I fell in love with Faith while touring a crowded county shelter. She was lying on the floor of her kennel. She didn’t lift her head, just slightly moved her defeated eyes to look up.
Faith was admitted to FFL. It was every bit as bad as we feared. The wound was infected and huge. But that wasn’t the biggest issue. The broken vertebrae had caused nerve damage that made it impossible for her to eliminate. She had to spend the first night at emergency clinic. When we transferred her to Bay Glen clinic the next day, her bladder was huge and she was in pain. They expressed it, and our team cleaned her wounds.
The thing that gets you about Faith is the look in her eyes. It is a look of resignation. Hopelessness. Those shelters are full of pleading eyes but Faith was past pleading. And in some ways, that was what was so heartbreaking. With every fiber of my being, I yearned to prove to her there was reason to hope.
She is the most emaciated dog we have ever had in the program.
She is high heartworm positive. She had so many hookworms that on a scale of 1-10 our vet called it at an 11. She has a gaping wound in her hip. But we are undaunted by all that. We can heal those things. None of those things are the most serious challenge she faces.
If Faith cannot eliminate, she cannot live. Our vet suggested that we try some medication to affect the nerves that go to the smooth muscles involved and see if she responded. A long shot. This kind of damage is tough to overcome. Sometimes swelling goes down and nerves respond. But mostly not. Our vet said “Call me crazy, but I think we have a chance. And it is no coincidence I’m wearing my Batman undershirt today.”
The story will be told in whether she can produce urine. Never has an entire shelter and a vet clinic been on the edge of their seats waiting for an animal to pee. Then the dribble started. For two days…dribble. It was great news but not all we need. Faith must be able to empty her bladder. Lissa, a Coordinator on our Wellness team had the idea to carry her outside to sit her in the grass to communicate it is time to urinate. If she has any influence on what happens in her body, she thought this would encourage her to use it. At this point, we have nothing to lose. Lisa carefully carried her outside and placed her on t grass. Faith is wobbly and weak but seemed brightened by being outside.
WARNING — This before picture of Faith is graphic, but it’s an important part of her story.
Then it happened.
Slowly, gingerly, Faith squatted and urinated in the grass, and then she made a perfect poop! Lissa ran upstairs with photos of poop, and we crowded around to see, cheered and cried. Lord. Do we live for this stuff or what? “How was your day?” “Well, at my job today we all looked at poop on an iphone and cheered. And you?”
Faith eats like a champ and has struggled to do everything asked of her. She fights to stand when she needs to and is patient with her e-collar. Bay Glen clinic staff were great with her and gently flushed the wound to keep it clean and stimulate healing. It is already looking dramatically better. I could still put my fist in it, but it is clean, pink and not infected. The edges are starting to heal just a bit. Kind of miraculous, really. So here’s where we are—still in the woods. But Faith is trying. We will keep trying with her. She may be in the woods, but she will not be alone there. She has a team. We don’t know what kind of ending this story will have, but we invite you to come on this “journey of Faith.”
The news just keeps getting better and better! Faith has gained 4 lbs and is pooping and peeing on her own like it’s her job! This girl who struggled to stand when we first got her now asks for walks and can do a head butt right into you for pets like no one’s business! She still has a remarkably deep wound on the inside of her hip and she will probably always have some “knuckling” (turning under) of the rear foot as a consequence of some nerve damage. She gets hydrotherapy on her wound twice a day and is a champ for it. The skin around the wound is bright pink—a great sign of healthy, oxygenated, clean, healing skin! We may never know exactly what happened to her but we know that she was most of the way “through the cracks” in a broken system when FFL caught her by the scruff and reeled her into this program.
WARNING — These recovery pictures of Faith are a little graphic, but it’s an important part of her story.
Her tail was badly broken and it had to be amputated. We told her that tail lengths are definitely coming up for Fall and not to worry a thing about it—she is right in style! (the tip is a red bandage!)
Faith has to be on some pretty sophisticated uber antibiotics as you might imagine. The wound cannot be sewn up at this point so to keep her infection-free with this highway to the inside of her we have special ordered some serious antibiotic protection for her. It works great! But as you probably imagine, it is not inexpensive. When she is stronger and healed, we will treat her heartworms and spay her. After those things, she will be ready to make a new life with some lucky person! With her current drug therapy, emergency ICU stays and surgery we need to raise another $1400 for this gal.
If you can help, we’d be so grateful.
We are working hard to fix this shattered Houston animal sheltering system but until we can accomplish that, we promise to continue to reach into the breach and grab every single one we can.
Thanks for being on the team.
Update 7/11/16 — Faith is adopted!
Faith went on a sleepover last week and her family fell in love! You helped us take a hopeless soul from one of the most desolate places you can imagine and show her joy. Your love, help and your support changed the course of Faith’s life and the lives of her new family. You rewrote the story because the ending it was going to have was just not acceptable.
Stay with us. Let’s rewrite some more stories together. Have a beautiful life, Faith!