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Written by leading veterinarians to provide you with the information you need to care for your pets.

The Daily Vet by petMD

The Daily Vet is a blog featuring veterinarians from all walks of life. Every week they will tackle entertaining, interesting, and sometimes difficult topics in the world of animal medicine – all in the hopes that their unique insights and personal experiences will help you to understand your pets.

I am going to break form today and not talk about nutrition and weight loss, but instead share a story of an incredible dog: Roxy, and her incredible will to live.

Roxy is a very timid pit bull/dalmation cross whose only desire is to love and please humans. On last New Year’s Eve she was at her owner’s business when a fireworks celebration began. Scared and probably hysterical, she managed to flee the area. There is no accounting for her journey, but eventually she ended up in a steep ravine with compound fractures (bones protruding from the skin) of both wrists. For five weeks she suffered alone in the ravine during the coldest, wettest, and darkest part of the year with these open wounds; amongst coyotes and with no medical care.

At some point during her entrapment in the ravine, someone discovered her and began feeding her. Her protective posture, her pit bull appearance, and her grumbled growls scared this person so that they felt they were unable to approach. Over time, they were able to get close enough to read the phone number on her collar tags. They called her owner. Her owner rushed her to a hospital where I am now employed and the first part of her ordeal had ended.

Valiantly she tried to walk through the doors of our veterinary hospital on non-functional front legs. Our staff quickly scooped her up and carried her and her limp, bleedings forelimbs to the hospital treatment area. The owner asked us to do all we could to "fix her." Despite the pain and unfamiliar surroundings, she let the staff perform diagnostic X-rays. During the procedure, fear got the better of her and she expressed her anal glands. In all of this confusion her response was not to bite or threaten, but only to reach back and lick her anal area to rid it of the awful odor. She was embarrassed. She still persists in this fastidious behavior.

With the severity of her fractures identified, she underwent surgery. A bone plate was successful in one limb, but the other was so fragile from the injury and time without care that it could only be splinted with the hope of higher intervention. A precautionary splint was put on the plated leg.

That is where the second phase of her ordeal and my introduction to Roxy began. I began as a relief veterinarian for Roxy’s hospital at the time she was coming in for bandage changes on her post-surgical splints. Initially, everything was progressing great. And then Roxy was brought back to the hospital after her last bandage change because she was tearing at the splint and biting her foot. Upon removing the bandage, a raging infection that was destroying the skin on her paw and toe pads was discovered. More aggressive antibiotic therapy was initiated but was met with limited results. Bacterial cultures confirmed that Roxy’s time without medical care and her post-surgical treatment with antibiotics allowed a "flesh eating" drug resistant bacteria (MRSP — methicillin resistant Staph. pseudintermedius) to expose its ugly head. Orthopedic patients are very prone to this condition due to the long periods on antibiotics.

The second phase of Roxy’s ordeal began. The toes and toe pads were being eaten away by the bacteria. Due to the severity of the infection and the necessity of treating them topically and debriding them (removing dead tissue by scrubbing), splinting her leg to allow bone healing was no longer an option. We had to confine her activity so she wouldn’t use her legs. Being a proper lady, she would not urinate or defecate (poop) in her run. That would be un-lady like. The staff began putting her on a blanket sling and carrying her to a grassy patch where she readily performed nature’s duties. After weeks of wound healing from the MRSP, she could finally walk to her grassy area to perform. Phase 2 was over and phase 3 began.

Because the bacteria had destroyed so much tissue in her left leg and it had to heal without splinting, she collapsed on her wrist and could not walk on the pads of her paw normally. She basically walks on the end of the radius (one of the long bones of the leg below the elbow). Pain treatment became a constant because of this unfortunate gait. Her owner could not accept this level of disability and the future bills involved with possible corrective surgery. He asked me to euthanize Roxy. By then her bravery and will to live had moved our entire staff and "putting her to sleep" was not an option. He relinquished ownership and now Roxy is my dog.

Phase 4 will be tough, but she is brave, loved, and is a daily inspiration that keeps our lives in perspective.

Dr. Ken Tudor

Image: Roxy

Comments  11

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  • Happy Endings
    07/26/2012 07:12am

    What a beauty!!! Congratulations, Dr. Tudor, on your new family member!

    Roxy has been through so much and is obviously loved by many people. She's such a fighter and she has a great home, surely Phase 4 will go quickly and smoothly.

    Please keep us in the loop with her progress.

  • Blessings
    07/26/2012 08:13am

    Thank you Dr. Tudor for making Roxy a beloved family member! And so trusting of humans to help her. She knows. I know a veterinarian is obligated to do the owner's request? Bless you for stepping in! We never know why helping persons loving animals do what they do, sometimes to the detriment of the animal. So with all respect, I need to state a question. How helpful if the persons who found Roxy and fed her, had called animal control and/or police, fire dept. *immediately. Thank you again for this so-uplifting, inspirational story of a Miracle Dog! The angels were with her in the ravine, but did not take her. Dr. Tudor is Roxy's angel. <3

  • Sad event
    07/26/2012 10:19am

    I am elated that Roxy was saved. I feel so sorry for the owner who had to make the decision to put her down. I would have had to do the same because of finances. The owner loved Roxy enough to give her up and they are the ones that I keep thinking about.

  • You are the best !
    07/26/2012 02:07pm

    For giving her A chance at a happy life .

  • Roxy
    07/26/2012 02:39pm

    What a moving and incredible story. You and your staff are to be commended. I have owned and properly bred Labs for 36 years, and I know it is difficult to know when to stop trying to save and cure. I hope this story will inspire others to do what they can to save these precious souls, when possible.

    Cathy Cappello
    Shadowhawk Labrador Retrievers

  • Dogs are Phenomenal ...
    07/26/2012 08:41pm

    ... in how much they can endure ... and how much they can inspire us to appreciate the benefits of a positive outlook and the gift of being alive on this Earth.

    I can understand the person who had to let her go due to finances, a deeply painful decision.

    I'm grateful someone was there to step in and give this beautiful girl a new lease on life.

    Roxy's story is truly incredible!

  • Beautiful Roxy
    07/26/2012 09:43pm

    Roxy was so lucky to be able to be with you when her owner had to let her go.
    And, You are so lucky to have such a beautiful Roxy.
    Thank God you 2 got together. I pray she will heal and be a wonderful pet. Sounds like you are both ready to work to that end.

  • To You All
    07/26/2012 11:06pm

    Thank you for your warm and understanding comments. Since I wrote the article Roxy has undergone 2 surgeries for complications with the plate and her "flesh eating" bacteria. The plate had to be removed which means she will probably collapse on the right leg as well. I will have to weigh the options of orthotic appliances vs. corrective surgical appliances that involve an extensive period of time with open wounds subject to the "flesh eating" bacteria that has become a normal inhabitant of her skin and has continually become resistance to antibiotics, leaving me only 2 choices of antibiotics. Right now her life is cushy and she moves from the couch to our bed and is very comfortable at the hospital on my work days. It may end that a collapsed gait will be satisfactory for her lifestyle. I will keep you posted.
    Dr. T

  • Very uplifting
    07/28/2012 01:58am

    There has been so many disheartening stories about animal abuse lately that make me sick to the stomach. In any other situation, Roxy wouldn't be so lucky if her fate had to lie in the hands of those who have no compassion, such as Lennox and Wicca (cases that have been recently publicized due to the inhumane and heartless acts of officials who ordered their death sentences).

    You truly are remarkable to do everything you can to help out Roxy. Euthanasia should always be a last option. I am a firm believer that you have to have hope that she'll pull through these dark times. I can tell from your story that Roxy is definitely a fighter and will give it all that she has to have a normal life again. I think you're a prime example that angels do exist. I hope Roxy makes a full recovery and that she'll have many more years to be healthy and happy once more.

  • God Bless Roxy
    07/29/2012 08:49am

    Thamk you Dr. Tudor for being such a wonderful and caring person to do all that you are doing for poor Roxy who really deserves to live. If the Lord did not want her to live, he would have taken her weeks ago. My prayers are with her and you. God Bless the two of you and for a full recovery for Roxy. Donna Arena Barrows - dbar188583@live.com

  • roxy!
    08/02/2012 02:12am

    you rock, dr Tudor,
    I was afraid to read to the end of the page, that it would end in the owners declining to handle anymore...you are one of the true "angel vets"...keep it up!

    marcy albin

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