Dogs are incredible characters. Almost without exception, they have this amazingly upbeat spirit that lights up any room, brings smiles to our faces, and can turn our whole lives around. Even some of those that suffer the most horrific abuse and neglect come out of it ready to forgive with little hesitation. Dogs are pure love. And when given love, they can accomplish big, big things.
Kardi is one such dog who has taken the love she is given and made miracles happen with it. Her life had a sad start, but her story really began when she met Kelsey. That was the moment Kardi experienced real love for the first time and her life completely changed. Dog mom Kelsey R. tells iHeartDogs:
“Kardi came into my life on 10/11/2012. I rescued her from a breeder who no longer had use for her and had spayed her at 2 years old. She had spent the majority of her first 2 years of life in a cage.
“Kardi was very fearful and shy at first but quickly warmed up to her new life. She went everywhere with me and since I was a college student at the time, she made many new friends. Kardi is a typical ‘clown’ French bulldog. She loves to make people smile and has the silliest personality. She absolutely LOVES toys and is rarely seen without one in her mouth.
“When she’s not playing with her toys, she loves napping. She’s also extremely attached to me (her mom) so wherever I am you can bet she’s right there. She’s often referred to as my shadow and very much a mommas girl.”
During college, a friend’s brother passed unexpectedly, and he was really suffering from the sudden loss. Kardi understood that he needed support, and was there for him in a very tough time.
“Kardi would sit with him for hours and bring him toys to try and brighten his day. She knew he was going through a tough time and was a natural at being a therapy dog.”
Kelsey saw that Kardi had the natural disposition for therapy work, and in 2015, the two became a registered therapy team.
“She loves people of all ages but her specialty was the Alzheimer’s patients. Kardi would always nudge their hands to remind them to keep petting her. She brought so many smiles to people in nursing homes, rehabilitation centers, hospitals, classrooms, and summer camps.”
But that year brought some hardship Kelsey and Kardi’s way, too.
“Kardi became paralyzed in 2015 at the age of 4 due to intervertebral disc disease (IVDD). It is a disease that prematurely ages and hardens the discs of the spine causing them to rupture into the spinal column. Kardi had a couple discs rupture in her lumbar spine and was unfortunately not a surgical candidate due to other medical issues. Kardi never regained the use of her hind legs and was permanently urinary and bowel incontinent.
Even without the use of her legs and the loss of bowel control, Kelsey says that Kardi remained happy and upbeat.
“Kardi was so strong through all of it and never once felt bad for herself. Each day she became stronger and happier. Kardi learned how to pull herself around on her front legs and can actually run faster than I can walk. A couple months after becoming paralyzed, a secret fund was put together at the vet clinic that my sister and I worked at and a pink Walkin’ Wheels wheelchair was given to Kardi.
“Kardi was strapped into the wheelchair and literally took off running and has not stopped running since. She prefers to scoot around the house and use her wheelchair for outdoor activities. Kardi has learned to go down a couple steps in her wheelchair, how to lay down in it, how to turn wide corners to avoid hitting things, and how to backup.”
Kardi is a speed machine in her wheelchair, and she has since become something of a celebrity! She has been a calendar girl multiple times for Walkin’ Pets, and in 2019 won a Halloween costume contest as a Budweiser Clydesdale. Another year, she was pulling a cart with her sister, Bonnie Rose sitting in a matching costume!
Though Kardi adapted to her new situation and set of wheels, there was more bad news to come.
“Kardi has unfortunately had many hereditary health issues over the years due to poor breeding. We learned that Kardi has transitional cell carcinoma (TCC/bladder cancer) via ultrasound in March 2020. She had a UTI and blood in her urine that wasn’t responding to antibiotics so an ultrasound was done that confirmed bladder cancer.
“Many treatment options were discussed with Kardi’s internal medicine specialist but none were a great choice due to Kardi’s other medications that would adversely interact with them.”
“Kardi was given 3-6 months to live and this absolutely crushed me. I got engaged in September 2020 and our wedding date was set for 2/21/2021. My dream has always been to have Kardi be in my wedding. Kardi has literally been with me through everything and I couldn’t imagine not having her there for the happiest day of my life.
The diagnosis was difficult, but after everything they had been through together in eight years, Kelsey wasn’t going to let Kardi fight alone. She was going to give Kardi her best chance and as long and happy a life as she could.
“Kardi’s strength through everything she has been thrown in life is just astounding. Kardi has never once felt bad for herself. She literally gets up every day with a smile on her face and conquers the day in true Kardi fashion.
“She has taught me so many life lessons along the way and I am truly honored to be her mom. She and I really lean on each other through our bad days and help keep the other motivated. To say we are a team would be an understatement. Kardi is my soul dog and we have a connection/bond that is like nothing I’ve ever experienced. We just get each other.”
“Kardi had many ups and downs since her diagnosis and it was unclear if she would make it to February. Kardi has been with me through everything; the good, the bad, and the ugly. It was never a question in my mind that she wouldn’t be next to me in my wedding. My husband loves her as much as I do and also wanted her to be present in our wedding.”
Together, Kardi and Kelsey turned out to be tougher and more resilient team than the specialist expected. Kardi was only expected to make it to the summer of 2020, but the following February – almost 1 year after being told she’d only have 3 – 6 months to live – she got to see her human get married. Not only was she present at the wedding, according to Kelsey, she “stole the show”!
“I chose to incorporate Kardi into my bridal pictures and our photographer captured so many special moments between me and my girl. Kardi and her sister Bonnie Rose, a special needs Boston Terrier, were flower girls and were wheeled down the aisle in a flower decorated wagon. Kardi then followed my husband and I out to our vehicle in our sparkler send off in her wheelchair, pulling cans behind her with a sign that said ‘just married’.
“It was such a special day and I’m so glad she was such a huge part of it. Kardi is now 16 months post diagnosis and doing amazing.”
Our dogs are incredible creatures. Kardi has shown time and time again that we should never underestimate dogs. She started her life unknown, unloved, confined to a cage, and used as a tool. Nobody gave her a thought until Kelsey saw her. With the support of someone who truly loves her, Kardi has overcome so many things that would bring a human down. She has defied expectations and now has an incredible story, adoring fans, and a family that loves her more than anything. She lives a life too big for a little cage.
“Our two dogs are our children and literally do everything with us. This is partially because of their special needs but we wouldn’t have it any other way. They even accompanied us on our honeymoon. We have a soft spot in out hearts for the specially-abled dogs.”
UPDATE, March 2022:
When Kardi stood by her human’s side on her wedding day, she was already more than a miracle, surviving much longer than she was expected to after a terrible diagnosis.
Today, Kelsey reached out to iHeartDogs to let us know that Kardi had crossed the Rainbow Bridge – nearly two years after being told she would only have 3 – 6 months to live. With the love and support of her family and friends, Kardi fought hard and lived a life that will continue to inspire and uplift dog lovers for a long time to come. Kelsey posted to Facebook to let the people who loved and supported Kardi know that she had said goodbye.
“Today our precious Kardi girl gained her angel wings. To say we’re devastated would be an understatement. She took a big piece of our hearts with her. Kardi has been with me through absolutely everything from the good, the bad, and the ugly. Kardi didn’t know a stranger and touched so many lives throughout the years. Kardi was my soul dog and a once in a lifetime best friend. People tell me all the time that I saved her but in the end Kardi was the one that saved me and got me through tough times. I am so lucky that God chose me to be her mom, what an absolute honor it has been. We cherished our last days with her by taking pictures, playing with all her old toys, eating cheeseburgers, steak, a puppuccino, and ice cream. Fly high baby girl, until we meet again. We love you so much. “
Featured Images: Kartin Kardi/Facebook