Rebel is my very first foster. A volunteer for ARPH (Australian Shepherd Placement Helpline) did his evaluation and transported him to me last Wednesday night. She tried to tell me what I was getting, and I thought I understood. But I really had no idea. What walked up my sidewalk to my door was quite possibly the saddest soul I have ever seen. It was if he was a broken dog. Broken in spirit and body.
The rep had assessed that he was deaf and I agreed with her. No response was given to anything. Loud noises, his name... and even the tell tale cookie jar. Nothing. What I had in front of me was a train wreck. A dog who smelled to high heaven because of two raging ear infections and bad teeth, add to that, that he was filthy, his back end was so weak it gave out on him, you could feel his spine and his waist was so thin he would have made Scarlett O'hara jealous; and finally, he walked so slowly with his head hung down that I sincerely thought he wouldn't make it to the corner of my street and back. He was shut down and nothing from this world went in and no response came out. Despite all of this, he was the gentlest, sweetest dog who only wanted to love and be loved. He broke my heart.
So, we began our journey last Wednesday. He started Thursday off with what was most likely the first bath of his life. He was put into a crate – a first. We then went to the vet in the early evening - another first. He had blood drawn and they clipped his extremely long nails. (Just having his nails clipped allowed him to walk a little better.) I picked up some wet food and he finally ate - like a starved dog would. His second day was the same really.
Friday: I noticed some life in his eyes, so later, I decided to take him for a short walk. I didn't think we'd be going far, but he surprised me. He had a little hop in his step and he picked up the pace. Next thing I know he started pulling me along and I was shocked. He did so well on our walk that morning I decided to take him on my usual walk with my guys in the woods up at the Fellsway. I had planned to turn back when I noticed any signs of fatigue but instead, he trotted along the entire 2.6 mile loop, pulling the entire way.
Saturday: I watched for any lameness that night and the next morning. Since I didn’t see any, I decided to take him on a second walk in the same location as the first one. He was bouncing along and sniffing everything he could. Then I noticed something. He was turning when he heard his name! He began reacting to sounds. I was astounded. Rebel could hear!
Sunday: My dogs get up on the bed for cuddles and to try and get me out of bed. I look behind them and Rebel is standing on my bed! I said “How did you get up here?” The dog whose back end was giving out just jumped up onto the bed! WOAH!
Monday: I had bad news. Rebel tested positive for heartworm and his blood levels were off. They wanted him back for x-rays to check his heart and lungs and to draw more blood to decipher the cause of the blood levels.
Tuesday- today: I took him into the vet and they took him in back to do the x-rays and take blood. When my vet returned, he said that Rebel was a good candidate for treatment. No shrinking of the heart and there is some swelling which you would expect with heartworm. He also said the x-rays showed that "He has an alarming amount of bee-bees in him." I was confused. I didn't know if this was a term used for some heartworm stage or something, ... he continued and said "... and a bullet lodged in his chest." It suddenly clicked. Bee-bees.. a bee-bee gun… a bullet… a gun…. they shot at him. I literally covered my gaping mouth with my hand because I was HORRIFIED!
He said they pose no threat, but it gives you a glimpse into what his life was prior to this. I wanted to cry. I really did. He said he's seen dogs with a few bee-bees but never in his life has he seen one riddled with so many as in Rebel. They cover the upper back. His sternum stopped the bullet so it didn't penetrate his chest and also posed no threat. He's an extremely lucky dog to even be alive. I'm just hoping his luck continues.
I then I mentioned how much he's improved over the last few days and my vet said, "they are amazingly resilient if you just give them the opportunity."
Well Rebel... your opportunity is here. We will make you better.
I am thankful I stumbled upon him on Craigslist. I’m thankful I’m part of a group that can help him and I’m honored to watch him unfold like a beautiful flower before my very eyes.
Rebel after one week at our home.
See updates: A Foster Dog's Journey: Update | Rebels Return!