If you were a dog, imagine the fear and pain of lying in a deep, steep flood control ravine bleeding from wounds with bones protruding through the skin of both front wrists. It is winter and the canal is running with water. You have no protective covering from cold or sun and the area is teaming with hungry coyotes. Because of your inability to use your front legs to seek help and shelter you suffer these conditions for 5 weeks, yet with incredible will, you survive. And all of this was only the first part of your ordeal!
This true survival tale is how the Pit Bull/Dalmatian cross named Roxy became the canine face of Hearthstone Homemade. Her extraordinary will to live inspired our efforts to improve the lives of all dogs through nutrition. Please enjoy Roxy’s unbelievable tale. Read more…
ROXY’S AMAZING JOURNEY
If you’ve ever watched your dog run for cover under your bed at the sound of firecrackers popping in the street or resonating boom of thunder, you know that loud noises can sometimes scare dogs. That’s why when the fireworks celebration started on New Years Eve of 2011, a timid and protective Dalmatian/Pit Bull Cross named Roxy bolted from the business of her owner in search of a place where she would feel safe from the unfamiliar noise. What should have been just the start of another year, as a carefree companion would soon become the most difficult time of her life.
Roxy’s First Day Home
After she disappeared, her owner saw no sign of her for over five weeks, and he feared that she was gone for good. But in the middle of the coldest, wettest part of February, a call came. Roxy had been found trapped in a deep ravine in Chino, California with compound fractures of both wrists (open wounds with bones protruding outside of the skin.) Alone, cold, and terrified, she had been without shelter amongst coyotes and defenseless due to her injured limbs. Her circumstances left her fearful and distrusting when she was discovered by people. Rather than call animal control officials, these caring private citizens visited her for a while, dropping food next to her in the ravine and attempting to sooth and comfort her. It was a while before they were able to earn her trust and get close enough to read the phone number on her collar. When they did, they called her owner. He immediately drove out to pick her up and rushed her to our hospital.
The staff scooped her up and took her to x-ray to determine the extent of her injuries. In the process, she showed no signs of fear or aggression but did express her anal glands. Overcome by embarrassment, her only concern was to lick her bottom to rid the room of the offensive odor and then let the staff x-ray her wrists. The x-rays revealed severe multi-bone fractures. Surgery was performed immediately and only the right wrist was suitable for a bone plate. The other was beyond repair.
Post surgically, both legs were placed in splints for stabilization in hopes that when they healed she would be able to stand normally again. It was during the splint phase that I joined the staff as a relief veterinarian and took charge of Roxy’s routine bandage changes. For a while, it seemed like things were looking up until her owner brought her in one day after he found her violently tearing at her bandaged splint. We removed the bandages to find the left foot severely infected with dead tissue of her toes and footpads. The infection was so bad that supportive splints were no longer an option and were removed.
Unable to walk, Miss Meticulous Roxy refused to urinate or defecate. The staff had to roll her on a blanket sling and carry her out to a patch of grass where she would perform her duties. This became her routine until we discovered that her infection was due to what’s known as “flesh eating bacteria” or a type of MERSA. We changed her medication and she began healing and was soon able to walk again. Unfortunately, without support, her left wrist ended up collapsing and she started to walk on her wrist rather than the remains of her footpads. In spite of this, she did fine and soon was able to make it on her own out to her grassy patch.
Slow recovery with many set backs
Nevertheless, the length of her recovery from MERSA and the disability in her left front leg was becoming increasingly overwhelming for her owner and he finally broke down one day and asked us to put her to sleep. When I looked into Roxy’s eyes I felt that she wasn’t ready to give up yet, but I understood the owner’s struggle. Inspired by her will to live, I requested a transfer of ownership to us and she eventually became my dog.
Yet another surgery
Her recovery continued to progress nicely until she began to show discomfort on her right wrist (the one with the bone plate). Testing revealed that MERSA had invaded the tissue around the bone plate, so the only course of action was to remove it. She was able to recover from the bacteria, but her right wrist collapsed without support. Surgical correction of her disabilities is out of the question, as they require months to a year of pins protruding from open skin wounds. The MERSA that is now part of her normal skin bacteria is responsive to only one antibiotic and if it were to become resistant to that then she will have no hope of survival. As her healing has progressed, the joints of her wrists have become fused. This condition makes it impossible to fit her for orthotics to correct her stance because forcing her rigid joints into a normal posture would be painful and normal exercise would become excruciating.
In the meantime, she is happy playing fetch and chasing a laser light in the living room and hallway and is always up for a game of keep away with a toy. She manages to go for a walk around the neighborhood every morning without difficulty, in spite of her disability. Though her life will never be normal again, she doesn’t seem to mind. Roxy has been through more danger, difficulty and pain than most animals will ever have to face, and through it all, her will to live held her strong and steady in the face of adversity. Roxy’s courage is a continuing inspiration to us, reminding us to appreciate what we have and make the most of the life that we’ve been given. Having her in our lives has truly been a gift.
Paws bend in the wrong place, but doesn’t slow her down!
~Dr Ken Tudor
THE DOG DIETITIAN