Doug’s Dogs- Esther


Doug’s Dogs- Esther

Due to the overwhelming number of submissions for the videos we’ve been doing, it’s been impossible to fit all the precious pups in there! But I’m such a softy and I think every dogs story needs to be heard, so I’m going to continue featuring the dogs that didn’t get to shine in the video. First on that list is Esther! Esther is already a rock star in her own right, she already has her own Facebook Page, along with her pal Mildred. Make sure to go over to the page and follow her beautiful journey! Here is my interview with Esther’s mom, Julianne

*Can you share Esther’s story? Esther is an 11 year old Akita possibly mixed with some German Shepherd along the way. Her story starts out sad but it ends happy, I promise. Prior to her finding her way to our home she was living on the streets for some time. In October of 2012, someone reported a “vicious German Shepherd” to a police officer and she found herself in the back of that police car and on her way to ACCT Philly. (Philadelphia’s municipal intake shelter) Once at ACCT she was named “Champ”. The police officer must have taken her mammary tumors as testicles and named Champ. He also made it a point to write in his report “This dog is not vicious AT ALL.” Once she saw the staff vet, it was determined that Esther had mammary tumors. She was in very bad shape physically. She was dirty of course, had hair loss, fleas, hip dysplasia, arthritis and her ears had been so flea bitten that they were pretty much skinned and then sun burned on top of it. My husband is the dog evaluator there and fell in love with her. During her behavior evaluation, he discovered that she was deaf. My father in law is deaf, so that on top of everything else, she just had all the makings of a dog that would just tug at our heart strings. She wasn’t healthy enough for adoption & most rescues would’ve passed since mammary tumors and cancer are expensive to treat. My husband and I volunteer and foster for Big East Akita Rescue, or BEAR for short. BEAR offered to sponsor her, so that we could euthanize her privately and so she would not die in a shelter. After a few discussions about quality of life and whether it was fair of us to prolong suffering by bringing her home or not, we were advised, that although she was in bad shape there was no reason for her to die that day and we could keep her happy and comfortable with meds. So, with BEAR’s sponsorship she came home with my husband to be a hospice dog that would have a few good weeks and then pass knowing love and a warm bed. Once home, we renamed her Esther.

Esther was a fighter and thankfully, we live in a city with one of the best Vet Hospitals in the country,  The University of Pennsylvania, Matthew J. Ryan Veterinary Hospital. Thankfully, Penn Vet’s Shelter Canine Mammary Tumor program provides care to shelter dogs with mammary tumors that are homeless and without access to the treatment they need to survive, just like Esther. After a health screening that determined she was healthy enough for surgery, she was admitted and had surgery. We were so worried about Esther having surgery at her age but she was in excellent hands there. Esther had 19 tumors removed and one did happen to be a carcinoma. Thanks to this study, Esther received a new lease on life and was cancer free. Esther gets checkups every 4 months to make sure the cancer has not returned courtesy of the study. It is October 2013, a year later and Esther is still cancer free! Anytime Esther goes back to get a check up, the staff is so happy to see her, they say she is the sweetest Akita they have ever met. Esther flourished in her foster home and has been an excellent ambassador for senior dogs, deaf dogs and Akitas alike! She has her Canine Good Citizen Certification and has fans from all over! Esther is officially a lifetime resident of BEAR but will live out her golden years here with our family, because let’s face it, we just couldn’t let her go. Esther has two siblings currently and just recently welcomed two, six week old foster puppies. It’s very cute they try to get milk from her but we all know she does not have any! However, the wonderful dog that she is she tolerates their puppy behavior. If you’re in the market for a German Shepherd/Akita Mix puppy, which is exactly what Esther is, shoot me an email at

What are some of the silly quirks she does?

In her spare time she enjoys sleeping, stealing food from the fridge, shuffling around the house, licking her foster brother’s head while he eats and shredding paper like a goat. She also likes to get into mischief from time to time by walking around and knocking things over off of our coffee table just because she gets bored, and then walks away. She is one silly girl.

What are some of her nick names?

Oh the nicknames…This could take awhile. My sister started calling her Esther Dean, which lead to me calling her Esther Dean Bean. Then it became Bean. Then it became Bean Pot after the hockey tournament held in Boston. Then these followed: Beanie, Beaner, Beanie Baby, Beanie Pot, Pot, Pottery Barn, and most recently because of her shredding paper skills Billy Goat which has now become Beanie Goat.

How does she improve your life?

How does she improve our lives? Let me count the ways. Before Esther we had only ever fostered male dogs and typically only seniors. We had never considered fostering deaf dogs. She has improved my life by letting me dress her in all kinds of outfits and not only does she not protest this, she loves it and loves the attention she gets! She improves our lives in more serious ways such as adding to our mission mammary tumor awareness and deaf dog awareness. Esther coming in to our life has paved the way for her newest foster sister Mildred who is also an elderly deaf dog. Watching Esther flourish and see the fight in her has taught us so many lessons. Esther has changed the mind of so many about Akitas, dogs with disabilities and senior dogs deserving and needing a chance. She has improved our life in so many ways that all of our dogs we love change our life but she has added more passions and causes that we will hold very close to our hearts and that we will continue to fight the good fight for, in her honor.

Is she a mommy or daddy’s girl? Esther, like most Akitas, is pretty independent. However, while she was recovering, I spent all of my time in our bedroom with her while my husband lived in our living room with our other dogs. This way no one was neglected and Esther got her undisturbed time to rest and recover properly. I would say that because of all of the time we spent together she is a Mamma’s girl. I am going to be a little selfish here, because most of the dogs seem to be Daddy’s boys because he is the one who drives them home from the shelter. However, Esther and I really bonded during her recovery time and I am so very happy she chose me to pay the most attention to.  She is my Beanie Baby. For those of you who made it through all of my rambling, thank you! Esther is just such a special girl. I want to invite you to “like” and pass around Esther and her foster sister, Mildred’s, Facebook Page. We are trying to raise awareness for dogs that are seniors, deaf or afflicted by cancer and find themselves in shelters. There is a need for the awareness and we hope to provide this need. Once we have enough fans, we plan to do fundraisers to benefit senior rescues, deaf dog rescues and even donate to programs that help dogs with mammary cancer like Esther had. Remember to like Esther’s Facebook page and help support, and stay up to date on her life!






  • Julianne Griffin

    Thank you for featuring Esther. <3