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 with you.
The woman 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.
Fortunately for 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.
Both dogs 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 well formed.
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 outcome.
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 recovery.
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
Meanwhile, 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 both behaved
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 coat is)
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 coat)!
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Lex “Before” Pictures
Lex “After” Pictures
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Interested in adopting this dog? Please check out our requirements for adoption page.