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For Brando, It IS a Wonderful Life
   An Alignment of Miracles Might Return
     Former Guide Dog's Sight for Christmas

FOR RELEASE: December 15, 2004

Miracle #1 Intuition

Bette Jayne Spinney's intuition told her something was wrong with "Brando" her 9-year old retired Guide Dog. She knew the dog. She had raised Brando as a pup. Then he had gone off to serve as a Guide Dog with Nancy Moore in Albany, NY. About a year ago, he was retired and returned to live with Dick and Bette Jayne Spinney. He was very happy to be living the life of leisure.

However, something was slightly off with his balance and vision. On a hunch, Bette Jayne made an appointment and brought Brando to Cornell University's Hospital for Animals. Dr. Thomas Kern, DVM , Chief of Ophthalmology, confirmed Brando was indeed having vision problems - he was actually blind in one eye. Kern ordered an MRI.

Miracle #2 New MRI Just Came On-line

The MRI was installed only a few weeks before Brando's appointment and because of the superb imaging ability of this brand-new piece of equipment the radiology staff were able to pinpoint a small tumor impinging on Brando's optic nerve. "It really was due to the new MRI that we were able to diagnose the tumor at this early stage," said Kern, "catching it early bodes for a better prognosis."

"He is a lucky dog", remarked Dr. Rod Page, DVM, Director of the Sprecher Comparative Cancer Institute housed within the Veterinary College, "the new imaging technology coupled with his owner's intuition probably saved his life as the tumor could have quickly grown and caused a fatal situation."

The tumor was inoperable due to its location. However, Cornell is home to a state of the art nuclear accelerator that can be finely tuned for irradiation therapy in small animals. The Dr. Margaret McEntee DVM, Chief of Oncology, suggested a three week course of radiation to try to shrink the tumor.

Bette Jayne and Dick decided that Brando had made his contribution to mankind and more than deserved a chance at a cure. They started the radiation on December 6th and each day Brando and his "sister" Finesse, a 4- year-old Labrador in the Guide Dog breeding program, show up wearing jingle bell collars and spreading smiles as they enter the waiting room. "Even though we are here for an unhappy reason, we can still have some holiday cheer," shared Spinney, "the dogs are very friendly and the jingles give everyone a bit of lift."

Miracle #3 Some Optic Nerve Function Returning

After the first week of treatment Bette Jayne drove home to Stamford, NY and over the weekend observed that Brando's balanced was improved, he was more active, and could climb the stairs again. She shared these events with the Dr. Page on her return to Cornell for week two's treatment. Dr. Eric Ledbetter DVM and ophthalmology resident, took a closer look at Brando's eyes and concluded that the optic nerve indicates a return of function.

On December 24th, Christmas Eve, Brando will receive his last treatment and return home for the Holidays. Everyone at Cornell will miss the jingle of his holiday bells. May his angels, like the happy sound of his bells, follow him home.