Lauren and her husband have had an Akita, Maggie, for 9 years. “In fact, we got her the day after Thanksgiving 9 years ago” she said. “My husband and I celebrate our 9th wedding anniversary and she was our wedding gift to each other. We always laugh looking back on it because we were just moving into our tiny apartment and we fell madly in love with her. And has been around for the birth of both of our babies!”
This past Thanksgiving holiday gathering brought Lauren’s family, and their family’s dogs together. Unfortunately, something sparked a fight between Maggie and her “cousin” dogs, and Maggie received the worst of it. Lauren’s husband and mother-in-law rushed Maggie to Veterinary Emergency & Specialty Hospital, she was barefooted, revealing what a hurry they were in after the scuffle.
Dr. Michelle Townsley, who was on duty at the time, said “[Maggie] had a thick hair coat yet that could not protect her from many skin punctures along the top of her neck, her ears, her throat, chest and forelimbs. This girl had such a thick hair coat it took us nearly 2 hours to just shave her.”
“This case was emotional for me,” said Dr. Townsley. “Maggie reminds me a lot of my big Malamute, Bo. He too was jumped by a housemate just this past summer and it was a very traumatic experience. I could relate to them.”
The first night, Maggie’s front legs were purple and swollen. She received injectable pain relief and laser therapy after her surgical debridement and evaluation. The next morning her skin appeared non-pigmented and near normal! “It was the most amazing thing,” said Dr. Townsley, “I wish I had taken pictures.”
“The day after the event, we had a very open conversation about the emotional trauma pets experience. I also asked the family how they were doing. This loving family showed graciousness and understanding from the very beginning. [A family member] had offered to pay the hospital bill.” said Dr. Townsley.
Once home, Lauren noticed Maggie refused to eat and was incredibly lethargic. “When she drank, she started throwing up, so the doctors asked that we bring her back in.”
Maggie returned with concerns about NSAID gastritis. Endoscopy did reveal significant irritation to the esophagus and reddened stomach lining. She was hospitalized again. Her owners were very disheartened when they had to return to the ER a second time, and were financially overwhelmed considering another 2-3 days hospitalization.
Dr. Townsley’s heart ached, “They told me that they just couldn't do it anymore and considered euthanasia.” It was at that time, they applied for a Paw It Forward grant.
Lauren said “At one point we weren't sure she'd make it, but the amazing doctors came in and said let's try one more thing.” The Paw It Forward grant covered a plasma transfusion. “It miraculously worked and she was immediately perkier. We came in after work that night and I remember seeing her ‘smile’ for the first time since before Thanksgiving” she said. “We were so excited.”
Lauren tells us “I’m not sure I could say thank you enough for the compassion that the staff and doctors have shown our family. I'm not sure I can actually count the amount of times I have called the vet to check on her or ask a silly question. Not once have they acted like I was bothering them or being overprotective. Even after they sent us home, I was able to call about medication questions or just to figure out what to do when I felt something was wrong. The doctors did literally everything they could for Maggie, and it worked. I can't thank them enough for saving our first "baby". They have gone above and beyond for our little family and we couldn't be more grateful.”
A month later we asked Lauren how Maggie was doing. She said “Maggie is doing really well. She still looks silly (half of her fur is shaved), but she is so happy. The girls are so thrilled to have her home and they've spent a lot of time playing together in the backyard. She is now off all of her medications and eating well. We are able to scratch all of her favorite places again (she has puncture wounds so we had to be careful), and she soaks that up.”
Dr. Townsley, who was so invested in Maggie’s recovery told us “[Maggie’s owner] did contact me a couple times just to give me updates on her progress over time. It made my day to see her in her Christmas sweater with her girls. What a perfect Christmas gift :)”