Making Mouse Mobile

12th Nov, 2021

Written by Mandy Store

Professional photography by Cindy Allen Photography

The puppies were crying all day and night, said the caller from South Hills, Johannesburg, who contacted me about two litters that weren’t being fed. I approached the puppies’ owner to ask if I could take them to an animal welfare organisation for their injections… and if she’d surrender them so that they could go to good homes. I took six rescue dogs to the animal welfare organisation and decided to keep two – Mouse (because she was so tiny) and Mickey.

I was devastated

Early in October 2020, at six months old, Mouse went for her sterilisation and vaccination. When she came home, she was joyous. Soon after, we experienced a heat wave and I noticed Mouse lying in her kennel. At first, I just thought that she was hot but then noticed she wasn’t coming out of the kennel. When I checked on her, she didn’t look good and her gums were snow white. She was very lethargic, and I rushed her to my vet; her stool looked like tar with blood in it and she was vomiting.

The vet said that her body was shutting down. I was devastated

Mouse was immediately placed on a drip. The next day, being a Sunday, the vets were closed, so couldn’t go and see her, which was hell for me. On Monday when I saw her, my heart jumped into my throat: her hair was falling out and she looked so much thinner. She had pieces of boiled chicken in a bowl, but she was too weak to eat. I took a piece and began feeding her; she started eating it. I gave her water and, after visiting her for a while, I left. Before that I asked the staff to give her extra attention.

I could see her bones

The following morning when I walked in, I saw them removing her dressing. I was utterly shocked to see what her leg looked like: it was raw, and I could see her bones. I asked the vet what was wrong, and he explained that she had no red cells and had developed an infection.

I’d bought Mouse her favourite pie, and after they dressed her wound, I hand-fed her. I then took her outside the premises to have a widdle, but when I called her, it was like she was looking for me but couldn’t see my hand. Alarmed, I told the vet that it seemed like she couldn’t see me. When he checked her eyes, he discovered that she didn’t have complete sight in her left eye due to the trauma she’d gone through, with her blood cells fighting each other.

That afternoon, when I went back to see her, the vet told me that they’d have to amputate her leg from the shoulder. It was like someone took a knife and stabbed me. I was in tears when I left.

Bringing Mouse home

I’d put photos of Mouse on my WhatsApp status to portray how heartbroken I was. One of my friends phoned me, and through my tears and heartache, I told her that I wanted Mouse back home! (As I’m writing this, the tears are streaming down my face from the heartache – she was reliant on me, her mommy, to pull her through.) Mouse has these big eyes, and they tell a story. My friend said: “If you feel more comfortable with Mouse being home with you, do what your heart is telling you.” I felt that Mouse would be better off with me, because I’d be in control and love is what she needs.

That night, I tossed and turned. I told my partner: “I’m going to fetch Mouse tomorrow and I’m going to bring her home.” And I did just that.

The vet explained that I should be prepared to bring her in every morning; this was no problem as I’d been visiting her twice a day to feed her anyway. I was told I could fetch her at 14h00, and by the time I arrived, they’d removed her already dead paw.

The other dogs were overjoyed to see her when we arrived home. I bought a comfy bed and laid her on it; her tail was wagging ten to the dozen – she knew she was home.

I’d cooked some ox liver, which I’d read could be helpful for her blood. Because she was on so much medication, I didn’t want to further damage her kidneys and other organs, so I fed it to her in very small dosages. She loved it! The following morning, I gave her some scrambled egg, and she already seemed a little livelier than the previous day.

A good sign

The following day, I took her back to the vet for her bandage change. Mouse wasn’t happy, but they changed her dressing and checked her gums, which had started getting their colour back; the vet said that it was a good sign.

During the day, Mouse started walking and playing with the other dogs – she had a big bandage on her leg that allowed her to use it. Her wound began to get better and started closing, and the vet said that they wouldn’t need to amputate as the leg had started healing.

I took Mouse back and forth for about two weeks after that. Every day, she got stronger and was happier.

She couldn’t run and chase

Mouse had been a very lively dog as a puppy; I’d never seen any dog as cheeky as her. It broke my heart that she wasn’t the same dog due to the fact that she couldn’t run and chase other dogs like she did before.

I saw a post on Facebook about a dog that got a prosthesis – the same concept as the blade that’s used by the runners in the Paralympics. I immediately contacted the lady on Facebook, and she referred me to Judy Jooste at Vesper on Wheels. With Judy’s help, Mouse was sponsored for her prosthesis.

I was introduced to Antois Ferreira of Animal Care Division. We went to meet him at his practice, a cast was done, and one week later we went for the fitting.

True transformation

Initially, Mouse fought against the prosthesis, but it wasn’t long before she realised that it helped her mobility to get from one place to another easier. Mouse’s good leg has taken strain using that one paw to hop on all day and she sleeps a lot as it takes a lot out of her physically.

I’m so happy for Mouse. She no longer has to hop on one leg all the time – the one that’s been taking so much strain. When she uses it without the prosthesis, her entire paw opens completely, and if she were to stand on a stone, she’d be in severe pain. Mouse uses her prosthesis only when she wakes up in the morning and in the afternoon when it’s playtime with the other dogs. In the morning, before she goes out for her widdle, we put it on her because it helps her first thing in the morning to get around. She can run and fetch the ball and bring it back. If she starts biting at the prosthesis, we take it off. She’s so much happier and more playful, compared to sleeping all day from the hopping and bouncing around.

Thank you to all the sponsors who made this transformation for Mouse possible. I’m grateful to the kind-hearted people who opened their hearts and sponsored Mouse to get fitted with her life-changing prosthesis.

My message to people who love their animals dearly is to make the time and effort to go and see your hospitalised pet every day. You visit family at hospital – you need to make time to visit your dog daily too. This experience was absolutely horrible, but I’m just so grateful that she pulled through and is still with me today, making me smile every time I see her.

Antois Ferreira, owner of Animal Care Division, shares…

Mouse visited us at Animal Care Division for a new front-leg prosthetic. Doing front-leg prosthetics requires quite a bit of residual stump to work with, otherwise the prosthetic leg will fall off. But Mouse worked well with all the techniques we used. At first, her leg was sensitive, but the more she wore her little leg, the easier it got for her.

Mouse unfortunately has developed a deformity on the front leg where it’s moved to the middle of the body, making the prosthetic angle very different to most legs we do, but this is what makes our profession so fun. We can assess the dog’s biomechanics and then look at where the ideal placement would be of the foot. Sometimes this looks funny to the eye but works when the dog has to walk.

Just like any prosthetic leg, Mouse has to get used to the Idea of the leg being on her stump, but this gets better by the day.

Mouse has a wonderful and loving home now, and I couldn’t think of a better place for her to be with the right people to look after her.

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