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Miracle in a blueberry field

RAPS staffer catches a glimpse of something in a farm field and rescues an injured dog – who turns out to be a loveable couch potato with a habit of making weird noises.

While driving to work as RAPS’ Adoption Centre and Sanctuary manager, Shena Novotny has a habit of peering into farm fields as she goes down the highway. She likes to spot coyotes.

On Monday, August 31, she was driving on Highway 91 and, just before her exit, at the end of one of the blueberry rows, she thought she saw a dog, curled up in a donut shape.

“I did a U-turn and took the dirt road,” Shena recalls. “I went down into the fields and parked closest to where I thought I saw a dog. As I got closer, sure enough, it’s a little bully mix. Her eyes were closed and it was very loud because of the highway traffic and I didn’t want to get too close because I didn’t want to startle the dog. But I wasn’t sure if she was alive at first.”

Shena made tentative noises to get the dog’s attention.

“Finally, she opened her eyes and she just stayed in the position,” she says. “I started to get a little closer, a little closer and she lifted her head up and then started to stand up and kind of walk away. At that point, I saw that her left hind leg looked broken. She was non-weight bearing, holding it up and it was just kind of dangling.”

The dog had no collar and no other identification.

“I lost her, so I went down one of the rows. I couldn’t believe how far she made it in such a short period of time,” Shena says. “I think by that point she was probably exhausted and in pain so she just kind of gave up.”

Without a leash, Shena used her fanny pack as a makeshift slip-leash.

“Considering I was a stranger that was chasing her down, she did really, really well,” she says. “We took it very slowly, obviously, because she had a broken leg and I’m a new person. But pretty much instantly I just let her smell my hand and she let me pet her. I wanted to pick her up because her leg was broken but she wasn’t fully comfortable with me doing that, so we took it really slow and we had to walk quite a way back to my van. Slowly but surely I got her to follow me.”

While the dog, who Shena named Blueberry, wasn’t enthusiastic about being picked up earlier, when they got to the vehicle, her attitude changed.

“She didn’t want me to pick her up before but she looks at me, like, how do you think I’m supposed to do this? Pick me up woman!” Shena laughs. “She pretty much curled up in the back of the van. She thought, You’re not going to hurt me. I’m safe with you.”

Shena called ahead to the RAPS Animal Hospital and headed straight over.

“It was found out that, yes, she had broken her left hind leg,” Shena says. Veterinarians could not figure out what had happened as the break was a “clean snap” on a large bone.

The veterinarians thought that Blueberry, who they estimate to be between five and six years old, may have been hit by a car or fallen from a height, such as into a ditch.

“It’s hard to know for sure,” says Shena.

RAPS notified the SPCA but no one came forward to claim her, which made the RAPS team very happy because she has clearly been bred numerous times and we believe she may have been a victim of a puppy mill. In cases like this, it is a welcome outcome when an animal does not have to be returned to a potentially abusive setting that is not in their best interest.

She has had surgery, including about 10 screws in her leg. Like so many animals, her resilience is inspirational.

“She’s a superstar. I can’t even believe it,” Shena says. “Even the vets said she’s a brave, strong girl. Even with her snapped leg, she didn’t lash out in pain or anything, she’s so easy to handle, you can do pretty much anything to her.”

Shena has been fostering Blueberry at home with the rest of her menagerie and Blueberry has fit in marvelously. Because of her surgery, Blueberry was confined to bed rest with occasional potty breaks.

“Luckily, she’s a bit of a couch potato, so it’s not really hard,” she says. “My nickname for her is Potato Piglet because she grunts and snorts. It’s the funniest thing. She makes all these noises. She is just an absolute sweetheart, she just wants snuggles and cuddles all day.”

In a few weeks, Blueberry will be spayed and then she will be ready to meet potential adopters.

Shena may have been looking for a coyote sighting, but she got more than she bargained for! Thankfully for Blueberry, Shena’s eagle eye may have saved a life.