Foster Puppy Brings Warmth and Compassion to Family Facing Cancer

When pet mom Kelly went through chemo, Maisy was there to encourage her, give puppy snuggles, and lick away her tears.

Kelly + Maisy Moo

Kelly and her family had been fostering puppies for some time when they fell in love with Maisy, a scared, shy foster pup who was slowly making their house her home. When Kelly learned that she needed treatment for cancer, she was uncertain about keeping a puppy—but she listened to her heart, and Maisy has been by her side ever since.

"Our first reaction was, ‘Who in their right mind would keep a puppy when about to start chemo?!’ But we were also falling in love with her. Maisy is a snuggle bug and we were finding we needed more snuggles."

A few years ago, our family started fostering puppies for Underdog Animal Rescue. Within a month we’d already had six fosters! I told Underdog that we needed a break because we had a trip coming up. But fate intervened and Underdog reached out one more time anyway, not expecting us to agree. (They even said, “No, really?” when I said yes.) But we saw this puppy’s picture and just couldn’t say no. Plus we figured the others got adopted so quickly, it would work out in time.


Poor Maisy Moo was found alone and scared on the streets of Vallejo. She was clearly very traumatized. She would not step off a rug, couldn’t cross a threshold, only slinked around the edge of the room and had to be carried in and outside. With love and attention, she was slowly becoming more comfortable.

In the meantime, I had a biopsy not long after Maisy Moo’s arrival and was waiting for results. Then the kids gave us “the letter” asking us to keep Maisy and making all kinds of promises. Although they knew I had a test, they didn’t understand the seriousness. Our first reaction was, “Who in their right mind would keep a puppy when about to start chemo?!” But we were also falling in love with her. Maisy is a snuggle bug and we were finding we needed more snuggles. And unfortunately, none of her applicants were working out. We were surprised because all our other foster puppies got scooped up so quickly by excellent adopters. Was this meant to be?

Once we got the bad news of my diagnosis, we decided that we didn’t want cancer to dictate this decision, since it was already going to control so much. We loved Maisy and wanted to keep her. So, let’s just say that if you have to tell your kids you have cancer, it’s a whole lot easier if you immediately follow with, “But you get to keep the puppy!” We decided to listen to our hearts instead of our heads. And it was a good call!

Maisy Moo was by my side as my own personal therapy pup throughout over a year of intense cancer treatment. She was the one I could cry on in private when I mostly had to be brave and put on a happy face for my kids. We both dealt with overcoming some really big fears and supported each other along the way. She made me laugh every day (and still does!) and I can’t imagine life without her. I’m grateful and happy to say that Maisy is happy and well adjusted, and I am now cancer-free! We’ve returned to Underdog and Maisy Moo has been an amazing foster-momma to 20 more puppies since then.

Each year, Petco Love Stories invites adopters to share how their pets have changed their lives to give the organizations that they’ve adopted from the chance to receive grant awards. This story by Kelly won Underdog Animal Rescue in Lafayette, California a 2021 Love Stories award.