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Saving Grace

Told by April Hurley, founder of Angel's Hope

"We provide a Spay/Neuter Program in McDowell County, WV. It’s the poorest county in the state and very underserved in terms of animal services. Stray/homeless dogs are common in the area.

Grace, her siblings and mom, and another litter of puppies and their mom, and another dog began showing up at the home of a person that used the spay/neuter program. They were going through people’s garbage looking for food, sleeping under her house or in the woods, and running on/off the road of the hollow.

When I found out about the dogs and that Grace couldn’t move, I couldn’t let her suffer. We had them take her to a vet in WV and assumed she’d been hit by a car. That’s when we found out that she’d been shot. The vet in WV did not think she would live even for a couple of hours and advised to euthanize her. If that’s what needed to be done, I at least wanted someone to be there to hold her when she went. I asked them to meet me to bring Grace and I took her to the specialist.

The ER doctor did the basics as far as stabilizing her, but felt that with surgery she could have a good life. The neurologist agreed and the surgery was performed on 2/12/2017. Initially, the neurologist felt that there was a slight chance the spinal cord had not been damaged, rather compressed, and that once the bullet was removed, Grace may have a chance at walking again. However, when he performed the surgery he found that the spinal cord had in fact been damaged. She also had a fracture and he had to remove the bone from that. In addition, she had lice and later we would find out liver flukes.

Because she had so little positive interaction the first four months of her life, she is very reserved and does not at this point seek out attention from humans. She is not aggressive at all and allows me to do everything I need to do for her: expressing her bladder, cleaning her up, bathing, petting, sitting with her, putting her in and out of her cart, lifting her etc. She just doesn’t initiate contact. When we have her in her cart, she will occasionally follow me, but it takes some coaxing.

Prior to her injury, she’d been living with her family and with several other stray dogs, so she has interacted with other dogs. We’ve introduced her to two of our senior dogs and she again didn’t do very much. They sniffed her, she sniffed them, but she wasn’t interested in following them or interacting with them more. She may be unsure and a bit nervous because she can’t move as she once did. We haven’t introduced her while she’s been in her cart and will be doing that soon.

We are currently doing physical therapy every day. She requires that her bladder be expressed and she doesn’t have control of her bowels. When kept on a consistent schedule and feeding regimen, she remains pretty clean, but a family should be prepared that she will need bathing regularly to remove any urine that has leaked and also if she defecates when no one is around, she may need cleaned up.

Regarding her future medical needs, she may get UTIs often and the family should be prepared for this added medical cost.

I feel her ideal home will be one that the person(s) has experience with special needs dogs and that is home more often than someone working a regular work week as Grace needs someone to interact with her pretty often to help her come out of her shyness and also mild depression at this point.

A home with no kids or older kids that will interact with her gently will be best. As far as dogs, maybe a small-medium calm dog that will also be gentle with her and help her remember how to interact with other dogs and could be company for her, but if they don’t have a dog that may be fine as well.

Her family will have to be patient with her and understand that her background makes it difficult for her to initiate contact and that she isn’t going to be super outgoing in the beginning or maybe ever."

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Now some personal commentary from Sara at BOGO Bowl. For five years I loved and was loved by a beautiful boy named Chance. Chance was paralyzed in his hind end after being hit by a train. Unlike Grace, he could self-express (which turned out not to be a great thing if I'm honest) but like Grace, he required some special care. Do I regret a moment of our time together? Not one.

My friend Susan has had her boy Duke, who is also paralyzed, for 6 years now. Duke has to have his bladder expressed, which is no big deal.

Then there are dogs like Josh and Lt. Dan.

My point is, if you think you might be the right person or family for Grace, but you want to know about the realities of caring for a special pup, you'll have resources.

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