Libby - WestieMed Recipient


January 2007:

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.

Libby - WestieMed Recipient
Libby – WestieMed Recipient

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.

Libby - WestieMed Recipient
Libby – WestieMed Recipient

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. 

Angus - WestieMed Grant Recipient May 2018


Angus came to Westie Rescue of Northern California (WRAP) from a northern California shelter on 12/2/2017 after several people contacted us on Facebook about him. Angus was a stray, that the shelter said was about ten years old. Angus was fairly blind only seeing some shadows with cataracts in both eyes. His dental condition was poor. He had early renal disease and was mildly anemic. In addition, he was hard of hearing and had ulcers in his eyes which were discovered later. As the WRAP volunteer was sitting in her car to leave the shelter, Angus began to throw up. That set the tone for the weeks to come. He didn’t want to eat and when he did he was sick.

Angus was very dirty and matted on arrival so he was groomed within days. He looked beautiful when done. Angus was a very good boy for the groomer.

His loving foster mother took him to the Veterinarian almost immediately (and often) to start to deal with his medical issues which were many but most importantly his nausea. Multiple labs and testing over the next months were done along with teeth cleaning. He saw three different Veterinarians (including an Ophthalmologist) over four and a half months for various issues.

Angus was a loving boy who had clearly been loved at one time. He got along well with the others dogs in the foster home and became very bonded with them and his foster mom. Angus blossomed with some love and medical care. After over four and a half months Angus was finally cleared for adoption.

Angus was adopted by his foster mother on April 20, 2018.

Thank you WestieMed for helping us provide for Angus.

Update July 2019

Angus, my little man of the house went to Rainbow Bridge on Thursday, November 1st, 2018. We knew he was going to be a tough case because he was very ill when he first came to rescue and us. In spite, of his poor beginnings, Angus was a very sweet boy, enjoying his time snuffling around in the yard, lending affection whenever and wherever he could, and enjoying his food.

We think he was about twelve but he had had a very hard life and ultimately his kidneys failed him. Though he was blind and deaf, he really did manage to get around just fine and would meet me at the door with the rest of his pup siblings.

He was a beautiful little Westie and had the most expressive tail. A great lover of cuddling, he just loved to be around others and made friends easily with the rest of my crew. I love my girl Westie dearly, but oh how those little boys break my heart every time. Angus will be greatly missed.

Mom Janet

Renni - WestieMed Grant Recipient July 2016


As I was messing around on Facebook one night, I got a message and photo from my sister-in-law, Casey.  The picture was of a little white dog at the Metro Nashville Animal Shelter for adoption.  The little dog was pretty bedraggled and looked very small and afraid.  She was female, spayed and not much other information was known about her.

Casey and I conversed a few minutes, and I told her I’d contact Westie Rescue AL/TN to see if they could get her released from the shelter and into a foster home.

I sent a Facebook message to one of the officers of Westie Rescue AL/TN and inquired about this little girl.  She said she knew about this dog and a couple was going to the shelter to try to adopt her within the next few days, but it was not a definite situation.  She said the Rescue did not have any foster homes available at that time and there wasn’t anything they could do unless a forever foster home could be found.

I talked to my husband about the little dog and showed him her picture.  We were currently in the process of trying to help another Westie, and it didn’t look like that situation was going to work out.  We both felt that this little dog at the shelter needed us more than the other dog, and maybe she was the reason the other situation wasn’t working out.  I wrote the officer back and told her if she could get her out of the shelter, we would adopt her.  She was overjoyed and said she would start working on it the next day.

Unfortunately, the shelter was closed until the following Tuesday.  The officer was able to contact the shelter and go see this little Westie.  When she got there, she discovered the dog was both deaf and blind.  She called us to see if we could handle this situation since it was going to be more than we had anticipated.  We decided we would still adopt her.  I arranged to meet the officer to meet the little girl and met them early in the week before the adoption.

The little girl had been checked out by the vet at the shelter, and was found to be heartworm negative, blood work was all good, needed a dental cleaning, and had some skin issues.  She was soon on the way to the Rescue’s veterinarian, with a quick stop to see me on the way.

This baby looked SO bad.  She had a very thick, black crust underneath her left eye.  She was very scraggly and dirty, and she smelled so bad there were flies around her.  She was walking in circles at the end of the leash and confused.  I picked her up and held her, and I could tell she was very sweet and needed a lot of love.  She needed someone to trust to take care of her.

She had been found in a neighborhood in Nashville, Tennessee, by a woman who had called Metro Nashville Animal Control to come and pick her up.  Her next-door neighbors had a Westie, so she knew she was the same breed.  Apparently, they gave the shelter their contact information, because the Rescue officer was able to contact them.  She had been at the shelter for almost a week when I saw her picture.  After we adopted her, the officer told us the neighbors put a story about her in their neighborhood newsletter and collected a donation for Westie Rescue to help offset her vetting.  The officer let them know that she had been adopted, that her name was now “Renni”, that her Irish name means “small, but mighty”, and she was going to a good home.

Renni was at the vet by this time.  They did a thorough exam, found a slight heart murmur, gave her a dental cleaning and removed 5 teeth, bathed her and treated her skin issues, prescribed three types of eye drops for her eyes to be given twice/day.  She had a follow-up visit for two weeks.  After the follow-up visit, we could give her a bath.

We were able to pick Renni up and bring her home on Friday, June 17, 2016, four weeks ago today.

She does not like riding in the car.  She fought like a little tiger until she wore herself out and went to sleep in my arms.  We decided no more car trips until the follow-up vet visit.  We got her home, introduced her to our other Westies:  Duncan, age four; Connor, age three; and Brody, age one.

They are leery of her, and can tell she is ‘different’.  They mostly avoid her whenever she gets near them, but they are slowly accepting her into the fold.  They are ‘concerned’ when she gets upset, and come to check on her to satisfy themselves that she’s ok.

We suspect that Renni belonged to a gentleman, who possibly passed away.  She became attached to my husband very quickly, and he became attached to her as well.  We have no way of knowing how she ended up on the street, or how long she was on her own.  It breaks our hearts to think of her alone, in the dark, in her own darkness and silence, not knowing where danger was lurking, trying to fend for herself to find a safe place to sleep and something to eat.

She is very thin, all the bones in her spine can be felt, as well as her hip bones.  Her rib bones can also be felt.  She is having a difficult time gaining weight because she walks so much.

The vet initially thought she had dementia, but we determined after her first night at our house, that she was ‘mapping’ her surroundings. 

She walked the perimeter of our great room 30-50 times without stopping.  The first several trips around, she bumped into everything.  After several times, she was able to dodge more and more pieces of furniture, table legs, corners, etc.  When she finally had navigated the room with no collisions, she rested.  She learned where the food and water bowls were located and could find them easily.  She learned where my husband was sitting and would pass by him for a quick rub, just to get her bearings. 

The next morning, she was able to remember everything she had learned the previous night. Renni did not have dementia!  Way too smart for that!  She started learning the next room and moved on to the next and the next.  She still has trouble with the dining room table and chairs…too many legs, too close together.  That’s understandable.

She LOVES to be outside for potty breaks.  She’s getting more comfortable being in her yard.  Her first time in the backyard, she took off like a trooper and explored the whole fenced area.

She had a ball and didn’t want to come back to where we were.  The other dogs were playing in the pool, but she couldn’t go in because she couldn’t get wet yet.  We have tried her at swimming since the follow-up vet visit, but she doesn’t care much for it.

We are hoping after Renni’s cataract surgery, with her vision restored to 95%, she can enjoy being in the pool, will want to play with toys, will be able to get along with the other dogs, and navigate better in the yard.  Balance is an issue for her without her sight on uneven ground.

We are anxious for her to see our faces as well, so she knows who is loving her, kissing her face, stroking her back, feeding her, etc. 

With your generous help, all this will be possible for her after the cataract surgery.  From the bottom of our hearts, THANK YOU so much for all you have done to help this precious little girl.

She has been a huge blessing to us as we have learned how to communicate with her and help her adjust to her new life and surroundings.

Jeanne and Chris Blankenship

Update April 3, 2017

Sadly, WestieMed has received word that Renni passed away last year. Rest in peace sweet girl.

Duchess - WestieMed Grant Recipient November 2013


Duchess arrived at Westie and Scottie Rescue Houston in July 2013 after her two moms died; the first when she was 3 1/2 years old and the second, her original mom’s sister, four years later. Because she is diabetic and blind from cataracts caused by diabetes, no other family members were willing to care for her. Daily insulin injections and the cost of insulin, along with caring for a blind dog, were overwhelming for them. After seven weeks in a kennel at her veterinarian’s office, the family released Duchess to WSRH. Her first stop was the intake house, where she was introduced to the resident pack and other fosters waiting for new homes. Duchess also was put on a healthy diet of grain-free food and was taken to see WSRH’s vet, Dr. Keith French at Bear Branch Animal Hospital. When Dr. French finished his initial exam and blood work, he implanted a microchip and a video of the procedure was shared on Facebook. To watch the video click here.

Duchess had always been an only dog so understandably was a bit overwhelmed with all the action and new dogs around her. She was able to maneuver around the dog room after a few days there but demonstrated her love of “caves” by crawling onto an open shelf in a cabinet. This became her daytime safe area. Fortunately for Duchess, it was only a week before first-time foster parents Dewayne and Cathy took her to their home. Although blind, she quickly learned to navigate the furniture in their house and established cave areas under furniture where she could hide after meals to try to avoid her insulin injections. This has become a game for her; lead Mom and Dad on a hunt for Duchess in her caves.

One discovery in her new foster home is that Duchess is a barker; when she is unsure of her surroundings when she can’t find the toy she dropped when she wants a playmate, the barking begins. Duchess has a strong prey drive and spends hours daily “looking” for squirrels along the backyard fence. She and her foster brothers run along the fence line while the squirrel runs along the top. When the squirrel is gone, the boys go into the house but Duchess continues to run along the bottom of the fence, barking. She likes to play with squeaky toys or toys with bells in them, however, when she drops the toy, the barking begins while she tries to find it.

Duchess and her foster brothers, two Westies and a Schnauzer mix, frequent the local dog park where Duchess is happily playing with smaller dogs. She tries to follow her foster brothers but they always run too fast for her to keep up. While the dog park has lots of open spaces for her to play, Duchess runs into fences and has fallen into the shallow pond. Duchess is socialized with other dogs, but her vision loss makes meeting new dogs difficult for her. When new dogs approach her too quickly or bark near her, she becomes frightened and looks for Mom or Dad to pick her up.

After monitoring Duchess’s blood sugar levels, Dr. French suggested that Duchess might be a candidate for cataract surgery because her diabetes was under control so he referred her to Gulf Coast Animal Eye Clinic. Dewayne made an appointment and took Duchess to see Dr. Jim Swanson who started her on a regimen of twice-daily eye drops to control swelling behind her corneas. After a month of this treatment, Dr. Swanson approved Duchess for cataract surgery and agreed to waive half his fee of $3600. With the help of WestieMed paying the remainder of the surgical fee, Duchess will soon be able to see the squirrels she loves to chase.

Duchess will always be diabetic but cataract surgery will make her more adoptable and allow her to lead a fuller, safer life. We are very grateful for WestieMed and all of its supporters for the assistance provided to Duchess and the other Westies who need extra help in getting them ready for forever homes.

Cathy and Dewayne Norris, Grateful Foster Parents
Westie & Scottie Rescue Houston

Update December 5, 2014

Duchess - WestieMed Grant Recipient November 2013
Duchess – WestieMed Grant Recipient

It seems the holidays, more than any other time of year, remind us to be grateful for the blessings we receive. Duchess was one of those blessings and WestieMed multiplied the blessing tenfold. When we took Duchess in, she had outlived two owners and was blind due to cataracts caused by diabetes. Our wonderful vet helped us get and keep her blood sugar under control and, thanks to a grant from WestieMed, we were able to have the surgery done to remove her cataracts and restore her eyesight. Duchess was still healing from the surgery when a wonderful person whose Westie also was older and diabetic, saw her profile and knew that she had to have Duchess in her life. As as soon as the surgeon cleared her, Duchess moved to her forever home.

Duchess’s forever mom sent us the attached photo showing how happy this beautiful girl is now. We always will be grateful to Dr. Keith French at Bear Branch Animal Hospital, Dr. Jim Swanson at Gulf Coast Animal Eye Clinic, and WestieMed for making this beautiful creature’s life brighter.

Kind regards,

Maggie Escriva
Volunteer, Director
Westie & Scottie Rescue Houston

Update July 29, 2015

Duchess - WestieMed Grant Recipient November 2013
Duchess – WestieMed Grant Recipient

We are happy to provide additional updates as the gift WestieMed helped provide is a lifetime of vision for this dear girl.

Duchess was adopted by a wonderful woman who has another older Westie girl who also is diabetic so she is quite familiar with dietary and medical needs.

Her mom told us that Duchess and her sister, Leia, had good reports at their recent vet checkup.

Thank you to WestieMed for enabling happy tails like this.

Kind regards,

Westie & Scottie Rescue Houston

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

Mason - WestieMed Recipient October 2010


I am an independent rescuer through the WHWTCA.  Blind diabetic Mason fell into my lap one day in late September 2010.  He was abandoned at a county shelter in southern New Jersey, with no information about his history. The shelter easily adopted him out since he is so sweet, only about six years old, cute, and housebroken, to boot.  But when he collapsed a few days later, the new owner returned him.  At that point, a kindly shelter worker, at his own expense, took Mason to a local veterinarian who diagnosed Mason with diabetes. That was when the shelter asked me to take him into rescue, knowing how difficult it was to adopt out a dog with diabetes.

Mason’s insulin dosage has taken some work to figure out and unfortunately, even with a “rescue discount” his expenses have mounted quickly. This was particularly true the first week when the vets and I were still working out what his proper insulin amount was, and Mason suffered one serious “crash” in that time.  Thankfully, diabetes now seems to be stabilized with a modest dose of insulin, and his blood glucose is monitored daily to avoid further unexpected problems in that regard. 

But Mason’s medical issues don’t stop there.  He still needs some major medical work, including extensive dental extractions, investigation of whether his sight can be restored, and further examination of some of his other symptoms.  But without all the initial work to get his diabetes under control, these future issues would be out of the question financially, and Mason might not even be with us today.  I am hugely grateful to WestieMed for stepping in with a generous and badly needed financial contribution to Mason’s bills, which allows me to continue caring for him.  He is worth it.  He is a sweet, friendly, well-mannered fellow who doesn’t mind his insulin shots and doesn’t seem at all bothered by not being able to see where he is going. In fact, his favorite pastime is to fling his squeaky-toys up in the air – and then search for them!  While he does that, I continue my search for his forever home: I know there is someone out there who will be able to accept and love this sweet little boy despite his medical challenges.

With heartfelt thanks, I am
Sincerely yours,

Lisa Curry
Garden State Westie Rescue

Westley - WestieMed Recipient December 2008


Westley, the Westie

Date of birth: 1-15-2008

Westley was left at a vet’s office for boarding, and when the pick-up time arrives, the owner refused to retrieve him, saying he did not want Westley anymore because he was blind.  The vet waited ten more days, and still, the owner did not show, so the vet contacted Westie Rescue of Austin to take him into our program.

While at the vet’s office, Westley did receive a full panel of vaccines, including rabies, and he was neutered.  A grade 3 heart murmur was detected, so when we picked him up we were advised of this added complication, besides the bad eye.

Westley had suffered a serious eye injury to his left eye some time ago when he was a wee pup.  Our eye specialist examined him and said prior “flap” surgery had been done, but it had not been successful, and Westley had no vision at all in that eye.  But his other eye was perfect and he had the full vision with it.  The specialist said the best option was to remove the damaged eye, as glaucoma was developing due to increased ocular pressure and pain was occurring.

We also consulted with a doggie cardiologist, the one who monitored our two previous open-heart patients, and she could not detect the heart murmur, even with a sonogram.  She did say that sometimes the onslaught of the vaccines can induce a transitory murmur and that must have been what happened in Westley’s case.

Westley had his eye removed and the socket stitched closed on Wed. 12/10/08.  He gets the stitches out on 12/19/08 and should be fine after that, with no residual problems.  Since coming back to his foster home after the surgery, you would never know he had anything wrong with him.  He is an active one yr. old Westie, into everything, and loving life in general.

Westley should be very adoptable, once his hair grows back to cover the closed eye.  We are very grateful that WestieMed agreed to help with the costs of surgery. Westley now has a chance for a long and healthy life ahead of him.  Thank you, WestieMed.

Following is a picture of Westley after his eye surgery.  He does look a bit lopsided, but once his hair grows back, we will send more pictures and an update.

Westley - WestieMed Recipient December 2008
Westley – WestieMed Recipient

Barbara Ott Westie Rescue/Austin

Update September 30, 2009

Westley got adopted by a wonderful family, with two children who love him and he loves them.  The father was especially attracted to Westley because as a child he too had lost the vision in one eye, and he empathized with Westley.

It was definitely a match made in heaven for the father and dog… another happy ending!

Barbara Ott
Westie Rescue/Austin