Charlie plops into the cool clear water of a kiddie pool. A moment later he rattles his diminutive body like a tambourine, spritzing water in all directions as he squints his brown eyes.
After running 5 kilometers on a mountain trail Saturday morning at Copper Mountain Resort, any dog would relish such a dip. But Charlie isn’t any dog. He’s a cancer survivor.
“We found out about a year ago that he had cancer,” said Karen Seitz of Breckenridge.
Charlie was diagnosed with K9 lymphoma at only 5 years old. At the stage the cancer was discovered, the vet predicted Charlie would live only a few more weeks at most without immediately starting chemotherapy.
But Seitz didn’t have the $7,000 on hand needed to start chemo treatments. That’s when the League for Animals and People of the Summit (LAPS) came to the rescue. The nonprofit organization, based in Frisco, helps pets in need by providing funds for spay/neuter and other medical procedures.
Seitz filed an application for assistance from LAPS, and the nonprofit soon agreed to help Charlie.
“They helped out and allowed us to start the chemo treatments right away,” she said. “They paid for the first two treatments. Without them I would have had to sell my car to help pay for chemo.
“We love (LAPS), and there’s no way we can thank them enough.”
Even after the treatments Charlie continued to defy the odds. Charlie looks a little different now. His eyebrows fell out from the chemo, but he remains a fighter.
“After the chemo, they said his life expectancy was only 330 days,” Seitz said.
There’s no cure for the type of cancer Charlie has. He’s currently in remission.
But it’s been a full year now, and Charlie doesn’t appear to be dying. Instead, he’s thriving. He and Seitz were one of about 80 pairs of dogs and humans who took part Saturday morning in either the 5K or 10K race at Copper Mountain’s inaugural “Copper’s Gone to the Dogs” event. It was created as a fundraiser for LAPS.
And Charlie showed up for the race, finishing third place overall in the 5K.
“He finds his strength by remaining active and spending time in nature and the mountains,” Seitz said. “He’s a mountain dog.”
Copper plans to make Gone to the Dogs an annual event.
“I think the turnout is pretty good,” said Erin Woods, marketing manager for Copper Mountain Resort Association. “This is the first time we’ve held this so we didn’t know what to expect. But this is a dog-loving community, and it’s a great chance to spend a sunny day outside with our dogs.”
But nobody probably appreciated the sunshine and mountain air that day as much Charlie and Seitz.