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August 7, 2022

Abilene and the pups

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Written by: josh


Marley’s Mutts Dog Rescue has been saving dogs for 3+ years and in that time we have witnessed many miracles. We’ve had severely burned, practically dead pups be resurrected to find their purpose as therapy dogs for pediatric burn survivors. We’ve rehabilitated and transformed dogs that were “too sick” or injured to save.  Perhaps our greatest pride comes from our everyday socialization and rehab routine. We pull unwanted, fearful (sometimes aggressive) dogs from the shelter and we remind them how to just be dogs. We help dogs face their fears and we adjust their behavior so they may move on to grace the home of a loving family.  These unique successes-all of them miracles, must make some room in the record books for Saint Abilene and her fortuitous five!!!

We rescued Abilene (along with another Saint named Canaan) after getting a call from the staff at the Bakersfield Animal Shelter. The staff there knows that we will take the hard cases—the big, sick dogs that nobody else can handle. They told us that Abilene was a 5-6 year old stray that had been there for a few weeks. She was very sick: ailments included severe respiratory infection, malnutrition (at least 30lbs underweight), tick infestation (thousands, including larvae), extreme dehydration and an abscess on her neck that, at one time, was the size of a basketball.  The staff had tried treating her with strong antibiotics but they hadn’t worked. She would have been put to sleep if we hadn’t rescued her that day.

We got Abilene and her rescue-mate, Canaan, up to the rescue as quickly as possible and went to work. Both girls were very sick, but Abilene was critical and we weren’t sure she would survive the week. . She couldn’t walk more than a few steps and couldn’t stand for more than a minute. SHE HAD TICKS EVERYWHERE. She had been treated at the shelter, a few times, with powerful pesticides, but her skin was still crawling with ticks. After shaving the abscess on her neck we discovered a tick breeding ground that smelled like, well, a tick breeding ground!!  Alleviating the tick problem took the better part of a day. We hydrated her with subcutaneous fluids and cooked her some of our famous garlic chicken.  We also started her on a few different medications that our vet had recommended. As the days went on she started to improve while managing to hold on to one very interesting peccadillo—she would only drink water out of a hose which made it difficult to keep her hydrated. After a week, we started to see marked improvement; she started to eat dog food (and a lot of it), her extremely runny nose/eyes were drying up and SHE FINALLY STARTED TO DRINK FROM A BOWL LIKE A NORMAL DOG! For those first two weeks, the Saints hung out on our front yard like lawn ornaments. They ate, drank, medicated, rested and built up their strength. Abilene began to walk a bit further with every passing day. Our Facebook fans eagerly awaited progress reports and pooled their collective positive energy for the Saints.

With Abilene doing much better and continuing to head in a positive direction, I took off for Seattle to raise money for the Mutts.  I hoped that she and Canaan would continue to strengthen and inch closer to normalcy. Abilene had taught me never to count her out but that awareness did not prepare me for what happened next.

While at the airport in Seattle, I got an excited phone call from my Dad telling me that Abilene had birthed a puppy and that she may still be in labor. My Dad is a smart man, but he is also getting old, so I figured there must be a mix up: someone could have dropped pups off at my house or Dad could simply be hallucinating. What else could explain this? I mean, SHE COULDN’T BE PREGNANT! I would believe that she was a Boy-dog before considering the possibility of her being pregnant.  She was barely alive a couple weeks earlier and had been at the pound before that. The fact that she had been administered pesticides for he ticks and had been taking so many, strong antibiotics would could alone rule out the possibility for a healthy pregnancy.  Well, it turns out Dad was right and he also has very good timing. If Dad hadn’t stopped by my house to check on the girls we would have lost the pups—not only just the birthed girl but the other four pups as well.

Abilene would not continue labor normally so Dr. Freng had to perform emergency surgery to get the others out. One was stuck in the birth canal and had been deprived oxygen and nutrients for some time. Stormy named her Nemo because she just needed to “keep going”. At the end of it all Abilene gave birth to 5 pups (2 girls and 3 boys). We assume that they are pure bred Saint pups because Abilene was clearly part of a breeding operation and has had near a dozen litters.  Dad brought Abilene and the pup’s home that night from the Vet… and the plot thickened… Pups need to feed from Mom every few hours but she wouldn’t lie down and the pups weren’t too interested. THIS WAS A HUGE PROBLEM!!! To make matters worse, Dad was by himself and could not shoulder this alone (physically or emotionally). Josh sped down to the market to pick up ingredients for formula that we got from Stormy and Kathleen headed up to the house to help out Abby and Dad. Everybody steped up in some capacity and things began to mellow out.  The anesthesia began to wear off and Abby started to kick in to mommy mode. She finally lay down and let the pups eat but Nemo wouldn’t suckle and looked very weak. We were able to get a bit of formula in her but she worried us.

The next day, I returned home and got to be a part of the festivities. By the grace of the Dog-God we had a foster mom step up immediately and meet us there the next day. Her name is Kandi and she is an experienced rescuer with three older kids that love to help out as well. She had just fostered a Shepherd from the Visalia Shelter that went through an almost identical situation, so she had the chops and was very understanding of what she was getting herself in to. What a blessing her family turned out to be, because we would not have been able to rescue any dogs with Abby and her vulnerable pups residing here at the rescue.! They spent the day with us, getting to know us as well as Abilene and her pups. By the end of the day we were all very well acquainted and felt very comfortable sending Abby and her lot with Kandi to be taken care of for the next couple weeks.

Abby walked right up the ramp and into the back of Kandi’s suburban as they loaded up for the trip to Visalia. The next 48 hours were difficult- a textbook example of the Yin and Yang of rescue. The four, healthier pups cozied closer to Mom and continued to suckle on a regular basis while Nemo refused to latch on and would only suckle from the bottle in miniscule increments.  At the end of the second day she started to have mini seizures and was taken to the vet where there was really nothing they could do. We lost one of the pups which sucks (and terribly devastated my dad) but we have to stay on the sunny side of the street and count our blessings. If dad hadn’t found Abby when he did we would have any alive pups and this could have been one of the saddest weeks in the history of Marley’s Mutts. Abilene and her pups have taught us about resolve, determination, love, instinct and togetherness. This situation has brought out the best in us and the best in the dogs. We will be sure to keep you posted as this story unfolds. Thanks for reading.

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