August 2003 - "When Spud Met Tina"
In this edition of the Bullie Owner Spotlight, we feature the inspirational story of Bullie owner Tina and her rescue Bulldog, Spud. This true story really puts things into perspective and shows us just how much impact we can make in the lives of abused and neglected animals.
Background Information or "When Spud Met Tina."
Tina works at the LSU Vet School. On December 6, 2002, one of the Ph.D. students approached Tina to help put a stray he found into the
isolation ward. She found it somewhat odd that she had been approached to help in this particular instance. As the pair walked to the truck, Tina was told that the stray was in fact a little English Bulldog. He was very small. The little brown guy only weighed about 35lbs.
Tina and the student brought the little Bullie inside and set him up with food and water and when the vet left, Tina took care of him for the remainder of the day. By 5 PM that day, the Bullie had eaten 3 bowls of food and drank 4 bowls of water.
Next, it was bath time since the poor guy had fleas. After placing him in the tub, Tina removed his collar. He had only the collar, but no tags.
What she saw horrified her – the inside of the collar was filled with his fur (about 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick in some places), and the skin under was bald, red, and sore. One of the vets was in the room at the time and said that the collar had been on him at least 2-3 years, and that he probably had it on since he was a pup, because he had grown into it.
As she bathed the little brown Bullie, she realized that he was not brown at all but white. The neglect had resulted in several layers of dirt on his coat. Once the bath was finished, some of the vets took a quick look at him, and found scars on his legs (probably from constant rubbing against chains), lots of skin infections, his teeth were in bad shape (they were almost black), and he had eye infections. Actually, just about infections of every kind possible.
Tina approached her supervisor with her discovery and was told that she should keep the Bulldog. She was hopeful but still wanted to abide by the rules and planned to check in later during the week to see if anyone had called to claim him. She called the student who found him and told him about the collar and the other signs of neglect, and he said that nobody had called to claim him over the weekend.
On Monday, he received his vaccines, and some blood work. Unfortunately, he came back heartworm positive on top of everything else.
Initially Tina planned to act only as a Bullie foster mom, looking to find him a home. However, by this time, he was following Tina around and would ignore other people to lie in her lap. That was it – Tina had been won over. All concerned agreed that Tina was the right fit for the little guy.
One of the technicians at work said that he looked like a little round potato, and the name Spud was born. He stayed at work for that first week while the vaccines took effect and he was wormed (he had bad diarrhea, and was defecating strange things, like plastic tops of milk jugs, etc).
The following weekend he came home and Tina started showing him his new life.
Tina in her own words, tells us about Spud's first few weeks at home or "The Power of Love."
"That weekend, he seemed to have no clue as to staying inside. He did great with housebreaking, but seemed unsure in the house. If I moved too fast, he would hit the floor and cower.
He started doing better, but the strange thing was that he had no idea about dog treats and no idea what to do with toys! But he has learned now!
The next week, we decided to treat Spud for the heartworms, and gave him his first injection of Immiticide. Well, he had a bad reaction. His back swelled up about 2-3 inches and he would scream in pain. So he stayed somewhat sedated for 2 days. By Friday of that week, he seemed much better, and so we thought the worst was over.
On Saturday, Spud wouldn't eat (not even honey ham lunch meat!). He was lying around and wouldn't move much, so I took his temperature, and it was 102.9. So I called the ICU at work, and his vet was there and she told us to come in. When we got there about 30 minutes later, they took his temp again, and it was 104.8 (not good at all.) So they figured it was a reaction to the heartworm treatment, and he spent the weekend in ICU. By that evening, his temp was normal and was doing better, but they wanted to keep him there. So I visited, and he seemed to be doing better.
On Monday morning when I came to work, before I could even get into ICU to see him, his vet told me that there was a problem. He was panting very hard for no reason. So, they decide to radiograph him to see what the problem was. When his vet came and found me to show me the x-rays, I knew it was bad because I could tell she had been crying (by this point all the doctors and students knew him & loved him for his sweet personality). When she put the films onto the viewer, all you could see was fluid, you couldn't see any organs. He was diagnosed with pyothorax, and they said it had been there for a long time, but the heartworm treatment made him sick enough to show the pyothorax to us.
She told me that we had 3 options, but that it was so bad they weren't sure any would work. The first was surgery to go inside and manually clean him up. The second was a different surgery to put in drainage tubes. Both procedures were about $4000 (which I absolutely didn't have) and they didn't know if he could make it through the surgery. The last option was the long shot. They could drain his chest through thoracocentesis, and put him on a high dose of antibiotics. Since this was the only thing that wouldn't kill him from the procedure, and the only thing I could manage financially, we opted to go with it.
They pulled about 320 mls of septic fluid from his chest, which was almost all white blood cells (not a good sign). They told me that they were just hoping to buy him a little time to enjoy a good life, even if only for a few days or weeks. His breathing improved, but the vets were still concerned. This was on December 23rd. They told me to take him home, and to give him a good Christmas, because we were more than likely going to have to put him to sleep on Thursday the 26th. His vet said not to give up hope, because this was the time of year for miracles, but that I needed to be realistic.
So, I took my little man home, having half the vet school at his beck and call if he got sick again. I slept on the living room floor with him, gave him lots of love, and cooked him chicken and rice for dinner. Christmas Eve, he seemed a little better, but I was still nervous. Christmas morning, he seemed to be acting like a new dog. He was more active than I had ever seen him, and his face just lit up. Thursday, I took him in, and the vets were surprised at the difference in him, but they didn't want to get their hopes up. That day they pulled 130mls out of his chest (that was 1/2 red and 1/2 white blood cells, an improvement). So, he went home that weekend, and on Monday, they didn't get any fluid from him. We were very excited, but still cautious.
Two weeks later, they took x-rays again, and there was no fluid in his chest! So, he stayed on antibiotics for a total of 3 months, and has stayed clean. One of the doctors told me "God I love it when we're wrong," and this time, I did too! The vets agreed that he had to have been shot or stabbed for there to be that amount of fluid, and we were lucky that the wound healed on its' own. They guess that the fluid had been there for a few months before he showed up, and would have died within a short period of time if he had not been treated
So, in March we were able to start working on all the other problems he had. He was neutered (which helped shrink the enlarged prostate that he had), and he had a full cardiology work-up. There were no adult heartworms, but he still had microfilaria, but otherwise his heart is in great shape. So, he had his microfilaricide treatment, and this time, no reactions! We've been treating his skin problems. He has chronic staph infections, and gets scabs and then loses his fur in small spots. So now he has to be bathed regularly with special shampoos and conditions, and get sprays and flushes, but he loves the attention. The only major thing left is a dental, which is happening in the next month or two. He is learning how to be a dog, and has adapted quite nicely.
The truly amazing thing to me, is that throughout all of this sickness, and the obvious abuse and neglect from his previous owners, is that Spud is the sweetest dog I have ever met. He absolutely loves everyone and everything. Everyone at work knows him, and he gets spoiled rotten with attention whenever he goes with me. He loves to dress up and strut his stuff around. Whenever we go anywhere, he always has a smile on his face. One of his vets told me that she has never met a dog with more, or a better personality! I think that's a huge compliment to him. The vets tell me that it was love that saved him. The medicine shouldn't have worked, but it did. I think Spud did need love to make it, and now he gives it back, not only to me but to everyone else. His next big adventure after the dental is that he is going to be a therapy dog. The woman in charge of the program is so excited, because she said that when you see him smiling and snorting down the hallway, you can't help but smile! So he's healthy and happy now. He loves his sister Opal (the greyhound). They are a comical pair, the epitome of odd couples attracting. But he is the best Christmas present I ever got."
- Tina and Spud