Harley, a 50lb, 5 year old, black & white mutt was a yard dog. He spent his free time “enjoying” the sights and sounds of our S. Florida wildlife but lacked the personal interaction that we know nourishes. Harley’s neighbor watched over him dog as best she could but she had a distinctly different vision of quality of life for him.
When Harley’s owner abandoned him in the yard, this Good Samaritan made the decision to bring Harley in to the VCA HAH for a checkup. Following a conversation with her good friend Kevin, who offered to pay for Harley’s care, the plan was made to have Harley neutered and vaccinated. Then they would find him a fur-ever home-with a comfy couch!!
As anyone could image, Harley was wary of humans. His primary doctor, Dr. Brown took his physical exam very slowly to ensure he was as comfortable as possible and administered his first set of vaccinations. During routine bloodwork, it was discovered that Harley had heartworms. With no evidence or expectation of a history of any preventatives, this was no surprise. Radiographs confirmed the diagnosis and showed moderate change in his lungs from the heartworm infection. Treatment was the best next step.
Treatment for heartworm disease takes about 9 months. Throughout which, several courses of steroids and antibiotics are administered to fight the worms and any inflammation or immune responses associated with them. Treatment can also include the administration of three injections of medication to kill the parasites. This portion of the treatment requires strict monitoring as the medication actually attacks the parasites within the heart. With heartworm disease, any running, jumping, rough play, or overexcitement may exacerbate the condition which could then lead to further complications and potentially death. Therefore, Harley was boarded while he began treatment.
Within the first 2 days of his stay with us, his attitude toward humans changed dramatically. He began to linger a little when our staff would feed him. He would wander a little longer during his walks. He would rest his head in our laps of as we performed his daily treatments.
Every day, our Boarding Coordinator communicated with his owner as well as Kevin, the man funding Harley’s care. With each story of his recovery, Kevin grew more attached to Harley and decided to adopt him himself. The only caveat, that he got along with his dog at home.
After Harley’s first treatment he was ready to go home for some R&R. What could be a better place then Kevin’s home in Key West to get it? Harley made his first introduction to Samson, Kevin’s other dog, and they instantly hit it off. Things were looking up. Kevin then took Harley to see a Veterinary Cardiologist to oversee the remaining treatments.
Now, weeks later, Harley is living once again with a great big yard to play in. However, this time it is optional when he comes and goes. Samson, Harley and Kevin are all really our January Patients of the Month as it was their group efforts that make this a true success story.