A Dog's Worth

‘There is no price tag’ says dog’s owner

How far would you be willing to for your beloved pet? Would you travel hundreds of miles? Or spend thousands of dollars?

The McGraths loved their 7-year-old golden retriever, Cody. So they were devastated when a golf-ball-size growth was discovered in his neck last July.

A biopsy revealed that poor Cody had lymphoma. His doctor gave him a less than 2 percent chance of surviving.

Susan McGrath of Naperville refused to give up hope though. She scoured the Internet, looking for a way to save her pet.

"He's my baby," McGrath told the Naperville Sun. "I told him, ‘Hang in there, and we'll find a cure for you.'"

After numerous searches, McGrath came upon an article about Dr. Steven Suter at the North Carolina State University School of Veterinary Medicine. He uses leukophoresis machines to collect healthy cancer-free stem cells from the pet's blood, which are then reintroduced after complete body radiation therapy.

The treatment has been available to humans for years but has only been offered to dogs since September.

"NCSU is doing one dog a month, so I knew there were going to be at least 12 people as crazy as I was, willing to do anything for their pet," said McGrath.

So Susan and her husband Joe drove more than 600 miles Saturday to get Cody the treatment he needed. His procedure is scheduled to take place today.

The McGraths have spent a small fortune, including travel expenses, $10,000 in chemotherapy, and $15,000 for the bone marrow treatment.

"It's incredibly expensive," said Susan. "But at the same time, I never had a second thought. Short of cloning my dog, there is no price tag. After all the love Cody has given our family, I want to give him this."

Matt Bartosik, former blogger of The Chicago Traveler and editor of Off the Rocks' next issue, does not own any pets but loves animals nonetheless.

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