The following post is by Mary Kury, who has fostered several Red Paw animals for us and adopted DeeDee, a Pit Bull displaced by a fire in November 2011
In December 2011, I was one of the certified veterinary technicians taking care of an isolated patient in the clinic – a young Pit Bull mix – rescued from a 2 alarm fire in West Philly a couple weeks prior. She was a sad, thin dog suffering the after effects of smoke inhalation and pneumonia….each set of treatments found her curled up in her cage in a little ball, or stretched out and struggling to breathe. Once you’d crouch down to start her treatments, she would look up with nervous eyes and a furrowed brow…but was always willing to come out of her cage as long as you’d let her crawl into your lap for a snuggle. It was heartbreaking – to have to medicate her so she could take calm breaths without gasping or panicking, trying to tempt her to eat when she knew she just couldn’t breathe and eat at the same time, nebulizing and coupaging her to break up the congestion in her lungs, along with all the round-the-clock IV treatments – fluids, antibiotics and pain meds.
I glanced at her ‘owner,’ RED PAW EMERGENCY RELIEF TEAM, and had no idea who that was. Onto the internet to search….and what an education I received!! I have been a volunteer for so many years with various organizations – animals, humans, religion – but was never impacted by such as mission as Red Paw’s. I simply wanted to know more, and when I read that this poor little Pittie who was fighting SO hard to live was putting a significant drain on the all-volunteer group’s resources, I picked up the phone and made a call to RP founder Jen Leary, saying that I was interested in fostering the dog. I am a horse and cat owner…hadn’t lived with a dog since high school, and the best place for DeeDee was a home without any dogs. It was a 30 second decision that changed my life!
DeeDee was a lot of work – medications, tempting her to eat, etc., every four hours, but all gratification! She didn’t know what stairs were, nor did she have the strength to climb up a set for almost two weeks, and our daily walks started off 1-2 houses at a time, but somehow in the first month SHE helped ME keep off holiday calories! For almost three months she remained on medications, unable to ‘pass’ her chest radiographs…but I knew she was healing, gaining weight, and spreading joy every shift she accompanied me to work. I was rewarded towards the end of that period by receiving the news she had been surrendered to Red Paw and I might be able to adopt her…it remains one of the best phone calls Jen and I have ever had. I cannot thank her enough for the time, dedication and patience she displays to both animals and humans.
Because of Jen Leary’s vision and hard work she saved the life of an ordinary dog who continues to do extraordinary things – DeeDee is a blood donor, a loyal companion, and a true ambassador for her mixed breed – giving kisses to anyone who asks – and even those who don’t! I am proud to say, “I failed as a dog foster!”