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Beloved Golden Develops Rare Condition

By Christy True
published: February 9, 2024 • 3 min. read
Jenny, a Golden Retriever

Diagnosis: Myasthenia Gravis/pneumonia
Cost: $16,037 | Healthy Paws reimbursed: $12,299
Coverage options: 80% reimbursement | $250 deductible

Jenny was a nine-year-old Golden Retriever who was often referred to as”the happiest dog ever,” said Greg, her pet parent.

She brought joy to everyone she met and would have made an excellent therapy dog, except she was more interested in leisure and lounging, Greg said.  He said the two of them had the closest bond he had ever experienced with a pet, and he felt like talking to her was like chatting with a person because she was so smart and seemed to understand him.

Jenny, a Golden Retriever

“There was something about Jenny that I can’t quite explain; it’s like when people met her or even just saw her pictures, it’s like they knew she was a big deal. Everyone just gravitated toward her,” he said. “She ignored other dogs because she knew people could give her what she truly wanted: food and attention, but not always in that order.”

Her favorite activities included going to the local pet store, visiting her superfans around town, naps, enjoying her gifted sense of smell, and sitting on our bench at the park where people would regularly come over to greet her, he wrote.

Emergency surgery for a rare condition

In October 2022, Jenny’s hind legs stopped functioning over the course of two days, and she couldn’t walk at all. Her local vet ran several tests but couldn’t figure out the problem, so referred them to the veterinary specialty hospital.

They ran more tests and finally diagnosed her with myasthenia gravis, an autoimmune disease that is extremely rare in dogs. The condition reduces the muscles’ ability to process signals from the nervous system that would normally tell them how to move and function, according to the Cornell Canine Health Center.  

One of the causes for the disease is a chest tumor, which was the case with Jenny. Treatment includes surgery to remove the tumor from the chest cavity and medication. If successful, the surgery could allow Jenny to regain her ability to walk and give her another two to three years. Medication would keep her symptoms in check for the rest of her days.

Jenny, a Golden Retriever

Unfortunately, during surgery, Jenny threw up and contracted aspiration pneumonia (infection of the lungs), a common side effect of the condition. The infection was hard on her already exhausted body, but she fought it for two full days in the emergency hospital, Greg said. Ultimately, she didn’t survive the pneumonia.

“She had such a will to live and fought hard to come home. Despite our best efforts, the call came in that she had stopped breathing, and it was time to make the decision,” Greg said. “Throughout her ordeal, Jenny remained true to her personality and was fearless about what was happening. In our last moment together, she sat next to me like she always did. This tired, exhausted, and very sick Golden Retriever found the strength to sit by my side one more time. That’s a moment that I will never forget. Ever.” 

While Greg still feels Jenny’s presence every day, he has since brought home another wonderful Golden named Jodie, who happens to be Jenny’s niece. She is also insured with Healthy Paws.

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How pet insurance helped

Jenny, a Golden Retriever

The final bill from the specialty hospital was more than $16,000 for overnight care, diagnostics, specialist fees, and open chest surgery.

“While losing Jenny was heartbreaking, I use this as a preeminent example of why everyone should invest in pet insurance,” Greg said. “When people ask me about pet insurance, all I have to do is say that number: $16,000.”

Greg had previously owned a Golden who had been diagnosed with hemangiosarcoma. He racked up a $10,000 bill and learned about pet insurance during her treatment. He signed Jenny up when she was a puppy.

“For me, it’s about peace of mind and being prepared. Emergency veterinary care is prohibitively expensive, so knowing that there is a safety net in place for exorbitant costs is very comforting. I’m thrilled to have Healthy Paws in our corner as they have always been kind, supportive, and accommodating,” he said.

The claim scenarios described here are intended to show the types of situations that may result in claims. These scenarios should not be compared to any other claim. Whether or to what extent a particular loss is covered depends on the facts and circumstances of the loss, the terms and conditions of the policy as issued, and applicable law.

Insured persons providing testimonials in this report have not received compensation for their statements.

Christy True and Tomas
By Christy True

Christy has been writing about pets for Healthy Paws for 28 dog years. She also coordinates media requests and manages the Healthy Paws Foundation. A background in journalism may be why she enjoys writing about offbeat animal studies and the latest viral pet trends. She has been owned by several dogs, and she volunteers with a local dog rescue. Outside of work, she can usually be found sliding down a mountain near her home in Bend, Ore.

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