We were so not prepared for this. It was the summer of 2014 and me (Whitney) and Lawson had just moved in together – to a real house with a real yard and plenty of room. I had been living in a small 1 bedroom with my dog, Dottie. Lawson had recently lost his best furry friend, Eli, after 11 years. We’d been in the house all of about a week before I started asking if we could get another dog… and about three months later, we became foster parents to Miss Nosey Rosie.

We hadn’t set out to foster a dog who needed extra care, but she sure found us! We applied to foster a pit bull, knowing that there are way too many in shelters in New Orleans and that we loved their wrinkly faces and unwavering devotion. After missing a number of calls from the agency we had applied to, I answered the call from Kristie. Kristie & Johnny founded Save An Angel; a New Orleans rescue that helps dogs on death row and who are suffering from mistreatment or disease. All I remember her telling me was that she had a female pit bull who was super sweet, (a favorite at the shelter, in fact!), that needed a home because her time was up.  I just said yes, because what else? And then began Rosie’s new life…

RosieAll I know about Rosie’s former life is that she was used for breeding – A LOT! Apparently someone adopted her as a puppy from the shelter, made money from her having babies, and then dumped her back at the shelter. This person – it was told to me – was a shelter employee. It made me sick. They took her puppies away too soon and she was left with large painful nipples. They also neglected to give her heart worm medication, so of course Rosie was heart worm positive.

When I saw Rosie for the first time, I cried. Her poor little belly was emaciated and her ribs were showing, but that didn’t stop her from trying to kiss everyone in sight! SheRosie brunch
even kissed my dog, Dot, and just looked thrilled to be free!  We immediately started Rosie on some healthy, delicious food to put some meat on her bones. She went to see the vet and started heart worm treatments right away. Along the way Rosie went to the park, and to brunch and played in the sunshine with her house-sister, Dottie. They snuggled and kissed and Rosie put on weight, got spayed and finally was ready for her forever home!

Rosie and her buddyAfter our experience with Rosie, Lawson and I definitely wanted to foster again. So, we made flyers to tell the world about Rosie and talked our friends who loved dogs in hopes of finding her a forever home. We didn’t want Rosie to go, but knew there were other pups who needed us.

We took Rosie to get a check up in the spring of 2015 and after the doctor explained to me that she had “happy tail” (seriously, she wags it too much and it gets sore – who knew?!), he said, “have you had these lumps checked out?”

Um, lumps? We hadn’t noticed any lumps, except that there was something a little round around her jowls. The lumps the doctor pointed out were near her tail on her belly. He took a sample and said he would be in touch.

The sample came back positive for lymphoma, an extremely aggressive form of cancer. This is the same diagnosis that Save-An-Angel was founded for. So, we had big decisions to make.

Rosie finds out she has cancerWith Rosie’s head in my lap, I cried as I listened to Johnny and Kristie tell us the options. 1. We could put Rosie on doggie chemotherapy that would offer her a great quality of life, while buying more precious time with us. 2. We could let her go peacefully.  3. We could raise money for a canine bone marrow transplant, the only possible cure for canine lymphoma OR look into studies for new therapies that are proving to be just as effective as the BMT.

We said yes to chemotherapy and Rosie started on chemotherapy immediately until we could find out what other options were available. Rosie went into remission after two treatments!  To say we were thrilled is an understatement.

So we did what you do in New Orleans and threw Rosie a party and let her be the only dog there. : )  We wanted her to get as many belly rubs, pets and kisses as possible – and she did!  Next, I took Rosie on a road trip to Knoxville to see my brother and go on an off-leash hike. SHE LOVED EVERY SECOND!! Rosie even gets ice cream after each visit to the vet. The best news of all is that Rosie has a chance at a CURE so she can enjoy MANY more happy days!  But we need your help.


Rosie smilesSave-An-Angel reached out to Dr. Sullivan at Bellingham Veterinary to see what Rosie’s options are.  As it turns out Rosie is a candidate for a new research program for dogs with lymphoma that will allow Rosie to receive a life-saving canine bone marrow transplant.  The same procedure that cured Angel of Save-An-Angel (see story here).

The study is testing a new form of radiation that causes less collateral damage to the organs and surrounding tissues. If the study is successful, the new form of radiation will be used on young children, the elderly and those that are too weak to receive a bone marrow transplant. Not only will the research save Rosie’s life, but it will potentially save thousands human lives as well!

Rosie's in remissionWe’re happy to report that Rosie is still in clinical remission!  She has a wonderful, committed transport volunteer named Alyson, whom she adores (and shout out to those who transported her in the past – Jane Bozeman & Nicole Terrebone)!  We are now calling Alyson and her family Rosie’s transport fosters, because they let her hang out for hours after chemo while waiting for us to get off work.

Rosie is the best dog ever!! She loves laying in the warm sunshine, kissing faces, snuggling and going for walks. She has never met a person she didn’t like – and she’s incredibly wiggly. I get so excited to see her living a happy life! We nicknamed her “Nosey Rosie” because she’s always sniffin’ around looking for something to get in to. She’s easy to love and she gets lots of treats!

Rosie’s chances are amazing in my mind. The canine bone marrow transplant offers a 50% chance at a CURE vs 2% with chemotherapy alone. We’re certain she’ll pull through!

We love Rosie SO much!  Our hope is that once Rosie is cured she will find a forever home that loves her as much as we do.  Until then we’re honored to share our home with this sweet baby. She’s one lucky angel!

Most Sincerely,

Whitney Soenksen – Rosie’s foster Mom


We are forever grateful to everyone for reading Rosie’s story and sharing with your friends. 🙂