One Big Heart

At HCF we see a lot of animals with sad stories that have endured abuse and hardship. After spending so many years doing this you do become a bit numb to it. You don’t accept it, but you learn to just pick up the pieces and move on with the animal and do the very best to improve that animals life.

On occasion one comes along that just moves you and shakes you out of your harden shell that you develop after dealing with hundreds of abused and neglected animals. If you are a fellow rescuer, healthcare provider, or emergency services worker – you know exactly what we are talking about.

So on with the story………………………..

When returning from the vet clinic with a HCF adoptable dog, a small brown animal slunk out from the roadside woods towards the shoulder of the road. (Keep in mind it is not unusual to see several dogs on the road and shoulders during the short drive to the vet. Careless and irresponsible owners allowing their dogs to become potential road kill and driving hazards to humans). It was obvious that even from a distance you could see this dog was not well.

We pulled past the dog and directed the vehicle onto the shoulder. We have done this rescue method on more occasions then we care to remember. Leash and treats always on hand. Truly the trick is to simply crinkle plastic wrappers of some sort. Most friendly dogs will approach hoping for a free meal. And of course it worked in this case. (Do not try this yourself, dealing with strays is not something the general public should do)

She approached quietly. She almost looked like she knew this was her last hope. A beat up truck and a crinkly bag could somehow help her?

As she drew near it was obvious this dog had not eaten in several days. Honestly most dogs in this bad of shape are in some form of organ failure from starvation. She was riddled with deep lacerations, some as long as 6 inches. Her hair appeared to be falling out, a carpet of fleas covered her dry scaly skin, and she was speckled in dried blood all over, her muzzle was covered in old and new scars.

Seeing how we had a very healthy dog in the backseat- and we are a flea free organization- we had to commit a human to ride back to the vet with her in the bed of the truck. She happily accepted the leash and did not protest being lifted into the rear of the truck. Squished up tight to the rear of the cab and wrapped in a warm towel from inside the truck we headed back to the vet with the brown foundling.

Upon arrival the vet staff gave a curious look to us as to why we had returned so quickly. (Until they looked to see what was on the end of the leash). I think the staff has gotten used to seeing us come in with odd cases, from injured chickens to dogs with shattered bones. From the looks on their faces you could see that they were taken aback a little with the brown dog. She was in rather bad shape and to say the least unkempt.

Melissa who works at the clinic gave her a quick once over……. First things first – get rid of those fleas and tend to her gaping wounds. The brown dog left with us looking a bit like a quilt a 5 year old may stitch together out of scraps of old material, she had no fleas, but her fur was so dry it was like petting the end of a straw broom. Prescribed antibiotics, given vaccinations, and after a full exam it was decided to take her back to the farm and try to nurse her back to a sane state of health. We would return once she felt good enough to spay her.

For the next week or so she ate, enjoyed a warm bed, and nearly doubled her weight. It was time to get her stitches removed and see if she was strong enough to undergo spay surgery.

The little brown dog seemed to be doing well certainly better than when she arrived. – One could only imagine how hard her life must have been.- Her spay surgery went well. Three days after her spay she seemed to not be doing so good so we returned to the vet where they found her spleen had growths on it. Her spleen was removed. The spleen sample was sent off to the lab to determine a cause for the problem. The answer from the lab was “this is a spleen from a sick dog” – Gosh really? Well at least they identified the labeled organ and that it did indeed come from a dog – or is it common to just send in unlabeled samples and let them guess what organ and what animal it came from…… Is it common to send in organ samples from healthy animals too? (Enough of this rant, I apologize, but it was ludicrous).

Time moved on and we dealt with a urinary tract infection, antibiotics, prednisone – but the little brown dog seemed to continue to thrive. Then she started going downhill. After multiple tests it was confirmed that she had Babesiosis as well.

I have to say the vet staff worked so hard to determine the cause of her illness. The little brown dog even ended up with the entire team meeting to figure this out. She had her own case study white board. (Just like in the television show House)……. Melissa even worked on the case on her own time – researching and looking at blood samples – none of which had a defined classic cell sample of Babesia.

Needless to say the little brown dog – who is now 49lbs is still fighting for her life. She has made it this far purely out her own strong will and the determination and compassion of the vet clinic staff. Countless blood transfusions (defied all odds), staff members bringing their own dogs to work to give blood. Meeting us after hours if she showed the slightest sign of needing medical care. The little brown dog always bravely giving her leg for a catheter – not a single flinch or protest. We spent weeks waiting for her “cure” to arrive – Mepron – we were lucky to locate the drug for $650 vs. the $930. (btw if you donated to HCF please note that the cost of this dogs treatment has come directly from the pockets of HCF board members – we could not justify using your donations on just one dog when so many are in need at HCF).

The little brown dog has come to know her trips to the vet as “spa treatments”. She has her own personal holding kennel in the back room, demands that other animals are evacuated from it upon her arrival, expects a gourmet meal, and extra soft blankets, and large bowl of water to be served to her.

She adores all the staff members tending to show a bit of jealousy if they give another animal attention in her presence- usually with a bark of protest. She has become a wonderful guest at HCF, playing and well behaved with the 20 or so dogs that lounge around. She has superb house manners. She travels with the Director to work to be sure she gets her medication on time. She is friendly with all the people she meets.

It is wonderful to watch her health improve and see her enjoying her new life. She is not done with the battle, she may not ever fully recover – we may still lose her yet.

This little brown dog has brought out the best in people. She is one of the sweetest dogs we have encountered, one of the bravest, and one of the most determined. She is a hero in her own right.

We would like to take this opportunity to thank all the staff at Palmetto Vet.

Melissa for working so hard to help determine her illness, and not being afraid to touch the wretched looking dog that walked into the clinic on the first day.

Dr. Love for tolerating the countless hours we spent loitering at his clinic. Of course we thank him for his expertise as well. (And we know secretly he loves this dog as much as the rest of the staff – but it is a guy thing not to admit to it)

Dr. McGarity (the new guy/vet) for his compassion, knowledge, and for bringing his own dog Diesel in on the weekend to donate blood. Thank you Diesel too!

Kristy for always being sure she had the best gourmet meals, softest blanket, and sneaking her multiple treats. Thanks to Kristy too for bringing her dog Tank in to donate blood.

Justin deserves thanks too. He also brought in his dog Colby for a blood donor.

Shelley for always sneaking her treats and giving her lots of love when we bring her in.

Dr. Stallings for all of her help too.

The entire staff deserves a big thanks – and we cannot tell you enough how great they are.

Thanks also to Pit Bull Rescue Central for the $200 grant to help with her extensive cost of treatment.

The little brown dog is named Sweet Melissa and as her battle to live continues I am sure that we at HCF, the entire vet staff at Palmetto Vet, and our farm friends will not give up on her.

If you visit the farm ask to meet Sweet Melissa and you will find out that Pit Bulls and Staffordshire Terriers like Melissa are some of the biggest hearted and loving dogs you could be lucky enough to meet.