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The Ruff Report: News about dogs and heroics

'Total strangers' help save Gordon Setter's life

When Bob Bertram watches Coal romp around, he finds it hard to believe that only weeks ago his 6-year-old Gordon Setter was near death with a collapsed lung.

But because of the goodwill of Gordon Setter owners across the nation - many that Bertram, who resides in St. Louis, never has even met - Coal's puppy-like play in the backyard is nothing short of a miracle.

As word got out about Coal's plight - and the enormous medical expense it would cost for life-saving surgery - Gordon Setter owners across the country came to the rescue, helping to raise money.

"The thing that surprised me the most was the way people whom I have never met rallied and did what they could to help a dog in need," Bertram, a painter who owns an art gallery, told Love of Dogs. "The clients of mine whom I knew, their support was a blessing. But I know these folks and it was not as shocking to me as when total strangers sent in checks for $5, $10, $20 and as much as $200 from an anonymous donor, to help a dog they didn't know. ... It was all overwhelming."

Coal took ill on Christmas Eve and was rushed to an emergency clinic, where he was diagnosed with a collapsed lung. But as quickly as veterinarians could remove the air from his lung, it would refill - an indication of a tear.

Coal would need life-saving surgery, and the cash-strapped Bertram, who has children in college, had no idea how he would pay for the huge veterinary bill.

That is when people like and Peggy DaValt of Columbus, Wisconsin, and Jim MacWalter of Pembroke, Massachusetts sprung into action. DaValt, who operates Amethyst Gordon Setters where Coal was bred, sent out a Christmas plea for help to friends, and MacWalter forwarded that request to the online Gordon Setter community.

The response was nothing short of a "amazing," Bertram said. "I don't know why it all happened like it did. Some of the folks may have been moved by the Christmas or holiday spirit, how can you explain it? I don't know."

Bertram says the money that was raised, which paid for about one-third of the veterinary bills, was enough of a downpayment for Coal to have the life-saving surgery. "I wept tears of joy several times as the events unfolded over a few days. Coal was in trouble and miracle after miracle happened to keep him alive," he said. "It was the best Christmas I have ever had."

And now Coal has a chance at a long, happy life.

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