Meet Nash! Nash is a 9 year-old Labrador Retriever and a recent addition to our internal rescue group the Heigl Hounds Of Hope, which is focused on finding homes for dogs from high kill shelters, many of whom have suffered neglect, abandonment and abuse. This is the first part of his brave story, a journey which we hope will end in a forever home.
Nancy Heigl asked staff at the Baldwin Park Shelter in the Greater Los Angeles Area to help Foundation staff select three dogs to become Heigl Hounds. Her criteria, "Pick out 3 dogs that could use our help, ones that probably won't get out and we'll take good care of them." The result, two Chihuahua mixes that had kennel cough and an upper respiratory infection that were sinking from a health standpoint and Nash, a black labrador.
The JDHF's Mark Jones was on hand to collect the three dogs from Baldwin Park and drove them straight to veterinarians at the Roxford Clinic, where he was met by our executive director Kathy Davis. When she arrived the two Chihuahua's and Nash were sitting in the lobby and from just a quick glance at the trio, could see that the labrador was badly in need of medical attention. "I took a quick look at the group and new immediately the lab was in terrible shape. I didn't need a vet to tell me that. He looked awful, had zero energy and appeared to be close to crossing that rainbow bridge. I wasn't sure if he'd make it out of the vet clinic - he was that bad," Kathy explained.
Looking over the paperwork from the shelter, it indicated that the labrador had been surrended by his owner, was 9 years old and weighed 77 lbs. His name (Nash) and the address of his former owner were still clearly visible on his tag.
Staff at the clinic looked over the counter at our three new Heigl Hounds and in an instant said, "Let's put the big one into a room," realizing that he needed immediate help. Before the vet Dr. Long came in, Kathy started to photograph the poorly pooch but after taking just two shots to document his condition she had to stop, because there were problems with every part of his body and his general appearance was so terrible.
"The first area I noticed was the color of his coat," Kathy explained. "While he was certainly a black lab, he clearly hadn't had a bath in a very long time and he was more of a dirty dark gray, than black. I imagined that he had spent a lot of time tied outside in a backyard where all he had to lay on was dirt, no grass. He was that kind of dirty. As my eyes moved along his back, I couldn't help but notice the large patch of skin eaten away on his back. It was the size of a saucer and later the vet would later tell us that it was the remnants of a major flea infestation. He also had hair missing around his eyes and his ears. Dr. Long said it didn't appear to be mange, but she'd do a skin scrape test just to be sure."
Kathy's eyes were soon drawn to Nash's ears. "Both of his ears were horribly infected. Like nothing I've ever seen. Nash had been voicing a low moan since Mark picked him up and the vet felt his badly infected ears were probably one reason for his distress. They brought in ear wash and carefully dosed some inside each ear, massaging it in. Next came some gauze pads to begin cleaning them out. The vet technician went through an entire box of them. Nash shook his head a few times during the process and black, gooey gunk from his ears flew everywhere. I was amazed at how calm and quiet Nash remainded. He just stood there and leaned into Mark who held his head and softly rubbed his body. All we heard from him was a low moan and a soft whimper. After the initial cleaning was completed, the vet handed us a bottle of ear wash and a tube of ointment with instructions to repeat the process every day for at least a week. She also started him on an antibiotic for the infection."
"I looked next at his legs," Kathy continued. "His front right leg had a lump the size of an egg engulfing his ankle that was open and oozing a bloody mixture. As I moved my eyes to his left front leg, there was a twin lump in the same ugly, oozing shape. Looking to his back legs, they had double egg sized lumps and looked even worse (if you can imagine that) with open, oozing wounds. I tucked the camera into my pocket. I didn't want to record any of this. When the vet examined his legs, she said that the wounds were probably a result of severe allergies. The lumps were a result of Nash chewing on them to relieve the itching. She prescribed an antihistimine to help, plus an ecollar to stop him from licking or chewing them any further. She also ordered a soothing bath once a week with a medicated shampoo to speed the healing process. I couldn't wait to get him bathed."
As if all this was not bad enough, Nash also had kennel cough but fortunately no fever. Kathy started a prayer that he wouldn't get pneumonia, but given all of the other ailments he was battling she knew it would be a struggle.
"The vet ran a few more tests, poking and proding him. All the while, his demeanor never changed. Calm, quiet, low moan or a whimper. No anger. No resistance. Almost reverent. I had taken his owner's contact information off his collar and dropped it into my pocket. It was in the shape of a small bone. I kept rubbing it between my fingers each time I stuck my hand in my pocket. I really wanted to know the rest of his story. How and why did he end up at the shelter? What was his story? I thought about calling the number on his tag, but decided not to. All my thoughts and energy needed to be directed towards this poor soul in front of me. He deserved nothing less."
TO BE CONTINUED