By Janet McAfee

The tiny grey teacup poodles scamper merrily across the vast greenery of the yard.  Tails wagging, heads bobbing to greet arriving humans, the dogs are a picture of canine joy.  They run seamlessly with the group of larger dogs, as if they were part of the pack forever.  No one would ever guess  the little female is 8 years old,  and that her matching gentleman friend Rudy is 11 years old.  No one would ever guess Coco came through breast cancer surgery with flying colors a month before.

Coco’s story can’t be told without Rudy, because these two have been together for Coco’s entire life.  They almost didn’t have a story. Their elderly owner died without a plan for their custody or care.  The woman’s distraught granddaughter was desperate for help, reporting that one of her grandmother’s sons was about to take them to the county shelter.  Sadly, dogs of this age, whatever breed and cuteness, rarely get adopted from shelters.

Loving All Animals agreed to accept custody of the dogs and find them a new home.  They arrived badly matted and dirty.  Oblivious to their appearance, they were happy and social, apparently well treated.  However, it soon became apparent they were seriously neglected in terms of their veterinary care.


A trip to Country Club Animal Clinic revealed both dogs had heart murmurs, bad teeth, and had never been spayed or neutered.  Rudy did well with his surgery.  But there was concern for Coco who had two large tumors that appeared to be breast cancer.  No one could guarantee 3 pound Coco could survive the surgery.

Our domestic pets are developing cancer at an alarming rate.  It is a subject for debate whether this increase is due to chemicals in pet food and other toxins, or whether better diagnostic tools bring more cases to light.  Today, specially trained veterinarians specialize in oncology offering treatments for domestic pets.

There was good news for Coco. She made it through her operation like a trooper, and within days this queen bee pup was again taking charge of the household.  Tiny but mighty, Coco herds the other dogs and takes charge with her body language.

Dr. Lillian Roberts at Country Club Animal Clinic reports, “Coco is a very lucky dog to have been taken in by Loving All Animals.  In addition to her tumor, she had to be spayed at an advanced age (always more complicated than in a young dog) and had several rotting teeth extracted. Now she feels great, and is a sweet little dog. If she’d been spayed as a pup, she never would have developed the tumor to begin with.”

Coco may be the tiniest cancer survivor in the Coachella Valley.  With an 8 inch scar running across her chest and belly, she carries on full of hope and with the optimism of a dog.  Coco’s alpha girl attitude and love of life are an inspiration.  She teaches us to hope alive in our own lives, whatever illness and obstacles we face, and remain thankful for our blessings and second chances.

Coco and Rudy would love to be adopted together.  Rudy cries when his beloved Coco leaves him for any time.  We were told they were purchased for breeding purposes, but never produced offspring.  Gentleman Rudy isn’t talking about their mating history, but they cuddle together, and check to make sure the other is okay.  Dogs their small size can live up to 18 years of age with good care, which puts them in the “middle age” range.

Contact Loving All Animals at (760) 834-7000.  Funds are needed to cover the dogs’ vet bills. Go to the DONATE button on Loving All Animals’ website,, and under “reason for donation” write COCO.  Or mail your tax deductable donation payable to Loving All Animals to 73550 Alessandro Drive, Palm Desert, CA, 92260.  Write in Coco’s name on your check, she thanks you for your kindness!