Almost 3 years ago I started really wanting to change the life I was leading. I was 25, still kickin’ it at ma’s house, and working at a fairly stagnant job. So how was I going to change…? Get a dog of course! I picked Walter up on a chilly December night a few weeks before Christmas and 7 hours later, at about 3am, I was wondering what the heck I was thinking getting him. Have you ever heard a frenchie chortle? It’s cute for about 5 minutes at 3am. The next morning as I was getting ready for work, Walt curled up on my feet not moving an inch during my whole morning routine and left my heart mush. I drove home every day for lunch from there on out just to spend some extra time with him before our nightly hangouts. He gave me a good reason to want more out of life, I had someone to provide for now!

Throughout the past 2.5 years he’s been a sweetheart and a pistol, but he is my best friend and I’m his. So when I brought him in for his yearly check up in February and our world was turned upside down in a matter of 48 hours I was heartbroken. He had a small blood draw in is back right leg and within 36 hours it had quadrupled in size clearly showing us there was a clotting issue at hand. He had had similar reactions in the past, but they always resolved themselves. This time Walter was lethargic, not eating and barely getting up to go to the bathroom anymore along with having a massive hematoma that was engulfing his leg. Previous testing did not indicate any form of clotting problems so our vet sent us to the Fox Valley Animal Referral Center for advanced testing and treatment. Prior to leaving our vet that morning and heading over to the referral center, the doctors gave me the option to euthanize Walt because of the substantial costs that would incur. I never took offense to this; I know it is their job to show me all options in front of us, but I immediately declined the offer. There was no way I could say goodbye to my best bud without a fight and especially not even knowing the diagnosis at that point.

All of the staff at FVARC were so very sweet to Walter and his sobbing owner. I walked into that building carrying my best friend thinking I may never carry him out and back home again. I had already called work and was frantic about not being able to come in that day. I called my sister Elise, who works just down the road and asked her to join me. And I spoke with my fiancé and found comfort in his words knowing I was doing the right thing for Walt. I filled out all necessary paperwork while tears streamed down my face and was then lead into an exam room and waited. I will be forever thankful for Elise coming that day. She asked all the right questions and felt my sorrow without filling my ears with “everything will be ok.” I had faith that no matter the outcome, Walt would be happy in this world or the next. But every pet owner wishes their best friend can stay by their side forever. I said to her in that room while we waited, “No one tells you that when you get a dog, you will have to say goodbye some day. They just tell you that it will be your best friend and lots of work, but totally worth it.” We cried and laughed together in between the hospital staff coming in to explain what was going on or have me fill out more paper work. She was a rock for me that morning.

Walt’s doctor was fairly confident he did infact have a clotting issue regardless of the previous testing done. She would have to send out blood samples to Cornell to find out for sure, because they are the only facility in the US that tests for rare clotting issues. In the meantime, Walter needed blood and plasma to survive. I was able to see him before he received treatment and gave him a few scratches and kisses. It was then that I could start to feel some relief because the nurses and doctors on Walt’s team were so sweet and certain he would be back to his normal self soon. Two transfusions and about 6 hours later he was starting to perk up a bit. That night, I grabbed a book and headed to FVARC to hangout with my pup. We were set up in a comfy room and snuggled on a couch for about 2 hours. The next morning I brought him back home to his own bed where he slept for what seemed like days! His recovery was steady going and positive over the next two weeks 🙂


Walt’s final diagnosis is Hemophilia A, a rare blood disease that occurs in an extremely low percentage of dog populations. He will live a fairly normal life from here on out as far as I’m concerned; however, I was informed that most dogs with this disease do not make it very far into adulthood. My eagle eye is constantly on him making sure he isn’t roughhousing too aggressively or getting into something that could cause any form of bleeding. As a result from our hospital stay and all the testing, we of course have a large bill looming over our heads. I had known at the time of treatment that this whole ordeal would cost a pretty penny, but I also knew I have an amazing family and a bunch of friends that would be there for me through it all. I am so blessed to have that type of support, it means the world to me.

I also know not everyone has the option to proceed with thousands of dollars of treatment for his or her pet, which breaks my heart. I’m tearing up right now just thinking back to the time when I wasn’t sure Walt would make it through the day. I wouldn’t wish those emotions upon anyone. The thought of being unable to choose treatment because of the cost is terrible and that’s where this new project of mine (and Walt’s) comes in! #dailywalt Gives Back is an ongoing community support system for animals in need of medical and monetary assistance. The proceeds from all dog related products in Sapphire & Scout’s Etsy shop along with all pet photography sessions, will help fund payment for Walter’s vet bills. After that is complete, 50% of the proceeds will be donated to local shelters or individuals in similar positions as Walt and I were. Soon I hope to grow and collaborate with local artists, so we are able to help many families and spread a bit of joy and relief! If you are interested in booking a pet portrait session please email me at hello@caitlinclairestudio.com

You can keep up to date with Walter by following us on Facebook or Instagram. Thank you for sharing this journey with Walt and I!