The moment I laid eyes on him, my heart sank. I sat down and offered him a treat, which he gently took from my hand. I could tell by the loss of fur and red skin on his body that he was seriously stressed, having a medical emergency, or both.
A Silver Linings board member was contacted on Friday, March 15 about a dog that was alone and needed help. Early information she had received turned out to be incorrect (we’d heard the dog was 22 and in very bad shape), but it was very clear from the message that someone needed to intervene. We knew his owner had been placed in rehabilitation at the beginning of March and left someone in charge of caring for her dog. The caretaker was unable to provide the level of care the animal needed and was trying to re-home the pet. At a loss of what to do, they had been calling the shelter for help. When I saw the texts come in, I looked around my quiet home and thought, why not? Less than an hour later, we were picking up a dog whose name we didn’t even know.
My Heart Sank
The moment I laid eyes on him, my heart sank. I sat down and offered him a treat, which he gently took from my hand. I could tell by the loss of fur and red skin on his body that he was seriously stressed, having a medical emergency, or both. Having no idea when the last time someone had been there, I immediately took him outside. We collected his bowl, food, and leash and loaded him up in the car all while verbally coming up with the rest of the plan. He was thrilled to be out of the house and taking a ride in the car! Now to the major issues at hand- I had no idea what his name was, any medical history or if he was currently on medication or a special diet, but he was covered in scabs, his skin and ears were in awful shape and he smelled terrible. I located his collar, which had a rabies tag attached to it so I did the only thing I knew to do- I called the number on the tag. Blue Sky Veterinary Clinic answered and I explained the situation to them. They told me his name was Suki and that he probably needed his allergy medication. Having my own dog with allergy issues, I had suspected that was part of the problem, but had never seen a case this bad. The staff at Blue Sky were incredibly helpful and told me to bring him in right away. One look at him and they were sending me home with antibiotics for the infection that had developed on his body and the appropriate allergy medications. The stress of being left alone for long periods of time had compounded his already troublesome allergies.
I brought him home and quarantined him so I could provide him space of his own. He needed so many things and I set to prioritizing them. I started by administering his medications, giving him a snack, taking him for a quick walk and then straight to the bath. Luckily, I had some Maleseb (medicated, antimicrobial shampoo) on hand so I gently brushed what was left of his fur and gave him his first of many baths. All of this activity was a lot for Suki and he spent the rest of Friday quietly napping. He was perky Saturday morning and ate with gusto! Taking him for a walk that next morning, he never stopped wagging his tail, but that’s just how Suki is. He LOVES being outside and his tail is always wagging to prove it. He basically slept the rest of the weekend, getting up to eat and take our twice daily walks, but I could tell he was already feeling better and likely hadn’t been sleeping much due to anxiety and discomfort.
We settled into a routine pretty quickly. He was definitely crate trained and loved the crate someone loaned us. He got along fine with my senior dog, Lucille, and although my cat didn’t quite trust him, they made it work. I stayed in contact with his vet, checking in regularly with updates. By giving him the antibiotics, allergy medication, changing his bedding daily, giving him medicated baths twice a week and treating his ears for 9 days with Zymox Otic Solution, his condition quickly improved. The board member that was first contacted about Suki was able to meet with his owner to get more information. We discovered that Suki had suffered terrible losses over the last 6 months. One of his owners (and his favorite person) was placed in long term care, followed just a month later by his long time canine brother passing away, then his other owner left home to recover from an illness. Suki definitely had every reason to be stressed. Dogs are pack animals and one by one, he had lost his family. I did my best to comfort and reassure him every day and his mood and health continued to improve. Within a week, his skin and ears had shown drastic improvements and some of his fur was even growing back. He started begging to get on the couch and then the bed. He so wanted to be close to humans, but I could tell he was hesitant. He was still learning to trust me and I respected that. By week two, he was my shadow- following me from room to room. Every time I looked down, he was there. My heart broke for this dog, who wanted nothing more than a loving human he could depend on. But it also reminded me of the resilience dogs possess and I was comforted knowing Suki was well on his way to happier days.
By week two, he was my shadow- following me from room to room. Every time I looked down, he was there. My heart broke for this dog, who wanted nothing more than a loving human he could depend on. But it also reminded me of the resilience dogs possess and I was comforted knowing Suki was well on his way to happier days.
We saw the vet on Wednesday, April 3 and the staff at Blue Sky Vet Clinic were amazed at his progress.
Owner Coming Home
We got word two weeks into fostering that his owner would be returning home the following week. I scheduled a follow-up vet appointment to make sure he had everything he needed to fully recover before going home. He also had a donated grooming appointment with Kelie Arevalo at South Bark Salon who used Maleseb shampoo and a gave him a proper Westie trim. He looked so good when I picked him up! His fur was still patchy, his skin and ears still hadn’t cleared up, but the difference from March 15 to April 2 was astounding.
We saw the vet on Wednesday, April 3 and the staff at Blue Sky Vet Clinic were amazed at his progress. His skin infection was still present so we came home with another round of antibiotics. The vet also administered an ear treatment that will last an entire month so not only does Suki get out of having daily ear treatments, it will also lessen the burden on his owner once he’s back home. As of today, Suki is scheduled to go home on April 10 and there’s no doubt he will be missed. He was my first foster dog and the experience will stay with me always. Caring for Suki has been challenging, but I would like to believe it’s been immensely rewarding for us both.
Silver Linings Follow-up Care
Silver Linings will provide Suki and his owner with a care plan and assist with his continued care to ensure he is able to provide companionship to his owner. Silver Linings will send Suki home with a STAY (Supplies To Assist You) basket with supplies tailored to him. This small gesture will ensure his owner doesn’t have to worry about heartworm, flea and tick treatment, food, leash and harness so Suki can stay healthy and happy with less stress on his owner.