By Jackie Kennemer
I’d like to share a success story with you. Our little Silky Terrier, Abigail, was our first foster. An apparent dumping victim, she was found in a rural area, after a string of days in July with highs of 100+ degrees, less than a mile from our own home. She had been on her own for sometime, probably months, long enough to loose her bark, and knew to hide under shrubbery or brush at sundown. We’re certain this was due to a rather large coyote population in the area. She was about a year old, still had a small amount of the black puppy coloration, common in her breed, and a retained puppy canine tooth. She also had a chipped adult canine and a broken tail. She weighed an emaciated 8 pounds, her ribs and spine were clearly visible. Her enlarged nipples indicated that she has had puppies, likely a first heat pregnancy, but the most immediate concern was that she was covered in thousands of ticks.
Her rescuer had taken her to a local veterinarian, where they graciously supplied a topical flea/tick controller, which I personally don’t use, but in situations of this type, there are limited choices. A local rescue (STAR – Sandite Team Animal Rescue) director (Tammy Ervin), happen to be picking up an animal at the time, and offered to take her into their care, but the lady who found her wanted to keep her for a couple of days, to stabilize her and remove as many ticks as possible before turning her over. When she was put into the rescues care, she was left with a veterinarian for the typical regiment of worming and likely unneeded multi-virulent injections including RABIES (which is the last thing a dog in that condition needs). Her coat was matted to the point it had to be shaved, taking probably still thousands of (now dead) tick bodies with it. Obviously, this left the embedded heads to deal with later, and revealed a number of scars running the length of her body, possibly the result of escaping a predator. When we received her later that same day, there were still dozens of ticks attached to her head, legs and tail, which were not completely shaved, but trimmed short. Even though she had been bathed, her body and breath smell like “roadkill”, which was likely a portion of her previous diet.
While speaking with the vet, I happen to mention that we feed a raw diet, for which I was immediately reprimanded, and warned about the DANGERS of salmonella. I only had to ask two questions: (1) “Have you researched raw feeding for dogs?” To which she answered with a somewhat snobby “yes”, before she abruptly walked away. I was somewhat disappointed by that, because I do enjoy a spirited debate on occasion.
Despite Abigail’s obviously poor condition, she still seemed active and affectionate toward us, but didn’t seem to know how to interact with our other dogs. We slathered her with coconut oil, and immediately started her on a variety of raw proteins (chicken, beef, lamb, rabbit, etc), goats milk with added probiotics and turmeric, coconut oil, spirulina, eggs, sardines, and began a detox regiment of Milk Thistle. She enjoyed going for walks, but was preoccupied with “hunting”, zigzagging with her nose to the ground. I’m not sure if it was experience or scent that attracted her, but she payed particular attention to storm drains. Her entire torso wept fluids from the tick wounds for about a week, then scabbed over for a couple more weeks. A few weeks into her recovery, she went through what I’m convinced, was a type of detox, where she had diarrhea for a rather lengthy time, around two weeks. I took her to my own vet where they did a thorough evaluation, including blood work. I somewhat expected her to be dehydrated, but everything checked out fine.
The rescue that we were fostering for, wanted to list her for adoption fairly quickly (about two weeks) but I couldn’t let her go until I felt that she was truly “recovered”, which as it turns out, was about six months. At a lean 14 lbs, and with a beautiful golden coat. She is a slightly independent gal, but now enjoys playing with our other dogs. She barks at the typical times dogs bark, and enjoys going for walks for the sake of walking (unless we spook a rabbit, than its back to “hunting”). We now grind our own raw food using Dr Karen Becker’s book, Real Food for Dogs and Cats. We’ve had many rescues and fosters, but Abigail was not only our first foster, she was also our first foster failure. My wife LaRonda and I, adopted her into our family, and she will never have to endure the things of her first year of life again. They say puppies imprint on people, but in this situation, we imprinted on each other. I’ve never felt the kind of connection that I have with Abigail, with any other dog, but then I guess we love each one uniquely. Interestingly, she still test negative for Heartworm, and any tick-borne diseases.
This little pooch is proof that natural health and nutrition sure go a long way!