From the streets…
The lump on the dirt road could have been an old tire and as the ambulance got closer, bringing the lump into focus, we realized – it was a dog.
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From the Pen of Haldimand Paramedics:
On Sunday July 24, 2016, Tonya and I (Melanie) were working as paramedics and got sent out on a call in our local area. We were driving along a narrow dirt road, and could see what looked like a tire in the center of the road up ahead. As we got closer we realized it was a dog curled up in the road next to a driveway of a small property. We approached slowly with the ambulance expecting him to get up and clear the way .. but he didn’t.
He lifted his head and just looked at us.
We carefully tried to maneuver around him, but still he did not move. Finally, with a lot of effort, he pulled himself to his feet. That was when we realized the heartbreaking condition this little guy was in. He was emaciated, and weak. He very slowly moved into the grassy ditch as we squeezed passed. This was 10 am on one of the hottest days of the year, and we could not stop to help him as we were saving human lives till the end of our shift. We would have to wait until 7pm that evening to return and search for him.
Saving People by Day and Puppies by Night
All day we talked out what we would say to the people who lived on the property in hopes we would be able to bring him home with us. We went back that evening and drove up and down the area he had been. We could not see him. We took the chance and entered the property, and called out to the residents. We described the dog, and asked if they had any information on him. It turned out he was from a litter of puppies they had, and was never adopted. He hung around the property just trying to survive.
They said we could have him if we wanted him, so we began searching the property.
Going above and beyond: We want him!
He was found curled up under a trailer. We believe he didn’t have much more than a day or two left. We called him out and again, he could hardly stand. He was emaciated, dehydrated, dirty, covered in fleas, lice and ticks and just continued to looked at the ground with no light in his eyes.
We lifted him into the car, and in that moment, his life would change forever.
On the way home, we both realized that he would need more medical attention than either of us had the ability to give him, and that is when we began making calls in hope of getting in touch with fellow paramedic Amy from Beaver Creek Farm Sanctuary.
During the hour long drive home, we tried to think of a new name for him. It had to be the perfect name. We came across the name Naji, derived from the Arabic word “safe”, and also an African name meaning “rescued and saved”.
We brought Naji to my house that night where I have a large yard full of gardens and grass. For the first time in his life he had his very own full food and water bowls. He seemed so surprised that this was for him. Every time I would sit with him and give him cuddles, he would just look at the ground, with a look as if he was waiting for the punch line of the joke. A look of disbelief that this attention was genuine. By the next day he was already so much stronger. In less than 24 hrs, simple food and water had improved his appearance dramatically. He could stand on his own with less effort, and would eagerly come over to his food bowl when he’d see me with the can of food. He was starting to trust, actually willing to look at me in the eyes, not looking down at the ground as often when I’d talk to him.
On Monday afternoon he went to the Humane Society for the waiting period. If nobody stepped forward to claim him he would be legally transferred to Beaver Creek Farm Sanctuary.
Naji would enter the BCFS Foster Care Program
On Sunday afternoon, he was able to come back. For the first time, I saw a light in his eyes with happiness. When I came through the gate to see him, he greeted me with the little bum wag (since his tail is too short to wag).
On Wed he went for his first vet appointment, and on Thursday Tonya and I picked him up from the vet and brought him to Beaver Creek Farm Sanctuary to continue his road to recovery.
Arrival at BCFS: Aug 3, 2016
When Naji arrived at BCFS his bones stood out starkly through his tightly pulled skin. His little nub of a tail wagged as he stood terrified on the gravel. He wouldn’t walk through an open door. Had probably never been inside a home.
At first glance there wasn’t much to see. A dirty old street dog covered with lice and fleas, and then he turned his head to reveal bright amber eyes that made my gut clenched.
All that shone out of those eyes was love. He looked at me with trust and hope. He looked at me for help. I suppose the medics had named him right. Naji = survive.
He ate voraciously. His appetite was endless as was his desire for water. We had to limit both, so whatever went in, wasn’t immediately vomited back out. Every two hours, like feeding a baby, he got food and water. He still looked sick, but his amber eyes glowed with love.
Naji’s blood work came back with crushing results: Naji was heartworm positive and his microvilli count was very high: meaning Naji has a lot of heartworms.
The board discussed the best course of action as we contact our rescue friends in Mexico who deal with heartworm more than we do in our cold climate. Heartworm is a vector disease, meaning its transferred by insects: mosquitoes. Heartworms and mosquitoes thrive in the damp heat.
We also start our own research looking at the latest findings hoping to give Naji the best chance of survival. Heart worm treatment is expensive.
If you’d like to make a donation towards Naji’s survival please do so on our donations page or via email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Naji is also infected with the contagious disease Giardia – causing diarrhea . For the next 7-10 days Naji is in isolation for his own safety and the safety of our other animals. His medical records are piling up: lice, fleas, heartworm and giardia.
But it’s all worth it to see him filling out and getting healthy!
Picture above taken August 9, 2016.
We’re about to give this dog a lot of medications in the next few months. Heart worm treatment can be life threatening and when you add giardia and a weakened immune system from starvation it decreases his chances of survival.
Naji’s road to recovery will be a bumpy one.
Please put your paws together and send prayers, positive thoughts and best wishes for Naji for the month of August. We’re taking it one day at a time, but we have a great deal of hope and a lot of medics backing Naji.
We hope you’ll stay tuned for the next installment of:
Naji’s Rescue: Rehabilitation Part 2