Golden Harley Needs his Story to be Heard – Update

I have been busy getting the word out on Harley’s story. I would like to thank all those who have donated to Harley’s fund. It is heartwarming to know that people care. Dr. Randall called me today concerning Harley’s blood work. She was pleased to say that it was normal. Harley is doing well. I try to take him for a ‘ride’ in the car almost everyday. It is one of his favorite things to do.


Sadly, I have bumped up this posting due to the limited response it has generated. I have also contacted the local television stations in Texas and some national media in hopes of their bringing more attention to the story. Andrea has made contacts as well. But, no one seems to be interested. If anyone has any media contacts or ideas about how the local folks in Texas or even National media can learn about this story, please do try to make something happen for this guy, shown here with Andrea.

The following letter is what I have sent out to the media. Anyone wanting to make further contacts can extract any or all of the information.

A recent article in the San Antonio Express-News ( detailed a very special boy who has been cheering up wounded Iraq soldiers at the Brooke Army Medical Center, despite the diagnosis of a brain tumor.

The Land of PureGold Foundation, a non-profit charitable organization, has set up the Helping Harley Fund ( ), but attention to it has been very slight despite the news article and the foundation’s best efforts. I feel this inspiring story desperately needs television exposure in order for it to make a difference.

A recent article in the December 2006 issue of Scientific American ( Cancer Clues from Pet Dogs: Studies of pet dogs with cancer can offer unique help in the fight against human malignancies while also improving care for man’s best friend) details the importance of cancer treatment for our canines and how comparative oncology (study of cancers that occur similarly in humans and companion animals) is an important key for all of us, 2 or 4-footed.

The Gulf Coast Veterinary Specialists ( ), who provided cutting age therapy for Harley, are among the top veterinary oncologists in the country, also offering very valuable clinical trials as part of a network of National Institutes of Health ( ) researchers.

Although Harley’s tale may seem to be merely a human interest story about a ailing Therapy Dog, it is truly so much more. For it can bring attention to some information that is valuable to all as statistics currently indicate that one in three persons, as well as small companion animals, will be diagnosed with cancer. It also details how some very special people, no matter the adversity, are trying to do their part to help assist our returning wounded soldiers.

We recently were contacted by Andrea Hanssen, who shared her inspiring story of Golden Harley. We are hoping that the following article brings needed publicity to the cause and to the Helping Harley Fund. Please do share the article link with all of your family and friends, and then have them visit Harley’s page ( at my site.


Care is an elixir for dog with tumor
By Rose Mary Budge, San Antonio Express-News Staff Writer

It’s past midnight when Andrea Hanssen finally dozes off, exhausted after studying for her nursing board exams. Then Harley starts to bark. Instantly awake, she hurries to his side and starts dispensing her special brand of medicine. “I tell him Mama’s here and everything is going to be all right,” Hanssen says.

Harley, Hanssen’s 11-year-old golden retriever and hospital-visitation partner, needs extra encouragement and TLC these days. The things he used to do so easily — romping, jumping up on the couch, going for walks with his owner — are harder now and, occasionally, it’s tough for his weakened back legs to get traction on the tile or wooden floor.

“He can’t quite figure out what’s going on,” Hanssen says, “and that’s why I think he gets a little anxious at night and barks. I give him Valium to calm him if it’s really needed. But mostly I just stroke those wonderful golden ears and lie down by his side until he goes to sleep with his head between his paws.”

Harley has a brain tumor — cerebellar meningioma, the veterinarians call it. According to Dr. Stacy Randall of San Antonio’s South Texas Veterinary Specialists, a meningioma is a benign growth that normally affects the brain’s periphery and usually shows up in the cerebrum. In this case, the tumor has penetrated into a virtually inoperable area in the cerebellum, and the prognosis isn’t promising. Maybe six months. Maybe a year.

But Hanssen is trying to stay optimistic despite the odds, and she’s doing all she can to save her dog or to at least have the satisfaction that she tried.

Dots on Harley's head mark the spot where doctors guide radiation therapy.

Already her pet has been through radiation treatments, pneumonia and seizures when death seemed imminent. (Dots on Harley’s head mark the spot where doctors guide radiation therapy.) He’s taking an array of medications, including lomustine, (a chemotherapy drug), phenobarbital (an anti-convulsant), prednisone (a steroid) and Valium(a relaxant). Medical bills through September totaled well over $10,000. Hanssen has been maxing out credit cards and bank accounts and selling items on eBay to pay the bills.

“I’m hoping for a miracle,” she says, “and the cost doesn’t matter. My dog means everything to me, and he has an important job to do.”

Harley specializes in “furry therapy.” He and his owner volunteer under the auspices of Paws for Service, an organization that provides canine visits to hospitals, nursing homes and schools. The two started out at the children’s oncology ward at Methodist Hospital and for the past five years have been regulars at Brooke Army Medical Center, bringing smiles to both staff and patients whenever they visit.

Lillian Stein, volunteer coordinator for BAMC’s department of ministry and pastoral care praises their contributions. “They’ve been out here almost weekly and Andrea also comes out to help with our barbecues and parties. She’s always upbeat, which means a lot to the patients, and Harley’s just this great, lovable guy who cheers everyone up.”



5 thoughts on “Golden Harley Needs his Story to be Heard – Update

  1. We have sent in a donation to the Harley fund in memory of our Cody, who went to the bridge in 2002 suffering from cancer.
    We hope and pray that Harley can continue to fight and have many happy days ahead of him.

  2. Rochelle;
    We have copied you letter and forwarded it to all our e-mail friends, we are hoping that some donations may be made.

  3. That is so sweet, but if they are not in the television business, it may not make a huge difference. I know that when situations have occurred in my own local area, where a dog is publicized on the news due to needing funds for treatment, I have always been moved to contribute. And, it always turns out that even more money than is needed is donated. But, it is that kind of wide coverage which is required. The story, and my letter, needs to be sent to national and local tv stations. Unfortunately, I have tried and not one person has replied.

    Honestly, I just don’t get it.

  4. Oh my. Keep up the good work. My dog just died two weeks ago from a meningiomas. He first had his seizure two years ago in December and didn’t have another until April when he was found to have a meningiomas. I took him to U.C. Davis to have it removed and they said he would have a 50 50 chance to survive. If he did he would have months and if I didn’t have it removed he would have 3 months to live. He live 1 1/2 years past that date. I did the same thing with the medication. I found that by taking these same medication that the seizure started to come more often and I added potasium Bromide to the tablets twice a day.
    Just keep fighting. My boy was a Golden too. He just turned 11 Dec 3. I like you never wanted to put him down. He had the same situation as you. On Dec 25, 26, and 27th he never raised his head ever again. He had fallen in a deep type of coma. That is when I decided it was time.
    I have shared all the feeling that you have experienced. As a school teacher, I have spent a ton of money and took a second mortgage on my house to pay for all his vet bills. I would have done it again. He was worth it like your dog is worth the time and love you have put into him. I wish you all the luck and send prayer to you and your dog.

  5. Ken, I am so very sorry for your loss. I know what these special souls do for us. It actually seems like they give us more than we could ever provide in return. I am still grieving my Darcy dying about a year ago, as it seems like yesterday, so I know time must be playing the same kind of tricks on you now.

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