Saturday, June 25, 2011

Zen & Freya: Waging War Against Canine Cancer and Their Story About How Sometimes Asking for Help Brings Help to Others

Sibe Sisters and cancer patients Zen and Freya
"Dare to reach out your hand into the darkness, to pull another hand into the light." ~Norman B. Rice

We read a lot of wonderful stories about our love for animals, their daily antics, how much joy they bring into our lives, tips on how to keep them healthy and live longer lives, the jobs they do such as search and rescue, therapy, police work, bomb sniffing, and assisting the blind. Through these amazing animals, we also get a glimpse into the lives of the wonderful, caring folks who are their handlers, and those who run rescues and help animals in need. Then sometimes we come across stories of "pawing it forward," where the humans can actually use a little help while they are helping pets in need. And sometimes, by reaching out to ask help from others, something wonderful happens...we just may wind up helping others along the way. Such is the story of Zen and Freya. 

The pet blogging network is an amazing worldwide community. Through contacts and communication, good animal care has become viral, joining us all together into a brotherhood of animal rights defenders. It really is amazing that with one keystroke, we are put in touch with a community of colleagues with whom we can share our trials and tribulations with and call upon for support and advice. 

Through social media, such as the Help Save Zen Facebook page, Twitter, and Husky Tales blog, I like many of you, have met sister Siberian Huskies Zen and Freya. They hail from Ontario, Canada. Sadly, their Hu-family has been hit with bad news – not once, but twice – both Zen and Freya have been diagnosed with cancer. Zen, sadly, is terminal, although she is beautiful and courageous, and a true fighter who has already lived longer than first anticipated, it is uncertain when she will earn her angel wings. Having gone through several surgeries, including one for a removal of an anal carcinoma, she still manages a beautiful Husky smile, giving all who gaze upon her photos some degree of hope that she will beat the odds, face cancer down and win. Freya, who is also beautiful and bravely fighting cancer, recently had her own battles to fight when she had tumors removed from her side and elbow. Even in the face of her own fight, since Zen was diagnosed as being terminal, Freya – in that sixth canine sense of way – sensing Zen will not be with her forever, chooses to never leave her sister’s side.
Freya after surgery

Initially, their Hu-Mom Jackie says turning to the social media wasn't an option. “My husband is a very proud and private person. Although he was aware of my raffles to raise money for Zen and Freya, it was not something he was comfortable being publicly part of.”

Jackie's "Wear Pink for my Poochies" Design
However, through the social media and networking with other pet parents, Jackie has become very involved in trying to help her own Zen and Freya, as well as other families with pets in need. In addition to a “Chip-in” widget for open donations, Jackie has embarked upon other means of helping to defray their vet bills to cover the treatments both dogs need to survive and are receiving. It is commendable that in the eye of uncertainty, and with the help of others—some strangers—they still manage to give their Sibes the best medical care they can. It is no easy task asking for help...but their story doesn’t just end with them asking for help to defray the costs for her Huskies’ veterinarian care. Jackie, in light of the fight she is waging for her Huskies’ health and lives, has also picked up the sled reigns to help other animals in need as well. That’s what makes the story of Zen & Freya so special – while they are fighting their own life battle with the big “C,” their name has also become synonymous with helping others. Jackie has organized fund-raising auctions, raffles, calendar of her Huskies sales, photo contests, and even designs her own jewelry creations to sell to raise much needed money, not just for Zen and Freya…but for other dogs in similar situations.

The bond of sisters who are best friends
I decided to give back because there are so many other people out there just like me and I knew after my first successful raffle I could in turn give back to the community that was so incredibly generous, and help others too,” explains Jackie. “I remember so clearly what it feels like to have to choose between paying your mortgage or helping your sick pet. It is awful. And I thought even if I can help just one person at a time it could change someone's life for the better. There is nothing worse then having to decide, ‘Do I put my dog to sleep because I don't have the money to make her better?’”

Pupster Coal checks in on Zen and Freya
A new addition has recently bounded into their household in the shape of an adorable black and white Husky named Coal. Now, before you ask why they would get a third Husky when they have such high vet bills for the other two, their reason for adding a new pup to the family was simple: Freya. With the bond between Freya and Zen so strong, Jackie was concerned about how Freya would react when Zen’s time arrived to cross the Rainbow Bridge. “I worried that when Zen's time came to leave us that Freya would soon follow her, unable to live without her sister,” says Jackie. “We needed to act quickly. Introducing Coal now, would be a way to allow Freya to bond with a new sibling and help the transition of losing her sister easier. This is our hope. Thankfully Zen is still with us and Freya has accepted young Coal. We know now that when Zen leaves us, that with the love of her brother, Mommy and Daddy she will be able to get through it.”

Having puppy Coal enter their lives has spread so much joy, she says. “He has been an absolute delight. He brings us lots of laughs and joy into our lives. He is in no way replacing our Zen for each of our furkids hold their own special place in our hearts. There will be no other quite like her. Coal reminds me constantly how much love I have to give and to take delight in the simple things in life, like just playing and having fun.”
And what after their vet bills are paid? “Our goal is to be in a much favorable position financially. To have most of what we owe paid, and have less stress worrying about whether or not we can feed the dogs, or medically care for them. And of course it would be nice if we could afford to eat more then hot dogs and cereal! Once this goal is met, my goal is to be 100% focused on raffles and auctions to continue helping others just like us,” she pledges, adding, “And, of course bringing happiness and endless smiles to those who visit us on Facebook with our silly stories and funny pictures.”

And precisely that—helping others and offering up smiles to any and all—will be Zen’s everlasting legacy.


 All photos reprinted with permission of owner.

Reminder: The deadline for our FiveSibes' "Patriotic Pets" Photo Contest is midnight tonight!


  1. Wow. Another wonderful post sharing a story that inspires. I had not heard of Freya and Zen, but so glad I did. Jackie sounds like a special lady. After reading Tails and Tales' story about "The Greatest Dog in the World" it's easy to see how a dog and/or a dog's circumstance (in this case two dogs) can chance someone's life.

    I wonder if Jackie would have done what she's done to help her dogs and other's dogs if not for this sad circumstance. Or, that you would have been moved to write such a wonderful post of not for their story. Sometimes dogs teach more about ourselves than we teach them. I think there are many messages here for all of us - have hope, keep the faith, persevere, love one another, care for one another and to share in the pain and the joy. Great post. So glad I stopped by on the Blogger Hop this Saturday.

  2. Canine cancer is such an important cause to draw attention to. Puppy Zen will help the situation, I hope. They all sure are sweet.

  3. I'm so glad you posted about Zen and Freya! Mommy made a donation a few weeks ago, and Nala and I keep sending as many doggie prayers as we can.

    Woofs & hugs,

    ~Bailey (Yep, I'm a girl!)

  4. What a beautiful post. I understand completely about bringing little Coal into the family. Mango was so devastated after Raja died that I would not move at all. I thought he was ill. PeeWee really perked him up.

    Mango Momma

  5. Thanks for sharing such stories with us :)
    We came over from pet blog hop and hope to be friend with u all :)

    Autumn & Jasmine

  6. I hear so many stories of canine cancer. It's such a shame. I think the addition of the puppy is an excellent idea. Unfortunately, we cannot hide from the inevitable, and focusing on the love of a pup can really help mend hearts during difficult times. It will be good for everyone.

  7. Coal's arrival is very similar to why Thunder made his appearance here. We know Zen and Freya too and we keep them in our thoughts and prayers. Cancer is just pure evil. Paws crossed for Zen, Freya, and all the others who suffer from this insidious disease.

    Woos ~ Phantom, Thunder, and Ciara

  8. That's a beautiful post. I have not read of Zen and Freya before this. Their hoomans are doing a wonderful thing for them and for others in need.

    Togo, Tagar & Gamby's Mommy

  9. We too know this amazing family through social networking. Thank you for spreading their story. We pray that there is healing and peace and positivity in their lives as they fight for themselves and others.