Special Cases: Helping a needed companion

Published 1:54 pm Friday, April 14, 2017

Two years ago I told a bittersweet tale of two German Shepherd pups that were sired by Vemo, one of Dr. Joe Picone’s prize dogs. Dr. Joe contacted me and with the help of the Lennie’s Kids fund, we allocated Forest for Jason, a policeman’s son who is autistic. 

During training it was noticed that Forest began dragging his hind leg so we decided to send him to my dear friend, Dr. Keith Allen, at Upstate Specialists in Greenville. Dr. Allen informed us that Forest’s problem was degenerative and could not be fixed with an operation; the best thing for Forest would be to take the leg. 

Jason’s family did not have a problem with a three-legged dog but feared their son would not understand it all. After the operation a new home was found for Forest and to this day he is running around with a young lady who doesn’t even realize a limb is missing.

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A promise had been made to Jason and with the help of many of Dr. Joe’s clients and friends, along with the Picones themselves, we offered Dax, Forest’s brother, as a substitute.

Two years later, Dax is now an integral part of the family and he and Jason are inseparable.

Dax began to develop a sore on his rear leg close to his rectum a few months ago and no matter what the family vet prescribed it became worse until a hole appeared. The family tried to keep the problem a secret from Jason but they were frantic; to lose Dax would be devastating to Jason. Dr. Joe was informed and Dax was brought up to an old friend, Dr. Thomas Maiolo at the Ark Clinic in Boiling Springs.

Dr. Tom diagnosed Dax’s problem as a bacterial infection that was rare and life threatening. This is when Dr. Joe called me and asked if I could set up some help for Dax at Upstate. I called Dr. Maiolo and asked if he would set up an appointment for Dax at Upstate and explain that Dax is one of Lennie’s Kids. This was done for two reasons: first I want Dr. Tom to explain his diagnosis and secondly, Upstate would care for Dax and bill me afterward.

Dr. Tom readily agreed and said, “Upstate just may be the best chance for Dax.” 

Off Dax went to Upstate. As luck would have it, the best doctor who had some success with Dax’s problem was Dr. Cindy Bauer. But, she was no longer affiliated with Upstate having left for a practice of her own. 

Dax’s case was sent over to Dr. Bauer, with the explanation that he was one of Lennie’s Kids and I would handle all bills, and to please do everything possible.

The next day I received a call from Dr. Bauer’s clinic explaining that Dax was scheduled for the following Wednesday and they were concerned about fees since they were no longer affiliated with Upstate. 

“Please call Upstate, they will vouch for me. We’ve done dozens of dogs through my funds,” I said. 

“But we’re not affiliated with them anymore,” their finance manager insisted.   

“Okay sir,” I answered, “I will be at dialysis on Wednesday, but my wife Elaine has instructions to put whatever Dax’s fee is on my credit card. Just call and give her the amount of the bill and it will be taken care of, but please, please, do what you can to help Dax and that sweet boy he cares for.”

I never received a call the following Wednesday so the first thing Thursday morning I called to inquire about Dax and the bill. I spoke with the same gentleman I had talked to the previous week. 

“Dax is doing fine, Mr. Rizzo,” he said tearfully. “We feel certain he’ll pull through and we sent his bill along with what was done and meds that were prescribed.” 

“Thank you so much,” I said, “and God bless all of you.” 

“No, God bless you, Mr. Rizzo,” he said, ending the conversation. 

I hung up the phone smiling, and one of those sneaky tears dropped out of my eye.

“What’s wrong?” my dear wife Elaine asked. 

“Nothing, dear. Dax is going to be fine.”

I have received the bill and sent the check with instructions to bill me for anything Dax may need in the future. I have thanked all doctors concerned who went the extra mile to make this possible. Wonderful emails have come from an ecstatic family. 

Two more things to do: one is to thank God for all my angels, and then, of course, to all of you.

Thanks for listening.