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Keeping Time with Zeevy

Zeevy, with her owner Sharon Davis
Zeevy, with her owner Sharon Davis. Photo by John Joyner/NC State Veterinary Medicine

Zeevy is an 11-year-old rescue dog described by her owner, Sharon Davis, as sweet, smart and empathetic. When asked about the origin of Zeevy’s name, Davis replies that she was named after the late quirky rock musician Warren Zevon.

Davis is a musician herself, a veteran of several rock bands, as well as being a talented painter, a microbiologist and a former competitive volleyball and softball player. She is also a survivor of traumatic brain injury, which has resulted in several concussions and PTSD. To say that she and Zeevy have a close relationship is an understatement.

Because of her condition, Davis is no longer able to work. With a biology degree from Wake Forest University, she had been a supervisor in a clinical laboratory. But these days she spends a lot of time at home with Zeevy. Their companionship is a critical part of helping Davis manage her confined circumstances at their home in Winston-Salem. “Zeevy has been a lifesaver for me.”

Zeevy was rescued from a roadside in Lexington, N.C., by a friend of Davis’. When she was found, her head was covered with what appeared to be dog bites. Davis believes that she had been used for organized dog fighting and because of her sweet, nonaggressive nature, her previous owner had simply given up on her and thrown her out. Fortunately, that gentle, lovable nature was a perfect match with Davis.

“I’ve had other pets, but there was an immediate connection with Zeevy,” Davis said. “A dog is like a child. There’s an emotional energy there.”

It was an emotional blow to Davis when her companion experienced a major seizure last March. Zeevy had shown no previous signs of illness. Davis immediately placed an urgent late-night call to her local veterinarian. The seizure passed, but Davis wanted to understand the cause.

“I don’t want to be without her,” she said.

Eventually, a neurologist diagnosed a meningioma, a tumor that forms on the membranes covering the brain and spinal cord. Zeevy’s tumor is malignant. Initial treatments offered little more than easing Zeevy’s pain. Davis was seeking a better quality of life and more time with Zeevy. They were referred to the NC State Veterinary Hospital.

Davis faced a dilemma. She was well aware of NC State’s reputation as a world-class educational, research and medical center, and she knew Zeevy would receive exceptional care. On the other hand, with minimal income as a result of her disability, she knew the travel and medical expenses would present a daunting challenge. Still, she was determined to do the best she could for Zeevy so the pair came to Raleigh in April.

There they met radiation oncology resident James Elliott. Davis said she and Zeevy had the most positive experience she had ever had with a veterinarian — and with a healthcare professional in general.

“The amount of preparation, time spent with us, and clear expertise of everyone made me feel Zeevy was being cared for by the best possible professionals, and they made me feel cared for as well,” said Davis. “What a compassionate team. I just can’t say enough.”

The recommended treatment was stereotactic radiation therapy, which uses highly targeted radiation to treat a tumor while minimizing damage to the surrounding tissue. Zeevy needed just two treatments. Now she faces the prospect of a longer and better-quality life.

But Davis was still unsure how to afford the SRT treatments. That’s when Elliott told her about the availability of assistance from the Petco Foundation and Blue Buffalo Cancer Treatment Fund.

“I wanted to hug him. I wanted to cry,” Davis said. “It was a blessing. Zeevy is so important to me. I have no family or close friends nearby. But she’s always there. She needs me and I need her.”

Through a grant to the NC State College of Veterinary Medicine, the Petco Foundation and Blue Buffalo Cancer Treatment Fund helps pet owners facing financial challenges defray the cost of treatment for their pets. These generous investments help pet parents focus on providing the best possible care for their pets rather than the cost of care.

Thanks to compassionate care from NC State clinicians and much-needed assistance from Petco Foundation and Blue Buffalo, Davis and Zeevy can once again expect for much more quality time together.

~Steve Volstad/NC State Veterinary Medicine