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Archive for Friday, December 3, 2004

Miracle cancer dog rings bell for charity

December 3, 2004

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— The Salvation Army's 20,000 shiny red kettles are no unusual sight on a crisp December day, and neither are their trademark bell-ringers.

But one volunteer is distinguished by a fact no other kettle-manning helper can claim. She's a dog.

Providence, a 6-year-old German wire-haired pointer, is in her third season as a Salvation Army volunteer.

She's able to do all the things her colleagues do. Providence rings a bell with her mouth and has also learned to take donations and put them in the kettle.

"This is not a drooly-mouth dog," said her owner, Penny Shaffer, of Olathe.

For a while, however, it looked as though the dog's charity work would end.

In April, a tumor was discovered on the roof of her mouth. It was removed, but another one appeared 12 days later.

"They gave her zip chances," Shaffer said.

Surgery removed Providence's second tumor, three teeth and part of her upper jaw. The dog's mouth was reconstructed, but Providence had to be on a feeding tube for more than a month while she healed.

Six-year-old German wire-haired pointer, Providence, kisses her
owner, Penny Shaffer, at Heritage Park in Olathe. The dog survived
mouth cancer and a series of surgeries during the past week and
will return to ringing the bell for Salvation Army this holiday
season. She has rung the bell for the past four years.

Six-year-old German wire-haired pointer, Providence, kisses her owner, Penny Shaffer, at Heritage Park in Olathe. The dog survived mouth cancer and a series of surgeries during the past week and will return to ringing the bell for Salvation Army this holiday season. She has rung the bell for the past four years.

She went through 18 radiation treatments, but they appear to have been successful. There's been no recurrence of cancer.

And on Thursday, Providence returns to her bell-ringing post.

Theresa Whitfield, a spokeswoman for the Salvation Army, confirmed that Providence is the organization's only nonhuman bell ringer.

Shaffer said she was not sure how much her dog had collected for the agency. One resident of a retirement community handed Providence a $100 check in her first year.

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