by Mary Wyckoff
The ring of the phone caused me to start. I knew it was a call of need since it was late in the evening. I recognized the voice of PAP911 and heard the desperation in her voice. "Please Mary, can you and Jeff assist with a pair of rescue Papillions?" the voice pleaded. "We have pulled many from the puppy mill in Louisiana and need foster homes... could you possibly get them out of Texas?"
Ironically, I was flying through Texas within the next three days. I look at my tired husband and explained that we had to help. We had just recovered our last two rescues and had sent them off to wonderful homes the week prior. We both knew, though, puppy mill rescues were going to be rough for us.
When I arrived at security between plane changes in Texas I explained my plight and security assisted me to meet the rescue group and load the very ill looking Papillions on the plane. As I looked into the crate my eyes filled with tears at their fearful eyes, malnourished bodies, and years of abuse.
Joshua, a once beautiful tri-colored boy, had been in the mill for the past 10 years, never out of the crate in his life. He could not stand and had been left to starve to death as they no longer found use for him as a stud. He had a bone structure of a 13 pound boy, but he was a mere 7.2 pounds and had lost over 50% of his body mass in starvation. When I tried to lift him I could feel every bone in his back and my finger fell a full inch into his spinal column. My heart broke as I knew his chance of survival was quite low.
Magnolia, a very tiny black and white Papillion, weighed a mere 5 pounds and she had been in the mill for over 3 years. She needed emergent surgery from being bred so many times and was in need of internal repairs. Her eyes and ears were bigger than her body. Her huge brown eyes leapt out at me and pleaded for a home. I was completely heart broken over these two babies. Why is this abuse allowed? I thought through the anger that overwhelmed me.
Jeff picked me up at Fort Lauderdale airport after a long tiring flight and opened the bag to peer in. Four big brown eyes looked back at him and he looked at me with tears as he took in the devastation of these poor babies.
After months of nurturing and reassurance, Joshua finally stood. He was hunched over and did not know how to put his feet on the ground as he was so used to the bottom of a crate. A full year later he was finally able to walk and hold his proud back straight.
Magnolia, my little flower, did well after surgery and is the most loveable little girl anyone could wish for. They never leave each other's side and you would think they were actually connected at the hip. Joshua is my guard boy and will allow no one near me; his eyes never allow me out of sight. Joshua is now 14, on blood pressure medication, and Magnolia is a mere 7 years old. Both are gifts for which we are very grateful. All was as usual when I came home from work last week. I received my usual noisy greeting, lots of kisses and the hurried need for walks.
When we returned from our walk, little Magnolia suddenly vomited more than I could ever imagine a tiny dog could vomit. Then she lost control of her bowel. She looked at me so scared and limped into the living room. I went to her side and spoke with her, but she was almost unresponsive. I called out to Jeff and yelled, "Hurry we must get Maggie to the vet!"
He grabbed the keys and helped us to the car. Her pupils were dilated, her little tongue was blue and hanging out of her mouth, her gums were white and she was no longer moving. I cried and explained to Jeff we had to go fast as our regular vet had closed and the nearest emergency vet was over 20 minutes away in rush hour traffic.
As I held her lifeless body in my arms I remembered our emergency CPR class and basic first aid Jeff and I attended a few months prior provided by Canine Assisted Therapy (C.A.T.) and ironically, as a nurse practitioner, had just renewed my CPR that afternoon. I held Magnolia's listless body in my arms and I knew she had stopped breathing and I could not hear or feel a heart beat . I laid her slightly on her left side and began infant chest compressions on her tiny chest. I put her tiny snout in my mouth and gave her 2 breaths and followed with 30 compressions. With every compressions I begged her not to leave me.
Jeff drove frantically to I 95 to get to the vet, catching every red light and dealing with heavy Miami rush hour traffic. I felt as though hours were passing and with every compression and every breath I feared I had lost my baby girl. Jeff and I both pleaded with her to hang on and reminded her how much we loved her. I thought she would drown in our tears.
Almost a full 25 minutes later we ran through the doors of the vet and she took one breath. The vet took her out of my arms as I begged to stay with her and the doors shut rudely in my face. I sobbed uncontrollably as Jeff held me and I prayed, begged and pleaded for a few more hours and days with my sweet young Magnolia.
The vet returned to say she had no idea what had happened, but that Magnolia was significantly neurologically impaired and probably suffered a stroke or a toxin exposure. I remembered we had given her Comfortus, a flea medication, two days prior and she explained she may had a significant reaction to the medication.
They began IV fluids, did radiographs, laboratory exams, gave her oxygen and resuscitative efforts. She finally allowed me to see Magnolia and she was still breathing and her tiny heart was beating. Her eyes looked like glazed pools and I sobbed as Jeff held me. They would not let us stay and as we phoned through the night, the message was the same; that little Magnolia had suffered significant neurological impairment. The next day the vet phoned and explained she thought Magnolia might be waking and asked us come in.
When I arrived, she looked at me with eyes of recognition and crawled into my arms. She smelled as if there was something terrible dead within her and was she oozing fluids from her rectum. The vet was unsure if she would survive, but felt they had done all they could and allowed her to come home with me.
I wrapped her in a towel and drove home with hope and a lot of prayer. I carried her in the house and Joshua was in a rage. I put her down next to him and the two cuddled together and he took over. Magnolia was so very happy to see him and she slightly wagged her little tail. My heart lifted a bit with hope. Joshua never left her side and within two days she was on a definite road to recovery.
I am forever grateful that Jeff and I were home when this happened and that we had taken the class that C.A.T. offered and knew what to do to help save Magnolia.
I am forever grateful for everyday we have together... My little Mags and her big boy Josh... Thank you!
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