By now you realize that I am a dog lover. Nearly all of my friends are as well. But this little story is a bit different than most dog stories.
Some folks around Cody got a little yellow Lab puppy. Turned out the puppy had a congenital liver disorder. Repairing it would cost big bucks—like five-figure big bucks. They took the pup to Dr. Dave Pendray in Cody to have her put down. Dave refused to do it and decided to save the pup on his own. The owners agreed to surrender the pup provided that she be spayed. Dave is one of the top dog surgeons in the country—perhaps the world.
Most of you know that I hang around with a crusty old fart by the name of Jim Zumbo. Jim is a hardened old coot who loves to hunt maybe even more than I do, if that’s possible. Like me, he’s also made a living out of it and is one of the top hunting writers. His charming wife, Madonna, works at Dave’s clinic. She offered to provide the pup with a foster home through the surgery. Jim and Madonna already have two black Labs.

Dr. Dave Pendray and the surgical staff prep Chancey for surgery to repair her liver.

Dr. Dave Pendray and the surgical staff prep Chancey for surgery to repair her liver.

The surgery went well, but soon it became obvious that the shunt Dave installed in the pup’s liver was too small. What’s worse, he did not have the proper equipment at his clinic to install a larger one. Dave went to UC Davis for his veterinary training and still maintains contact with one of his professors who is now retired. He asked Jim and Madonna if they would drive to California with the pup, now named Chancey, and Dave would fly there to perform the surgery with a team of the some of the best veterinary surgical assistants in the world. Chancey could not stand the stress of flying. Jim and Madonna, of course, agreed immediately.
So a little more than a week ago they set out for California. When they got there, Jim texted me, sputtering and cussing, that he was ready to turn around and come back. California traffic and congestion doesn’t agree with him either. Nonetheless he hung in there. Chancey’s surgery took 5 ½ hours to complete and was one of the toughest and most complicated surgeries of that type these vets had ever done. It was so tough, they had to crack her sternum to get to some of the parts she needed fixed. While they were in her they also removed a plastic bottle cap she had swallowed from her stomach. Chancey had some post-op complications, so her departure was delayed a couple of days.
Jim, Madonna and Chancey made it home last Friday. Chancey is still recovering and dealing with some complications, but the prognosis is good. For such a young pup, Chancey has had a lot to go through. And by the way, Chancey’s residential status changed from foster to forever.

Dr. Dave Pendray Chancey, Madonna and Jim Zumbo  in California just before Dave operated on the dog.

Dr. Dave Pendray Chancey, Madonna and Jim Zumbo in California just before Dave operated on the dog.

How many of you would take in a foster pup, then suddenly drop what you are doing and put your life and business on hold and drive that pup some 2,200 miles round trip at your expense just to get it operated upon? How many of you would suspend your profitable clinic and make the flight and arrange and perform a complicated surgery on a pup with maybe a 50-50 chance that the pup will survive it and live a normal life? Dave Pendray and Jim and Madonna Zumbo showed incredible class. By the way, Dave is a dedicated hunter as well.
So the next time you hear some whacko scoff about how heartless and sadistic hunters are, tell them this story.

Dave Campbell
Dave Campbell began his hunting career with a spear off the southern California coast in the late 1960s. It did not take long for him to graduate to the gun on land. Campbell is the founding editor in chief of the NRA’s tremendously successful Shooting Illustrated magazine. In 2006 he also edited the iconic book of terminal ballistics, Rifle Bullets for the Hunter—A Definitive Study. He returned to his beloved Wyoming in 2007 as a freelance writer, though he usually refers to himself now as a “recovering editor.”
  1. Peter Caroline Reply

    For us dog (and cat) people, our four-legged friends aren’t just pets, they’re family. And you do for family what you’d want done for yourself.

  2. Brad Woodward Reply

    Again, just excellent…A needed portrayal of the willing, selfless sacrifices many in the hunting community make for the good of others.

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