by Karen Goldie
Ava – Latin meaning LIFE
I, volunteer when and what I can to Husky Rescue, April 2017 an urgent appeal went out to all members for an emergency foster home for a stray – in very poor condition and not much ‘life’ left in her – it was the start of the cold season and she was in no condition to be put at the haven who were bursting at the seams, and she needed a warm bed to be comfortable in her last days.
She was introduced to my pack as well as what we could as she wasn’t very mobile, shaved and just in a very bad way, they sensed this and accepted her 100%
She had no name – so I chose AVA and she has lived up to that name every day since!!
Ava’s journey started with her first visit to the vet – a week after I got her, she wasn’t sleeping, couldn’t sit, panting, not able to lift her head at all, and aggressive to the others in the pack. She had such irreversible damage to her neck and with absolutely no hair on a band around her neck it was clear Ava had been bound for a very, very long time, this also attributed to her lack of back and hind muscles. My vet optimistically put her on very strong meds for 10 days and said that I have to consult with HRSA and if there was no improvement in these 10 days a decision on what was best for her had to be made – I was told that she was in excruciating pain and these next 10days would determine her outcome. At best Ava may only have a few months with us.
HRSA believe in quality of life, not quantity – and I had to make the decision as she was in my foster care, if she had quality of life, which I would only know after those 10 long days.
Day 10 – Ava had improved!! She floored our vet and had movement in her neck, her heart was strong, and bloods were perfect she was FIGHTING so my decision was to fight with her; I was going to give her the best possible life she could have. She deserved it, after a day or two of meds, she started moving more, trying to play, integrate with the pack – she was trying.
Ava also was diagnosed with tumors in her abdomen and feet – again it was a risk to operate with her condition, but she was battling to breath lying down, so again I made a decision, took the risk and she made it through major abdominal surgery again astounding us all. The tumors were the size of a soccer ball and fortunately only fat.
On top of all of this Ava is completely deaf, has one ear and is partially sighted.
I started to research alternative treatments for animals and our vet supported the concept and felt that Ava will benefit from things like acupuncture or hydrotherapy, to get those muscles awake and moving.
I consulted HRSA and they recommended Animal Health & Hydro – I made an appointment for assessment and I haven’t looked back since!! Ava currently has acupuncture and we have tried a few times on the underwater treadmill.
Since taking her there for treatment the change has been phenomenal – she sits, this is something that is seen as normal for a dog, we were over the moon at the fact she can now sit, not often but she CAN, lifting her head for a treat! Taking a paddle in the pool in summer and just getting up in the morning, having a shake and walking with dad to the garden are things some take for granted! It might take her three times as long as the rest of the pack to do a perimeter walk but my girl does it every day without fail. Every now and again she tries to play with the pack or us; she loves to be social with visitors it’s just unbelievable the spark in her once dead eyes.
Ava is a stubborn, determined girl full of LIFE and we have loved every minute of her journey albeit sometimes hard and not knowing the outcome, I wouldn’t change my decision or regret the choices I made for her, and I can see it in her eyes how she trusts me to let me hold her whilst she has her acupuncture, or pick her up to put her in the car.
I can’t thank everyone at Animal Health & Hydro enough for all that they have done and are still doing for Ava – from Delia who magically squeezes in appointments, Jess who has the patience of a saint on the underwater treadmill, and Tanya who is Ava’s acupuncturist always on hand for advice support and even after hours for emergencies, to even the locums that stand in for Tanya all accommodate Ava with her quirks of having to stand at the door watching the chickens during her sessions!
Ava has readily accepted acupuncture sessions without any issues – I didn’t know at first how it would work or how she would react, but she loves it, the immediate relief of pressure the feelings in her muscles, she loves it and it shows in her movement, immediately.
So from taking on a dog for possibly 10 days or best case scenario a few months to give it the love of a home in its last days – it has become AVA – LIFE, she has been with us for 18 months now and still going strong, she is an integral part of our family and we couldn’t imagine the pack without her.
I couldn’t have done this without the support of HRSA and AHAH, and of course Monique at Mercury Street vet.