2017-08-03 / Columnists

Pets, Pets, Pets

We call Nina our “Miracle Dog”. This young Shepherd/Husky with dazzling, blue topaz eyes surprised her rescuers three times. Each surprise was more of a shock and could have been deadly for Nina or her offspring. You will see why as Nina’s story unfolds.

Surprise #1- One cold evening just before Thanksgiving a Shepherd/Husky was hit by a car in Wyandanch. A policeman responded to a call from a witness who saw her get hit. Another dog with the Shepherd mix ran off. The officer at the scene came upon a bleeding dog lying in the street. The dog slowly picked up her head, her eyes rolled backwards and she collapsed. He waited. He believed she was dead so he dragged her body out of the road and into the nearest lot.

Now, absolutely no blame is intended here; but when writing about Nina, this is the first time we’ve mentioned the role the police played. This officer really thought the dog had expired. If not, he would have summoned the animal control officer (ACO) on call that evening to take the injured dog to the emergency hospital.

Nina a week after being hit by a car. Nina a week after being hit by a car. The next morning Babylon Shelter heard a phone message saying where they could find a dead, hit-by-car dog. ACO Jill went to the spot and saw a dog in the leaves. As she approached, the dog lifted her head, and Jill let out a faint scream, realizing the dog was still alive, though just barely. She rushed her to NY Veterinary Specialists in Farmingdale where tests determined the dog was in shock but had no broken bones. The Shepherd mix barely moved that day. The vets and shelter discussed whether she should be euthanized. They decided to give her more time.

The following day the dog began to rally. Back at the shelter, her only residual effects were a front paw that turned over when she walked, and possibly a weak bladder. She was scared and shy. The shelter named her “Nina”. It seemed she’d recover faster if she were in a smaller setting, or better a foster home, so Nina moved to Last Hope in Wantagh.

Nina and her surprise puppies Nina and her surprise puppies Surprise #2- Days later a wonderful Last Hope volunteer family offered to foster Nina until she was strong enough to be spayed and put up for adoption. This family had fostered Kirstie, another blue-eyed Husky from Babylon Shelter while she had her heartworm treatment. Kirstie had unusual complications from the injections so foster care was more involved than expected. Kirstie blossomed with this family, and then was placed in a permanent home. No one expected foster history to repeat itself with Nina.

Because we were concerned about the effects of her trauma, Nina left Babylon Shelter quickly after her legal stray hold, but without being spayed and without a heartworm test. Our priorities were to provide physical therapy exercises to re-teach Nina how to place her paw correctly, and finish her meds for her bladder. Therefore, the second shock took place when Nina went to our vet.

Although she was only about a year old, she tested positive for heartworm. This meant she’d have to undergo immiticide injections to rid her of heartworm which, besides being risky for a dog that may already have neurological damage from a car, would prolong her foster care, as well as delay her spay and adoption.

Surprise #3- Nina did well in foster home, and handled heartworm treatment without problems. Her foster Mom Nancy exercised and placed her front paw in the correct position. Soon Nina was walking normally. In December Nina went to the vet for a recheck to set up a date for her spay. Lo and behold, the vet thought Nina might be pregnant. A sonograph confirmed her suspicions. Nina must have gotten pregnant when she was running loose, perhaps the night she was hit by the car. Was the fugitive dog with her when she collided with a car one of her suitors?

We were astonished. Nina’s spay had been put on the back burner because everyone was worried about her well-being after car injuries followed by heartworm treatment. Puppies were the furthest thought from our minds. Would they be healthy after Nina’s ordeals? Meanwhile, her foster family was ecstatic about the news, and ready to be puppy raisers.

On Jan. 15th, Nina whelped six strong, “miracle” pups. She was a great Mama dog. Her foster family was amazing. The girls kept weight charts; the chubby pups thrived and were well-socialized. Only one pup had two blue eyes like Mom; another had one blue, one brown. All but the blue-eyed puppy Bali were adopted to friends of the foster family. A month after the pups left, Nina was spayed, and later adopted by a caring family with younger kids.

Her puppy Bali lives in Hoboken and travels all over with her family. In June she was in NYC and appeared on Instagram via The Dogist, a photo-documentary series which features the beauty of dogs. Bali’s blue eyes against her red coat strike you. Her photos went viral. Bali got 69,000 LIKES the first day. Last Hope gained 150 Instagram followers that same day; including a lady in Florida who offered to pay Last Hope’s fee if somebody closer would adopt one of our longtime resident cats.

Three weeks ago Nina’s foster family took her for the weekend while her new family drove their son to camp in Pennsylvania. Saturday, she visited Last Hope with them. Her coat feels like velvet now. Nina is stunning. The next day Nina had a family reunion with her daughter Riley who invited Mom for a swim in her built-in pool. They frolicked together.

None of Nina’s story would have unfolded the way it did if the police officer hadn’t moved her “dead” body out of the road that fateful November night. In that instant, an innocent misinterpretation led to seven miraculous survivors- Nina and her surprise litter of six.

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