Friday, February 18, 2011

A Very Busy Week For Dare2Care

Dear fans of Sophie,

What a week we've had for the Dare2Care4Sophie campaign! I have been enjoying putting together short videos to give you all a more personal look at our fundraising actitivites. I still have some editing to do, but in the meantime, I don't want to keep you waiting on our latest updates! So here goes:

Last weekend, I ran a 5K race in Brooklyn's Prospect Park in full costume to represent Sophie's cause. I'd been gathering the materials (and courage) to make my first appearance as the "Dancing Dog" character, and I could not think of more appropriate debut than among the supportive running community. I met a woman named Valerie who shared her own heartache of losing a dog to lymphoma. I also gave out a few cards for the website, and one of my favorite running buddies, Heather, was there to support me. It was a blast! You can view my video of the day on the Blog & Videos tab of our website, or the Dare2Care4Sophie YouTube channel.

As you know, Monday was Valentine's Day. It was also Sophie's six-year adopt-a-versary! In addition to being a special day to commemorate our six years together, Monday was also the day to perform my first official dare - to wear the bright pink wig from Dr. Oberthaler the entire day. I really enjoyed wearing it, drawing attention to Sophie's story, and of course, receiving quite a few compliments! I took photos and video that day as well, and the new video will be live on our site and YouTube channel shortly.

(As a reminder, I am 100% willing to dye my hair that shade of pink in exchange for a donation! DARE me!)

While the dare was "part one" of Valentine's Day, part two was much more challenging. I put on my costume, grabbed my boombox and headed down to Madison Square Garden, where the 2011 Westminster Kennel Club All Breed Dog Show was in town. Earlier that day, I was fortunate to score a complimentary day pass for Tuesday's events (thank you, Jenny & Melissa from Atlanta!). So on Monday night, I wanted to take advantage of the many dog lovers in town and shake my tutu for donations. The evening was both exhausting and cathartic, and I made almost $50! I can't wait to show you all that video, as well.

As hard as it was to drag myself out of bed the next morning, I didn't want my Westminster ticket to go to waste. So off I went to the Garden, decked out in full costume with a stack of cards for the website, to do some networking. I had a lovely interaction with a fellow named Robert who works for Classwish, who are partnering with Fido Friendly magazine on a very special contest to benefit educators and dogs. What a combo! Read about the sweepstakes here. I was also interviewed on camera by Inside Edition! That was pretty exciting, and a lot of folks requested to have their photos taken with me in my costume. I had so many warm interactions with all kinds of people...not to mention THE AMAZING DOGS! I had only a couple of hours to spend before heading into work, but the time was well worth it. I will publish a slideshow of photos very soon.

So after spending a few nights at home with Sophie, I took a look at my weekend race calendar and came across a trail race in Staten Island called the Cold Feat 10K, organized by the New York Adventure Racing Association. On a whim, I decided to write to them about Sophie's cause, asking if they might consider giving me a break on the $30 entry fee. They said yes! And before I knew it, I was signed up for a 10K on Saturday and a 10-mile race on Sunday, for which I'd previously registered. It's going to be a crazy weekend.

Other than that, I have just been trying to take advantage of the warmer weather here in NYC, which is having a very uplifting effect on Sophie. During our walks this week, she has shown an exuberance toward other dogs that I have not seen in awhile. Her skin issues are stable at the moment and to me, she looks as beautiful as ever. Our next chemotherapy appointment is on Wednesday, and thanks to all of our new donors, we can afford it.

Wish me luck with my races, and have a great weekend, everyone!


Jenny & Sophie

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Jenny's First DARE & Fundraising Updates!

For those of you who are unaware of the significance of the "Dare" part of Sophie's website,, I am putting a request out to the universe for people to challenge me to do the silliest, wackiest, weirdest thing they can think of, determine what it's worth to them, and make a donation in that amount (upon completion of said dare, of course).

Well, yesterday I received my first official DARE! It came from none other than our oncologist, Dr. Karen Oberthaler of
NYC Veterinary Specialists. Dr. O and I were having a consultation yesterday about bone marrow transplants (thank you, Kristie Sullens and Save An Angel for opening my eyes to this possiblility). After our chat, Dr. O said she had something for me and pulled out a shopping bag. She told me she'd seen our website and that she had a dare for me! So what was in the shopping bag, you ask? It's a BRIGHT pink wig and I have been dared to wear it all day long this Valentine's Day (Monday), post photographic evidence to our website, and in return I will receive FREE pre-exams at each of Sophie's remaining chemo visits!! (Financial aspects of pet cancer care can be a sensitive issue among pet parents, so I will not post the exact monetary worth of this dare. But trust me, it is quite a significant impact!)

I never expected that Dr. O would take an interest in the website, as she has done so much for Sophie and me already. Part of our initial kick-off grant from
Frankie's Friends included personal contributions from her, in addition to taking the time to fill out paperwork for our other financial aid applications, not to mention the time she and her staff have taken to consult with me over these last few months. So you can imagine that I was very touched by her gesture. In fact I smiled all the way home, tried on the wig, and loved it! Monday's dare will be a cinch, so bring on your crazy dares, people!

In medical news, Sophie had her thirteenth dose of chemotherapy yesterday. This week's drug was vincristine, which always hits her a little hard. She takes it with an injection of cerenia, a strong anti-nausea medication, to counteract some problems she had with her first dose of the drug in October. She was tired last night and this morning, as can be expected.

Although I'm the leader of our "pack of two," it is times like these when I have to let Sophie take the lead, and trust her to show me when I'm asking too much of her. So when she stepped outside for a quick tinkle this morning and promptly took a u-turn back inside, I didn't push things. She is resting at home while I'm at work, and will really enjoy the pampering she'll receive when my roommates and I return home. I am fortunate to live within walking distance of where I work, so that anxious period between business time and Sophie time is blessedly kept to a minimum.

My last thing to share today is a celebration of the new support Sophie and I have received as a result of our relationships with
The Riedel & Cody Fund and Save-An-Angel. Thanks to their generous efforts to share our story with others, Sophie and I have received a total of $240 from 6 new contributors in less than five days. It is simply unbelievable to me that people we've never met can read our story, feel a connection and deem us worthy of their donations. We've also received an unexpected shout-out from Georgia's Legacy, a major resource of information and support for families dealing with cancer in their pets. I am in awe of what organizations like these have been able to achieve, and now Sophie and I are part of their amazing machine!

I was just confiding in a friend recently that the only person to whom I felt I could say "We're in this together" was my therapist. Now I feel I can say it to all of you.


Jenny & Sophie

Sunday, February 6, 2011

New Partnerships for Sophie

A lot has happened in the last few hours, folks! Last week, Sophie and I put in an application to The Riedel & Cody Fund. They weren't able to helps us with a grant, but their Executive Director Michelle Margo offered to help spread the word about Sophie's cause. Just this morning, she has already posted information about Sophie on their Facebook page, AND we have already received a donation of $100! Unbelievable!

What's more, Michelle has provided an introduction to Kristie Sullens and
Save-An-Angel. Kristie and her husband Johnny raised an amazing $16,000 on their own so that their dog Angel could have a bone marrow transplant. The operation saved Angel's life, and now they are paying it forward with Save-An-Angel. Kristie has graciously offered to feature Sophie on their website! Their story is so inspiring and I encourage you to visit their site.

Sophie and I are ever grateful to these two organizations for inviting us into their circle of love and support for families enduring the illness of a beloved pet. THANK YOU!

For the first time in several months, the weather is sunny and beautiful today in New York City. Sophie and I are heading out for a long jaunt in the sun to celebrate these new partnerships. Have a wonderful day!


Jenny & Sophie

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Lots of Updates!

I just realized it has been quite some time since I left a new entry here. I share frequent updates about Sophie on my Facebook page, but there's not always enough space there, and I also don't want to oversaturate my FB friends. But I do have some important updates to share!

First, I have launched a website just for Sophie. You can find it at You can find photos, a short bio about Sophie and me, a list of our benefactors and of course a few ways that people can help. Most importantly, I encourage you to sign our guestbook and leave the most important gift of all: your words of love and support.

Second, a medical update: Sophie has graduated from weekly treatments to every two weeks. I am so happy to have reached this milestone, not only because it will minimize the stress on both of us involved with each treatment, but because it means we are over the hump.

It is all downhill from here, as they say. That being said, there have definitely been some pretty scary bumps on that hill. We had a few more visits when Sophie didn't pass her chemo pre-test due to low blood cell counts. The oncology team has reassured me that this is not uncommon, but every time it happened, my heart sank. Now that Sophie has two weeks to recover between treatments, this should no longer been an issue.

More importantly on the medical side, Sophie has developed some serious skin problems. She has always been a sensitive gal, her pretty pink skin a little itchy at times, but it was no longer manageable with Benadryl, so we made a few visits to our regular vet to check things out. Because of Sophie's depressed immune system, there are some things we just can't administer right now, such as steroids. So we are managing the symptoms with quite an arsenal: an antibiotic to stave off infection, a alternative antihistamine, preAs her mom, it does make me sad to see her looking a little patchy lately. She has a few spots that become inflamed, and when she scratches, the hair comes out and is slow to regrow due to the chemo. When I see her like that, I just have to take a deep breath and think of ALL of the amazing good stuff in our lives right now, like the time a few weeks ago that she had a blast at the dog run, or how sweet our roommates are with her, or just the fact that we've made it this far.

I'll end this update with something that is sure to make anyone laugh: just imagine me, wearing a dog costume and carrying a boom box, shaking my booty to disco music and collecting donations for Sophie all around New York City. That's how I will be spending my next few weekends, folks! I am summoning my college theater experience and being unashamed to make a fool of myself for something that really matters. Watch our website for dates and locations, and if you see me, send me your photos and videos!