We Call Him "Courage" Because Of What He Has Endured
It's hard to find the words to tell the story of "Courage"...the emotions are so intense and words can't accurately convey what our eyes have seen. As rescue veterans dedicated to helping the neediest of needy dogs, we thought we had seen every form of cruelty, abuse and inhumanity possible. Sadly, we were wrong.
At 4:00 PM on April 7, we received a plea from a kind animal lover who was familiar with our rescue work. Sight unseen we agreed to help. As the story unfolded, it was hard to believe that no one had stepped in earlier--that no neighbor had seen or heard something, that no family member had taken action to protect a helpless creature. "Courage", as we have come to call him, was once someone's treasured little German Shepherd puppy--filled with hope and promise and trust as any puppy should be. But when we learned about him, Courage was a three-year-old adult who had been tied up in a back yard and completely forgotten. He had no food, no water. Because he was chained up, he had no way of escaping his torturous existence. As a prisoner on a chain, even rain water in puddles was out of his reach...
At the time of his rescue, Courage weighed 37 pounds. Our veterinarian calculates that he was left without food for five to six weeks to decline to this condition. The frame that should have supported 75-85 pounds of healthy muscle and statuesque build was a rack of bones covered by loosely hanging fur. He laid as if he were dead. He couldn't walk and wasn't even strong enough to lift his head. His eyes were glazed over and his breathing was labored. He wailed eerily as if telling her he wanted to be put out of the misery that had become his life.
At 5:00 PM, the Good Samaritan had him in the back seat of her car, rushing him to the emergency hospital. He was practically flat to look at, except for a protruding hip bone that poked out from the heap of fur. In her own words, "I kept looking back at him, praying that he was still alive...he was barely breathing. I was sure he was going to die in my car.
At 6:00 PM, an entire team of veterinary professionals was working on Courage...they inserted catheters in both front legs to pump him with units of plasma and whole blood. Courage had been starved so long that his GI tract had completely shut down. X-rays revealed that he was fully impacted with fecal matter that he could not eliminate. Moving quickly, the doctor gave him some morphine and flushed the entire intestinal tract out. The fecal matter was mostly DIRT---this poor dog was so starved that he was eating dirt. The first vet to examine Courage verified that he could not have lasted one more day without care. It was a miracle that help came just in time. Amazingly, throughout the entire ordeal, Courage never struggled, snapped or snarled...he seemed to sense that everyone who was poking, probing and lifting him was there to help.
When the vet staff felt that Courage's system was ready to tolerate something solid, he was offered small portions of a special formula diet. Tears of sadness turned into tears of joy when he ate his first meal in more than five weeks!
Today is April 8. An early morning call confirmed the news we wanted to hear: He was alive! He was alive! Today, the vet staff took turns sitting with Courage in his kennel, offering him small portions of special food so as not to upset his stomach. He seemed to enjoy the company and even managed to hold his head up!
We have been advised that Courage has a long road ahead of him. We hope that no permanent damage has been caused to his kidneys or his intestines as a result of his starvation. We want to ensure that no matter what immediate or long term care he needs, Courage will get it. This is why we are turning to our friends and supporters to help him along his journey to recovery. Courage will remain in the hospital for some time as his digestive system stabilizes again and as we build his muscles. Right now, he has to be carried in a sling, but we're looking forward to the day when he can walk on his own and eventually run in fresh green field!
Please help us so that the beautiful dog that was deprived of every comfort and kindness in Life will never want for anything again! Courage's emergency vet care is costly, but we can't imagine holding anything back--he deserves our full support. Your tax-deductible gift in any amount will allow us to provide Courage with whatever he needs. No gift is too small when it comes from the heart. (EIN# 20-3455479).
Today is April 9: Courage remains critically ill, but there have been some positive improvements. He can lift his head for very short periods, and is on a very special diet. He is being kept in an open area so he is around people at all times. This helps reassure him that he will not have to worry about being nelected again! We will update with new photos soon. Thank you so much for your support; he has a long road ahead of him.
Today is April 10: Our vets are impressed with the progress he is making! Several volunteers visited him today and told him what a brave boy he is. His nature is loving & forgiving. He gave grateful licks for all the attention. He will go home with a veterinary ER care tech tonight to get 24/7care in a quiet environment. We will determine if he has return to the hosptial tomorrow. He continues on his special diet and is able to keep it down. This is wonderful news and gives us all a collective sigh of relief.
Many have asked for details about the perpetrator, punishment and arrest status. GSROC does not know who abused this dog. (If we did, the person would be in jail). The Good Samaritan has not provided us with the name of the parties involved as this was a condition of her getting the dog safely removed from the situation. We cannot force this person to tell us - we can only hope that she wll eventually contact authorities. We remain eternally grateful to her for getting Courage safely to us before he starved to death.
TODAY IS APRIL 12: Courage spent the day hanging out with the staff at the veterinary ER. They have a mountain of cushions and pillows for him so he can sit in the treatment area and watch the activity. He can now hold up his head! In the evenings, he goes home with an ER vet tech so he is not left alone. His treatment plan is to continue the small portions of his special diet (like doggie baby food) and increase the number of feedings/day. As he continues to tolerate this, his formula will be gradually changed as needed. The best news is that there is no blood in his urine - significant because it means his kidneys don't appear to be damaged, which was a serious concern. He gets carried out in a sling to urinate. The week, new tests and bloodwork will be done to check various levels. So far, he is moving forward very well and all of his caregivers are encouraged!
Today is April 13 - Courage is improving! He was able to take his first steps today! Of course, it was under the watchful eye of his caregivers at the vet clinic. We DO NOT want him to fall!! Everyone watched in awe as he willed himself to stand! Of course he looked like a baby giraffe learning to use his legs, but his conviction was strong! His treatment plan of massage therapy, special diet and special monitoring tests is continuing. What a great day!
See the newspaper story about Courage at http://ocpets.freedomblogging.2010/04/13/neglected-german-shepherd-eats-dirt-to-survive/43565
Our founder said it best "You can't keep a good dog down"! Courage keeps defying the odds (and his handler's advice) and trying to become active. He is allowed to stretch his legs and growing stronger. He is taking steps, but tires easily. He still goes home nightly with the ER tech and they are developing a very close bond.
Today is April 15th - Courage is progressing well. He is doing so well, he has been safely discharged to a GSROC foster home for further recovery! He is walking more, but still requires 24/7 supervision.
Today is April 16th - Courage is relaxing at his GSROC foster home and continues on the road to recovery. His abuser has been arrested!! She will be arraigned on Monday in a Bellflower court. Many thanks to all of you who made this happen.
Today is April 19th: He is kicking back with his foster mom. He tries to eat everything in sight.....including weeds, so his foster mom keeps him under constant supervision! Test show his liver is doing well, his kidneys remain a concern. He is trying to walk more & more, but he tires easily and his mom makes sure he gets plenty of rest.