A couple of weeks ago, one of our volunteers received a call from the father of one of a couple who had a French Bulldog in bad shape. He was terribly concerned about the dog's health, and he was hoping we could help. When we said we could and would help his granddog, he was so happy that he shed a tear or two. We took Gabriel in last weekend. He was dehydrated and emaciated, because he's had increasing trouble keeping food down for the last couple of years.
Citing financial concerns, his family opted not to have the surgery for what a vet diagnosed as a cyst on his spinal column, so he has problems walking. (This top photo shows Gabriel at his intake to the vet's office. Though the photo is small, you can see the bones in his hips and ribs) On the veterinarian's scale for body condition (1 worst-9 best) Gabe rated a 2.
Following his surrender, and frightened by his troubled breathing and emaciation, one of our volunteers took him to a specialty and ER veterinary clinic and spent four hours Sunday evening holding him between tests the vets ran. At one point, our volunteer even had to explain the situation to a woman who was giving her the extra-pungent stinkeye that dog people reserve for dog-abusers! It might be funny if it weren't sad.
They kept Gabe overnight so he could see the specialists as soon as possible in the morning. We weren't sure he'd live.
The next day, our volunteer had a day off and she returned to keep Gabe company at the vet's for a few hours. Various tests showed he had no intestinal blockage, but food wasn't moving through. He has severe reflux. A cocktail of drugs to stimulate his intestines, to prevent vomiting, and to address the infection in his lungs, probably caused by aspirating some vomit, were administered, as well as subcutaneous fluids. (This photo shows Gabe after 5 days of good food and rest and care at the vet's office. His waist is not as pinched, the hip bones are clearly not as sharp and there is some roundness in the muscles of his back legs)The vets discussed doing an endoscopy to explore the throat and stomach. We worried that in his condition he couldn't survive any invasive procedures. After years of vomiting, his throat and palate are swollen and he makes lots of scary noise as he breathes.
By Tuesday morning, Gabriel was keeping food down and had plumped up like a little rum-soaked raisin! The hydration alone made a big difference in his appearance--eyes no longer sunken but sparkling, skin less wrinkly--and he was making a total love muffin of himself! All the staff were making excuses to go back and snuggle him or let him out to "see if he had to pee." By Thursday, the staff and our volunteer could see that the bones that had jutted out so horribly were beginning to recede a bit. And when he was released from the hospital on Thursday night, his temporary foster mom who'd seen him before he went to the vet said he looked much, much better, though still way, way too skinny, of course.
The transport to his long-term foster home took place on Saturday; he was looking great and breaking hearts.
Our volunteers could scarcely believe the change in his demeanor and appearance, and tears were shed as he moved from his temporary foster mom to his transporter (and ER visiting volunteer) to his long-term foster mom.
We know that Frenchies are charming, adorable, easy-to-love little dogs, but even in a breed known for charm and heart capturing ability, this dog is something else.
Really, he's something else! There will be internecine fighting among our volunteers when the time comes for this boy to be adopted, and you can bet that heaven is being positively pounded with prayers for his continued improvement. (Remember that scene from It's a Wonderful Life where we see the galaxy of stars and many voices overlapping saying prayers for George? That's what it's like in heaven today.)(Do you see how Lillie and Gabe's heads are the same size? Now look at the photo of these two above. They should be the same size around the middle, too.)
He needs those good thoughts and prayers, too. He has sores on his feet, as a result of the foot dragging that the cyst on his spine causes. He may yet need palate surgery and he is still very underweight and weak. Once he's full of vitamins and nutrients and he's put some meat on his bones, we'll look to the next step for Gabriel. Right now, though, he's just concentrating on getting stronger, eating good, fresh, home-made food and taking his medicine, and sleeping long sleeps with his foster sisters Rosebud and Lillie, and his foster brother Murpheee. Murpheee and Lillie have their hands full taking care of Rosebud and Gabriel, so keep a good thought for them and Gabriel's foster mom, too. (Here is Gabe with some of his new friends, all swaddled in a beautiful red blanket made by one of our volunteers in North Dakota!)
The frogs are raining from the sky in California and the East coast. If you've ever considered becoming a volunteer for us, we'd love to hear from you. Get in touch with Sally at SJCuratola at a o l dot com.
Now is the time for all good friends to come to the aid of our Frenchies! pleads
The Frog Princess