Monday, February 11, 2013

Justice Goes to the Vet

Justice at Goldenview Vet 2-8-13
Little Justice is revealed!
I am pleased to be able to share this Justice update with you! Thanks for your donations and loving energy!
Justice seems to be acclimating to a safe and calm life. He rests a lot in his little crate inside the giant crate, coming out for necessities. I've noticed that I can hear him lapping water, crunching kibble and moving around, instead of the dead silence that encompassed his first days here, as if he were terrified to be discovered.
justice exam goldenview 2-9-13
Channel 9 News Photo Journalist Chris, Lorraine caressing forehead and holding favorite toy, Dr. Kris examining Justice's heart with stethescope.
Justice has had many friendly visitors who have been content to admire him from afar. We sit on the floor and chat, hoping he will rapidly learn that the humans in his life today bring only love and compassion. He is making more eye contact although he still turns away too soon for us. When he is lying down, he isn't huddled in rear of the crate but stretched out more, frequently with his paws draped over the edge.
When Justice first arrived, I hurried my other dogs quickly through the kitchen so they would not intrude upon his space or worry him with their curiosity, even though his crate was completely covered by a sheet. Little by little, my dogs' interest waned and I have allowed them to be in the kitchen with me. I want Justice to experience them in close proximity but without the possibility of an incident. I was actually thrilled to hear Justice give his first bark the other day when Shadow, my overly curious, self-important Rat Terrier, sniffed too close for comfort.
Some very important and fun moments this week were when Justice licked cream cheese out of a puppy kong with zest, when he astutely dug two cloth balls out of the large interactive ball toy, when he ate a calming treat almost out of my hand, and when I realized he had surrounded himself with his new purple and pink stuffy toys, as well as his New Mexico Pinocchio doll. I'm encouraged to see him interacting with his environment, building positive associations, and expanding his small stunted world.
Yesterday, there were many milestones as Justice had his first veterinary appointment since arriving here. I would have preferred to delay this visit, but he needed his puppy booster. We decided that this would afford us a great opportunity to also assess his neck wound and his overall health. I took him to see Dr. Kris Ahlgrim at Goldenview Veterinary Hospital in Golden because she is a very talented animal handler. I have seen her accomplish so much in a stress-free manner with little or no restraint.
We transported Justice to the office in his little crate. Channel 9News Photo Journalist Chris met us there and documented the visit. We aren't sure when it will air but will be certain to let everyone know. There are some still photos which I will include compliments of Barbara Millman, creator of the Underdogs calendar - guess who will be in the 2014 calendarJ.
Justice was very surprised when we took the top off his crate making him visible and accessible, and for a moment I thought he was going to panic or bite. Our voices soothed him and Dr. Kris touched him confidently with practiced hands, yet softly with her compassionate heart. He felt the connection and relaxed. Throughout the exam, Dr. Kris massaged his body and I caressed his forehead and ears. He gave in to the inevitable touching and even seemed to enjoy it to some extent.
The first things I noticed were how truly small he is and how lackluster his coat is. Right away Dr. Kris announced he was almost a year old. My heart sank as I thought of this poor boy out there alone struggling to survive and feeling terrified for so long. His early window for facile socialization has closed. While his horrifying encounters with humans and dogs have convinced him that the world is a hostile place. But I don't give up easily and I've seen the effort he is making. We will figure this out! Our bond wasconfirmed when he reacted to my leaving the room for a few moments so he understands my role as his caretaker and protector.
His neck wound is healing without infection, but has affixed itself deeply and rigidly to underlying tissue. This may be causing him discomfort or even pain when he moves. At some point it may be advisable to perform surgery to re-sculpt that area. But for now, we are focusing on general health and well-being.
The ear nearest the neck wound had been relieved of its tip, most likely during the dog attack which caused the wound. Just another pitiful reminder of his fragile hold on life. His heart is strong and his overall health is fine, with no sign of parasites or symptoms of anything more serious. Hurray!
Our boy survived his exam with Dr. Kris while also tolerating two hovering aunties - one with a camera, a 9News Photo Journalist, well-wishing staff and a few clients with their animals in the lobby. So sweet!
Upon arriving home, I set Justice's travel crate, with the top loosened, back into the large crate. I attended to his needs and then left him to rest. Each time I visited him, that evening, I touched his forehead the way I had been doing during the exam.
I had been wondering the best way to remove the top from the little crate permanently without causing him distress, so as to gradually increase his contact with his new world and prevent continued hibernation. I was given my chance during the night. Around 4:00am I heard a little clatter coming from the kitchen. I went to investigate and saw that the crate top was lopsided and bothersome. In removing the crate at that time, I was increasing his comfort. He could associate the removal of his hiding place with comfort. He adjusted immediately, accepting a treat as further confirmation of this maneuver as an improvement!
As you can see, I watch and evaluate his every nuanced move because my responses to him are based on how safe and receptive he is. Thank you for caring!

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