January 1, 2012, 0615.
Here I am sitting on my deck watching the first day of the year begin.
Part of me says “What’s so special about the first day of the new year? It’s just another day.”
The simple reality that tells me that this is a very special day is sitting next to me with his head resting on my arm. His name is Nelson and he is a very skinny Weimaraner.
The truth is, if fate and kindness had not intervened a short time ago, this dog would not be sitting next to me enjoying the sunrise of this new year’s day. He would be dead. There would be no 2012 for Nelson.
Less than 72 hours ago, Nelson was cowering alone in the corner of a cold cage in the Bakersfield pound with no chance of adoption. He was very, very sick. Even though he was obviously emaciated and desperately needed nourishment and fluids, he would not eat or drink.
Nelson had ugly substances oozing out of his nose and eyes. He had infected wounds on very sensitive parts of his torso that hurt a lot (out of respect, I won’t specify the actual parts that are wounded).
As he lay there, it was clear that Nelson had been through a lot since he had been separated from his owners. But it was also clear that his body had finally given up on him. If no one intervened, Nelson would be dead within 48 hours. He would not be euthanized, he would just die.
Enter my son Zach. He runs a nationally-known rescue for large dogs in Bear Valley Springs. Most of his efforts are focused on helping dogs in our local Tehachapi Valley area, about 120 miles north of LA. In the past 2-1/2 years, Zach has found homes for more than 350 stray or abandoned dogs. Saving dogs actually saved my son’s life, but that’s a story for another day.
Even though there are plenty of dogs that need rescuing in Tehachapi, and Zach is very busy helping them, he regularly travels to animal shelters in our region, including Mojave, California City, or Bakersfield, looking for more dogs that he can help. Ahh, the energy of youth.
Zach found Nelson in Bakersfield along with a German Shepard pup. He brought them both back to Bear Valley. The Shepard pup got adopted immediately. But Nelson was really sick. He came to my house. To protect the other 6 dogs at my house from illness, we isolated Nelson in his own, very warm and comfortable area.
For many, many hours after he arrived, I gave Nelson lots of love and attention, but he would not eat or drink. I tried every thing from dog biscuits to chicken to hamburger to bacon. Nelson was not interested. Nothing is more frustrating or heartbreaking than watching an emaciated dog refuse the food that he so desperately needs to survive.
Zach and I began a treatment of antibiotics and administered fluids to Nelson using a drip that put them under his skin (subcutaneously). The fluids really helped Nelson feel better right away. But he still needed food.
Then I remembered that my best dog-friend Austin, who also refused food when he was very sick at the end of his life, would still always eat slices of “Honey Roasted Maple Turkey Breast” when I offered it to him. Maybe my memory of Austin could help Nelson. I offered some Honey Roasted Maple Turkey Breast to him.
He ate it!!!
What a wonderful feeling it is to see a dog that you love finally accept the nourishment that he so desperately needs to live.
I decided not to worry about the minor adverse effect that the seasonings in the turkey breast might have on Nelson’s sensitive stomach. It was food and it was a beginning.
After a few more applications of fluids and antibiotics over a 24-hour period, Nelson decided that broiled chicken was just as good as $10 per pound honey maple turkey breast. After 48 hours, Nelson even decided that normal dog food tasted pretty good too. What a relief! Nelson was hungry!
Bottom line, with our help, Nelson has turned away from death’s door and is well on his way to a healthy and happy life. He’s still skinny, but he’s eating, pooping and peeing in a very normal way. Simple pleasures.
Nelson will still need more medical care including blood work, medicine and possible surgery on his wounds, all of which are very expensive, but, as Nelson and I greet the sunrise together on the first day of 2012, I feel very positive. I am certain that this will be a very good year.
I’m proud of you, Zach.
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