California man drives his dog cross country for rare, life-saving surgery

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. –After Scott Clare’s wife died, the high school teacher taught himself to love again. This time, it was a four-legged companion.

“He makes me laugh and smile every day,” Clare said. “He is just a crack. Well, you can see him. He is just a crack up.”

Clare adopted the now-14-month-old Buck-O, named after baseball player Buck O’Neil, a reflection of his love of baseball. But when Clare took Buck-O to get neutered, the doctors noticed something was different with this puppy — an abnormal heartbeat.

“The range is 70 to 160 for dogs and he was always over 160,” Clare said.

Buck-O was diagnosed with ventricular tachycardia. It’s a rare condition where a dog has a rapidly fast and sometimes irregular heartbeat, leaving Clare to make a very tough decision.

“So my choices were spend a lot of money or hang on to him until he has a horrible death and I wasn’t gonna do that,” Clare said.

But what would Clare do to save his best friend. The only option was to travel cross country to Cincinnati, where Buck-O could undergo ventricular ablation, a complicated surgery that had never been performed on a dog.

Clare and Buck-O loaded the car and traveled 2,300 miles, an adventure that made Buck-O many friends along the way.

“I think they liked the story, the story of him being the first ever,” Clare said. “And, you know, look at his face. He’s got such a beautiful face.”

And at the same time, it made Clare a nervous wreck.

“I went to the hospital,” he said. “They’re open all night. I went to the hospital I think at 2 or 3 in the morning and just sat with him because I couldn’t sleep anyway.”

Eight hours and more than $10,000 later, Buck-O made it through. Making history and memories — strengthening the bond between man and his best friend.


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