Sunday, September 20, 2009

Apollo, the Malamute

"His whole back was moving!" That's what the lady at animal control told us when we went to meet a malamute they emailed us about. The owner had dropped the dog off because she didn't have enough money to take him to a vet and thought animal control might be able to help him. Apollo had been tied outside 24/7 in the heat and humidity and developed hot spots, and had no flea control medication on him. He reached around and chewed the irritated spots and had learned how to lean into a fence or doghouse and rub the areas. Maggots were all over his back from between his shoulder blades all the way down his back and over his buttocks. Actually, the maggots probably saved him from dying of gangrene, but he was so badly infected, swollen, and very very sick.

Animal control has a policy of putting down a sick animal immediately, but the girls took him to a vet anyway, much to the irritation of their boss. They got hold of us because they didn't want to see this 115 pound, extremely well housebroken, gentle giant be euthanized, nor did they want to get fired for defying the rules.

So, Apollo came home with me. There were a few problems to deal with. One was that he was extremely overweight. Another was his ability to reach around and chew on himself. Third was the fact that the back was so raw, he was getting pretty darn grouchy about being treated.

I put him on a diet and exercise program, especially since he has to be hand walked so he can't scratch his back on a fence or roll on the ground. We put one cone on him and had to add another one as he also had learned to destroy one to the point where he could reach around and chew on himself.

Now the biggie - the raw area. I used to work for a doctor who not only celebrated his birthday once a month with cake and champagne for everyone in the building, but truly believed that no medicine should be prescribed that tasted bad or caused discomfort. I have applied that particular theory to my work with animals. I started using my "secret sauce" horse medicine on his back and within three days he quit caring whether we touched him where he is healing. I can now run my hand over the affected areas with no negative response from him - much better than having him snark around to bite. He's losing weight and actually is showing some muscle tone in his hips and legs.

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