Potato proves older animals can have great quality of life.
Potato came to RAPS when her family surrendered her because they could not afford the medical care she required.
Potato, who is about 12 and part Pug, part Pekingese, had a host of medical issues.
“She was dragging her back end, her hind legs,” says Dr. Regan. “She smelled foul from what we discovered later was very bad urinary tract infection. Because of her neurological deficits in the hind end, she had urinary incontinence and fecal incontinence.”
Despite all this, the doctor recalls, “she just had this fiery spirit.”
RAPS has devoted significant resources to educating about and advocating for solutions to “economic euthanasia” – the situation where a family or an organization chooses to put an animal down because they do not have the financial resources to provide the medical care he or she needs.
That evening, Dr. Regan took Potato home with her, so she would not be alone in the vet hospital overnight. There were already two dogs at home and the family had warned that Potato experienced strong reactivity with other dogs. Dr. Regan made a “VIP suite” in her bathroom and Potato commuted to and from the hospital with her for a few days, while they ran tests and tried to determine what the extent of Potato’s heath issues were. Each night Potato would go home with her.
After sniffing at one another under the bathroom door, the dogs accidentally met – when Potato “beetled out” when Dr. Regan entered the bathroom one time.
“I held my breath,” she says. “And they all did their circling and sniffing and their full face-to-face introductions and then that was it! Potato sat down and it was totally calm and peaceful. I think she knew there was an established hierarchy and she was at the bottom of it.”
Meanwhile, tests indicated that Potato had a severe urinary tract infection. That was cured with medications. She had very significant dental disease, so Dr. Regan extracted 10 teeth when she felt Potato was stable enough to do so.
“Her hind end was incredibly weak,” Dr. Regan said. “She has significant muscle atrophy from her nerve damage.”
Regan bought a special harness that supports Potato’s hind end when walking and it’s working brilliantly.
“She walks very, very well.”
Potato was also found to have brachycephalic syndrome, which is not uncommon in dogs with flat faces like Pugs and Pekingese.
“Her nostrils were narrow slits instead of big open circles,” the doctor explains. “Her air intake was compromised.”
Dr. Marius Vasilescu, another doctor at the hospital performed surgery on her nose.
All of that was eight months ago.
As it happens sometimes, animals with special needs end up making their way into the hearts of veterinarians and support staff. And so it was that, after some time of taking Potato home with her in evenings, she became part of the family.
At first, the other two dogs mostly ignored Potato.
“They just lived their lives independently but without any anxiety or stress,” she says. “But in the last few months, they have formed a pack. They walk side-by-side and sometimes they sleep in the same bed together. They’ve developed a friendship and a camaraderie that is so heartwarming for me because I’m not sure she had that in her past life because of her reactivity.”
Potato is on all sorts of medications, supplements and anti-inflammatory support.
“The blessing in all of this is that, yes, her mobility is affected and that’s something that we manage just fine,” says Regan. “But she’s not in pain. She has feeling in her hind end, but she doesn’t experience pain. So we accommodate her difference and make her life happy.”
Dr. Regan also credits hyperbaric oxygen therapy – something available to pets in Canada only at the RAPS Animal Hospital – with helping to reduce the inflammation in Potato’s body and helping to improve her overall health.
Potato is happy and healthy – a new “leash” on life!
“RAPS took on a lot of the financial costs for her,” says Dr. Regan.
That is the RAPS no-kill promise in action. When euthanasia seems like the only option, RAPS is here to find any way possible to ensure a longer, healthier, happier life.
This costs money. And RAPS depends on the support of our community to make these miracles happen. Choosing the RAPS Animal Hospital – where all revenues are reinvested to save and improve the lives of less fortunate animals – is the easiest way to make a difference. Your financial support, donating to and shopping at the RAPS Thrift Stores, and volunteering all help us meet our mission of saving and improving the lives of animals.
We thank you.
So does Potato.