Web Extra

by Marcia Hill Gossard ’99, ’04 Ph.D.

“Dancer,” a 7-year-old Powder-puff Chinese Crested, wasn’t always as healthy and happy as she is today. She spent the first 6 years of her life in a puppy mill in Oregon. When she came to live with Tracy and her family in Idaho, all her toes were dislocated from being confined to a wire cage. Her teeth had rotted, she had a cyst, and an injured back.

“She was in such bad shape, we really debated if the journey to get well was worth the pain she would go through,” said Tracy.

After numerous medical treatments, Dancer began to thrive and settle into her new home. She even helped gently care for a 3-week old Chihuahua the family was raising in their home.

“But one of biggest gifts Dancer gives us is the connection with our son with Asperger’s,” said Tracy. “The other animals shy away from him, but Dancer gets up on his lap and makes that connection with him.”
Then came the cancer diagnosis.

“We thought we might lose her, so we took her to a specialist who referred her to WSU,” said Tracy.

But with nearly $9000 in veterinary medical expenses over the year, the needed radiation treatment seemed financially out of reach.

“We didn’t have the money, but knew she could be saved,” said Tracy.

So they applied for help from the Good Samaritan Fund, created to help animals in need of special care, but who were ownerless or whose owners could not afford treatment.

“Receiving this money was just enough help for us to be able to get her the treatments to save her,” said Tracy.

Tracy and her family have helped hundreds of animals like “Dancer” over the last 20 years, taking in some of the hardest cases. But their kindness and generosity is boundless.Tracy and her husband are loving parents to four special needs kids.

“We chose not to have natural children, but instead to provide a home for hard to place children,” said Tracy. “Fostering these animals was really good for the children. It showed them how to care for animal with special needs and find them a forever home.”

Although she’ll tell you that her kids and the dogs they foster have given more to their family than she and her husband have given to them, the kind of care and devotion they’ve shown is extraordinary.

“I’ve been blessed with special needs kids and animals,” said Tracy. “Dancer experiences snow for the first time, and we experience snow for the first time. They are a blessing to us.”

After 6 weeks in the hospital receiving radiation treatments during the spring of 2011, Dancer’s prognosis is good.

“We sing your praises,” said Tracy about the WSU Veterinary Teaching Hospital. “Everyone there was absolutely wonderful.”