Helen Poon, left, and Rhonda Maczulat, right, combined to donate $1,000 to Jessi Howden’s fundraiser for his emotional support dog Zeus’s surgery. SUSAN QUINN PHOTO

Friends rally for Port Alberni dog owner

Jessi Howden hopes four-legged buddy Zeus will be able to hike after surgery

Jessi Howden and his pit bull buddy, Zeus, are proof positive that dog is man’s best friend. Howden and Zeus have been inseparable for five years, but that relationship has been tested over the past two years by injury and veterinarians’ proposals for expensive surgery.

Howden, 29 and originally from Port Alberni, acquired Zeus when he was five weeks old. “He’s Jessi’s world,” says family friend Rhonda Maczulat.

Although Zeus is not registered as a therapy dog, he has helped Howden battle depression. “When I lived in Kelowna, I was super depressed,” said Howden. He has a doctor’s note stating that owning and caring for Zeus is good for Howden’s health.

Howden moved back to Port Alberni three years ago and was finally able to find a job. Until a couple of years ago, he and Zeus would go hiking and camping in their spare time.

“We used to be avid hikers,” Howden said. “We would hike into the bush and set up camp, then continue on. I noticed when we hiked up to Lacy Lake he was limping.”

Then Zeus had to have surgery on his rear right knee. He hasn’t been the same since, and the long hikes had to be shortened to accommodate the dog’s health.

This past year, Zeus could barely walk at all. His health deteriorated to the point Howden thought he was going to have to have him euthanized.

Zeus needs tibial-plateau-leveling osteotomy (TPLO) surgery to re-construct the same knee.

The surgery is similar to that of anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) surgery in humans. It’s common with American pitbull terriers, expensive, and Zeus will have to have some recovery time.

Howden received quotes from three or four different veterinarians, ranging from about $2,000 to $5,000 for the surgery that Zeus requires. Zeus was taking veterinarian-prescribed Tramadol to manage the pain, as well as treatment such as acupuncture and laser therapy to manage the pain.

Howden’s community of friends and acquaintances has gathered around him, helping him come up with funds so he can afford to pay for Zeus’s surgery. Maczulat, who owns the home business Baker’s Dozen Catering, held a bake sale at Christmastime, and Kingsway Pub and Hotel owner Helen Poon agreed to match any funds that Maczulat raised.

“I baked and baked and baked, until I couldn’t bake anymore,” Maczulat said.

When the flour settled and all the Christmas treats were baked and distributed, Maczulat had raised $500 and Poon added another $500.

Cheryl Courtnall, a medium and friend of Maczulat’s, held a “medium night” and raised proceeds to put toward Zeus’s surgical costs.

A raffle has been set up to help Howden raise money for Zeus’s surgery. Some of the raffle prizes include $100 in gift gards from the Cypress Room at Chances RimRock, a Humboldt Broncos hockey jersey donated by a friend’s son who played with the team, and a signed Team Kazakhstan jersey from the 2019 World Junior Hockey Championships in January.

Tickets are $5 each or five for $20 and are available at Cloud City Apparel, 3042 Third Ave. in Port Alberni. The draw will be made on Sunday, April 7.

A friend also started a gofundme account for Howden and Zeus at www.gofundme.com/quality-of-life-for-zeus.

Zeus underwent surgery on Monday, April 1 at RAPS Animal Hospital in Richmond, B.C. Howden reported that surgery was “going well” as the Alberni Valley News went to press with its print edition.

Howden reported Tuesday afternoon that Zeus’s surgery went well. “We came home last night; he did awesome on the way home,” he said.

The veterinarian has sent away bone samples from Zeus’s leg to test for cancer.



susie.quinn@albernivalleynews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Jessi Howden combats depression with his four-legged companion, Zeus. The pair love to hike, but Zeus needs expensive surgery to fix a bum knee. SUSAN QUINN PHOTO

Just Posted

Qualicum Beach roundabout project would cost nearly $2M

Town to apply for funds to cover $1.79M of the total

Town of Qualicum Beach defers discussions with preservation society regarding wetlands

CAO says registered covenant will protect land in perpetuity

Qualicum Beach seek funds for $4.5M community field project

Turf surface would allow for new sporting activities

Parksville homeowner must clean up property or face penalties

If deadline not met, city crews will do the job and a bill will be sent out

Record-breaking 165 new COVID-19 cases diagnosed in B.C. in 24-hour period

Fifty-seven people are in hospital battling the novel coronavirus

B.C.’s COVID-19 economic recovery plan: Top 5 things you need to know

Jobs training, tax incentives for employers to hire staff and more

B.C. releases details of $1.5B economic recovery plan, $660M in business tax incentives

Economic plan includes support for employers, as well as training for workers

Long-term care need pressuring acute care in Comox Valley, Strathcona

Region could use a couple of large facilities for seniors on the north part of the Island

March to protect old growth, stop industrial logging coming to B.C. Legislature

Organizers say they want to give frontline communities a bigger say in nearby logging

‘Not criminally responsible’ hearing slated for man convicted of Abbotsford school stabbing

Gabriel Klein was found guilty in March of killing Letisha Reimer, 13, in 2016

Most Read