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Stephanie Barlow: Fundraising/Marketing.

In January 2005, my family and I set out in a snowstorm to pick up an adorable puppy named Daniel. While playing with him, "Denise" came out to greet us and quickly stole our hearts. We wound up leaving with Denise, who later became known as Bailey, and our lives were never the same again. We were told Bailey was a Shepherd/Lab mix who was going to be between 40-50 pounds. The Shepherd part was right, but we later found out she was a Shepherd/Rottweiler mix who weighed around 92 pounds.

Bailey lived a happy life and was loved by everyone who met her. For as much as she was loved, she loved the water! No matter where we were, if there was water around, Bailey would find it, and would usually be in it before we knew it! The beach and the pool were probably her two favorite places on Earth. She loved squeaky toys, going for car rides, the snow, play dates with her friend Hannah, and green peppers! She loved her brother Jack who went from an annoying puppy with razor sharp teeth to the best twenty pound guard dog a paralyzed dog could ask for! She was famous for howling the "happy birthday" song along with people every time she heard it!

In May 2013 Bailey had a bad experience at the groomers and left visibly upset. The next day she vomited blood and was in the emergency hospital with an ulcer. After coming home from the hospital I noticed her scuffing her back paws but I thought she was just weak from all that she went through. This scuffing went on sporadically until September when I really thought something was wrong. I thought it was her hip and got her in to see her rehab vet. The vet did a variety of tests and threw out the name Degenerative Myelopathy. I could barely pronounce it, nevermind tell you what it was! Little did I know, I was about to learn more about this disease than I ever wanted to know.

Bailey's rehab vet immediately began treating her with acupuncture and laser treatments, and we saw a neurologist for another round of tests. An MRI showed five slightly herniated discs which they didn't think could be causing her issue. A DNA test later confirmed that Bailey was "A/A: At Risk" for DM. 

We continued with acupuncture and introduced Bailey's favorite part, the water treadmill. I never saw a dog happier to go to the vet. She would start crying from blocks away anticipating going on the treadmill! She progressed pretty slowly but was completely down in the back end, and unable to walk on her own by June of 2014. She continued to fight and enjoy life in her wheelchair. She even dragged the wheelchair into the lake!! June 2015 we received more devastating news.

Bailey started to limp and I thought she had just hurt herself from having to work extra hard on her front end. I brought her to the vet, and x-rays showed that she had osteosarcoma in her front, right wrist. I was so angry and sad when I got this news.

I couldn't imagine how it could be fair that such a sweet dog could have such horrible things happening to her. 

Bailey's happy attitude got me through and taught me no matter what life throws at you, you can't forget to smile. Those who knew Bailey knew that she always looked like she was happy...and she always was! We adopted Rachel Platten's, "Fight Song", as her theme song because I knew Bailey, and knew that she still had a lot of fight left.

She lived out her last months doing all of her favorite things. She spent two weeks swimming in Glen Lake, took a boat ride, and went on a five mile bike ride to the dog beach. Bailey lost her fight with Degenerative Myelopathy and osteosarcoma on November 1, 2015, twenty days short of her 10th birthday. 

As devastating as this experience was, it was one that I will never forget. I have met some of the kindest, most supportive people during this journey. Bailey may have lost her fight but I am going to continue fighting in her memory.

I am honored to be a part of the Finding the Cure for Degenerative Myelopathy Foundation and am ready to help find a cure for this disease!

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