Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Patient of the Week: Hilda the German Shepherd

"She's old, so we bought her here to die in peace".

Before I tell you Hilda's story, please let me introduce myself.  As are many of us in the veterinary field, I am an animal lover.  That's probably an understatement.  My crowning achievement for the last 14 years is fostering over 200 German Shepherds for Virginia German Shepherd Rescue.  I bring dogs into my home and keep them until adoptive homes are found for them.  I am one of several "Intake Coordinators" in the rescue, which means I make gut-wrenching decisions, almost daily, on which dogs our organization can assist and which ones we cannot.  We do not rescue them all.  We can't.  There are simply too many.

But this is Hilda's story, not mine.  

Hilda was left tied to a tree to "die in peace" in rural West Virginia.  We don't know any more than that, but it speaks volumes about the horrible life she had before a stranger intervened and took her to safety and before the shelter sent out a plea for assistance.  

The shelter seemed to think Hilda might have had a disease called Degenerative Myelopathy.  This is an auto-immune disease that is common in German Shepherds.  In layman's terms, the body attacks the nerves in the spinal cord, gradually rendering the dog paralyzed.  There's no cure.  If there is ever a silver lining associated with a terminal disease, the silver lining regarding Degenerative Myelopathy is that it is not a painful process.  It's compared to ALS (Lou Gehrig's Disease) in humans.  The bad part involves a human having to "play God" and determine when a dog's quality of life is such that humane euthanasia becomes the right decision.  I have had three German Shepherds with Degenerative Myelopathy.  Been there, done that.  So when I received this email, describing a poor dog just needing a comfortable place to be until it was time to say goodbye, my family and I decided to have Hilda spend her time with us.

Fast forward.  Hilda does not have Degenerative Myelopathy.  Hilda isn't ready to give up, and is NOT ready to say goodbye to this world.  Hilda is full of herself, gaining weight, muscle and confidence!  It's a long shot, but I actually might be able to find a home for this dog!  She's great with other dogs, people and the fat, fluffy, fur balls we commonly refer to as "cats".  

Hey, let's post this girl on the rescue's Facebook page.
Everybody "likes" Hilda!
What? You saw Hilda's picture and story on Facebook?  You have a home that Hilda would thrive in?
You don't care how old she is?  How arthritic she is?  You don't care that she's not perfect?  That the ends of her ears are fly-bitten?  You don't mind that she can't see as well as a young dog?  

You're going to submit an APPLICATION TO ADOPT HILDA?

Yes, of course you can come meet her - bring your family and your dog too!

You have no expectations?  You love her at first sight?  You want to take her home????!!!!!

Goodbye, Hilda.  Welcome to the best days of your life!


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