Never Giving Up on Sadie

sadie the dog in an e-collar

A family was able to get more time with their beloved dog, who inspires them to be the best they can be. 

When Ken and Kathy Risko of Lancaster, Ohio first met Sadie, she would not make eye contact with anyone, including them. The mixed-breed dog they were considering adopting from an Akron shelter just cowered in the corner. But something about Sadie made them take the chance on bringing her home, and the family opened their arms to her. They completed the adoption process, not knowing if she would become social. 

It paid off.

“I have never seen a sweeter dog in my life. I’m sure everyone says that about their pup, but with Sadie, everyone that meets her says the same thing. She just wants to please, all the time, she is so obedient and kind,” said Ken. “She will get on your lap, and cuddle like a cat, and then the next moment she is ‘growling’ at her big, unrelated brother, Gus, and instigating him to play.” 

Fearing that she may have been abused in her early life, the Riskos made a concerted effort to support Sadie and be there for her. They committed to doing everything they could to help her acclimate to their household, and vowed to never give up on her. 

Sadie the dog

"Yes, I know she is a dog, but she’s the best being I have ever met.  Inside and out.  Much better than me,” Ken said. 

Years later, when Sadie was seven years old, her owners’ commitment to her proved stronger than ever after they received difficult news about her health.

During Sadie’s annual veterinary exam, her veterinarian—an alumnus of The Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine—found a mass on her abdomen and a lump in her anal gland. The Riskos brought her to The Ohio State University Veterinary Medical Center where she received more tests, an ultrasound, a computed tomography (CT) scan, x-rays, and physical exams. Through these diagnostic tests, her veterinarians were better able to understand what was wrong with Sadie. 

The clinicians at the VMC diagnosed Sadie with apocrine gland anal sac adenocarcinoma (AGASACA), a type of cancer of the anal sacs. They believed the abdominal mass was metastasis of a lymph node. Sadie would need advanced care through the Integrated Oncology service at Ohio State.

In mid-March 2023, Ohio State’s Surgical Oncology Service removed Sadie’s left anal sac and abdominal mass. 

The Riskos qualified to receive support through a grant received by the VMC from Petco Love and Blue Buffalo toward life-saving cancer treatments. 

“The support from Petco Love and Blue Buffalo was really the deciding factor in Sadie getting surgery. We did not have the means to pay for all the tests and surgery, but with their help we paid the difference, and she was able to get it all done,” said Ken. “If we did nothing, her life expectancy was two or so months. I can’t imagine what it would be like right now if we were not able to get her treated. Compared to how she is right now, a little loving ball of fire.”

The Riskos believe the generosity of Petco Love and Blue Buffalo played a critical role in helping to save Sadie’s life.

“The people at the Petco Love and Blue Buffalo should know that, at least in this case, they saved a dog’s life. We would not have been able to do all that was needed. They helped save a member of my family,” said Ken.  

Ken said he felt the care Sadie received at Ohio State was fantastic.

"Everyone was very nice and understood that this was a difficult time for us. The doctors and hospital staff treated us like family with the compassion they always showed Sadie. It seemed like they refused to give up on her too.” 



About The Petco & Blue Buffalo Grant

In May of 2016, the Petco Foundation and Blue Buffalo Foundation announced grant investments totaling $350,000 to support pet cancer research and treatment initiatives for Blue Buffalo Veterinary Clinical Trials at The Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine. The College of Veterinary Medicine is one of six top-ranked veterinary schools chosen to receive this three-year grant which will provide financial support for qualified clients/pet parents who would not otherwise be able to afford the cost of cancer treatment. Learn more about the grant