In early February 2014, DPRPA received an email from the Chester County SPCA about a six-year-old red male Doberman, Rusty, who was surrendered by his owner who could no longer care for him while caring for his wife with cancer.
Rusty was an outside dog, and the shelter staff said he was showing signs of Wobbler’s disease, but thought he may just be unsure of the indoor flooring. He also had a high fever but was freezing cold and had problems with his stomach.
His temperament was described as “a sugary sweet guy, and highly adoptable!”
A few days later, Pam Taylor went to see him. It was obvious Rusty had had a rough life. In addition to his thin fur, his hip bones protruded and he continued to have trouble standing and walking. But at that time he was showing signs of improvement.
He was placed with new fosterers, Gail and David Stambaugh. Initially he had some good days, but mostly bad days and it was becoming clear that Rusty’s mobility issues were serious.
On his bad days, Rusty did not move from his bed at all. For a full day and a half, the only thing he moved were his eyes. On those days he would never close his eyes, and he didn’t seem to sleep.
Rusty also got cold very quickly. To keep him warm, Gail would throw his blanket in the dryer whenever he could make it outside. When he got back to the door to come in, he would fall over in what appeared to be sheer exhaustion, and Gail and Dave would carry him back to his warm, cozy bed.
Rusty’s mobility and overall health were quickly going downhill and soon he could not get up at all no matter how much Gail and Dave tried to help him. His legs were limp and he would sometimes cry in pain.
During this time, Rusty had two different vet visits, each one with a different diagnosis. It was obvious that Rusty would need an expensive MRI to determine what was causing his paralysis.
On March 10, with his usual entourage of concerned volunteers in tow, Rusty was wheeled into Metropolitan Veterinary Associates & Emergency Service for his MRI in the wagon that Gail and Dave bought to transport him around. It was found he had a ruptured disc that would require expensive surgery. His chances for success were somewhere between 50/50 and would require several days of hospitalization followed by extensive physical therapy.
Because of the huge cost, the decision for proceeding with surgery was difficult for the Board; but after much discussion and optimism, it was decided to proceed. After all, the best news was he did not have a terminal illness, and with the surgery there was a chance this sweet boy could walk again. In addition, he had a foster family completely devoted to his rehabilitation and long-term care.
Rusty immediately underwent surgery. The herniated disc material and huge pieces of scar tissue were removed from what appeared to be an old injury. It was expected that Rusty would probably be able to stand a few days after the surgery. However, two days later Rusty’s neurologist declared him a miracle dog when he discovered him standing on the slippery hospital floor, much sooner than hoped!
As time passes, Rusty is doing remarkably well. Every day brings another milestone for him. Rusty is now able to do many small things that we take for granted: wagging his tail, walks outside, sniffs around, and miraculously, even gets into trouble once in a while.
Rusty after his RESCUE!