Thursday, February 26, 2009

Freckles and her bad neighbors

Working in the vet clinic one day we all were shocked when this couple brought in a dog that they'd found wandering around loose. The animal had no hair and was covered in scabs. Upon inspection the animal was found to be female and very malnourished and infected with Sarcoptic mange.

This isn't "Freckles" but unfortunately this is what she looked like when we first saw her. Scabies dog

The Dr.s recommendation was turpentine dips, one every week until better. The people who found her didn't want another dog but they didn't want to leave her like that so they took her in and agreed to pay for the treatment of the dog (who was extremely shy and cowardly)until she was better and then she would be placed up for adoption. They named the dog, Freckles.

So the treatment began, every week Freckles had to be loaded into the car, drove to the clinic, stay for a few hours while she was bathed and dipped and placed in a kennel to dry (can't use blow dryers with turpentine dips), then drug out to the car for the ride home. This went on for months. Eventually Freckles got to the point where she didn't have to be dragged, then soon she walked instead of slinked, after a few months she even wagged her tail and looked delighted when patted. With the change in attitude can a change in her body. She had turpentine dips for about 6 months. At the end of the 6 months the only scabs that remained were a few small ones on her head. All her fur was growing back nicely too. She looked like a new dog. It was decided by the new "owners" that after spending hundreds of their own money to fix this dog that she would be going up for adoption the following week.

The day after Freckles left the hospital with the adoption pending declaration the owners rushed in. They were carrying a limp Freckles. The top of her scalp was sliced open and she was unconscious. The story was that she had been found on the other side of a hole under the fence laying in the neighbors yard. We rushed her into the treatment area and gave her what treatment we could, which included several stitches to the top part of her head and supportive therapy among other things. The "owners" left that night not knowing if she'd survive.

Freckles had come around by morning but was showing slight signs of brain damage. She was disoriented, couldn't see or walk straight, couldn't stand without support, couldn't even hardly eat or drink. The "owners" were back that day with more of what had happened. The neighbor said that he had seen his horse kick Freckles while she was chasing it. Of course the "owners" were very upset, the neighbor had openly admitted to seeing her get "kicked" so why had he just left her lie there? How had a horse's hoof sliced Freckles head open so cleanly?? They left that day with more questions than answers and it was still not sure that Freckles would survive. She was having to be force fed every meal and have regular doses of IV fluids and meds.

We treated Freckles for several days and the "owners" were back every day still searching for answers and still finding none. It finally got to a point where we were able to tell them that she would survive but we weren't sure what kind of dog she would be now and what she would be able to do. Would she ever run again? She was starting to be able to stagger out to the bathroom on her own. Would she ever gulp down her food and look greedily for more?? She was licking some water. This treatment went on for weeks and hundreds more were spent.

Then, at last, it was decided that Freckles was ready to leave the hospital, she had treatments to do at home still but intense therapy was no longer necessary she would fully recover and be a normal dog again. The day before Freckles was discharged from the hospital the owners came into the clinic to visit, as they always did. They finally had a few answers, and new questions. The neighbor, after having a police call threatened, admitted that his horse hadn't kicked Freckles. The neighbor said that she had been chasing his chickens happily around the yard and he had gone out with a shovel and hit her on the head. That horrifying revelation led to more questions, why hadn't he simply taken her home, she hadn't hurt anything? Freckles was still a timid dog, why hadn't he yelled at her, she would have lit for home? Why was she standing close enough to be hit, did he call her over? We had noticed a regression in her behavior and attitude at the hospital but had assumed that it was because of the injury, not because of what lead up to the injury.

The story does have a good ending though, although a bit sad. The owners had decided that this was the final straw, Freckles was theirs for good and had her home. They also decided that they couldn't live next to someone like their neighbor and were searching for a new location to live. Freckles went home the next day to a permanent home with people that loved her but not a permanent location. She would never walk through our clinic doors again.

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