My name is Gwen and I have cancer. I've decided to tell my story because I want everyone to know about the amazing people I've met throughout my journey and how much they've helped me. I'd like to start at the beginning, but my mom, Sandy, said we don't have that much time so we'll start when I was surrendered to animal control many, many years ago. (Oh, my mom just told me it was only three years ago. The concept of time eludes me.) I was asleep on a hard floor and had a Big Ouchie. Just a little while ago I was living in warm home, with food and cuddles and all of a sudden I was here. I don't know how or why I ended up In The Place Without Sunlight, but I hated it. As I'm writing this (or rather telling the story to mom so she can write it), I'm lying in a patch of sunlight on a soft bed in our vacation home in South Carolina. Yes, my pack has two homes for me and I get endless amounts of treats, cuddles, love and warm floors at both of them.I don't remember how I got there, but I was there when I woke up. I immediately didn't like where I was. There was a funny smell that hurt my nose. There were other dogs there and sometimes they'd leave their beds and never come back. I didn't know whether that was a good sign or not, but I started to learn to not be too optimistic about things. Every day two legged creatures (people, mom reminds me) would stop at my cage and say things like "Bambi" "here girl" and made this weird noise that made me want to wag my tail, but my Big Ouchie was slowly turning into my Really Big Ouchie. Instead of wagging my tail, I'd growl. Deep down I wanted someone to help me, but the only thing I could say was "grrrrrrr." Eventually I started to see lots of pointing towards me saying things "Bambi" and something that sounded like "youth in Asia" and "tomorrow". I couldn't figure it out, but all the pointing made my tummy hurt and that made the sounds come out. I started to growl all the time and that kept everyone away. One day a Vet Tech, named Leigh, from Fox Nest Vet Hospital found me at the shelter and tried her hardest to keep me from being euthanized. I was scheduled for it the very next day. I'll never know why she chose to save me, but I guess she saw something in me despite all the growling. She could see beyond my pain. Soon a new face appeared. She had the best smile. Her name was Pam. I left with her that day and finally saw sunlight again. It was the Greatest Day Ever. I remember that Pam and ADOPT were working hard to send me somewhere else - to find a rescue that would be able to take me. Finally, my home away from home, even though I didn't know it then, City Dogs Rescue (CDR), agreed to take me. They had Dogs in their name so how bad could it be? Time passed and I eventually left Pam to get in a big van. It was like The Place Without Sunlight. I spent 9 hours in that van, but the memory of that trip was wiped clean by the happy, smiling humans I saw when I got out of the van at the Happy Place. Everyone wanted to pet and hug me and give me water. However, I almost didn't make it to the Happy Place. It was New Year's Eve 2015 and City Dogs Rescue couldn't find me a foster. Humans like to pawty hardy during that time and no one was around. Thankfully, Anjanette from CDR, who must have seen something in me as well because she advocated for me to come to DC, did what she does so beautifully and found my first foster Mary. I should also thank Anjanette for changing my name from Bambi to Gwen. What am I, a four legged creature that lives in the forest? Mary took me home with her and introduced me to her cat. I still had the Really Big Ouchie and I'm not mean, but I figured chasing that cat every once in a while, would get the word out that you don't mess with Gwennie! However, the pain was starting to get to me. I was becoming grumpier and growled all the time now. Mary had to give me up because of the cat chasing, but I've learned that everything happens for a reason. My next foster, Maryann, was the one who started to realize that my grumpiness was because of how Big my Ouchie really was. I never got along with her dog Max because I couldn't be nice through the pain. She alerted CDR about my pain and I went to see a specialist. The vet said I had "two blown ACLs and a subluxated patella." (I had mom copy and paste for me because I don't know what it means.) I know what I felt like though. It felt like pain all the time and no number of treats, sunlight, or hugs from Maryann made it better. CDR pulled through again in the most amazing way and raised the thousands of dollars needed for my Really Big Surgeries, like they have for so many other foster dogs before me. They really do have the best supporters. People loved me even though they didn't know me. In the meantime, all the applications I was receiving would fall through because they'd be lured in by my cute face, but my Really Big Surgeries were a huge turnoff. No one could commit the time for 10 weeks of rehab after each surgery. I was beginning to lose hope. I tried to remember the Greatest Day Ever, but I started to forget what Pam and Mary looked like. Maryann also had to give me up because of Max. I forgive him now though because I was the worst back then. The Really Big Ouchie turned into the REALLY BIG OUCHIE and it was all I could think about. Finally, Pam #2, (spoiler alert, she's my sister) told her mom Sandy (spoiler alert, she's the mom I already mentioned) that a sick dog needed help. I was blessed that Sandy stepped up and offered to foster me. Remember me saying there were many more Greatest Days Ever ahead? When I got to their home I didn't have any stairs to navigate and had many sunny spots right on the bay. Sandy and my pack knew how to handle my fear. I stayed by myself in my crate and would snap at the other dogs if they got too close to my spot. In fact, I may have bitten all of them at one point. (Sorry, guys!) I needed a spot of my own after what I'd been through and Sandy understood. After my Really Big Surgeries, Sandy and I got to be the best of friends during the weekly drives back and forth to the hospital for THE HARDEST WORK EVER which mom calls rehab. As my legs began to heal, I began to feel like myself again. Like the Gwennie who was waiting to shine from under the pain. I started to notice that Sandy wasn't feeling like herself though. Something was worrying her, but I didn't know what it was. I thought it was me and that she was going to give me up like the others had. Maybe the drives were too long for her. Little did I know that she was worried about me and all my rejected applications. However, a little nugget formed in her mind. She asked Bob, (spoiler alert, it's my dad) if they could keep me because fate, kismet, whatever you want to call it had brought me to them. Today, I'm battling lymphoma and whether I have a few more months or a few more years with my pack, I will cherish it as the best time of my life. Mom says I'm a trooper going through my treatments. When they are done, I get to come home to my favorite blanket and my favorite niece and nephew. I know mom has done so much for me, more than I could ever say "woof woof" for, but dad is my favorite because I know it was his decision to keep me and he made the right one. I'm now the happiest dog ever. In fact, I was voted "Happiest Dog Ever" by my pack.