Friday, July 11, 2008

Dog on the Blog: Augustine's Day at the Beach

You can imagine the excitement Augustine must have felt as everyone prepared for a day of fun at Crystal Beach. You can envision her little steps from one part of the house to another, as the cooler was readied, the towels and blankets were packed, people bustled about preparing -- her little head looking up at them in excited anticipation. You can picture her riding in the car, wearing that smile you see in the above photo, watching the scenery pass by, just happy to be in the car with her family.
You can just see little Augustine roaming the beach, testing the water with her toes, then returning to the warm sand for a nap. Augustine sleeps very soundly, because she no longer hears.
What you can't imagine is how someone could just leave her behind -- how she awoke from her nap, and looked around for her family. But they were gone. How she frantically ran up and down the beach, searching for her family or someone she recognized, the panic rising inside her.
Can you begin to imagine the sorrow and pain she felt when at last she understood what it all meant... that she had been abandoned by the family who had cared for her all these many years.
Maybe because she could no longer hear when someone called to her. Maybe because she was starting to have "accidents" in the house, as seniors sometimes do. Or maybe it was just because she had gotten old.
The searing sadness of not being wanted, of having no one to love you is hard enough for any dog. But from the family who has cared for you since you were just a pup? How could they just dump you at the beach and walk away?
A grieving Augustine was picked up by the Galveston County Animal Control Officer. It was recognized that she was not likely to be adopted, when she had so many younger, healthier dogs to compete against at the shelter. So Laurine Murtaugh, the patron saint of the elderly and infirm dogs at the Galveston Shelter, arranged for Augustine to come live out her days at Smiling Dog Farms.
Like any senior citizen who is set in her ways, Augustine can be snappish if you ask her to do something she doesn't want to do! But she can also be a loving girl, who appreciates that she is no longer abandoned and alone.
We had quite a scare after only her first week with us. She was standing in front of the refrigerator in the kitchen when she had an apparent stroke. He legs just went out from under her, and she tried and tried, but could not make them work. We carried her to the bed because she could not walk or use her legs at all. She had no appetite. And we prepared for the worst. We figured she had reached the end of her long life.
We started giving her Flax Seed oil in really high concentrations. We had learned to use Flax Seed oil with dogs who have seizure disorder. There is something about it that helps reconnect circuits in the brain. We figured that it couldn't hurt Augustine, and it might help her brain reconstruct itself after her stroke.
After a few days, we got her to eat something. We normally keep Karl Budhig sliced ham in the refrigerator for dogs who are not eating, because they can sometimes be tempted with it and it is relatively inexpensive. On that particular day, we were out of Karl Budhig ham -- but I had some Oscar Meyer ham that I gave Augustine instead. She happily ate it.
The next day, I went to the grocery and got more of the Karl Budhig inexpensive lunch meat and offered it to Augustine... but she turned up her nose at it! I had to get her more of the Oscar Meyer ham before she would eat it! We figured she must be on the mend for her to be that discerning about the meat we served her!
After a week, she began using her front legs, although her back legs were still very shaky. And in a few more weeks, she finally regained complete use of her legs, front and rear.
It has been an amazing recovery for Augustine, who now gets around with the ease of a puppy! We are pleased that she will have more time to enjoy her new life in her new home, where she will always be loved and will never be abandoned again!

Jay Hellerich, executive director
smiling dog farms
a 501(c)3 corporation
wharton, texas

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