August 31, 2010
HSVMA Clinic Offers a Second Chance for Cali
Young pup wins over vets and other volunteers
by Kimberly Bridges
Lying motionless on the exam table, the emaciated frame of a young German Shepherd puppy caught my eye as I made my way across the community center in Pine Ridge, S.D. As a veterinary student, I would be assisting one of the volunteer veterinarians with the exam, and as we began, I learned more about this puppy's past.
Found three days ago with an open wound on her front leg, a woman had brought her to the HSVMA-RAVS clinic for euthanasia, since she was unable to care for the pup herself. We soon discovered that in addition to several broken bones in the the young dog's leg, she was suffering from a severe flea and tick infestation, leaving her already malnourished body very weak.
But even in her weakened state, the sick pup warmed our hearts with her slow, gentle tail wags and petite kisses throughout the exam. Her brown eyes pleaded with us to give her a second chance. We decided to offer the woman the option to surrender the puppy to HSVMA, hopeful that we could nurse her back to health and place her with a local animal shelter or rescue.
A hopeful future
As she remained in our care, receiving intravenous fluids and pain medication, the puppy's condition improved and her true personality began to shine. Now that she was on the mend and there was a plan for her to go to an animal shelter in Colorado, she needed a name. After careful consideration, the HSVMA-RAVS staff—with the help of one very dedicated student—decided to name her Cali.
We continued Cali on a daily regimen of antibiotics and pain medications and made her a splint to stabilize the broken bones. As the veterinary student on her case, it was my job to ensure that she received several nutritious meals, fresh water and daily bathroom breaks. I valued this time with her, when I would cup her muzzle in my hands and whisper soothing words as she drooled and stared up at me.
As the last day of our trip came to an end, it was time to say goodbye to this puppy that had touched my heart. I bent down to kiss her nose for the last time and noticed a sparkle in her eye, one that I will remember and cherish for the rest of my life. I believe it represented her newfound hope at a second chance—a chance that would have been impossible without the dedication of the HSVMA-RAVS staff and team of volunteers.
Kimberly Bridges is a 4th year veterinary student at Western University of Health Sciences and an active participant in HSVMA-RAVS.