Volunteers are amazing people who give of themselves selflessly to bring good into the world. Heather Gibson is a volunteer with Pits R’ Us All Breed Rescue, and because of her care and tenderness, a castaway pup found by animal control is living a much better life.
She met the pup that would steal her heart in February 2017. He was skinny, stank of dog waste and seemed to lack the strength to pull himself up into a sitting position — but he was strong enough to let out ferocious little yaps.
“He was brought to me by the rescue I volunteer with,” she told The Dodo. “When I went to open the door and saw him, my heart just melted.”
After a few days of care and proper nutrition, Jack was still unable to get to his feet. Vets couldn’t figure out what was wrong with the feisty pup.
“He kind of flopped over and I was like, ‘Oh no, there’s something really wrong with you.’ I took him out and I put him on a blanket. He was unable to walk. He was unable to stand. He was on his side 24/7. He just looked at me with those big old puppy eyes and I started talking to him and then he started talking to me.”
“I think that look he gave me was just kind of like a ‘Thank you for helping me.’ I guess that was him trusting me. I saw a puppy that was a fighter. I was like, ‘There’s gonna be a way and I’m gonna find it.'”
Eventually Jack got an MRI to figure out what was happening, since no one else seemed able to provide an explanation. “Basically they told me that his vertebrae in his neck area was severely enlarged, which is making him unable to walk,” Gibson explained.
The little pittie pup had cervical myelopathy. As time went on, Gibson and others at the vet clinic where she worked tried to find ways to train him into using his legs and help strengthen the muscles that weren’t being used.
They used harnesses to pull him to his feet, and when he was in his cage they would wrap a pool noodle in a wee wee pad and put it under his chest so he had to “sit.” Gibson would even gently pull at his legs and stretch them when he was lying down, but the going was slow.
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That wasn’t a problem for Gibson, who was determined that Jack would be able to live life to the fullest in whatever way he could. The going wasn’t easy, but Jack tried, and Gibson was there to support him every wobbly step along the way.
In June, Jack took his first unassisted steps. He had crossed legs and weak pasterns, but he hobbled forward in the grass — which was a huge accomplishment, based on the fact that at one point it had been a struggle for him to sit up, let alone move on his own.
“When he first walked, I cried,” admitted Gibson. “Cause it was just like ‘Oh my gosh, you’re finally doing it.”
His steps aren’t sure and he has a long road ahead of him, but he’s come so far in the past year — who knows what the next year will hold?
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