Mesa family brings stray dog home from Ecuador, learns she has cancer

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By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver
By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver
By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver
By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver
By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver

MESA, Ariz. -- The Lockharts weren't looking to adopt a dog, but one day they realized a dog had adopted them.

The family of six now splits their time between Mesa and Alaska, but for two months, they lived in South America.

The day after Hilary and Zack Lockhart and their four daughters arrived in the small town of San Clemente in Ecuador, a pack of stray dogs wandered over to their condo. One of the dogs was Aspin.

"She didn't leave our doorstep since day one," said 10-year-old McKayla Lockhart. "She slept on our doorstep every night. We would wake up to her every day. That's when it hit all of us -- wow, we have a dog."

They brought Aspin all the way back to the United States, only to find out she has cancer.

"She means a lot to me because to make it this far and come from South America and be with us, I think she should stay with us," McKayla said tearfully.

"She kind of chose us I think," Zack Lockhart said. "So, I think it was difficult to see the girls upset."

Hilary Lockhart said Aspin once chased them for two miles when they were in a pickup truck going to visit a neighboring town.

The 2-and-a-half-year-old mix already had a massive reproductive tumor, but a veterinarian gave her a clean bill of health to come to the United States. It took grandma flying down to South America with a crate and a new airline ticket allowing dogs to get Aspin home. 

"We didn't want a dog," Hilary Lockhart said. "And every time we came up with an excuse, somebody would pipe in from the background saying, 'Oh, no, I'll take care of that for you.' "

But when they took Aspin to a veterinarian in Arizona, they realized her journey was far from over.

"They treat it with chemo," Hilary Lockhart said. "First estimate is $2,800 ... and we had friend after friend say start a fund for her.' "

So, the Lockharts created a GoFundMe account, which has received more than $2,200.

"It makes at least me recognize that there's so much good out there and not even just the people that you know," Hilary Lockhart said.

So, with a lot of love, they are not giving up on the stray dog that is now a big part of the family.

"There's a reason she chose us, you know?" Hilary Lockhart said. "Why stop trying now? We've tried so hard to get her here, like, how do you just all of a sudden say, oh, enough is enough; I'm done?"

If you'd like to donate, visit www.gofundme.com/aspin.