The Story of Brody: How Fate Brought a Dying Dog to the Door of a Vet Who Saved His Life, and His Mind
By Diana Bocco
Some rescue stories are meant to change everybody involved. The story of Brody, an American Foxhound mix discovered lying in a ditch, is one of them. It took three women—one a veterinarian—three rescues, a multi-state road trip, and a lot of physical therapy to bring Brody to the happy, thriving dog he is today.
A passerby found Brody in 2007 and brought him to a local rescue in King William, Va. Despite the dog’s numerous injuries, the shelter quickly put him up for adoption.
“The shelter Brody was originally taken to provided absolutely no medical care for his injuries while he was with them; not even pain medication,” says Dr. Sue Rancurello, owner and veterinarian at Dr. Sue’s Animal Clinic in Bellbrook, Ohio, and founder of Second Chance Rescue. Rancurello eventually assumed charge of Brody's care. “Astonishingly enough, the shelter immediately put him out on Petfinder as an adoptable dog, despite the fact that they had done x-rays and knew he had multiple fractures of the pelvis and a fracture of the rear leg,” she says.
It was on Petfinder that Vicki Ludlow, an animal lover in Ohio, found Brody. “For whatever reason, something about Brody resonated with her, and she drove from Dayton to the Virginia shelter to get him,” Rancurello explains. “She probably recognized that he had very little chance of being adopted, and would likely end up being euthanized.”
Saving Brody’s Life
Ludlow drove over 24 hours to pick up Brody and bring him back to Ohio, but on the way back, he started coughing up blood. Not knowing what else to do, Ludlow randomly stopped at Dr. Rancurello's door with a very sick pup. “He looked horrible,” the vet remembers.
According to Rancurello’s estimates, Brody had been lying in the ditch for at least two or three days before he was found. He had fresh injuries—a broken ankle and five pelvic fractures—layered on top of old scars, possibly signaling past abuse. The dog was also suffering from double pneumonia. Without aggressive medical care, Brody would have died.
Because Ludlow couldn't afford treatment, Brody's future didn't look promising.
“That is when I put my hand out to him, and he so very gently laid his head on my hand and looked up into my eyes,” Rancurello said. “I knew, at that moment, that a dog that had managed to survive being hit by a car, being in a shelter for two weeks without medical care, and a 15-hour drive to land on my doorstep needed a chance.”
Right then, Ludlow relinquished ownership of Brody to the rescue and Rancurello took charge of his long road to health. Among other things, Brody's care involved IV fluids, antibiotics, nebulization treatments for the pneumonia, hefty pain medication for his fractures, and a leg splint with frequent bandage changes, Racurello explains.
It was over two months before Brody was well enough for the rescue to even consider finding a permanent home for him.
“Certainly in the time that Brody was hospitalized at my clinic, we developed a very close connection, although the connection had already started the moment he looked into my eyes while on my exam table,” Racurello says. “I felt the pull toward him from the very beginning, and that certainly continued in the weeks we spent together.”
Brody Gets Adopted
During Brody's recovery, a local newspaper ran a story on him, which prompted random visits from people to the clinic. One of those people was Pamela Gregg.
“I brought an item for donation and, while there, asked if I could visit Brody,” Gregg explains. “He was so sweet, but so timid, shaking at the slightest noise and always hiding in the farthest corner he could find.” Gregg couldn't shake the feeling that she was supposed to bring him home.
Gregg eventually adopted Brody and started him on the road to rehabilitation. It took the dog a long time to relax and overcome his shyness, all while recovering from his injuries, explains Gregg.
“Although he would sit with me on the sofa, his favorite spot was on his bed in a secluded corner,” she says. “Then one day I was watching TV, listening to [Brody] eat nearby, when he abruptly stopped eating, hopped into the living room, crouched into play position, and wagged his tail!” It was the first that anybody had seen Brody wag his tail.
As Brody became increasingly healthy and more confident, Gregg started taking him for walks. Everything was going smoothly until a fateful Tuesday afternoon. While trying out a brand new leash, Brody got scared, pulled a little took hard, and managed to escape.
“In a great irony, Brody had become healthy enough to run, and run he did—into the woods,” Gregg says.
Saving Brody a Second Time
In a panic, Gregg called Dr. Sue, who rallied volunteers.
“I was beside myself,” Gregg explains. “Not only had I lost my dog, I felt as though I’d let down Sue, Vicki, and an entire community.”
After days passed without any luck, Gregg struck out after dinner on a Saturday night armed with a flashlight and a bike. As luck would have it, she saw Brody next to a steep slope. After a few failed attempts at catching him, Brody stopped running and allowed Gregg to wrap her arms around him and bring him home with Dr. Racurello’s help.
Brody lived with Gregg for a few more months after the dramatic rescue, until it became clear he needed a safer home.
“The next spring, he began getting frequently sick in a number of ways,” Gregg explains. “He often ate things he came in contact with on our walks near the woods, and we determined his immune system was perhaps not strong enough to resist the bacteria and other bad things he would get into.”
Brody needed a new place to call home—preferably a home with a yard. “He needed to be rescued one last time,” Gregg says. And that's how Bailey went back to living with Dr. Racurello.
A Forever Home at Last
“He has been with my family ever since, and we definitely share an unbreakable bond,” Rancurello says. “I know with all of my heart that Brody trusts me, and he knows he is where he is supposed to be, forever.”
It has been almost nine years since this all transpired, and Brody is now about 12 years old.
“He still has the same joy for life,” Rancurello says. “He is still the same playful, goofy dog that loves to run in the back yard (especially in the snow), and I can't imagine life without him.”