If there’s one universal truth that all dog-lovers hold dear, it’s that every single dog, regardless of age, breed, or health, is capable of more love and devotion than we can ever fully comprehend. The senior dogs with white snouts and tired eyes love us as unconditionally as the floppy-eared pups, but sometimes we overlook them for the ones with nimble joints and perfect teeth.
But when Grace Mercy Love German Shepherd Rescue saw the video of Gus, a senior dog so ill and injured that he struggled to walk, we knew we could not turn a blind-eye. Despite the fact that we are a new rescue still struggling to establish ourselves in the rescue community, we rushed to pull him from the shelter. Gus was already on the euthanasia list, and his time on earth seemed limited regardless. Yet even as he struggled with pain and infirmity, he radiated the same unwavering love of a healthy dog half his age. We decided that we would fill whatever time he had left with love and comfort.
Unfortunately, the clock was ticking, and we had to scramble to arrange transportation. Compounding Gus’ problems was the fact that he was held at a shelter five hours outside of Houston. Grace Mercy Love miraculously managed to cobble together a chain of volunteers across the state to move him to Houston. Yet even with his transport scheduled for a Friday, the shelter wanted to euthanize him on Thursday.
This is often the struggle with rescue. We’re constantly racing the clock, battling the bureaucracy, and fighting to save as many dogs we can with what limited funds we have.
Thankfully they stayed Gus’ euthanasia, and his journey began. Once he was safe in our care, information on his condition started pouring in. Not only was he completely unable to walk, his eyes were horrible. His right eye is falling off in pieces. His left eye is so cloudy and swollen it was hard to tell if he could even see at all. His back legs were essentially useless, and his front legs weren’t much better. And the video from the shelter failed to convey his true size. He weighs in at a colossal 110 pounds.
The veterinarians at VERGI ran a battery of tests to determine his exact ailments and course of treatment. They decided it would be best to do bloodwork, x-ray his hips, spine, abdomen and chest, check his eyes for tear production, and clean his ears out. And perhaps most importantly, they gave him a bath.
Four hours of testing and treatment, we took Gus home with 11 medications and a laundry list of care papers.
- Severe spondylosis
- Severe arthritis
- Mineralizations in his lungs and chest
- Severe heartworms (to such an extent that his heart is deformed)
- Severe ear infection
- Ulcerous eyes incapable of producing tears
His first days in his foster home showed small improvements. He ate ate slowly and with difficulty. However, the medications and eye drops worked quickly. The next day he was able to eat nutrient rich raw foods and walk by himself to urinate.
It has been almost a week since Grace Mercy Love rescued Gus, but his improvements are so remarkable that he’s almost unrecognizable. He not only walks; he walks with purpose. He is alert. His puppy-like zest for life has surfaced. Every rescue effort is forged in optimism, but Gus has exceeded our wildest hopes for his recovery.
While Gus’ fate is still unknown, he is finally showered with the love and care he deserves. He is a determined, dog who does not let his maladies slow his affection. His tail wags with an enthusiasm that belies his physical pain, and he always has kisses for his foster mom.
It is too early to determine if Gus’ care is palliative or curative, but Grace Mercy Love is committed to fighting for him. Unfortunately, his medical costs are staggering. In addition to his medications and treatment, he will also need to follow up with an orthopedic surgeon and ophthalmologist.
Gus is truly the paradigm of what we stand for at Grace Mercy Love. Gus is one of our first rescues, but he represents all the tenets of our mission statement:
“We help all injured, abandoned, and aim to save dogs from being unnecessarily euthanized.”
We rescue dogs, but most importantly, we love them.
Our volunteers pour love into dogs like Gus, who would otherwise be put to sleep, but we need your help to continue what we do. To contribute to Gus’ care and enable us to rescue more dogs like him, please donate to Grace Mercy Love German Shepherd Rescue on our website: https://gmlgsdr.org/