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Published: Wednesday, 7/19/2006

Strangers open hearts, wallets for ailing dog

BY JANET ROMAKER
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Carol Parcell holds Ruby, a 4-month-old minature dachshund. Carol Parcell holds Ruby, a 4-month-old minature dachshund.
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To save the life of a little jewel named Ruby, a Sylvania woman has been selling some treasures.

Clothing, designer handbags, and vintage jewelry brought in some cash for Carol Parcell, but pictures of her pooch really connected with customers, including some who wanted "autographed" copies.

"One lady bought a dozen of them," said Mrs. Parcell as she cradled Ruby, a 4-month-old miniature dachshund, in her arms.

A few weeks ago, Mrs. Parcell and her husband Bruce learned that their puppy was born with a birth defect and that without heart surgery, Ruby likely would die within six months.

"She had a very bad heart murmur," said Mrs. Parcell. Surgery could cost more than $2,500, she was told.

"My husband's reaction at first was, 'Let's not get too attached to her,'●" Mrs. Parcell recalled. But Ruby stole his heart and the couple quickly decided to do whatever they could to save Ruby.

After checking out various locations, Mrs. Parcell selected Ohio State University where the surgery would be performed. In between making plans for the operation, she put various items, including Ruby's photographs, up for auction on eBay. She included a message from herself as well as from the dachshund. Dog lovers were soon offering donations and words of encouragement.

Members of a dachshund online support group promoted Mrs. Parcell's fund-raising efforts for Ruby's heart surgery. Mrs. Parcell, director of information technology for Josina Lott Residential & Community Services, belongs to five online groups devoted to dachshunds.

An Illinois resident contacted Ruby's vet, Dr. Gary Thompson, at the West Suburban Animal Clinic on Sylvania Avenue, to confirm the dog tale, and after being reassured that Ruby needed help, the caller decided to send a donation.

During Ruby's recuperation period, the dog likely will have some spare time to autograph photos with a paw print. So far, auction items, including photos of the chocolate and tan, long-haired dachshund, have brought in about $320.

"People sell all kinds of goofy things on eBay, and this is for a good cause," she said, explaining her reasoning behind the photographs. In June during a 120-mile-long barn-yard-garage sale in Ohio, Michigan, and Indiana, she filled her van with items to sell online to pay Ruby's bills.

When Mrs. Parcell returned last week from Columbus after Ruby's surgery, the dog was isolated in a small carrier. The Parcells' four other dogs welcomed Ruby home and surrounded the cage as though they were protecting her. "They circled her, like wagon trains," she said. "It was so touching."

Now that her heart has been repaired, Ruby could live for 15 to 18 years, said Dr. Thompson, who will remove the stitches.

"Without surgery, Ruby wouldn't have made it to a year," he said, adding that Mrs. Parcell should be commended for the lengths she has gone to for little Ruby. In situations like Ruby's, if it's feasible to perform surgery, "it is a terrific thing," he said.

Little Ruby, born on St. Patrick's Day, is one lucky puppy.



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