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Girl reunited with “Make-A-Wish” dog thanks to expert veterinary care

MIDVALE, Utah – An 8-year-old girl took her fondest wish back home with her, thanks to emergency surgery performed at BluePearl Veterinary Partners on a lovable 1-year-old poodle mix named Luna.

Ava with her dog Luna

Ava Handley, who has undergone multiple scoliosis surgeries herself, was overjoyed when she received Luna about a year ago through the Make-A-Wish foundation.

But recently, something was wrong with Ava’s best buddy. Luna had lost weight and seemed to be trying to cough something up.

So a local veterinarian recommended going to BluePearl, a hospital which has advanced diagnostic equipment and veterinarians who have spent extra years in training to become board-certified in surgery, ophthalmology, oncology and other specialties.

At BluePearl, an ultrasound test revealed some kind of foreign matter virtually filling Luna’s stomach. So Dr. Christina Boekhout, a board-certified veterinary surgeon, placed Luna under anesthesia and performed a gastrotomy, an incision of the stomach.

Boekhout successfully removed the foreign object from Luna’s stomach – it turned out to be the head of a teddy bear.

“Luna has an excellent prognosis, and I expect she will live a long and happy life,” Boekhout said. The surgery was performed on Tuesday, June 12, and Luna went home on Wednesday.

Frankie’s Friends, a national pet foundation dedicated to helping family-owned pets in need of lifesaving emergency and specialty veterinary care, is helping to cover the cost of the surgery. Anyone interested in contributing to the cost of Luna’s care can donate here.

Luna at BluePearl Vetertinary Partners in Utah

Boekhout said Luna’s experience is a reminder that dogs, especially puppies, will chew and swallow all kinds of things they shouldn’t. She urges pet owners to keep small objects away from places where dogs can find and swallow them, including toys which have been chewed into little bits.

But where this teddy bear came from is something of a mystery, because it doesn’t belong to the family.

For the Handley family, the most important thing is simply knowing that Luna has a great prognosis and can go home for lots of snuggles and play time with Ava and her 5-year-old sister Sylvie.

“I feel like everyone at BluePearl has been so caring and helpful,” Ava’s mother Lindsay Handley said. “They seemed to really care about Luna and us too.”

A BluePearl surgeon removed this portion of a teddy bear from Luna’s stomach.