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November 5, 2019 – Doreen Jakubcak’s friends joke that in their next life, they want to come back as one of her dogs. Doreen, along with her partner, Mike Malchow, do just about everything they can to keep their dogs happy, help them when they’re sick, and honor them when they’ve crossed the rainbow bridge.

The couple even made sure their new home had a pool so their dogs, Labrador retrievers Sasha and Alex, could go for regular swims.

“They were like our children. Both very loyal and sensitive and they could always pick up when you were having a good day or bad day,” said Doreen. “When my mother passed away, they even became very close to my dad because they could tell he needed extra care and support. They were very special girls.”

An Unexpected Diagnosis

Everything changed when veterinarians discovered Sasha had bone cancer during surgery to replace what they believed was a torn cruciate ligament. Veterinarians worked with Doreen to try to save Sasha, including the gold standard treatment for osteosarcoma - amputation, radiation and chemotherapy – and adjunct therapies such as herbal supplements. Nine months after the original diagnosis, though, she had to say goodbye.

“We were at a loss in terms of understanding it; why it happened, what treatments were available,” said Doreen. “We really wanted to understand what we could do to help with this disease.”

Taking Action

After losing Alex a year later to complications of vestibular disease, they discovered Morris Animal Foundation and became avid supporters. They even funded a donor-inspired study to evaluate a compound for its potential to kill osteosarcoma tumor cells with potentially fewer side effects than traditional chemotherapy. While the study didn’t yield the results they hoped, Doreen was grateful to advance the science.

The Most Common Bone Cancer in Dogs

Osteosarcoma is the most common primary bone tumor in dogs and accounts for about 85% of all bone tumors. More than 10,000 new canine cases are diagnosed each year. Morris Animal Foundation has supported many studies to combat this devastating cancer, including:

• Trying to find a combination therapy that will delay the onset of cancer spread and possibly lead the way to an alternative and more effective treatment option for managing canine osteosarcoma.

Assessing the effectiveness of an adjunct, post-surgery therapy to combat metastatic disease.

• Evaluating a promising new immunotherapy to curb cancer metastasis in dogs with osteosarcoma.

An Enduring Love

Since losing Sasha and Alex, Doreen and Mike have started a new chapter in their life. They established Marty’s Place Senior Dog Sanctuary, named after a dog they owned after Alex passed. The sanctuary provides a safe, loving and protected environment for senior dogs that do not have homes.

“We just want to continually improve the lives of dogs; their quality of life,” said Doreen. “They give so much in return for so little. They deserve whatever help we can provide.”

Making a Difference

Like Doreen and Mike, this holiday season, you can help dogs, and all animals, have longer, healthier lives with your gift to Morris Animal Foundation. Your support will help us fund groundbreaking research to find solutions to serious health threats animals face. And now through December 31, you can double your impact! Gifts will be matched dollar for dollar, up to $200,000, by our generous Board of Trustees.

Animals warm our hearts and hearths. Please take a moment to help them with a gift today.