Senior and special need dogs are very close to our hearts, so after losing three very special geriatric forever foster dogs within weeks of each other in April 2020, we became aware of Herbert, a 12-yearold Westie with chronic skin, back and leg issues and diminished eyesight. Herbert was found roaming the streets by a good Samaritan and Westie & Scottie Rescue of Houston took him in where he remained in rescue for 1 ½ years. They took fantastic care of Herbert, but with no potential adopters willing to take on Herbert’s chronic issues, the cost that goes with it and Herbert’s advanced age, we felt it was in his best interest to come to WROC as a forever foster.
Amid the pandemic, we flew to Houston to pick up Herbert and flew back to California the same day. Herbert is being treated by an ophthalmologist but unfortunately, due to the lack of care before he reached rescue, Herbert’s eyes are permanently damaged, and he will be on four eye medications, three times a day for the rest of his life. He is also being treated by our dermatologist specialist and though he no longer scratches and is comfortable, he has permanent hair loss due to damaged follicles. Along with having compressed discs in his spine, Herbert is now in need of bilateral TLPO surgery to repair his torn meniscus, torn cruciate ligament and luxating patella in both legs.
Herbert will have surgery on both legs at the same time in June with a board-certified orthopedic specialist to the tune of $9300.00. We knew going in that Herbert’s on-going medical issues would be costly, which was the reason we bought Herbert to WROC as a forever foster so that he will always get the care he needs. We can manage the irreversible damage to his eyes and skin due to previous neglect, but with Westie Med’s help, Herbert will receive surgery that will prolong quality of life, a promise we made to Herbert and all our forever fosters before him.
Thank you WestieMed!
Karen Simondet and Kay DeLoach, Westie Rescue of Orange County & Beyond
Update October 28, 2021:
It has been four months since Herbert had his bilateral TLPO surgery and what a difference it has made with his quality of life! Herbert no longer limps and moves about very comfortably. The surgery has also helped ease discomfort with his compressed discs in his spine. He did gain two pounds which is a lot for a dog his size because he was on strict crate rest but now that he has recently been given the okay to resume his daily walks, we are working on walking off the extra pounds.
Our little big Texan dog at heart is living the dream!
We owe WestieMed a huge thank you for helping Herbert live his very best life.
On March 19, 2021 I was out of town visiting a friend. We went for coffee, as we sat in line at the drive-through, a picture popped up on Facebook. Free Pomeranian one-year-old. I had to put down my AKC 15-year-old purebred Cairn Terrier a week before Christmas and a week before his birthday this year due to liver failure, my heart was broken. I had been searching breeds as I have allergies.
That’s when this little angel came to me. I knew exactly what he was when I saw the photo. I immediately messaged the woman she gave me the address and I went straight there. It was a very unsafe unhealthy area. I was told by a friend of mine, a retired state trooper, not to go alone. Needless to say I went. I messaged her when I arrived outside of a rundown house in a bad part of town. A woman came out the door and hollered, come on in nobody’s sick in here, as a cloud of smoke rolled out the door. I put on my mask and I went inside. There were several different nationalities in the house, mainly men.
Then I saw him he saw me, I bent down and he came over immediately and buried his head between my legs. I knew I had to take him out of the situation. There was a lot going on in this home. The woman was kind to me. I had noticed he had a limp, I asked her about it, and she said he did it for attention. I asked her if he had a veterinarian? She replied tractor supply. So, I scooped him up and away we went. She asked me if I wanted his food and bed and I told her no thank you. I immediately took him to Chemung Valley Veterinary in Elmira, New York. They checked him over and said everything looked good except he had an old injury to his leg which would need an x-ray. They said that he was microchipped and gave me the number. When I got back to my home town with him I took him to another veterinary office, Champlain Valley Veterinary Clinic in Plattsburgh, New York. They did an exam and said he had a UTI and hookworm, so we started treatment for that, they also said he would have to have all his shots again because I had no proof that he had ever had any. So we started with a rabies shot. She confirmed that he had luxating patella in his rear hind leg and possibly ACL, both which they require an x-ray. I also started him on NexGard. Over the next week I spoke to the woman on several occasions that I had got him from. She finally admitted that they kept him for breeding purposes and he was kept in a small cage only let out to breed and to go to the bathroom. He has never been walked on a leash which we are learning together now. He is skittish outside but he is getting better.
And thankfully grateful to WestieMed for granting us the money to get the x-rays done so hopefully we can take care of his leg.
Update June 2021:
Jaxson’s x-rays revealed he had Legg-Perthes disease, not a ligament tear. He subsequently underwent a Femoral Head Ostectomy funded by WestieMed. Jaxon’s surgery was successful and his recovery uneventful. He is doing extremely well post-op
Update October 28, 2021:
Jaxson is doing great, Using his hind leg 99% of the time, vet says everything looks good. Thanks so much for your help.
Budgie (aka Angel) had been purchased in New York from a breeder. Her pet parent traveled to Melbourne, FL, when she was approx nine months old, brought her to the local shelter. Budgie is now 9 yrs old. It is unknown how long it was before she was adopted from the shelter or how many families she had been with before living with her last owner before she came to my family. Her owner had passed away and, along with another terrier breed dog, had been put on a back porch. By whom, it is unknown. A neighbor had been feeding them once a day and ensuring there was water. Another neighbor intervened after learning the two dogs had been abandoned on the porch. After attempts to have local animal control assist, the kind neighbor researched and located Sunshine State Westie Rescue, who immediately sent someone to rescue the dogs. It was thought that her time on the porch was a few months; however, the paperwork I have from the first vet she saw after rescue stated that the owner had passed a year prior. I can only hope the paperwork information is a misprint, and the time being abandoned was, in fact, only a few months.
Budgie was found without any hair, weighing 8 lbs, and as most rescues, suffering from multiple health issues. The foster family (bless their hearts) treated her for an ear infection, UTI, and skin problems. After three months under the foster’s care, Budgie was ready for adoption. We fell in love with her story and applied to Sunshine State Westie Rescue, and after a few weeks of the process, Budgie found her new home consisting of myself, my husband, two 3-year old Westie boys, and our two cats.
We went to get Budgie on Sept 19, 2020 and she’s been part of our family for about 5 1/2 months now. We’ve cleared up any lingering health issues, including having seven teeth extracted due to receding gums and exposed roots. This medical problem was unknown until my vet suggested a deep root cleaning. What a change in her personality after the pain in her mouth was relieved! She is happy, spunky, and full of Westitude! Her remaining issue is her eyesight from progressive cataracts. Budgie has a hard time following her toys that she wants us to toss around; she can’t keep up or follow her younger brothers when playing in the yard, and she is starting to show signs of not recognizing her surroundings. She is the sweetest girl, loving, and does her best to get around. We know that with restored eyesight, her life would be so much more fulfilling for her and her brothers as she’d be able to play more interactively and keep up!
Her surgery is scheduled for April 27th, and she will still need her pre-op bloodwork completed, and we couldn’t be happier for her. We’ve had the retina testing completed, and the prognosis for full eyesight recovery is excellent. She deserves to see her world around her and enjoy her life. We are looking forward to giving this extraordinary gift to her and will share more after surgery.
We thank WestieMed for the caring and support for Westies in need of medical care and all others who helped make this possible.
Update May 11, 2021:
Budgie is doing great getting a thumbs up at her 2-week checkup today. We expect to remove the cone next week. So fun to to see her interacting with everything around her!
Update May 18, 2021:
Budgie is now cone free with a new eye drop regimen. She will have another check up next week. She had a bath, finally, but sooo needs a spa day! Pic with the brothers…
Update June 16, 2021:
Budgie is doing great! We are down to one set of drops daily, next check-up is in a month, then 3 months, then 6 months, and that annual thereafter.
Once the prescribed after-surgery drops are gone, we can go back to once daily with her forever drops. YAY!
Again, we cannot thank everyone enough for making this possible! Watching her interact, play, chase lizards, etc., is amazing for all of us…the other two crazy ones included.
Update October 28, 2021:
Budgie is doing fantastic since her eye surgery! What a treat to watch her enjoying all that is around her. Budgies’ new favorite thing to do..sit in the window, watch for squirrels, lizards, and the people walking by! We could’ve never had this procedure done for Budgie without your organization, we can’t thank you enough!
Felicia & Steve Demon
Update April 26, 2022:
Hope all is well for everyone! Budgie passed her annual check up for her eyes with flying colors.
She’s released until next year. Still can’t tell you how thankful we are for your help with her!
Look at that face…she is a dolly, with Westitude, and happiness all in one.
Bandi is a 14 year old Westie gentleman, who never had the life a Westie supposed to have.
He was found in 2020 on the streets of Eger, Hungary in a very bad state. The local shelter knew him already, as he was wondering around many times. Previously he had a better life (maybe), but when a newborn came to the family, he was given to the grandmother, who obviously did not gave a damn. This time he was so dirty, so weak and hurt, that they immediately contacted us. Together we achieved that the owners give him to our care. In Hungary, the legal procedures of animal protection are quite complicated, so this was the fastest way to have Bandi and help him.
We took him to our vet immediately. He had holes in his back area (under the tails), worms were coming out from the wounds, we have never seen anything like it. He had a papilloma on his eyelids, hurting him all the time. He could barely walk due to a previous injury and he was underweight. He was very kind and grateful for the care, he knew that his life will change from now.
First we started to take care of the wounds, he got antibiotics and immune boosters. Obviously it needed time, but they healed very well. When he was strong enough for his first surgery, we had his eye fixed. Thanks to the great care, he took anesthesia without any problems. Then he had a couple of months break before we had the orthopedic surgery to remove a fractured femoral head. He had some complications afterwards, seemed that some nervous problem, but with proper medication we could make his status better. He regularly have physiotherapy treatments since then. The last surgery after a another break was neutering. We did not want to put him through another trauma, but he had a tumor in his testicles and we wanted to make his life as long and as healthy as possible. So he had 3 surgeries within a year, which is quite a lot in his age, but he recovered well.
Bandi found his furever home with the lady who took care of her during the rehabilitation. He is now living the ideal senior life, having his own bed, yummy food and a mom, who cares for him and will love him until his last heartbeat will come.
Thank you WestieMed that you made this happen and helped us make Bandi such a happy guy.
Bandi was adopted by his foster carer, as they passed so many time together during the rehabilitation, that he became a true family member. We took him regularly to phisiotherapy afterwards as well, so his legs and walking improved a lot.
He became a real sofa-dog, he enjoyed it a lot and he went regularly for big walks with his boxer-brother. Despite the fact that he was quite aged, he was perfectly housebroken, he learned the daily routines well and was a wonder to all who met him. He was such a lovely boy. And why I am speaking in past time…. After 6 months of happiness he became ill fast, his liver stopped functioning from one day to another. Unfortunately, even he got treatment asap, his little body couldn’t hold on anymore.
We are happy that we could give him this time, see him happy and living without pain.
Thank you again for your support, it meant a lot to Bandi.
Peyton and his Westie brother Cooper came into the Preston Cares Network Westie Rescue (PCN) in the summer of 2019. Their previous owner didn’t have time for them, and left them outside in their backyard all-day, every day, while they went to work. Being typical westies, they got bored and decided it would be fun to dig under the fence and escape. The brothers were repeatedly picked up by animal control and the fines to pick them up began to increase. As a result, the owner decided to surrender the dogs instead of paying the fines.
Fortunately, the animal control reached out to PCN to take them in. They needed to be fixed, have dental extractions done, and Peyton needed treatment for chronic dry eyes. Of course we said we would love to take the brothers into our rescue, and we had all their medical needs taken care of and both brothers were adopted together in December of 2019.
Unfortunately, after a few months Peyton was losing weight, wasn’t feeling well in general, and just wasn’t happy in his new home. They took him to their local vet who did a Cushing’s disease test which came back negative (among many other tests). They decided they could not take care of him and they couldn’t afford the mounting medical bills trying to determine what was wrong. So, with a heavy heart, they decided to return him to PCN in June of 2020. Once he came back to us, his health continued to degrade and he became lethargic, rapidly lost weight, had very loose stool, and his hair was falling out. Even though Peyton had tested negative for Cushing’s, our vet decided to test him for atypical Cushing’s since he showed all the signs. The test results came back slightly positive. After starting the treatment protocol, Peyton showed positive results at first, but then he started to lose weight more rapidly and was getting sicker and sicker. He got to the point where he refused to eat and drink.
We rushed him to the vet for emergency care and our vet did an EPI test which came back positive. Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency (EPI) is a syndrome caused by insufficient synthesis and secretion of digestive enzymes in the pancreas. Fortunately, EPI is very treatable. There is special powder (enzymes) you mix into the dog’s food before they eat it which help them digest the food and absorb the nutrients.
Peyton responded very well and his stool is now back to normal and he has gained all his weight back and then some. One interesting development is that his dry eye problem has resolved on its own, so he no longer needs daily drops in his eyes. Now that he is much healthier, we will soon be retesting him for Cushing’s to see if it still comes back positive. If we can rule out Cushing’s he has a much better chance of being adopted.
Thank you WestieMed for the grant to help with Peyton’s vet care, the testing for EPI and Cushing’s, and the prescription enzymes so he can digest his food. This grant will allow him to be adopted and live a happy life in a new adoptive home. Peyton says woof (thanks so much as well!).
We had adopted four senior westies in the past few years. The rescue we work with knows our love of the older dogs so I wasn’t surprised that they approached us. Lily had come from a medical neglect situation and was a loving little girl. She was having some issues adjusting to other female dogs in her foster home. Since we had two males and a soft spot for the seniors it was a perfect fit. The only catch was we were fostering a five-year-old terrier mix at the time and four dogs are quite the challenge. But the rescue volunteers had a plan! They had a family for our foster and said they could bring Lily to us the same day. Some people might think it’s crazy to “trade” a healthy young dog for an older dog with issues but it always felt natural to us. Lily was funny and independent but didn’t mind telling you when she wanted to be loved or left alone. In our experience seniors tend to adjust faster in their new homes. It’s almost like they just can’t help being themselves right away and aren’t worried about pleasing owners or fitting in. Their age gives them a pass to do as they please and you as the human learn to adapt to what they need, which we did with Lily. She liked to sleep in. She wanted treats when she came inside. She wanted to walk out the door by herself and not be carried and absolutely had to sit in your lap in the car. Being able to work from home due to the COVID restrictions meant I could spend all day with her. I will forever be grateful for our time. Her issues started small. During the months as we tried to get to the root cause, we made sure she was medicated enough to not be in pain but still had a wonderful quality of life. She swam in the ocean and rode in her wagon to the top of a mountain for the sunset. Even after she had to have her eye removed she would turn her head to make sure she could see you when she wanted to beg for whatever food you were eating. We found time for fun even though the vet visits were almost weekly. I hate to think how she would have suffered in her previous home where she wasn’t getting the care she needed. Thankfully she had every opportunity to get better and was surrounded by love, every day. I’m so proud of our strong, brave girl. Sadly we had to say goodbye to Lily last week. We really did try everything we could. In the end, she wasn’t responding to antibiotics and the doctor found a tumor that had grown rapidly behind where her eye had been. She had become a sad little girl in the final three days and it wasn’t fair to make her hold on.
We stood there trying not to stare – the dog was the strangest looking Westie I’d ever seen. She was so thin you could practically see through her, her back was hunched into an inverted “U” and she stumbled and weaved as she ran across the carpet and darted under the coffee table, clearly one of her islands of safety in this hectic house she lived in. Her hair had been shaved nearly to the skin, exposing her emaciated body. Her tail curled tight under her belly as she hunched her way across the floor, dragging her back leg behind her. I was shocked and appalled and wondered if this dog could ever live a normal life.
It was a cold October evening and my daughter and I were there to pick up a ten-month-old puppy who was being surrendered to Dreampower. Apparently, the family had many young children as well as several Huskies, two were adolescents, and they felt that the Westie puppy would be better off in another home than continuing to be trampled underfoot in her current situation. As we stepped into the living room and I sat down to discuss the surrender with the owner, the puppy peeked her head out, looked around cautiously, then jumped out and began to climb all over my daughter and me. For the first time, she looked like a puppy with a typical puppy’s enthusiasm and adoration for all humans! I gave her pets and loves but she ran off to hide behind the sofa as one of the other family dogs came into the room. She reappeared seconds later and growled at the larger dog, acting very terrier-like, not the least intimidated by their vast difference in size.
My heart warmed to the plucky little girl but I wondered about her obvious disabilities. She could not walk straight, often stumbling and bumping into furniture or walls. The owner explained that one of her children had dropped the puppy on her head on the concrete patio outback. The puppy had gone into convulsions and frothed at the mouth for several minutes. I began to understand the dog’s odd behavior as possible neurological or brain damage. But she seemed attentive and smart and was clearly adept at navigating the hazards in this large house fraught with perils for such a tiny, underweight puppy.
I asked how the puppy was fed and was told that the dogs were all “free feeding,” meaning food was left down at all times. Once I had a chance to hold the puppy, it seemed clear that the dog was starving, either not eating the food or being trumped by the other dogs before she could get to it. She had no muscle tone, every single vertebra on her back was sharp and evident, her legs were little sticks and I was afraid I would hurt her merely by holding her. I had to swallow hard to hold back tears – this dog was in terrible shape!
We completed all the surrender paperwork and I thanked the owner for giving up the dog so she could find a good home. I assured her that we would take very good care of the puppy and would do everything we could to nurse her to health and place her where she would be safe and happy. My daughter wrapped the puppy in a blanket and held her in the back seat while we drove home in silence. What had we gotten into?
Although I had owned and loved Westies in the past and am the proud parent of a feisty Cairn Terrier, Peaches, who needed a buddy, I had serious doubts that this puppy would survive the night much less grow up to be a normal, healthy West Highland Terrier. I decided we would foster the puppy until we could, hopefully, build up her strength and treat her physical problems, then determine whether she could eventually be adopted out.
At home later that night, our first priority was to feed the puppy, who we decided to call Libby, short for Liberty. We gave her some canned dog food that she ate without taking a breath, and then promptly threw up. In order to keep her close by so we could observe her, we held her on a leash. She couldn’t settle down, wouldn’t sit or lay, but kept walking around in circles with her head down, tail tucked, bumping into the kitchen table legs and winding the leash around and around the chairs. We’d unwind her and she’d start circling again, back hunched, head down, drooling slightly. The poor creature was in such obvious pain and misery and we didn’t know what to do for her. She was unresponsive and clearly in serious trouble. I knew that we needed to get her to a veterinarian as soon as possible to get her checked out. I sobbed into my pillow that night, already suspecting that this little dog was going to be very dear to me and praying she would be okay.
The next morning, I brought Libby to the vet where I explained her background and asked that she be checked for spinal damage, broken bones, parasites, etc. The wonderful vet was so understanding and obviously as concerned as I was about the poor dog. He did x-rays and blood work and gave her intravenous fluids. He found no obvious broken bones or spinal damage but couldn’t preclude any neurological damage. He thought she might just be so malnourished that her muscles had not developed properly. He prescribed antibiotics, special dog food that would be easy on her stomach, and a course of steroids for the balance and leg problems. He said all we could do was take her home and feed her, care for her, love her and hope for the best. And that’s what we did.
Since that early October day, Libby has come so far. Within days, she was running around the house, tail flying gaily, chasing Peaches, and trying her best to dominate. She quickly claimed the backyard as her own and participates enthusiastically in barking competitions with the neighbors’ dogs. She bumps into stuff a lot, and often stumbles on the steps in the house (which fortunately are only 6 stairs high), but gets right up and forges on. She clearly has the typical terrier toughness and fearlessness, despite her tiny size and delicate condition! In less than a month, she has gained 2 pounds and has developed some strength and coordination. Unfortunately, we discovered that she is blind in her right eye, but she doesn’t let that slow her down. She also continues to drag her right hind leg. Physical issues aside, she is completely loving and affectionate and loves to curl up on my stomach with her head tucked into my shoulder to snooze for a bit between tugs-of-war with Peaches. She is smart, funny, and good-tempered and I can’t imagine a more loving and special dog.
Although Libby continues to improve, we have since discovered the medical reason for her neurological symptoms – she has a condition called a liver shunt. This is likely a congenital condition that causes blood to be rerouted from the intestines directly into the blood system without being filtered through the liver, causing toxins to flood her system. The vet prescribed a daily dose of amoxicillin, Lactulose to help clean the blood of the toxins, and a very low protein diet. So far Libby is tolerating the medications and continues to be a bright, smart, intrepid little terrier with enormous potential to be a healthy, happy dog with surgery to correct her condition. According to the vet, many dogs experience a complete reversal of symptoms following the surgery. Her youth and blithe spirit will aid her recovery from this terrible condition. With surgical intervention, she could someday have full vision and can hope to navigate stairs and hallways without impacting the walls or floors in the process. I just hope that we can give this little dog the long life she so richly deserves, free of debilitating handicaps and free of daily medication that will only moderate her condition, not cure it.
Fiona was found in North Carolina and taken to an animal shelter. Due to her poor condition, she was taken to a veterinary hospital, where she stayed for a week.
During this time, no one contacted the shelter and no owners were identified. After their specified hold time, she was released to Westie Rescue Southeast for further care. She was found to be deaf, anemic, malnourished and with a heart murmur.
I adopted Fiona on 11/22/20. I was in Maryland at the time, caring for my sister after she had surgery. As Fiona’s foster family was in North Carolina, we met in Virginia for the handoff. Fiona remained with me at my sister’s home for the week. She got along fine with other animals, mostly steering clear of them.
On the afternoon of Thanksgiving, 11/26/20, she fell down 4-5 carpeted stairs she had been able to traverse without difficulty on prior days. She remained sitting very still at the bottom of the steps. I did not witness the fall. I picked her up and she would not allow me to touch her back right leg, screaming when I tried to do so. She held it up and was non weightbearing.
I immediately took her to an emergency animal hospital in Rockville, Maryland. She was found to have a nondisplaced fractured right tibia. There was concern that her bradycardia (found to be 70-90s at the vet office, but during prior exams had been as low as 40), would require caution with sedation to splint/cast the leg.
My plan was to return home to Ohio the next day. To minimize risk of complications, Fiona was discharged without splinting and with pain medications to return to Ohio on 11/27/20 (Friday). I contacted my vet in Cincinnati, but they could not accommodate sedating her and proper monitoring that day, so I chose to take her to an emergency vet in Cincinnati. Upon reviewing the xrays from the vet in Rockville, this vet found concern that a bone tumor may be present, as the result of the fall seemed more traumatic than the described fall. (As I said, I did not witness the fall, but another person did, they felt Fiona was started and fell).
After more xrays, any bone abnormality was ruled out and the leg was placed in a splint. Fiona’s prognosis is good for a full recovery of her leg. Limited activity is easy to maintain, as she continues to recover from her general deconditioned state she was found in. Fiona’s leg is expected to heal in 6-8 weeks.
Update May 25, 2021:
Fiona and I are very thankful for WestieMed. After being rescued by Westie Rescue Southeast, she underwent an amazing transformation. What was barely recognizable as a Westie is in now a beautiful girl. She had a major setback with a broken leg and that’s when WestieMed saved the day.
Now she has regained her position as a grumpy old lady full of Westietude and is ruling the roost over the two hoodlums that live here, Rudy and Sparky.
Thank you to WestieMed.
Update November 11, 2021:
Awww. Fiona died in July. She had come so far and her little leg healed well. She stopped eating and was in pain….could not rest comfortably. It’s never easy no matter how many times you go through it. Jen
Westie Rescue SouthEast was alerted about Lily from a Veterinarian’s office when she was brought in by a good Samaritan when the owner would not. It was noticed that her eyes were swollen while pet sitting. The vet office contacted Westie Rescue in the event the owner agreed to surrender the dog.
Upon the owner’s return, the sitter mentioned that Lily needed to go to the vet, and was told, “if you think she needs to go, then you take her.” This person graciously did take her in and paid out of pocket. The owners subsequently agreed to release Lily into our care, but not the other dog living in the home. We hope that eventually, we will be able to help this dog as well.
It was found that Lily had abscessed teeth which were causing the swelling and subsequent rupture under both eyes. There were infections and pain. She was treated with antibiotics and pain medication.
Once we had transport in place, Lily was picked up and transported to our foster home and was immediately seen by the local Vet for assessment. We were told she would need at least six teeth removed, and the remaining teeth would be cleaned. It was also discovered that she had a growth on her side that would need removed as well and possibly biopsied. (When the surgery was done, they did feel like a biopsy was in the best interest of Lily).
Lily is doing well post-surgery in her foster home and is a sweet and loving 14-year-old senior lady. We eagerly await the results of the biopsy and hope that Lily can live a happy, pain-free life in her golden years.