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Willow the Corgi needs help!
$383 Raised
10% of $3.9k goal
18 contributors
0 days left
Ended Jun 3, 2013
In this very special campaign for The Baxter Valentine Fund we learn the story of Willow, the rescue Corgi adopted by our dear Facebook friend Judi Hillman. More ...
Willow is a rescue, so here is the first part of her story as told by Carol of P.A.W.S., a no-kill shelter in Illinois:

"Willow and another Corgi friend of hers were found as strays. The lady who found them looked far and wide for anyone who might know something about them, but it was to no avail. She thought (and we did too after seeing them) that they had been abandoned. Willow was very, very shy and appeared to have very few social skills. She looked as if she had had several litters of puppies; her coat was extremely thin and she had a yeast infection all over her body. Also, her ears were in very bad shape with infection. We think whoever had abandoned her and her friend had let them get in that shape and then didn't want to deal with it. Judi has done wonders with her, and if they could be given a little more time together, it would be wonderful."

In April of 2009, Judi found Willow online and fell in love with her sweet Corgi face:

"In the spring of 2009, I was scrolling through Corgis on, and there I saw the profile of this scared looking sweet little Corgi in southern Illinois. Before I knew what I was doing, I was driving down to meet her with Charlie in tow. When we got to the shelter in Anna, I got down on the floor & Willow was brought in to meet us. She touched noses with Charlie and looked at me sideways before hurrying away. She crept around the shelter, urinating in submission, and eventually gathered enough courage to come over and give me a couple of nose touches which the shelter workers praised as progress. Willow had so endeared herself to the staff (she had been there for 6 months due to a skin condition that they were trying to treat) that both the president & owner of the shelter came by to meet me so that they could tell me how much she meant to them. I paid $150 for her adoption fee and it was the best money I've ever spent.

On the car ride home, she kept pressing up against the bars of the crate to get some skritches from me. Once home, it took some time for her to adjust and come out of her shell. She's still a little skittish, particularly with new people, but she has blossomed into a sweet loving little dog who charms everyone she meets.

She loves mornings. Her once boundless energy never failed to amuse me as she hopped down the hallway each morning in anticipation of a great day filled with food & love. Every time it's mealtime, she responds as though she can't believe that she gets to eat again without having to fight or scrounge for her food. She bounces like a bunny rabbit when I'm filling the dishes with kibble! She wiggles her butt so hard that she almost bends herself in half, and since she has a black nubbin that looks like a busy bumblebee, one of my nicknames for her is Bee. She has the most expressive ears I've ever seen. She can curl the right one up into the most unusual shape! I can judge her mood based on how she's holding her ears.

When Charlie doesn't finish his food by himself (which is often), I say "Do you need some help with your food?" and Willow scampers right over because she knows that means I'll start hand-feeding Charlie his food--- and she gets to share! Charlie doesn't seem to mind sharing, and Willow loves to help him finish his meal. She prances with her front paws and whines if I don't share enough!

When I first looked at her picture on petfinder, I was completely captivated by her close-up shot because her eyes just seemed to plead "just love me". And so I have for these past 3+ years, and I hope to for a long time to come. She brings unending joy to my life, and my home is not complete when she's not there. The love that continues to radiate from her eyes just melts my heart."

In mid-August of this year, Willow had a seizure for the first time and Judi took her to the emergency vet. While trying to determine the cause of the seizure, the vets discovered that Willow's lymph nodes were swollen. Biopsies were done, and Willow had two more seizures the following night. The following day, the diagnosis was announced: lymphoma. Judi, as you can imagine, is devastated. On August 22, Judi and Willow had their first appointment with the oncologists at Purdue University:

"The first visit with oncologist was not promising. Willow's lymphoma is in her central nervous system which limits the prognosis. The first step is staging the lymphoma which means you need to identify where it has spread. That can best be done with a procedure that involves anesthesia, and because Willow's cancer is in her central nervous system, the risk is high for this procedure. There is a chance she will not survive the anesthetic but I think that's one of those things that they have to tell you. Her treatment will not be as effective without proper & thorough examination that will allow for the most accurate staging possible."

On August 24, Willow was able to come home from Purdue after making it through her procedure with no complications!

"The surgery went well. She's shaved in several places and looks ridiculous but hopefully the fur will grow back before it gets too chilly. It will take 3 months to grow back in! Biopsy results will be back in 3-5 days at which time her course of treatment will be determined. She has been diagnosed with Stage 5a lymphoma. Without treatment she would survive less than 3 months. With treatment it's hard to tell how long she has, but I want to do everything within my ability to provide comfort and quality of life for her."

On August 31, Willow began her chemotherapy treatments. She will have them on Fridays, weekly. On September 7, she had her second treatment and I received the following update from Judi:

"Willow is resting comfortably at home today following her second round of chemo yesterday. The lab results finally came back in, so a plan has been set for her chemotherapy. The treatment will take place over the course of the next 27 weeks and will initially be administered at Purdue. I will be requesting a transfer to Indianapolis following the first set of treatments which take place weekly for the first 9 weeks. The final stage of treatments are on alternating weeks.

The conclusion of her treatment will land at the beginning of March which is a very emotional time for me, as my dad passed away suddenly and unexpectedly this year on March 2nd. The thought of potentially losing another source of unconditional love so prematurely is unbearable to me. I know that to some people they're just dogs, but to me they are constant companions who are happy to see me when I come home each day, and I think everyone will agree that we all need someone who is happy to see us at the end of the day.

I'm extremely humbled and grateful that a fundraising campaign has been set up on for Willow on CorgiPals. I won't be able to bring myself to read the page, it's too emotional for me, but I know that past campaigns have been heart-felt and touching, and Corgi supporters from all over have been generous beyond compare. Please don't feel obligated to participate in the campaign, but if you would like to see some cute pictures of Willow and read more about her, that's the place to go!"

This has been absolutely heart-wrenching for me, so I can only imagine how Judi must be feeling through all of this.
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