Sick, Starving Dog Found On Street May Not Be What She Seems
A good rescue is up for saving any dog. Even when she might not be a dog.
Last week, a woman was walking in Los Angeles when she spotted what appeared to be a homeless dog. She took a picture and texted it to California rescue group Hope for Paws. While it was obvious the animal was "disoriented and clearly very sick," Hope for Paws wrote, she also stood out in one other way: her species.
The disheveled animal appeared to be a wolf hybrid, a first for Hope for Paws. Nevertheless, the team jumped in the car and raced to find her.
When they arrived, they found the animal - who was later named Julia - about to enter a fenced yard, and were fortunately able to shut the door to secure her. But when they approached, they realized the situation was worse than they thought.
"This poor girl was so swollen from infections," Hope for Paws founder Eldad Hagar wrote. "She was bleeding, pus was oozing from everywhere, and it's hard to see because of this coat, but she is just skin and bones."
The only sign of her past was a ratty rope wrapped around her neck. "[That] indicates to me that someone owned and neglected her to a criminal level," Hagar wrote.
Naturally, Julia was wary of humans, but rescuer Lisa Chiarelli sat down near her and began to offer her treats - eventually gaining the hungry animal's trust.
"Even though Julia was so skinny and starved, she took food so gently," Hagar said.
Finally, after 20 minutes, rescuers were able to slip a leash over Julia's head.
They even gave her some gentle pets, which she tentatively accepted.
"Julia was so confused, so tired, and it was so nice that she accepted our touch almost instantly," Hagar noted.
After a brief conversation with the very confused homeowner, who had just noticed the crowd of people in her yard, the rescue team coaxed Julia into the car and rushed her off to the vet.
There, the full state of Julia's neglect became apparent.
A series of tests showed she had demodectic mange, which was causing her hair loss and inflamed skin.
Her paws were also sore and swollen, with overgrown nails.
And while her thick coat covered up how weak her body was, rescuers quickly realized the extent of her suffering when they got her into a medicated bath.
"When we got the water running, we noticed right away how skinny she was," Hagar explained. "Just awful to see."
And the sores and filth covering her body had also been hidden by her fur. Once the water hit her, it began to break down her scabs.
"Julia started bleeding from everywhere," Hagar wrote. "As dirt and blood was coming down into the tub, Julia changed color from a grey and red to a black and yellow."
But even in her pain and confusion, Julia had already learned that the humans around her could be trusted to help.
"As Lisa grabbed a towel, Julia just rested her head on Lisa's arm," Hagar wrote. "She was happy it was over."
Finally, after what was probably the biggest day of her life, the tired animal was tucked into bed.
"Julia probably never had a nice bed, and it was time for her to start resting and healing," Hagar said.
After that first long day, Julia quickly began to improve. She started to eat well and regain her strength, and became even more affectionate toward the people who saved her life.
"Julia is still not wagging her tail - she just shows her appreciation by rubbing her head on me," Hagar said of a picture of him with Julia. "What a special girl."
Julia's recovery will likely be a long one, as her body and mind heal from the years of unknown horrors she experienced. In the past few days, Hagar told The Dodo, she's taken a turn for the worst.
"The infection is taking a toll on her body, she lost her appetite, she has fever, but she is of course getting the best supportive care at the hospital," he said. "I am sure she will be OK - she just needs more time to heal, and gain strength. When we found her she was in a total state of starvation."
The team also plans to conduct a DNA test to see whether she is part wolf, or, as some people suspect, an unusual husky mix. But either way, they're falling in love with the gentle Julia - who, Hagar said, is getting tons of love in the meantime.
"I am sure you can already tell how beautiful and majestic she is," Hagar wrote on Facebook.
"Julia has special, calm, wise eyes," he added. "I don't know how to explain it, but it's something so special."
"She is only 2 years old, but such an old soul," he said. "I can't even imagine what she had gone through during all this time since she was born."
Once she's recovered, Julia will be placed in a foster home through A.R.T. N Paws Animal Rescue, where, whatever species she is, she'll have two wolf hybrid siblings to play with.