Gaelie is a six-year-old West Highland Terrier. She was the faithful companion of an elderly man who had to go into a nursing home. He signed over his dog to his nurse Karin, who had agreed to get her out of the vet kennels she had been placed in. The family said they were stunned to find her in a very sad condition when they went to pick her up. They gathered her old vet records and took her to their vet and were told she had Severe Atopic dermatitis with a severe secondary bacterial infection. The records show she had been suffering from skin conditions and pattern hair loss for several years. Possibly initially induced by untreated flea conditions and poor environmental circumstances. The well-meaning nurse and her family were not able to deal with the condition and the expenses of the vet, tests, and prescriptions suggested.
I am a passionate multiple Westie owner. One of those people that is not afraid to speak up on behalf of them and their specific needs. It was such that I got an e-mail asking me to help find this girl the right sort of home where they understood and could give her what she needed. I have been blessed with all healthy Westies in general with no skin issues. Because of this, I had no first-hand knowledge of dealing with the skin issues that scare so many off it seems. I did not feel right about finding a good new home if I could not explain what they were getting into, and provide them with information as to a solution.
Being a Facebook user I had seen pictures of both heartbreaking and inspiring of Westies with skin conditions and the work of a lady in a rescue that brought them back to robust health. I could not remember her name, so I put the word out, and shortly found out her name was Karen Simondet. I sent a note and she got right back and started to help. I had to press the owners to get photos to show her and the information was sketchy at best. I had almost no sooner gotten this to Karen, and they said they were going to take her to the shelter that weekend. It had been less than a week, I had found a couple of possibilities, but no one wanted to take on a dog with problems, or do the extra work needed for her. My understanding was the outcome is not so good for overloaded shelters and “unhealthy” dogs so I was heartbroken to hear they were going to do this. My husband and I did not feel like we could let this happen so we took her in.
I had never planned on fostering this dog out of concern for my own Westies, and the financial burden was just not really an option given the commitment to my own dogs. But here it was, this sweet little dog who had lost her dad, been shuffled around in kennels for months was now going to get stuck in a shelter.
One of the first things you see about Gaelie is that she always wags her tail, at people other dogs, even if she is a little unsure, she is a can-do girl with a healthy sense of self. After getting acclimated to everything, she fit right in and was so happy to have lots of fun with her new friends running, playing ball, being alive in the sun. I don’t think she ever got out for more than a quick “business” trip on the leash a couple of times a day. She is smart, gentle, cooperative and loves to hide in the most amount of covers possible, nary a nose sticks out. She sings to you a lot, a little whooo hoooo song and has a perfect poised beg. She may have had improper care for her health as far as diet, lifestyle and vet choices, but it seems that she was loved.
After getting her comfortable I took her to my vet. It was clear she was extremely anxious. Was she going to get left again in yet another cold cage? A kind vet check and a lot of soothing later she calmed down on the ride back home. The assessment was that there were multiple layered allergic reactions going on the skin that needed to be treated and an immune system that needed to be bolstered up. She is flea free, has a home-cooked diet with vitamins, lots of brush baths and now, medication to help her heal. We need to isolate The allergen(s) and get her immunized so she can grow a full coat and doesn’t need to live inside on drugs her whole life.
Now with the extra care and thanks to WestieMed we can do what it takes to make her 100% healthy and have a second chance at a great life.
Gaelie is wagging her tail and saying THANK YOU WestieMed!
Update July 6, 2012
Gaelie is doing great. She grew all her hair back in the winter and is enjoying the country life after being an apartment dog.
She had some confusion with letting herself out and going on grass as it was unfamiliar to her. But she has it all down now.
She loves sleeping on the bed under the fan on a pillow. She sits on my feet when I am at the computer, always near.
She is also overjoyed to join us on walks on the property, we have 20 acres and she sings the whole way chasing butterflies and then relaxing at the studio when we work. I think it makes her feel special.
She plays with all her “siblings” but has no trouble standing up for herself if little brother gets a bit nudgy. We had a flare-up of the allergies in spring with SO MANY environmental factors suddenly, but they are back in the comfort zone for her. We love her and she seems happy to stay with us. I see so many good souls take care of these unfortunate dogs with high maintenance issues, but have still to meet any locally who want to take on the level of care she needs.
We and Gaelie thank WestieMed for her life. She is plenty perfect enough for us, and is our “special” girl.