VIDEO: Surgery allows couple to spend holidays with beloved dog

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla.  — Patrick and Marianne O’Shea couldn’t believe it when their beloved dachshund, Mr. Fritz, suddenly lost the use of his hind limbs and could no longer walk.

The couple was already reeling after Patrick O’Shea was diagnosed with brain cancer earlier this year. Now they faced losing Mr. Fritz.

But thanks to caregivers from BluePearl Veterinary Partners hospital and Frankie’s Friends pet charity, the family is enjoying the holiday season with their rejuvenated dog, who has regained his ability to walk after successful surgery to repair degenerative disc disease in his back.  “He’s a little gift from God and he’s a blessing,” Marianne O’Shea said.

dachshund with ball

Mr. Fritz loves to retrieve his squeaky red football

Patrick was diagnosed with cancer in August. In early October, Mr. Fritz, who is 7, was suddenly unable to walk or stand.  The Lake Seminole Animal Hospital referred the O’Sheas to BluePearl, which as an emergency and specialty animal hospital offers advanced services such as surgery and neurology. BluePearl’s board-certified specialists receive years of advanced training within their area of expertise, which prepares them for cases that are especially complex.

After examining Fritz, the staff at BluePearl explained that disc surgery would give him a good chance of recovery. But given their other medical bills, the O’Sheas could not afford the cost at that time.

“I cried all the way home” after getting Mr. Fritz’s evaluation, Marianne O’Shea said. “What happened with my husband and what happened with Mr. Fritz, it was just so much to bear.”

But BluePearl hadn’t finished trying to help.

Veterinary Technician Shannon Valdez began making inquiries and discovered funds were available through Frankie’s Friends, which helps pay for lifesaving care for pets when families cannot afford it.

Dr. Michael Kimura, a board-certified veterinary neurologist, performed the surgery on Oct. 15,   removing the herniated disc material. Kimura said this type of surgery has a good chance of success, but there were no guarantees. In Fritz’s case, the surgery restored Fritz’s ability to walk and play.  “When we get results like this, we’re very, very pleased,” Kimura said.

Th O'sheas with their dog Mr. Fritz

Marianne and Patrick O’Shea with Mr. Fritz

It took more than a month of healing, but now Mr. Fritz is playfully running around the O’Sheas’ house and playing with his favorite squeaky football toy.

The O’Sheas are grateful they still have Mr. Fritz and that he is doing so well. “It was a blessing from above,” Marianne said. “I just couldn’t believe it.”