Category Archives: Good Life

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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Saying goodbye to Chance

"There once was a boy named Chance, who'd wiggle and do a little dance. He really needed pants. Chance."

first-pic 2nd-picI was not looking for a new pup. I had lost Bear just a year earlier. Bear's sister Lady and I were doing just fine with our cats Magoo and Bibi. But I kept seeing a pathetically adorable pup in my Facebook newsfeed. He was special needs - he'd been hit by a train, and was paralyzed in the back - but he had great personality and spirit. At first, I tried sharing his story to find him a great home. It didn't take long before I started to wonder if my home was the great home.

A local woman had recently adopted another paralyzed larger dog, named Duke, and I connected with her to find out the realities of caring for a special needs dog. Susan, Duke's mom, was amazing - and an enabler! She gave me all sorts of information and offered to help acclimate us if I made the decision to adopt Chance.

The next hurdle was my house. It was an early 1900s place, not designed for a dog with a wheelchair. I mentioned that to one friend and before I knew it my kitchen was literally taken apart and put back together again in one weekend with dog-friendly flooring, and the kitchen island moved to prevent cart snags. My wonderful friends also put in a ramp to the yard.

chance-and-sarahIn June 2011, Jim and Sara from Pilots N Paws flew this pathetic-looking little guy from Topeka to Des Moines. The minute we met it was instant, crazy, mutual love between Chance and I, and the Chance song was born.

Over the next five years, Chance found joy in pestering his older canine sister, cuddled with his cats, adored and was adored by his humans, and inspired a company whose mission is to help at-risk animals like him find or keep their forever homes.

There were challenges, to be sure. Whereas Susan's dog, Duke, has to be expressed to keep his bladder empty, Chance did not. At first that seemed like a blessing. But realistically, having a 60lb dog who piddles wherever he goes is a challenge. We tried diapers but because of the way he moved - sometimes with his legs out behind him, sometimes bouncing on his butt like a pogo stick - they wouldn't stay on.

It turned out he was also heartworm positive, which I did not know when I agreed to adopt him. (Please please tell everyone you know how easy it is to prevent heartworm and how awful it is to treat!)

bogochanceWe found our way and I expected a long, happy life with him by my side. Truly, the boy was a sweet, goofy, clown. If I was having a tough day, he knew it and decided if destroying a stuffie made him feel better, it would help me too. He reminded me to find joy in the small things, like a banana or a roll in the grass. When I was having a sorry for myself moment (it happens!) watching him enjoy the world despite what we might see as challenges reminded me to suck it up and get on with it.

Unfortunately our long life together wasn't to be. Earlier this week we discovered Chance had a tumor in his brain that was causing seizures, pain and stress. Heart breaking, I let him go.

Now, more than ever, we're committed to helping dogs like Chance get their chance at a good life, whether that's by keeping them with families who love them through programs like the Pet Project Midwest, or helping them get lifesaving medical care from groups life Fairytail Endings, or giving them time to find the just right forever home, thanks to organizations like Lucky Dog Animal Rescue.

Although there is a huge hole in our hearts, Chance is still here, encouraging us, cheering us on, and reminding us why we do what we do.

Thank you for joining us on this journey.

Sara
deck chance-in-repose-1 chance-042313

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Have a happy - and safe - 4th!

The Fourth of July is right around the corner!  While this is an exciting and fun time for people, we want to make sure our pets are safe and can enjoy the holiday, too!  Did you know that the loud noises and flashing lights typically involved in the Fourth of July could frighten pets and cause abnormal behavior, resulting in broken leashes, jumping fences, running away, and even biting?
Here are some pet safety tips to help you and your pet get the most out of the Fourth.
  1. Keep your pet away from the noise in someplace quiet, sheltered, and escape-proof during fireworks or other loud noises.
  2. Make sure your pet has a collar and ID tag to ensure they can return home if they get separated from you.
  3. Never use fireworks around your pets.
  4. Keep lighter fluid and matches away from pets.
  5. Do not put glow jewelry on pets or allow them to play with this.
  6. Do not leave alcoholic beverages unattended where pets can get them.
  7. Above all, do not take your pets to any festivities, including fireworks, concerts, etc.!
Use these tips in addition to your best judgment to ensure a fun and safe Fourth of July for humans and pets alike!
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