A Halloween Tale
by Chris Harriman
October is a
month that we are used to seeing skeletons and witches, and enjoy
listening to scary horror stories.
This is one horror story involving
a living skeleton that we'll never forget & would like to share it
knew that something was wrong.
Though it was dark, she noticed that there were people in a car with a
video camera and that there were two dogs running around the
vicinity of the car. In hindsight, we're not sure if they were the
people that dumped the dogs, but after a short time she witnessed the
car driving off.
Seeing no one else around, she called the two dogs to her. As they got
closer, the woman was shocked by what she saw. Both dogs were very
thin and one looked like a skeleton. Unsure of what was going on, she
opened the door to her van and they jumped in. Since she was not able
to bring them home with her, she dropped them off at the local pound.
the dogs, one of GSRNE’s trained shelter evaluator’s, Debbie, works
closely with this particular shelter. The pound the dogs were taken to
keeps dogs for just 10 days and their time was almost up when Debbie
found out they were there. She knew that she needed to move quickly to
see if she could help them. She called me to give me a heads up on the
dogs and I contacted our Foster Home Coordinator, Milou, to put a
preliminary plan in place for the dogs if they evaluated out okay.
Debbie sent me a picture of Lex, and once I saw it, I knew I would do
whatever I could to help this poor abused boy.
How could we possibly turn our backs on this poor boy.
sounded really nice, but we knew that the male was not just thin, he
was extremely emaciated. We wondered if he had EPI which would mean
that he couldn’t digest his food properly (see Wayde’s story) as we
just couldn’t imagine anyone doing this to a dog on purpose. There
was a vet at the shelter that was doing a clinic and she looked
quickly at him and didn’t think he had EPI because his stools were
Debbie did evaluations on both dogs, and their evals came out very
good but often dogs that are sick/starved are shut down and don’t show
their true behavior. Even so, Debbie felt that his basic personality
was really sweet which we were happy to hear!
We knew that the male needed immediate vet attention and a place to
stay temporarily but the vet we usually use in that area was full.
Fortunately, the ACO greed to hold the dogs for a few days while we
worked on a place for them to go.
Lex before coming into GSRNE
Debbie and I
spent the day calling everyone we knew, looking for a place to put Lex
and Kira until we could get them into foster homes. They also need to
see a vet immediately so Debbie also worked on that. By the end of the
day, our nerves were frazzled, but one of our members, Mark, had
called in a favor and helped us find a place for Lex to stay – the
Animal Rescue Foundation who had their own boarding area. We were so
grateful that Kathy, who runs the rescue, was willing to help us out.
She also was
able to set up an appointment for us with a local vet to get his
vaccinations and additional testing done. Lex weighed in at 52
pounds which was extremely emaciated. The vet tried to get an IV
into Lex, and when he fought it, four people held him down by laying
on him. That freaked Lex so badly that he panicked and tore out the
IV. The vet tried a second time, but finally gave up when Lex tore out
that IV as well.
There was no fat or muscle left on Lex
Lex had fleas
and flea Dermatitus, which we treated. He was Lyme positive so was put
on Doxycycline. We did a titer because we knew anorexia is one symptom
of Lyme. We also did a fecal to check for parasites, which was
negative, and a urinalysis since advanced Lyme can cause protein loss
which shows in the urine.
Because of the
condition of the dogs, I ordered more vet work than usual. We did a
Complete Blood Count (CBC) to screen for underlying infection, anemia
and illness and to rule out a physical cause for Lex’s emaciation. We
also did a chemistry profile. This test looks at the internal organ
function to evaluate the organs to make sure there is no damage when a
dog’s body has been literally eating it’s own muscles. This would help
us plan how aggressively we’d need to treat Lex to have a good
We then said a prayer and crossed our fingers while we waited for the
results of the tests.
When the test results finally came in, we cheered! Though there were
some issues, nothing seemed critical. Lex was slightly anemic and had
a slight elevation of white blood cells.
He had low albumin levels and was "faintly positive for protein" in
the urine which may be a reflection of inflammation or infection in
the urinary bladder. We put Lex on oral Clavamox to see if it would
help, and he was moved to the Animal Rescue Foundation to board.
Within 3 days Lex gained 4 pounds which gave us even more hope for his
Lex after gaining 12 pounds
Lex stayed at
the Animal Rescue Foundation for a few weeks, which gave us time to
get to know him better. Kathy, who runs the rescue, and Darlene, the
kennel manager, quickly grew fond of Lex. He was good with the other
dogs there, and ignored the cats. He’d spin in his kennel though which
made us wonder if he’d spent his life as a kennel dog.
The Animal Rescue
Foundation was a great help with Lex
Allison had decided she wanted to foster for us. She’d gone through
the process, and was planning to put up a fence so she could help a
dog. We approached her to see if she’d be willing to foster Lex and
were thrilled when she agreed. It was decided that Lex would come and
stay with me and Tomas while Allison put up her fence. I was going to
be in MA at a Board meeting, so Noreen, our transport coordinator, set
up a transport from CT to meet me there. A new volunteer, Jeff,
brought him all the way from CT to MA. He loved Lex as did the Karen,
Jeannie, Milou and I when we finally met him. Even as starved as he
was, Lex’s personality shone through.
Jeff helped transport Lex
Lex came home
with me to stay for a short while. He had gained 11 pounds since the
first vet visit but he was still so thin I was afraid I’d hurt him
when I touched him. Lex had a good amount of energy, but he’d tire
easily and would curl up on a soft blanket and sleep. We took him to
visit our local vet, Dr. Perkins, who retested his blood work and
chemistry and to our delight, everything looked great!
Lex tired out quickly at first as he struggled to heal
A short while
later, Allison and her friends had finished building her fence and Lex
was ready to begin his recovery with her. Because Lex had exhibited
signs of separation anxiety, we bought a special crate that was sturdy
so he couldn’t break out.
Lex and his escape-proof crate
We took him over, set-up the crate and spent
some time sitting next to the crate alternately feeding Lex and
Allison’s female Freidl, yummy food. They thought this was wonderful
and settled down next to each other to enjoy the “food dispenser.”
Lex and Friedl learn that the treat dispenser works when they
Because of Lex’s
separation anxiety, it was a bumpy start in his foster home. Lex
despised being crated and would chew on the crate bars when left
alone. Fortunately, Freidl and Lex took to each other fairly quickly
and we discovered when he was left loose in the house with her, he was
happy and well behaved.
Friedl and Lex quickly became friends
Lex had a
setback when he got neutered. He suffered complications from the
surgery and his foster home spent many hours working hard to make him
comfortable and be sure he healed successfully. Allison worked very
hard with Lex. She fed him puppy food mixed with chicken broth and
canned food so he’d gain weight. We then switched to a special diet
that is high in fat and protein. It it more expensive than some foods,
but when Working K9 Services heard Lex’s story, they gave us a
discount. Seems everyone wanted to help Lex heal!
Lex needed special food because he was so emaciated
Right from the
start Lex showed his outgoing personality. Every new person he met was
another new friend. He gave kisses freely to each and every person he
encountered. Although he had been through so much he was still a
happy, friendly dog.
Lex is a happy, friendly dog
Lex is such a
happy boy that his tail was always wagging and would often hit kitchen
cabinets, hallway walls or the sides of his crate. This was a problem
because he’d injured the end of his tail smacking it on the walls of
the kennel where he had been boarded. When his tail would hit the
wall, he’d leave a streak of blood. After searching the internet, we
came up with an idea on how to protect his tail without causing him
discomfort. We used hollow pipe insulation, taped it to the end of his
tail, and dubbed it his tailpipe!
Lex's first day in his new foster home. (note how yellow his
Close-up of the "tail pipe"
Lex has thrived
in his foster home despite everything he’s been through. His foster
mom, Allison, describes him as one of the friendliest dogs she has
ever met. Each morning she wakes up to kisses from Lex. He gets along
great with the neighbor’s dog and plays with him every chance he gets.
He loves Friedl and they enjoy playing together in the fenced in yard
but most of all, he loves Allison. It turns out that Allison loves Lex,
too, decided that he was already home and adopted him.
The new family: Friedl, Allison and Lex
What I thought
was going to be a horror story, instead turned out to be a love story.
Though whoever starved Lex is certainly a monster, his story is filled
with numerous caring people that loved Lex enough to help him. He went
from a dog that was at death’s door, to a happy, healthy dog that is
truly loved by his new mom. He is a testament to what can be done when
people like those in GSRNE care.
Life is GOOD!
Lex after a few months in his foster home (with a gorgeous WHITE