Lola - WestieMed Grant Recipient December 2012


Lola came to us in late September as an owner surrender. I picked Lola up late in the day after traveling for several hours and we headed for home, another four hours away, with two syringes of insulin in a cup of ice that the owner handed to us as we were leaving. Lola was very quiet until we made our first stop to meet with Steve & Mary Lou Mercurio, our very first volunteers for our new rescue that we had begun a mere month prior. We were meeting them on the way home to get some sorely needed supplies they had picked up and a collar they brought for Lola since she was surrendered without one. While I got out to stretch my legs, Mary Lou took Lola into the grass for a little walk and some relief while Steve went in search of insulin for our newest Westie. Once Lola had her potty break and some water, Mary Lou opened the bag of special kibble they had picked up for me and we gave a bit to Lola. When she smelled the food, she went wild and ate it so fast that she worried us. So we waited a while and then gave her another small bit; the same result. She would become frantic the moment she smelled the food. We were afraid to give her any more at that point, not knowing if or when, she had last had her insulin, as that information was not forthcoming from the person who surrendered her. She was scheduled for a vet to visit the very first thing in the morning, and we felt we’d given her enough food to get her through until the vet could give her a thorough exam. The rest of the ride home with Lola was not as quiet, because she knew that food was there and she was frantic to get to it, and she was just as bad with water. We finally made it home at about midnight and after another walk around the yard, it was time to turn in. Since it was her first night, I put Lola into her crate and put it in my room. It was not to be. The crate made her crazy so I let her out. We both needed to sleep. She cried and cried until I picked her up. Once in my arms, she settled down and fell asleep whimpering and twitching. She slept next to me the entire night as close as she could get.

The vet visit the next morning showed that Lola was significantly underweight at only 12.8 lbs. Her blood glucose levels were extremely high and she had a bad case of conjunctivitis in both eyes. It was at that point that we discovered that she was almost completely blind, a far cry from the “slight problem with her vision” that we had been told. The vet figured that she might be able to distinguish light, dark and possibly some shadows. She was also dehydrated and suffering from a really bad case of diarrhea and loaded with internal parasites of every possible kind. Through all the poking, prodding and needles, Lola was a champ. She stood still and let the vets and the techs do whatever was necessary with never so much as a growl or whimper. We left the vet armed with medications and a regime for her insulin, Lola leaning into my leg as we walked. She had become my little white shadow and remains so.

Upon returning home, it was time to collect the rest of the pack and bring them home. Lola was introduced to them one at a time and was very good with all of them. Never a growl or snap, no matter how exuberantly the others sniffed at her. She was equally good with Louie, the bulldog as she was with Shakti and Maggie, the other Westie girls. She sniffed Keeks the kitty very thoroughly and then groomed him, much to his dismay.

The first few days were a learning experience for both of us, me mostly, I think. I learned that Lola thought it was okay to potty in her crate and then eat and drink it. She soon learned that she could have all the freshwater she could drink and would be fed regularly and given healthy treats. I learned to recognize symptoms of low blood sugar in a little creature that couldn’t tell me how she was feeling. I learned not to underestimate the value of a dedicated veterinary team. She learned to use puppy pads when she couldn’t wait and to potty outside when she could. I learned to walk carefully so as not to tread on tiny white paws that were never more than a few inches from me, ever. She learned to trust and I learned that my heart could break multiple times a day watching a little dog who wanted to run and play and couldn’t.

As time passed, Lola’s diet was adjusted and blood sugars brought under control. She still suffers from some bouts of colitis occasionally but is doing much better now that she has been on a grain-free allergy diet and getting some additional home-cooked Westie diet. She still has a hearty appetite and will eat just about anything, given the chance, so vigilance is a must.  She takes her insulin injections very well, stands still and never flinches or cries.

As she began to feel better, Lola wanted to be a part of the pack playtime. Unfortunately, because she cannot see, she wasn’t very successful as a playmate, always bumping into the other dogs and not being able to see the ball or whatever toy they were playing with. She would try, and then after getting a couple of growls from the others, would sit back with a wistful look on her face. When outdoors, she tried to run with the others but would stumble, bump into things, or trip and finally, give up and come back to my side to become the little white shadow once again. She no longer tries, although she sometimes forgets herself when she gets excited that someone’s come to visit and runs to greet them only to bump into the door. We’ve nursed more than one sore nose these past couples of months.

Lola has a very sweet disposition and has never met anyone she did not like man or beast. She is a very lovable, social little dog; no longer shy, timid, frightened or frantic. Lola is happiest cuddled in your arms or next to you, but she does like to be outside and feel the wind in her fur and sniff the places where the squirrels have run. She is the sweetest, most gentle little creature I have ever been blessed to know.

Her life will change now, thanks to WestieMed and the incredibly generous Westie community around the world. She is scheduled to have her cataract surgery on December 27th. She will “see” the New Year in, in a new way; and I believe that we will see a new Lola, as she discovers the world around her. I may lose my “little white shadow”, but she will gain a whole new world of wonder. That’s a very good thing.

Thank you, thank you, and thank you. Those words are inadequate to express our gratitude for the gift you are giving this sweet, gentle, 3-year-old little angel dog. We will continue to keep you updated with Lola’s story and progress.

**Lola is currently sponsored by Steve & Mary Lou Mercurio. They provide the funds for her insulin and supplies every month in honor of their dear Chloe, who was also diabetic and now runs free at the Rainbow Bridge.

Josie Myers-Smith
Westie Rescue of Western and Central New York

Update January 18, 2013

Lola and I arrived at the vet yesterday morning, 1/17/2013 at 7 am. When I pulled into the parking lot, Lola started to vomit. I wasn’t surprised, because she had fasted, and with her colitis, she sometimes spits up a little bile if her tummy is empty for too long. We were ushered into the exam room almost immediately and Dr. B took another look at her eyes to make sure that all was well. Everything looked good to proceed with the surgery. She had the surgery yesterday afternoon and it went pretty well. I say pretty well because there was a slight problem with her left eye. 

In young dogs, the area that they call a capsule that is behind and around the lens is very thin. In Lola’s case, this capsule tore a bit. Dr. B attempted to implant the new lens but was unable to make it stay in place because of the tear. So she did not get a new lens in that eye. However, the cataract was removed and she does have vision in the left eye, it is just a bit less clear than the right eye, which got a new lens. So she does have vision in both eyes and he said that she probably won’t notice much of a difference in her sight because of the missing lens. Many people who have this type of surgery for their dogs, don’t even bother with new lenses and the dogs are able to get around just fine.

She has a couple of different kinds of eye drops that she gets throughout the day and evening. One is an antibiotic type and the other is atropine, which dilates the iris. This is to ensure that it doesn’t get “sticky” and consequently not move which would affect her sight. She is also on an oral antibiotic. 

She is wearing the cone and will have to keep that on for a week minimum and how long ultimately depends on how well she is healing. She managed to slip it off this morning, but it’s back on and more secure now. I ran her collar through the loops instead of the hunk of gauze that was holding it in place.

Her near sight will be fuzzy until the inflammation from the surgery subsides a bit and then it will correct to becoming as perfect as it can be. Her distance sight is very good now.

She has been doing well, doesn’t fight the eyedrops and takes her pill like a champ.

She has been “talkative”, alternating between earsplitting howls, barking and a strange little noise that sounds like she is talking.

She runs around looking at everything and then just wants to be held. Right now she’s on my lap and if I put her down she will complain – loudly. In a bit she will want to get down and then will run around again, just looking and looking. The funniest thing in the world was when she looked at Louie across the room this morning. He is her snuggle buddy and is a large American Bulldog mix. I wish I could have captured the expression. 

Her eyes are a little sensitive to light right now and I notice that when she is on my lap she is keeping them closed. This sensitivity should subside as she becomes accustomed to the light that for a long time, she hasn’t seen in this way.

We are using wee-wee pads and keeping her indoors for now because it is VERY bright outdoors today and extremely windy. We must protect those little eyes.

We will go to the vet today at 5:45 for a recheck to make sure that everything is doing as it should and then she will have to go back again next week sometime and several times thereafter until he declares her fully healed. 

I am extremely impressed with Dr. Burgesser, who did the surgery, and Lola adores him. He clearly loves the animals and is very thorough and concerned about them. When he talks softly to Lola, he picks her up and holds her and she simply melts in his arms. It’s pretty funny to watch actually. When he is examining her, he is talking softly to her the entire time. He does not address me until he is through with the exam and has picked her up to cuddle her.

Yesterday when we picked her up, he had Tom (who went with me to get her), hold her while he took the time to show me the inside of her eye and the new lens. He doesn’t make you feel rushed at all and makes certain that all of your questions are answered before you leave the exam room.

He also gave us a nice discount on his services. The last thing he said to me was “You are going to end up keeping this one, aren’t you?”  I told him that unless a very special angel came along, she would likely remain in the sanctuary with us.

Josie Myers-Smith, Director
Westie Rescue of Western & Central New York

Update January 18, 2013

Lola saw Doc Burgesser tonight for her 24-hour recheck and he said she is healing nicely and all is as it should be. She’s doing very well and so we don’t have to go back now for a whole week! He also waived the office call fee today. He also SAT DOWN ON THE FLOOR and played with her for a while before he let us leave, lol! I think I might be in love with this vet….

Josie Myers-Smith, Director
Westie Rescue of Western & Central New York

Update January 26, 2013

Lola had her one week follow up with Dr. Burgesser yesterday.  She is doing VERY well, with less inflammation than expected and healing properly. He allowed me to take the cone off and said now that she is free from that, we should see even more improvement. She is already watching animals on TV and following my movements as I go through the house. On the way back from the vet yesterday, she was looking out the window and watching the lights. It gets better every day. We haven’t had her outside much (she’s using wee wee pads) because our temperatures have been in the sub-zero or just slightly above range, and more importantly, the winds have been ferocious, so I didn’t want to take any chances. She has a few more days of the antibiotic drops and atropine to keep the iris from getting sticky and then it will be prednisone drops for about a month. We’ve had two follow up visits so far, and he has not charged me for either of them. I don’t expect that to continue, but it was a nice saving on top of the already discounted fee for the surgery. I’m thrilled with how he treats Lola, he is kind and sweet to her and she just loves him. It is hard to fake that kind of caring. We hit the jackpot with this vet!

I will continue to keep you apprised of her progress as each recheck happens and when she does something that shows the improvement. Thank you again so much for helping this sweet little girl.

Josie Myers-Smith, Director
Westie Rescue of Western & Central New York

Update June 20, 2013

Lola had her appointment with Dr. B and got a clean bill of health.

Josie Myers-Smith, Director
Westie Rescue of Western & Central New York

Derby WestieRescue Grant Recipient August 2011


Darby has had a tough life and has been in six different homes in her eleven years, including her first two years as a “backyard breeder” in Washington state.  She had two litters of puppies and literally lived outside, even in the winter.  When she was finally “rescued” by her original breeder, her weight had dropped to twelve pounds and she had lost most of her fur due to the tough conditions.  This, unfortunately, set her up for health challenges in later life.  Darby has been in rescue three different times, first at Best Friends in Utah for three months, and now at San Francisco Bay Westie Rescue on two separate occasions.  Despite all those difficult times, she is a sweet girl without a mean streak in her little white body.  She has just been in the wrong place at the wrong time over and over again, and now it’s time that she finally has a break.

We were originally the transport volunteers who brought Darby from Chico, California, to her most recent owner in San Francisco four years ago.  When the latest owner decided she could not keep Darby due to life changes, we agreed to foster her on behalf of the San Francisco Bay Westie Club Rescue.  Our grumpy, almost fifteen-year-old Westie Fritz remembered her from the past and immediately yelped with joy when she entered our house.  This definitely made it easier to commit ourselves as foster guardians.

From discussions with her previous owner and an in-home examination with our own holistic veterinarian, we discovered Darby has a long list of physical ailments.  She is almost completely deaf due to recurrent ear infections and blind due to cataracts.  In addition, she has major dental tartar, a luxated patella on her rear right leg, and presented with a yeast infection in both ears and back paws.  We managed to get the yeast infection under control fairly quickly, although we will have to look at food allergy issues in the long term.  More importantly, our rescue chair, Mary Young, advised that we should address the cataract issue first, since it is particularly vexing for a Westie to lose two senses, visual and auditory, decreasing her quality of life significantly while also decreasing her adaptability.  Darby also arrived in rescue at the same time as a number of other senior westies in better health.

Derby WestieRescue Grant Recipient August 2011
Derby WestieRescue Grant Recipient

While hearing is an unlikely sense to recuperate, vision is probably more important and also possible to correct with cataract surgery.  Darby was reasonably good at discerning light/dark shapes, but unable to make out details, and constantly ran afoul of branches, windows, etc.  She had become wily at following her humans, mainly with her nose, but you could see that she lacked confidence in the way she walked and didn’t like to be left alone.  We made an appointment to see Dr. Gwendolyn Lynch, a canine ophthalmologist at Veterinary Vision in San Francisco.  She determined that Darby had a good prognosis despite having very mature cataracts — an 80% chance of full recovery of her eyesight with cataract surgery.  Nevertheless, there were some dangers of damaged retinas and of developing glaucoma immediately after the surgery.  With cataract surgery costing upwards of $3000, even with a rescue discount, we contacted WestieMed for help.

Leading up to the surgery, we had a one-week regimen of various eye drops.  Darby has been very patient with the eye drops, motivated by small treats and her continually ravenous appetite, probably caused by deprivation as a young dog.

Derby WestieRescue Grant Recipient August 2011
Derby WestieRescue Grant Recipient

Darby had her surgery yesterday and did very well.  The surgery was performed using a modern technique called “phacoemulsification” where the cloudy lens is removed and an artificial lens put in its place.  Her retinas ended up being in relatively good shape, and her pressure numbers remained in the good range after the surgery.

In the afternoon after the surgery, even groggy from general anesthetic and wearing a dreaded e-collar, she had a great appetite and finished her dinner as well as Fritz’s leftovers.  Early this morning we were back at the ophthalmologist to check her eye pressure numbers to make sure we weren’t in danger of glaucoma, and it looks like she will be totally fine.  She was given another injection in her eyes and we were sent on our way.  For the next week, we will be on a routine of two oral medications and five different eye drops, three times a day.  This routine requires dedication by both the patient and the guardian, and I think we are up to the task.

In the meantime, we are taking Darby and Fritz on daily walks to the Boulange de Cole Valley, our local French bakery, where they enjoy a little treat while we enjoy our jasmine tea.  Although Darby will need to wear an e-collar for two weeks, she already has a more confident spring in her step and a different way of viewing the world.  Where I felt that before she was looking out trying to figure out what was going on, I think that now she is looking out surprised at the detailed fabric of life.  Even though the eye drop and ointment residue, she already seems more bright-eyed and curious.

A big thank-you to WestieMed and the local San Francisco Bay West Highland White Terrier Club Rescue for helping Darby out with her cataract surgery.  It is amazing that there are such organizations in place that are interested in helping the less fortunate Westies among us.  Darby is such a fine girl and deserves a truly great last third of her life.  We will make sure she gets it.

Ineke Rühland & Bill O’Such
San Francisco, CA 
August 18, 2011

Update February 7, 2013

I’m writing for Ineke with our happy update on Darby! Darby has been very happy and charming addition to our pack. She has helped our 16 1/4-year-old Westie (Fritz) march along in his senior years by keeping him moving. She occasionally takes on some of Fritz’s tasks like guarding in the back yard or from the front window. Her eyesight has been very good and we’ve been carefully following all the post-surgery eye care. Thanks again for making Darby’s and our lives better!

Best wishes,
Bill and Ineke

Ellie - WestieMed Grant Recipient July 2011


Seven years ago, I brought two little Westie puppies into my life: Max and Piper.  They have been such a joy for me and my family (grandpops loves his grand-dogs!), and I’ve always known I’d expand our family one day.  Because of my love for Westies, I check the Westie Rescue of Tennessee quite often to see the Westies they have for adoption, but the timing was just never right – and to be honest, WRT’s babies get adopted out very quickly.

However, back in early June, I came across a note on WRT’s Facebook page about a little blind Westie girl.  When I read the note, my heart just broke for this poor little girl that had obviously been left to fend for herself.  A farmer found her hiding under a shed on his farm.  Her hair was extremely long and matted, and she had severe scabbing around her eyes, as well as ear mites.  She was underweight and was in desperate need of some TLC – as well as medical help for her eyes.

She was brought to Nancy, a Westie breeder in Arkansas, who shared her story with WRT.  Nancy provided her shelter, food, and medical care, but the goal was to find her a furever home where she would feel loved and protected.

After I read the story, I knew Ellie had to come home to Alabama and become part of my Westie family.  I looked up from my laptop and asked Max & Piper (yes, I asked the kids!) if they wanted a new sister…?  Max’s ears perked up and he ran over to the toy basket and picked up one of his favorite toys – a little pink elephant that I call Ellie.  Well, that was enough of a sign for me.  I had always said my next girl dog would be named Zoe or Ellie, and Max bringing me that toy just sealed the deal!  Thanks to some wonderful volunteers (Nancy, Patti Holden, and Carol Utley), we were able to get Ellie to her new home on 6/25.  Little did I know what I was in for!

Ellie came in and instantly peed on the floor! I thought, “Oh no! I’ve been living with two dogs for seven years that are housebroken – what am I going to do?!” I just went back to what worked with my two little ones, and before I knew it – just two weeks later – Ellie was housebroken and I no longer had kept her in her pen (it was a nice large area), if I left for an extended period of time.  She was using the doggie door like Max and Piper and using the outdoor potty pad if I had to be gone longer than normal. 

She has very quickly learned how comfy the sofa is, and after only a couple of days, she learned to use the doggie steps to get up on the sofa and the bed.  She still sleeps in her crate at night because I’m worried she might fall off of the bed, but she loves her little “house” at night – especially the down pillow she sleeps on!  She has her favorite treats and, after prying them away from Max, has found 2 favorite toys – a pink piggy and a pink “diva dog” purse.

My biggest concern with Ellie was her eyes, of course.  Although I had been given an antibiotic eye ointment to use on her eyes (the vet had given Nancy a sample before she was brought to Alabama), her eyes would still get mucky and crusty.  Another wonderful Wesite supporter, Diane Vann, pointed me in the direction of Veterinary Eye Specialist in Birmingham (and also WestieMed). 

Ellie - WestieMed Grant Recipient July 2011
Ellie – WestieMed Grant Recipient

I assumed they would tell me the worst – that Ellie had cataracts or had no sight and would never see.  But instead, they told me wonderful news!  While Ellie’s sight would never be 100% and her extreme dry eye condition was permanent and ulcers had formed on one of her eyes, she should get some sight back in both eyes!

I was so excited, but since I am currently out of work, I was worried about paying for her eye drops and vet visits each month.  Thank you WestieMed for alleviating this financial burden for the next year!  Believe it or not, after only a week of using the special eye drops, Ellie’s eyes are already improving.  They look normal, not quite as bright and shiny as I want, but there is no muckiness or crusting.

She may have to have these drops for the rest of her life, but I don’t care!  I would do anything for this little Westie/St Bernard (she gives some very sloppy St Bernard type kisses!).  So here we are now, one big happy Westie family!  I am amazed every day at how well Ellie does with such little sight.  And while I know Ellie is thankful to have a home and forever furr-friends, I am even more thankful for the love and joy she brings me every day!

Update September 26, 2011

I just wanted to give you an update on our little Ellie!  She is doing great! 

Ellie - WestieMed Grant Recipient July 2011
Ellie – WestieMed Grant Recipient

She has been on special eye drops for the dryness and Terramycin for infection.  Her tear ducts are producing tears, but she’ll probably be on the meds for life.  As far as any sight regained, I know that she seems more sensitive to light, but time will tell with that.  Her little eyelids are funny, b/c the lashes grow in too think so I trim them weekly so I can see her great big beautiful brown eyes – which are shiny and rarely have any crusting or “gooping”.  I don’t know how she does it, but she loves all of the pink toys we have – she has her own little set and has to have at least one to go to bed with at night – piggy, Ele the elephant, the pink princess purse, and, our newest, monk-monk – our pink monkey.  I bought one in blue and one in pink and she totally ignores the blue one.

She loves her little crate at night.  I just say, Ellie, it’s time to go nite-nite, and I’ll have one her toy waiting for her and she’ll grab it out of my hand and head straight into her down-filled little house.  The next day, she always goes back and gets whichever ever animal she took to bed.  While I’d love to have the crate out of my room, I don’t think I will ever let Ellie in the bed like Max and Piper.  I’m too scared she’ll fall off.  Plus, three dogs in the bed?? I don’t know.  They may take over completely if I do that!

She is in treat Heaven, and she knows when I’m cooking their dinner –she runs around and around the kitchen until it finally hits the bowl.

She’s even learning the art of playtime with Max & Piper.  I think it scared her at first, but now she just plays along.

All-in-all, we are one big happy Westie family! Thank you WestieMed for your support!!


Update July 7, 2012

Ellie - WestieMed Grant Recipient July 2011
Ellie – WestieMed Grant Recipient

Ellie is doing great!  She still has to continue to get eye drops every day, but her sight has actually improved. 

Being out of work (Still!), WestieMed’s help was invaluable! 

Thank you again so much!

Christi Gamble

Morgan - WestieMed Recipient August 2009


Morgan, age seven years, was surrendered to Westie Rescue of Austin because the family had just been told he was diabetic and would need lifelong care, insulin shots, and careful diet.  With two small children in the family to deal with, the mother felt she could not handle the added stress, so they contacted us and brought him to our program.   We got him to our vet the following Monday and started the insulin injections, working gradually to establish the dosage level most appropriate.

Morgan had dropped from 26 pounds to 19 pounds in the three months before we got him.  He was in serious condition, but with the implementation of the insulin, he responded quickly and became stable.  However, within the first two weeks, he developed cataracts in both eyes and literally went blind over a weekend.  I finally realized what had happened because he kept bumping into me to follow me – he could not see!!

Our vet referred us to an animal ophthalmologist who said Morgan was a good candidate for cataract surgery.  His cataracts were well-formed and should be easy to remove.  But the surgery was going to run approximately $1500 per eye.  A new lens would be inserted to allow for better depth perception and restore his sight to almost normal.

His first cataract, in the left eye, was removed in early June and the change was dramatic!  For the first couple of days, Morgan was not sure that he could really see, but once the eye settled, he was thrilled!  We had to restrain him from jumping for a week, but he did not mind, and the healing went smoothly. 

We are planning on having the other cataract remove in the fall, so he can see again with both eyes and have better depth perception.  Morgan is such a loving and delightful Westie!  He is a big gun but thinks he is still lap-dog size.  He has bonded nicely to his foster family and will make a wonderful companion for a new family.

We are grateful for the assistance that WestieMed is providing so that Morgan can have normal vision again.

Update September 30, 2009

Morgan’s surgery is scheduled for October 16th for the removal of the second cataract, and he should come through with flying colors the vet said.  I will send you another update after he recovers.

Thank you again so very much for WestieMed’s wonderful assistance for Morgan!!

Barbara Ott 
Westie Rescue, Austin

Update March 2, 2010

Morgan is doing fine.  He had his second lens replacement in Oct. and it also was a success.  He can see beautifully.  We had a set back toward the end of the year when we were notified that Vetsulin was no longer available, and that is what he was on.  So we made the transition over to human insulin, went through several more glucose curves until we could establish a level of units that seem to stabilize him.  Now that he is on Humulin N, he actually has better curves than he did on Vetsulin.

Due to his diabetes, he got a few inquiries, but no serious potential adopters, even though his eyes were seeing again, and he was fairly stable on his insulin.  I was also preparing to retire from my day job at the end of December and making plans to move to Tennesse in February.  I felt that sending him to another foster home would be stressful for him, so I decided to bring him with me along with my own two Westies to our new home in Tenn.

Morgan has made the adjustment to our new home very well.  He was confused the first couple of weeks, and would not let me out of his sight.  Now that we have been here a month, he has relaxed and is settling in with our new routines.  I am home nearly all day now, and he still stays close but is content to lie on a doggie bed near me.  My own two Westies have also gone through the same adjustments, and my husband laughs now – he can find me anywhere as there are three little white dogs with their noses pointing to the closed bathroom door……

It looks like Morgan is now a member of our family.  He is happy and playful, and stable on twelve units twice a day.  I am still unpacking boxes, and as soon as I find my camera (it’s in a box somewhere….) I will send you some current photos.

My heartfelt thanks to the assistance we received from WestieMed for Morgan’s care and eye surgery.  He is such a happy Westie and very comfortable with us.  I love him to pieces.

Barb Ott
Retired from Westie Rescue Austin

PS – Westie Rescue/Austin is still alive and well.  One of my foster moms, Linda Duncan, stepped up to take the reins and has been busy rescuing and adopting Westies already.  She is doing a great job. 

Update July 29, 2010

Morgan - WestieMed Recipient August 2009
Morgan – WestieMed Recipient

Morgan is doing great.  He can see about as much as 85% as a normal dog, being restricted only because he cannot focus all that well with his artificial lens in each eye.  But he gets along great and is a happy camper.

I retired from rescue work after the first of the year and we moved from Texas to Tennesse.  During that time Morgan never got any interest in being adopted, primarily due to being diabetic and his age, so we adopted him and he came to Tennesse with our three other dogs, and he has adapted beautifully to his new home, here with us.  He will turn ten on Christmas Day, and I cannot imagine not ever having him as part of our family now.

Morgan’s diabetes is stable and he has regained his lost weight.  He is a sweet, gentle loving Westie, and so eager to please.  He is my shadow, lying at my feet right now as I type and sleeping beside my side of the bed at night.  His eyes have healed beautifully and the new lens has given him back his life.  We are eternally grateful for the help WestieMed gave Morgan toward the huge cost of his cataract surgeries, which came to nearly $3500 with the follow-ups and meds.

I have attached a photo taken of Morgan in our new home in Lawrenceburg, TN.  Isn’t he handsome!!

Barb Ott

Shadow - WestieMed Recipient


December 2006:

Shadow’s journey.

How do we know that God exists? One way to tell is if you have ever seen a small child wandering in a department store or on a busy city street without an adult right next to them holding their hand. If you look around you will see virtually every eye of every adult in the area will be fixed on the child and many of them starting to move forward to help…until of course the child’s adult companion shows up and everyone relaxes…I think that is one way that God acts in this world… through the eyes, hands, and hearts of good people here on earth who step forward and do what is good and right for those that can’t help themselves. And that is precisely what has happened to Shadow. It started with Westie Rescue of Missouri when Angie Jamison heard there was a Westie at a shelter in Northern Illinois. She then called Debbie Kolze who lived nearby to see if she could help. 

Here is Debbie’s story of the rescue and her and her husband’s excellent and heroic foster care:

“Angie at Westie Rescue told me that there was a shelter in Seneca, IL that had a Westie. He was turned in to them by another rescue transport. When they got him he was full of fleas, ticks, was filthy, and literally nothing but skin and bones and missing large patches of fur. The shelter was very full, and Shadow did not do well there. So after a few days, they shipped him off to a woman named “Lee” who will take in the overflow animals at the shelter since she apparently has a farm or lots of land or something and is willing to help if the shelter needs assistance. Anyway, Lee gave him flea baths and wormed him. She said he wasn’t housebroken when she got him, but she trained him. She said he ate okay but everything he ate was just running out of him.

“On May 16th, 2006 I went to pick him up. I met Lee outside of Seneca, IL off I-88 at a convenience store parking lot. She handed “Duffy” to me as she had nicknamed him, and gave me a bag with some gravy pouches and some dry dog food. She said I could keep the collar and leash, then she signed the makeshift release form I gave her and drove away.

“Duffy” stood most of the way home in the front seat of my car. I thought he might be a Westie mix, maybe part Collie or Sheltie because he wasn’t very white and his face looked more like a Collie than a Westie. After a while, he laid down but just for a few minutes only to stand up again. I sensed that his back hurt. When I touched his back it was arched up high and I could feel every vertebra from his neck down to his tail. I didn’t like touching him at all, he was just a skeleton, and he smelled. But when he looked at me with the one lone round star in his right eye (he has cataracts that have blinded him), I said to him, “I think you are going to break my heart.” Because I didn’t think he would live another week since he was such a mess.

“I had called my vet before picking him up and had an appointment for later that afternoon. He weighed in at under 13 pounds. The vet said he was full of infections, his teeth, his ears, and suspected internally too. He was given an antibiotic shot and put on a couple of prescriptions for the infections and the obvious pain in his back or hind legs. I was told to bring him back in a week. He went back before that for severe diarrhea.

“After having him one week we took him to the groomer and he surprisingly did look like a Westie, a very very skinny Westie. I hate to say how much I disliked touching him other than his face those early days. When he started to gain weight, I’d touch his face and neck, and as he filled out I could touch his shoulders. He was just so skinny he felt awful. When he finally got to his optimum weight only the very end of the spine could be felt, and a little of his hips.

“I put him on a diet of dry food, that I’d moisten and microwave soft so that he could eat it with his badly infected teeth. I introduced different foods slowly and one at a time to see how he handled them. I knew I had to put weight on him, but slowly, I wanted him to build muscle. I fed him 4 times a day. The dry dog food mix soon was mixed with canned food in the morning and evening, and a snack of something like cottage cheese or a hard-boiled egg at lunch and again at bedtime, usually mixed with more dog food. The canned dog food was a turkey-based Adult Science Diet rather than beef or something else. Once he had his dental in June I no longer softened his dry food, and once he got up to eighteen pounds he only ate twice a day. It took him about three months to gain the six pounds. Then it was easy to pet him, pick him up and hold him and love him and not feel like I was hurting him.

“Around the same time he had the dental done, he got a one-year Rabies shot and started his heartworm meds. That was also when he seemed to developed allergies. He was scratching and itching and biting, so he got put on Advantage for fleas, just in case. He has bitten himself till he has bled, “hot spots” they call them, so he went on Benadryl. At one time he was getting three to four different pills a day. He was on Baytril for eight weeks, he was on Rimadyl for pain for at least that long, as well as the Benadryl, and other things along the way. Like things for his ears, he had a couple of ear infections while with us, it seemed to clear up and then come back. Just a note, the Rimadyl made it easier for him to go for long walks and he appeared to be more comfortable while on it. It’s a drug that is not good for long-term use I am told.

“Since he liked to follow us around wherever we went we decided to name him “Shadow” as in me and my shadow.

“That’s Shadow’s story until he was adopted by you on November 6, 2006.” Debbie

Debbie did such great work with Shadow that all my vet could find wrong with him was a couple of remaining skin hot spots and his severe difficulty with cataracts which have essentially made him blind. Shadow has that classic walk of a blind dog in that he walks with his head down and in a very halting, hesitant, and stiff-legged fashion…tail between his legs. Well, we have gone to two of the leading veterinary ophthalmologists in the Chicago area for their opinions and they both have identified a hyper-mature cataract in the right eye blocking 100% of his vision and a mature cataract that blocks perhaps 90-95% vision in his left eye. 

Since Shadow has not been neutered, the vets have theorized that Shadow was used as a puppy mill stud and when he could not perform any more he was “thrown away”. From the age of cataracts and their configuration, one of the eye doctors said that the right eye could have formed its cataract from a blow or trauma to that eye as the one on the left seems to be a naturally formed one due to age. So it is easy to see that Shadow was not a pet and was just caged and used for years by his unscrupulous keepers. 

I see some further evidence of his background in his behavior around the house now. He doesn’t know how to play, nor is he at all socialized to how humans pet or hold dogs. His world at the puppy mill was one of being used until he was no longer useful with no love or care for any of his needs. 

Well, Angie, Lee, Debbie, and I have each in our way tried to shower him with enough care to try to make up for his years of imprisonment. He is much better now, his skin has cleared up, his ears are clean and healthy and he even gets excited and gives lots of tail wags when I come home from work. He’s even striding more bravely on walks and is showing more confidence and poise around the house. He’s a gentle little guy who never barks and never puts up a fuss when he gets his eye drops or is examined at the vets…it’s all new to him. 

Now, thanks to WestieMed’s grant, he will be able to have a chance at opening up his world and having his sight restored with cataract surgery. For however much time he has left it is wonderful to think that it won’t be spent alone in the dark, anymore. Now he has friends reaching out to help him and care for him…finally. On behalf of Shadow and all of us who have helped him along the way, thank you very, very much.

Sincerely, George Kase, Shadow’s new dad. 

Shadow - WestieMed Recipient

Update January 2008:

t is with an enormous amount of sadness that I must tell you of the passing of my boy Shadow on this past Monday morning, January 28th at the Veterinary Specialty Hospital in Buffalo Grove. From internal bleeding caused by complications of his Kidney disease.

Shadow was truly a lionhearted being. Courageous in everything he did, he never let his blindness nor his weakened muscles stop him in any way. He enjoyed his walks and sniffing as well as just exploring for the fun of it. He liked to lay on his blankie and particularly after a good meal, he really liked to roll around on it with abandon. One hobby he developed in recent months was a particular affection for finding one of the other dog’s bowls during mealtimes for a quick snack before being caught. I can’t say enough about him and how much richer he made my life for the brief time he lived here.

He’ll be missed very, very much.


Murphy - WestieMed Recipient


April 2005:

Just a couple of weeks before my fourth birthday, my first family gave me away. They said I bit their toddler. They didn’t want me and thought I should be put to sleep. I sleep every day so that didn’t make sense to me. For the longest time, the Dad in that family was mean to me. He made me scared of men. When no vet in town would put me to sleep, he called Westie Rescue, Houston, and asked them to come and get me right away. He said it was the one bite that made him do it. But they had been not nice to me for a while. They made me feel very bad because I am a good dog and wouldn’t try to hurt anyone.

Foster Mom, Barbara, came and got me. She has a young Westie, Duncan, and had been eager to help Westies anywhere. I was her very first foster dog. Duncan thought another dog (or more) in the house was a great idea. I was very, very scared. I hear that I was like a statue when anyone tried to pick me up. My tail was firmly placed between my rear legs and no one could touch the back half of my body without me growling. I did not let Rob, my foster Dad, get near me. (That made him sad because he wanted to pet me and make me feel at home.) The word to describe me was “traumatized”.

I can’t remember what it was like at that first house. When I got to Duncan’s house, I couldn’t even stand in the grass. It didn’t feel familiar. And Duncan tried and tried to get me to play with him, but I didn’t know-how. Mostly, all I did was a growl and snap into the air.

There were a few problems with my body. The biggest one being that I have cataracts and couldn’t see very well. The vet I used to see said that I did have some vision and that it wouldn’t get worse. (He was wrong. Very quickly I could only see light and dark.) Since I don’t know what’s coming at me, I am scared all the time. That makes me act unfriendly. No one really knows yet if the reason I like to pee on every corner, or doorway, or the furniture, is because I like a little scent trail to find the doggie door. When a piece of furniture is moved or Barbara does too good a job of cleaning it up, I just have to pee some more.

I scratched all the time. It seems my first family had me tested, when I was a puppy, for allergies. Like a lot of other Westies, I am allergic to corn and wheat. Also some grasses and outdoor things. They gave me food with corn and wheat in it anyway. I don’t know why. I also had a yeast infection. I smelled a little “off” and my back end was kind of crusty. There were dark places on my skin. And, boy, was that itchy!

Barbara switched my food (not all at once) to tasty kibble with no corn and wheat. And then she started making me a high protein stew to starve the yeast. I had medicine in cheese ball treats to make the yeast go away. I started having baths a couple of times a week. There was even a special paw rinse, with water, after running around in the grass. 

We were all so happy when I was adopted. On my birthday, no less. The new house had two other dogs who had very jingly collars that made a horrible noise when they ran back and forth in front of me. I couldn’t see them. I only heard them and felt them near me. I was startled all the time. I had to nip a few times (and landed a nip, too), trying to get them to mellow a bit. In less than eighteen hours, they didn’t want me either and wanted to bring me back. When I got back to my foster home after less than 48 hours away, I acted kind of like I did the first time I got here. Duncan was so happy to see me but the whole thing had been traumatic and it took me some time to stop growling and baring my teeth. It was all very confusing for him, too.

After that, no one ever even applied for me. I had “no children” and then “special needs” attached to my profile. At least my foster home liked me, even when I didn’t like another foster dog that came here. She and Duncan wrestled and made noises that made me think she was hurting him. I wanted to fight her. So she had to leave.

My skin got much better and now I look mostly white. I still have stew every day and the yeast infection is pretty much gone. My itching is still a problem, though. 

Duncan taught me to play with him. Now I can even play fetch. As long as the ball makes noise and doesn’t go far, I can get it! We wrestle some and patrol the backyard together. Duncan runs after squirrels and I run after him because he seems so excited (and then I can smell those pesky squirrels).

I really want to see things like Duncan can. I want to run a long way for a ball and not have him take it away just because I can’t see it twelve inches away. I want to go off-leash on our special walks and not run into twigs and bushes and little posts. Or walk in the wrong direction. I want to beat him to a tree when a squirrel is nearby (and maybe even learn to stalk). Maybe I won’t be so afraid all the time of all those things that startle me now (which is pretty much anything that moves) and maybe then I will stop nipping at people, and little children, and go nuts when I know another dog is nearby. I’m tired of being scared all the time.

My long term foster Mom and Dad (and Kathy, the head of the Rescue group here) are so incredibly excited about me seeing. They are grateful beyond words to the people at WestieMed. I don’t know what all the fuss (and this happy crying) is about. Barbara promises it will be a wonderful surprise. She has a surgery appointment for me on April 27th and says I’ll find out then.

Love, Murphy

Update May 1, 2005:

It’s Sunday, May 1st, and four days since I had my cataract surgery. I can see! I’ve taken to stopping and staring at everything. I’m not really jumping for joy, yet, because I’m not allowed to jump. Or run or play or even get up on to the couch by myself. The special eye doctor doesn’t want me to jostle my eyes too much. And he says “no scratching”, not even after drops are put in my eye, which seems like all the time. For some reason, there is a clown collar or something around my neck. I can’t touch my face or my head. That’s very frustrating. 

The word is that I have to keep the collar on and stay in my crate a lot (even when Barbara goes to the store) for another three to four weeks. I’m feeling a little bit depressed right now. But every day is a new day, so “week” means nothing to me. I promise to send another note to the wonderful WestieMed people after the clown collar comes off and I can run and jump and keep up with that wild puppy, Duncan. There’s a whole other life waiting for me!! 

Angus - WestieMed Recipient


November 2002:

Angus had been at the Halifax Humane Society (Daytona, Florida) for several weeks. He apparently was found in the home of his owner, who had been dead for a few days. After much legal action (certified letters and such), he was released to Westie Rescue.

Angus is about eight years old. He has mild to moderate cataracts, and is mostly deaf, probably due to chronic ear infections. He has bad skin, but that is clearing up with the help of antibiotics and medicated baths (and flea control).

He is an absolute love. He really doesn’t know how to play but tries. He does toss toys around and tries to catch them. He doesn’t do it for long, but I think it is because his teeth bother him (that will be taken care of after Thanksgiving!). He loves sitting on laps and giving kisses. He gets along with other dogs and cats, but would love a ‘special somebody’.

WestieMed has been incredible with his medical bills!
Beth Garwood Florida

Update December 2000:

Our Angus is doing just great! He’s a funny ole guy, but a pleasure and much loved.

There are many responsible for making Angus’ rehab. a reality and we are grateful to all who made it possible—most especially Beth who took him to the doctors, etc. and gave him her special loving care.

Angus’ stocking is hanging up, waiting for Santa to fill—-probably some soft, small toys that he can throw up in the air and TRY to catch (not much luck, however.) I’m sure that in his own way he wishes you all at Westie Med—-and Beth—-a joyous holiday season. And, I add our glad tidings, too!


Angus - WestieMed Recipient
Angus – March 2003

Angus - WestieMed Recipient
Angus – July 2003
Dudley - WestieMed Recipient


April 2002:

Dudley was found in an alley. He was deaf and blind and obviously in pain. Despite his condition, he was completely docile and was taken directly to the Emergency Vet. 

Dudley’s eyes were covered with blackened, stiff, infection-caked fur. At first, we thought his eyes had been gouged out. His ears were entirely filled with something that had hardened; it felt as if he had a big thick cigar in each ear. The emergency vet said that apparently, he had been standing in his urine in a cage for some time because his paws were stained yellow. His coat and skin smelled awful and his skin was full of scabs. After about two hours at the vet, they washed him and shaved and cleaned his face and ears, and dispensed one mg of Azium and 100 mg Polyflux, Clavamox 125 mg. for fourteen days, Panalog ointment fifteen ml, Triple antibiotic OO. We were told that one of the technicians was so disheartened at seeing his condition, she cried. 

A couple of days later, we took him to our vet where they kept him for observation for the day. He has cataracts and his eyes still discharge gunk. Our vet told us he has a heart murmur and that we need to take him to a cardiologist. She said he also needs an ophthalmologic workup and a dermatological consult. A few days later, we brought him in for a follow-up check-up and he seemed to be progressing. A few days following that, he started limping, refusing to step on his left front paw. The vet dispensed Synotic w/Linc/Banamin and Baytril 68 mg. He’s now walking better, but his paw is still swollen.

Dudley’s recommended course of treatment is a cardiac workup due to heart murmur; ophthalmic workup due to eye discharge, cornea problems, and blindness; and dermatology consult due to pododermatitis, seborrheaoleosa, alopecia. allergies.

Update – May 2002:

Please accept and extend to the board of WestieMed, our heartfelt gratitude for the financial aid that made Dudley’s medical rehabilitation possible. I honestly don’t know what we would have done with this little stray Westie, had you not been there for him and us.

Each day Dudley gets better and better… and feistier. This past Sunday, he made his debut at a neighborhood sixty-family garage sale. He was quite the celebrity as he amazed neighbors who had seen him on that fateful day when he landed in our alley. They were astounded at how much healthier he appeared. When garage sale customers inquired if Dudley was available, they were told in no uncertain terms that they could take husband Tom, but never Dudley! 

While Dudley continues to need work on his ears, eyes, paws, allergies, and teeth, we’re thrilled with the progress he has made. His Westie spirit and determination are inspirational. 

We cannot thank you enough for your generosity and compassion. 

Gratefully, Dudley, Tom and Linda Leahy

Dudley - WestieMed Recipient
Dudley – WestieMed Recipient

Update – June 2002:

Just wanted to send a new “after” picture of Dudley to show the improvement from his “before” picture taken in March. Again, thank you and WestieMed for all your amazing help.


Update – October 2002:

Dudley has definitely settled in with us and has managed to successfully train both Tom and me. 

We cannot thank all of you enough at WestieMed for your financial and emotional support in helping Dudley move forward. I don’t know what we would have done had you not been there for him. 

On the health front, Dudley’s eyes are coming along. We administer three meds three times a day. His ears are not faring as well in that the cartilage continues to harden. We’re hoping that he won’t need to undergo surgery, but it looks likely. We’ll learn the verdict this Saturday from his dermatologist Dr. Karen Kuhl. 

On the behavioral front, we went through a period when if Dudley was sitting on the bed or sofa with Linda, and Tom would enter the room he would snarl and lunge at Tom. This protective (or so we guessed) behavior made us think he might have spent time in bed with a sick or dying person prior to his abandonment. When we realize how little he can see and hear, it’s amazing he doesn’t snarl more to changes in his environment. The good news is that he no longer snarls at Tom.

Our only challenge is his bladder control. He can’t seem to go for any length of time without urinating. During the day, we manage to get him out frequently. At night it’s a different story. We would really appreciate any advice you might be able too offer. We take him out between 11.00 and 11:30 p.m. and then he happily saunters into his crate next to our bed. He awakens at 4:00 a.m. and howls non-stop to go out. This incites our other dog Baka who is crated on the other side of our bed. They then make it a ceaseless doggy duet. If we don’t crate Dudley at night, we have several accidents. Any suggestions? 

Please know how much we treasure all that you’ve done to help us.

Gratefully, Tom and Linda Leahy Dudley’s Devoted Humans

Update – March 2003:

It is approaching a year since Dudley came into our lives. We will celebrate his arrival–aka birthday–on March 17. Thanks to WestieMed, he is healthy and thriving. 

Although his eyes and ears still operate at about 50%, he has learned to sit and stay. His vocabulary includes “dinner,” “go get Daddy,” “let’s go out,” “it’s time for bed,” and “do you want to go for a walk?”

Once again, we can’t thank you enough at WestieMed for helping Dudley and us.

All our best, Linda and Tom Leahy Dudley and Baka

Dudley - WestieMed Recipient
Dudley – WestieMed Recipient