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Pet Cancer Stories: Remembering Elijah

Nancy Sherman had rescued various mixed-breed dogs over the years at her home in the South Suburbs of Chicago, but had always wanted a Rottweiler. After being devastated over the loss of their beloved Rottweiler mix, Nancy’s husband Hoover gave her a local ad for Rottweiler puppies and the couple decided to go take a look. While observing the litter, one puppy kept playfully gravitating toward the couple and it became clear he was meant to be a part of their family, giving him the name Elijah. However, the couple was aware of the unfortunate social presumptions about the breed and knew that extensive training was needed.

“We understood the negative assumptions about Rottweilers, so we wanted to make sure Elijah was well-behaved,” said Nancy. “He excelled in the obedience classes all the way through the advanced stages. Someone in the training program recommended that he try agility training and that was the start of an amazing run.”

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Nancy followed up on the recommendation and enrolled Elijah in agility classes. At first, Elijah struggled with the flow and commands, but once he got the hang of things, he was unstoppable. Over the course of his career Elijah won multiple titles and was nationally ranked in the Rottweiler class. He went on to compete for nearly 10 years, battling two major knee surgeries, but never losing his passion.

“Agility competitions became a huge part of our life,” said Nancy. “We traveled the United States competing in different tournaments and Elijah loved every minute of it. He was much more than just a dog, he was so intelligent and good natured. He was one of a kind.”

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After retiring from the sport he loved, Elijah relished his time at home with his younger siblings. Nancy and Hoover had added two more dogs to the family during Elijah’s agility career and they followed in his agility footsteps. Elijah’s retirement was going smoothly until one day when Nancy was finishing a workout.

“Elijah liked to hang out in the room while I was on the treadmill,” said Nancy. “I would always share the last bit of water from my bottle with him when I was finished with my run. I’d give him the bottle and he knew how to take the cap off, but his time the cap caught on something and a little raisin-like object fell out of his mouth. I thought it was weird, so I looked in his mouth and could see larger lump attached to his gums.”

Nancy took Elijah to their family veterinarian immediately, who proceeded to run tests on the lump. When the results came back, Nancy’s heart sunk. Elijah was diagnosed with cancer.

“It’s something that no pet owner ever wants to hear,” said Nancy. “We knew there were only a few options, but for us, there was never a question. We had pet insurance from Nationwide and knew we were covered. We weren’t going to give up on Elijah.”

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The veterinarians performed surgery to remove the mass and set Elijah on a strict schedule of chemotherapy pills. The treatment helped Elijah enjoy another year with him family before he finally succumbed to the disease. Elijah passed away in his sleep at the age of 13.

“Elijah will always be in our hearts,” said Nancy. “In my eyes, he was the perfect companion. He was loyal, passionate, cordial, and he loved everyone. I appreciate the time I was able to spend with him and I’m thankful that Nationwide was able to help us with the expenses that allowed us to enjoy him in his last couple years. We’ll never forget Elijah.”

You can help support pets like Elijah during November for National Pet Cancer Awareness Month. Visit http://www.curepetcancer.com to find out how you can raise awareness and $20k for a cure.

(Photo Credit: Steve Petrila)

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