The Best Buddy a Family Could Ask For

December 8, 2023


Last July, a distressed dog parent brought their two-year-old German Shepherd to the ASPCA Animal Hospital, in need of assistance. The young dog named Buddy tested positive for heartworm disease, a dangerous parasite that can greatly impact an animal’s health, and treatment can be a significant financial burden for owners. Buddy had previously been treated for heartworm a year prior, but sadly, it wasn’t successful. With Buddy’s family no longer in a position to care for him, they made the difficult decision to surrender him to the ASPCA, where he could make a full recovery from this debilitating diagnosis.

The Road to Recovery

ASPCA veterinarians, Dr. Abby Reichard (top) and Dr. Melanie Benetato (bottom left), administering Buddy’s heartworm treatment.

When Buddy arrived at the ASPCA Adoption Center (AC), his handsome looks and sweet personality quickly won over everyone he met! A treatment plan was soon put together by the AC medical team, who made sure he had everything he needed to become healthy.

“It is important for people to know that heartworm disease is much easier to prevent than it is to treat,” says Dr. Melanie Benetato, ASPCA veterinarian. She explains that mosquitos can carry baby heartworms, which then pass to the animals they bite. The heartworms can grow quite large—about a foot long—and they don’t only live in the heart, but also in the blood vessels that supply the lungs.

“The more worms that are living in the heart and the longer the animal is infected, the more damage is caused to the heart, lungs and other organs,” says Dr. Benetato.

The medical treatment of heartworm disease can also be quite taxing on the patient. To deliver a medication that kills the adult worms, infected dogs need a series of injections deep into the muscles of the back. Dogs are typically sedated for these injections to reduce pain, which the ASPCA medical team was able to do for Buddy.

To help reduce the risk of serious complications, it’s incredibly important that the dog is kept very calm for many weeks during and after treatment, which can be a major challenge for active dogs.


“Thankfully, Buddy was an exceptionally calm and sweet dog,” says Dr. Benetato. “His calm was a benefit for his heartworm treatment since exercise restriction is such a crucial part of the recovery process.”

While Buddy was recovering, all he had to do was soak up love from all of the AC staff and volunteers, which wasn’t hard to come by! Soon enough, he was cleared to start the journey toward adoption.

“After a dog is treated for heartworm disease, they should be tested regularly and maintained on heartworm preventative medication long term to prevent reinfection,” says Dr. Benetato.

Kaitlyn B. and her fiancé snuggling with Buddy.

Ready to Relax

Kaitlyn B. was browsing TikTok when she stumbled on a video of a few adoptable dogs on ASPCA’s account. One of them was Buddy! She and her family live about six hours away from New York City, but that didn’t deter them from looking into adopting him.

“We, as a family, fell in love when we saw Buddy in the TikTok video!” Kaitlyn says. “We drove a long way to meet Buddy, and when we met him the first time, he was so loving and calm. He stole our hearts!”

Kaitlyn and her fiancé both have a lot of experience with large breed dogs, so adding Buddy to their family was an easy decision for them. His calm personality was also a perfect fit for their young children, despite his size.

When they arrived home with Buddy, he had no problem settling in. He soon met his other new roommates—their three resident cats, though he initially was cautious of them. But after a slow introduction, the family made sure that they were all safe and comfortable together. They’re now a big, happy family!

“From day one, he’s been a sweetheart and lives up to his name—he’s a buddy to everyone!” says Kaitlyn. “Our life with Buddy is amazing and he makes every day even better. He’s a huge part of our life and our hearts.”

Nowadays, Buddy enjoys dressing up in costumes and getting a photo session with his mom, and she says whenever she pulls out the camera, he becomes a real ham! He’s also a great hugger, of course.


The Happiest Ending

Before Buddy’s previous family surrendered him, they left a note to be passed onto his new family. The note detailed all of his likes, his dislikes, how much they love him and how hard the decision was to give him up.

“We talk to them often and send updates and pictures almost every day!” says Kaitlyn. “We are planning to meet them in-person in the future so that they can see Buddy again.”

Kaitlyn says adopting Buddy was the best experience because they didn’t only bring a new canine family member home that day. They were also able to add his previous family into their lives, too!

“In a world that can be hard sometimes, it’s nice to have something so good happen,” Kaitlyn says.