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More Time for Dexter

Dexter with owner Sean
Dexter with owner Sean New. Photo by John Joyner/NC State Veterinary Medicine

Sean New is a busy young man with a job that keeps him hopping, a fiance named Hira and a lively adopted Jack Russell terrier named Dexter. Dexter is the most recent addition to this happy family, but now that they’re together they’re inseparable.

When the News were living in Mebane, they talked about getting a dog, but they had different ideas about what they wanted. She preferred smaller dogs, and he wanted something big. So, as successful couples often do, they ended up compromising. The one thing that Sean New was certain about, though, was what he wanted to name their dog. And he is a big fan of the television show “Dexter.”

What happened next seemed almost predestined. It was about a week before Christmas and Sean New went to a local pet store in Burlington just to take a look around. Coincidentally, they were having a pet adoption event outside.  

“There were two dogs in crates, one large dog and one small dog,” says Sean New. “As I approached them, I saw the small Jack Russell terrier with a Post-it note on it reading, ‘Dexter 1 yr old.’  I never thought about a Jack Russell, but what I knew about them was that they were small dogs with big dog personalities.

“I took him for a short walk, loved him and adopted him that day.”

Merry Christmas, Hira.

Dexter fit in right away and he has been the couple’s constant companion and best friend during frequent work-related moves from Mebane to Greensboro, Asheville, Charlotte and, soon, Burlington.

In the midst of getting ready for the next move, Dexter began having nosebleeds. Soon he developed swelling behind his right eye. Dexter was referred to CARE Animal Hospital in Charlotte for a CT Scan. The scan revealed a tumor and a subsequent biopsy determined that it was cancerous. CARE provided Dexter with medication that largely resolved his acute symptoms. He was then referred to the NC State Veterinary Hospital.

Mike Nolan, assistant professor of radiation oncology and biology at the NC State College of Veterinary Medicine and head of the Veterinary Hospital’s radiation oncology service, found that Dexter had an advanced stage nasal tumor. With stereotactic radiation therapy, Nolan said, Dexter’s life expectancy can be improved and his quality of life maintained. Without it, the outlook was grim.

Photo by John Joyner/NC State Veterinary Medicine

Such treatment can be a burden on finances, however, which created a perfect opportunity for assistance from a generous grant from the Petco Foundation. The Petco Foundation is helping pets fight cancer by defraying the cost of treating rare cancers and helping medical professionals research innovative and effective therapies for conditions that are not often seen or treated. His tumor aside, Dexter is young (5 years old) and healthy, and the treatment is low-risk, leading Nolan to conclude that he would benefit significantly from therapy. And so, with welcome assistance from the Petco Foundation grant, Dexter is receiving a series of radiation treatments at NC State.

Sean New is grateful that things have worked out as they have. “NC State has been very kind and I have everything to thank them for,” he says. He adds that Dexter, “has been the one constant in our lives during these times. The one thing that makes him unique, and that everyone points out when they meet him, are his circles. He goes in circles whenever he starts getting excited. He only does them in a clockwise direction, too.  Other than that, he loves finding a ray of light from the sun shining through the windows and laying in that spot.  He loves getting the squeaker out of any new toy and he loves affection most of all.”

Thanks to Dexter’s access to advanced treatment at NC State made possible by the Petco Foundation, Dexter will have more time to run as many clockwise circles as he wants.

~Steve Volstad/NC State Veterinary Medicine