Cubby Rheaume

Pawtucket dog owner seeks Christmas ‘Magic Bullet’

By ETHAN SHOREY Breeze Online News Editor

Cubby Rheaume

PAWTUCKET – If Nicole Rheaume could have one Christmas wish, it would be to save her dog, a 9-year-old Chihuahua named Cubby, who needs just a few more treatments to live.

Rheaume, 34, said she knew the moment she got the cancer diagnosis for Cubby over the summer that she was going to do everything she could to save him, no matter the cost.

But the costs have mounted quickly over three months, piling up to a whopping $13,000. Some might not understand why she would go to such great lengths for a dog, said Rheaume, but others will understand exactly why this dog is so important to her.

“Some people aren’t believers, but I really believe in this dog,” she said.

In August, Cubby was diagnosed with rare malignant anal gland carcinoma, a cancer that required surgery, radiation and now chemotherapy. In researching organizations that will contribute to such causes, Rheaume found the Magic Bullet Fund, a nonprofit that helps raise money for people who want to save their dogs but can’t afford to pay for it all on their own.

Of the nearly $900 needed to complete the chemotherapy treatments over the next few weeks, $460 has been received from the Magic Bullet Fund and eight other donors. Rheaume needs the rest of money pledged by Dec. 16 to get funded for the chemo treatments, which would complete the last leg of the journey to get Cubby healthy.

Cubby has been “inspiring” throughout his ordeal, said Rheaume, who works for a company that manages music bands.

“For a dog who gets nervous going to the vet, he’s been so brave and courageous at every visit, and still enjoys being a dog in his downtime,” she said. “His lovable and playful personality have remained intact and I think it’s a lesson to all of us to live in the moment and seize the day.”

An outdoor enthusiast, Rheaume said she loves taking Cubby with her on her adventures. This dog at times comes across as “a little bit delicate,” she said, asking to be fed and picked up certain ways, but his “strong spirit” has shown during his treatments.

Chihuahas are smart, loyal and fearless, said Rheaume. Her previous pet Chihuahua lived to be 15 years old, she said, and veterinarians have indicated that there’s no reason Cubby won’t live a similar long and healthy life after his final round of treatments.

Rheaume said she is grateful to all those who have helped her toward her goal of saving Cubby, including those who donated to an initial fundraiser after he was diagnosed. Asking for help was her last resort, she said, but she was “paralyzed by the thought of the expense” after buying a house in Pawtucket with her partner, Stephanie Daly, just a year ago. She’d spent a couple thousand dollars on pets in the past, she said, but nothing like this.

Cubby Rheaume
Pawtucket resident Nicole Rheaume kayaks with her chihuahua Cubby. Rheaume is nearing the end of an expensive journey to rid Cubby of cancer.

Rheaume herself has donated to animal causes in the past, and she encourages others to do the same. Pets are very much part of people’s families, she said, and more and more people are willing to do what it takes to keep them, even if it involves asking for help to pay the immense bills. She said there are so many people out there with tremendous “kindness and generosity” when it comes to pets.

Many people face the difficult decision when it comes to what to do when a pet gets sick, said Rheaume, but efforts like the one from the Magic Bullet Fund are helping more people achieve what once seemed impossible.

Medical animal writer Laurie Kaplan started the Magic Bullet Fund in honor of her own cancer survivor, Bullet, in conjunction with the release of her book, “Help Your Dog Fight Cancer.”

“A diagnosis of canine cancer is not necessarily a death sentence,” states a release from the organization. “Veterinary oncology has made tremendous advances in the past decade and there are treatment options available to those who want to fight their pet’s cancer.”

According to Kaplan, “cancer is as unpredictable in pets as it is in humans. We do not expect miracles for all of the dogs, but we celebrate the ones we get. The real miracle for these families is that they can have an extended goodbye, time for special moments that will become lasting memories, and the very important ability to say, ‘I fought for my dog’s life.’”

To donate so Cubby gets his treatment and a chance to survive cancer, visit . If Cubby’s campaign goal has been met, visitors find him on the Dogs Funded page, but they can still donate to the general fund to help other dogs. To donate by mail, send a check to Magic Bullet Fund, PO Box 2574, Briarcliff, NY 10510. Donations are tax deductible.

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