a fee. It was my pleasure to help the Greyhounds and I never regretted it at any time.
I’d also personally sponsor foster dogs to help them out with monthly costs. I wrote letters to prosecutors to help boost prosecution against someone who was charged with animal cruelty. In 2005, I became one of the vice presidents of a non profit group called GreytLegs. GreytLegs assists groups financially with grants for broken leg Greyhounds coming off the track with a career ending injury. Funding for GreytLegs comes from a yearly gathering called the Solvang Greyhound Fest in Solvang, California which I co-organize with three other people. I’ve done so many things to help the Greyhounds, that I can’t begin to list everything and I’m sure I’ve forgotten a few. It never mattered to me what I needed – the dogs ALWAYS came first and I placed myself last.
Despite my close friends telling me to slow down and take care of myself, I wouldn’t slow down. If an adoption group called on me to help, I couldn’t say no. After all, Greyhounds were a huge part of my life and I couldn’t let the dogs down.
In 2003, I was diagnosed with Relapsing Remitting Multiple Sclerosis but that didn’t keep me down. The dogs needed help and they were my source of motivation. In 2005, I started having problems with osteoarthritis in my neck and upper back along with two herniated discs. Sometimes the pain in my neck is unbearable. Each time I turn my head, people can hear the “crunching” sound of my vertebrae rubbing together.
In 2006, I could no longer afford my health insurance at $3000 per month. The premiums kept rising because of the MS diagnosis and being diagnosed with two sleep disorders. Finding another health insurance that was cheaper was impossible because of my pre-existing conditions. In 2007, my blood pressure shot up to almost stroke stage and I was diagnosed with hypertension. It wasn’t until just recently, I found out that my hypertension is hereditary.
In 2009, my eyesight began to fail but I kept on helping the dogs because I didn’t want to let them down. In late 2010, I was diagnosed with cataracts in both eyes causing me to be completely blind in my right eye and severe low vision in my left. I thought I just needed new glasses. Unfortunately, my eye doctor said I needed surgery within a year otherwise I would become totally blind. My hypertension was contributing to my vision problems, too. When my blood pressure rises to near stroke stage, it actually cuts off blood flow to my eyes resulting in loss of color in my vision. It can also detach my retina which is a life or death situation or cause me to go completely blind regardless of the cataracts. I was devastated. I sat there in the Dr’s office and cried. The first thought that came into my mind was ‘how was I going to continue helping the hounds?’ I wouldn’t be able to see to help them anymore.
February, 2011, I lost my sweet Ashley Nicole to Adenocarcinoma of the nasal cavity. Ashley was my medical alert service Greyhound who stood beside me and helped me through alot of things for nine and a half years. She was my heroine credited for helping one of my Drs diagnose one of my sleep disorders. I retired her in 2010 because of her declining age of thirteen but she still insisted on helping me after I retired her.
I have to have everything enlarged on my computer right now to be able to communicate electronically. I use a magnifying glass along with the glasses my eye Dr prescribed for me to temporarily use to see with. My vision loss has caused me to become very uncomfortable when I have to leave my home setting. If I don’t have someone with me, I can’t see well at all. I no longer shop outside the home by myself because I can’t read most labels on items. Asking a clerk to read something is most embarrassing. They look at you like you’re either stupid or they act like they just don’t have the time to help you. I can’t see to drive so I have to ask someone to drive me where I need to go. When I ask someone to drive me – I have to schedule it in advance to fit around their schedule – not mine. I’m only 51 and my eye dr told me for someone as young as I am to get cataracts is unusual. I also have occular migraines which don’t hurt but when they happen it’s very obvious to me. They cause flashing lightning bolts in my vision plane so bad that I can’t see or do anything until they subside. My eye Dr told me to stay away from fluorescent lighting and bright sunlight. Both are very bad for the type of cataracts I have.
After I found out that it would cost $6000 for cataract surgery, my heart sank even lower. I felt defeated but at the same time, I didn’t want to let the dogs down either. Without health insurance, there was no way I could afford $6000 for cataract surgery on both eyes. Most health insurance companies will not accept me because of pre-existing conditions and the insurance companies that might accept me are costly, do not cover vision and only cover major medical. I had to think of a way that I could help myself and still help the Greyhounds. I always had a love for art and combining my love for art and Greyhounds, my hopes of being able to see again started to rise. I hadn’t sketched in years so I started sketching again using a magnifying glass to sketch with. For each sketch I sold, half of the money went towards helping Greyhounds and the other half was saved back for my eye surgeries.
At the start of the 2011 Memorial Day weekend, I started to feel strange and it scared me. My blood pressure had spiked so high that I knew I had to see a doctor. My high blood pressure was also affecting my eyesight – sometimes causing me to see only in shades of black, grey and white. That’s when I got smacked with a double whammy. My hypertension was hereditary and that I had a minor stroke Memorial day weekend. My Dr told me that next time, I might not be so lucky.
Sadly, I can’t continue to ignore my health. If I continue to ignore it, I won’t be able to help the Greyhounds any more. I love Greyhounds more than anyone will ever know. They are my heart, my soul, my world. I wanted to raise the money I need all on my own but it’s been extremely hard to admit I can’t. I need cataract surgery and some cardiac tests. I have a small amount of money saved but it’s not enough to begin to cover the cost of cataract surgery or any cardiac testing. I want to continue to help the dogs like I’ve been doing for eleven years because they’ve helped me so much since coming into my life.
I used to be so independent. Now, I feel like I’m a burden to most and if I ask if I qualify for a certain program that might help me, I either get laughed at and told “it’s only for people who are truly sick” or I get ignored.
I had to do some very serious soul searching about this recently. I must admit that asking for help from anyone was very hard for me to do. However, I’m facing the grim reality that I won’t be able to anything for the dogs without raising $6000 for cataract surgery. Right now, that’s the most expensive cost I am facing. If you can find it in your heart to help me, I’d appreciate it. The Greyhounds I help would appreciate it as well. Will you please help me so I can continue helping the Greyhounds? Any amount would be appreciated deeply. Thank you.”[divider]
If you can’t afford to donate, please consider sharing with those who may. We encourage our community members to support one another in trying times, and Therese has given so much of herself over the years – the least we can do is support her continued efforts to make a difference.