Rough Seas Make Great Captains


Dr. Turley gets a visit from Captain during a recent trip to Angell


Amanda Corin knew that raising a puppy wouldn’t be easy. “With my hectic schedule, it wasn’t the right time.” However, when she and her boyfriend Jonathan Weilbacher decided to move in together, the idea of getting a dog returned. “I figured with two people home, caring for and raising the new pup would be a little bit easier. And I missed having a dog — I had one while growing up in Florida who recently passed away.” Jon was also a dog dad; he raised a Husky while living in California. “We’re both dog people, and it just felt right,” said Amanda.

She started searching with her heart set on a puppy. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic still churned, and puppies were in high demand. Having little luck in the greater Boston area, she expanded the search outside the Bay State until they came across a little yellow furball named Kobe in Ohio.

“There was just something about him,” Amanda explained. “He was one of the last profiles we looked at, and something drew him to me.” She knew at that moment that Kobe was the perfect dog for them.


In May 2021, Amanda and Jon met up with the driver who transported Kobe (now named Captain) to Boston. “He seems to be wheezing a bit,” the driver informed the couple, explaining how he stopped earlier to feed the dog and noticed his breathing. “Maybe a couple of pieces of kibble got stuck in his throat?” the driver suggested.

Amanda and Jon immediately brought Captain to a local emergency vet. There, medical staff took X-rays and determined something was, indeed, in the dog’s throat. Unable to proceed with a more thorough examination, the medical staff felt that Captain should see a specialist and recommended Amanda and Jon take him to the Emergency and Critical Care (ECC) service at Angell in Boston.


As Amanda and Jon sat in the waiting area at Angell, Captain’s breathing worsened, to the point where medical staff wanted to keep him overnight for evaluation and then have him see a specialist first thing the next day. The following day, Dr. Kelsey Turley, a resident with Angell’s Emergency and Critical Care team, delivered the somber news: they found a mass. This rare and usually benign tumor called a canine tracheal osteochondroma could obstruct Captain’s airway if it were to grow larger.

Dr. Turley said that a biopsy of the mass was risky. “And there’s really no good way to say this,” she continued. “But even if we operate to remove it, there’s very little room for error.”

Amanda and Jon were understandably scared of losing Captain, but they knew he needed that surgery. “And we knew in our hearts that Angell was the best place for Captain,” Jon continued.

Captain, a Golden Retriever, as a puppy
Little Captain sleeping in a puppy bed with shaved spots on his legs
12-week-old Captain and dad Jon at Angell
Dr. Emily Viani (left) and Dr. Mallory Watson (right) of Angell's Surgery service reunite with Captain eight months after his risky procedure. The doctors were part of the team thatassisted with the tracheal resection and anastomosis on the Golden Retriever, who was only 12-weeks-old at the time.


The MSPCA-Angell’s Carter Luke Pet Care Assistance Fund distributed more than $600,000 toward the care of animals in need as part of $1.24 million in financial assistance provided by the organization in 2021. This fund, made possible by our generous donors, supports medical care at Angell for sick or injured animals whose owners have limited financial resources; abused or neglected animals connected with our law enforcement efforts; and homeless animals in our adoption centers. Learn more about the Pet Care Assistance Fund by visiting


The other reality looming over Amanda and Jon was Captain’s quickly mounting medical bills. “We were looking at an $8,000 to $9,000 bill for surgery,” said Amanda. “I had no idea how we were paying for that.” Dr. Turley worked to reduce the total owed, but more and more, it seemed it wasn’t going to be financially feasible.

Then their luck turned. Dr. Turley helped secure Captain’s surgery funding through the MSPCA-Angell’s Carter Luke Pet Care Assistance Fund. Thanks to generous donors, Angell can offer financial help for sick or injured animals whose owners have limited resources.

Surgery and Beyond

Angell surgeon Dr. Sue Casale and her team set to work to prepare for Captain’s life-saving surgery, while Dr. Turley assured Amanda and Jon that their dog would receive unparalleled care. “None of us want to see you put your 12-week-old puppy down,” she said.

On May 18, 2021, Captain went into surgery three days after arriving at Angell with breathing difficulties. “We were able to avoid an intrathoracic surgery by going through the ventral neck and pulling the trachea forward,” explained Dr. Casale. “You can only take a certain amount of the trachea and still be able to stretch it out to perform the anastomosis. And when you have a puppy, you have less to take than from a full-grown adult.” In the end, Dr. Casale successfully removed the section that included the benign tumor, and then connected the other two ends of Captain's trachea.

Dr. Turley said that she felt it was the combination of Angell’s various specialties working together, the ability to help fund difficult cases thanks to donors and the rare diagnosis that made Captain’s case special. “It was a team effort that allowed Captain to survive.”

Captain recently had a six-month checkup, and thankfully, he’s still tumor-free. “I firmly believe everything happens for a reason — Captain came into our lives for a specific reason,” said Amanda. “And if it weren’t for the amazing Angell staff and the donors that help make financial assistance a reality, Captain probably wouldn’t have had the chance to live. We’re so grateful that we will have our boy for many more years.”

For more information on the MSPCA-Angell Pet Care Assistance program, visit

a yellow and white furry dog sitting in between a young man and woman in the park
Captain sits happily with his owners, Amanda and John. Now almost 1-year-old and tumor-free, the Golden Retriever is named after his parents’ love for Marvel Comics — Captain America.

...if it weren’t for the amazing Angell staff and the donors that help make financial assistance a reality, Captain probably wouldn’t have had the chance to live. We’re so grateful that we will have our boy for many more years.