Sunday, June 17, 2018

It is now 3 weeks since my previous entry, and we can see a definite improvement in Kosbaar's condition.  Her diarrhoea is something of the past (what a relief!!) and she's getting more playful and energetic by the day.

She is still on treatment for her mange, which is still there, but it's looking much better. She is also getting more flesh on her bones, especially now that the pathogenic bugs in her intestines seem to have been given the final blow with her last bout of strong antibiotics.  We continue giving her probiotics and a herbal food supplement on a daily basis, to help her get back to where she should be.

She started chewing on wrong things (like my wooden garden board, painted by a friend) and also a piece of soap that was left at the outside tap ... :-(  So we bought her hooves to chew on, and at first she did not trust it.  Grabbed it, but then threw it down again, looking at it as though it may jump at her - it looked so funny! :-)  Eventually she got the hang of it, and now enjoys it.

Even if it is raining, and we arrive back home, she comes out into the rain to welcome us.  It's nice having her around!


Monday, May 28, 2018

Soon after my previous blog entry, Kosbaar's skin condition deteriorated. The patch on her neck which I mentioned last time, spread to the rest of her body again.  And we still had to keep giving her anti-diarrhoea medication twice a day, just to keep her stools from being totally watery.  We were feeling very despondent, like going forward a few steps, and then sliding backwards again.  Yet, she was still in good spirits, and that encouraged us.

This morning we took her back to the vet (who was back from leave).  The good news is that she weighed in at 28 kg.  Deduct the weight of her jacket (it was very cold) and keep in mind that initially when we found her, she was dehydrated, then I think we can look at a total weight gain of about 5 kg of flesh added to her bones, despite her intestinal problem :-).

Dr. de Villiers confirmed that the mange was not yet under control, and prescribed more medication for that, and another course of antibiotics (targeting the pathogenic intestinal bug/s), as well as a short course of cortisone, to give her relief of the obviously irritating itching.  She also suggested we change her feed to another type, at least until her intestines have settled.

We do feel a bit more positive now, and trust that from now on, there'll be progress only, and no more regression.



Tuesday, May 22, 2018

It's now just over 5 weeks since Kosbaar has come to live with us. But for the past 2 weeks or so, she's been bugged with loose stools, clearly a bacterial infection of her intestines. Since her diet has been stable since we've had her, we concluded that the antibiotic which she'd been on for the first two weeks (aimed specifically at her skin condition), had suppressed the activities of the pathogenic gut bacteria. Because soon after it was discontinued, it started changing, and getting progressively worse, as the bacteria "got their feet in the doorway" again. The vet who'd initially treated her, was on leave, and another vet prescribed probiotics for her, to support her gut. Two days later there was still no improvement, and we feared the possibility of having to get her back on a drip again, since she was slowly, but surely, dehydrating, although she was still eating well. Even giving her anti-diarrhoea medication twice a day, did not seem to help. On Monday we went back to the animal hospital, and the senior vet gave us antibiotics for her, specifically aimed at the pathogenic gut bacteria, along with other medication too.

For the sake of the bigger picture, I'd like to share a gracious miracle we experienced during this time. We have a massive pin oak tree, which was in desperate need of pruning, because if our winter storms start, it could cause lots of damage to our house and garage, should any branches break. Due to circumstances beyond our control, we could not have it done earlier, and the date was set for last Tuesday. We would have to put Kosbaar inside our house for the day, for her own safety while the tree was being trimmed. On Monday evening the team leader phoned and said he had accidentally made our appointment with an overlapping doctor's appointment, and said he'd only be able to come with his team on the Wednesday. On Tuesday our doggy still had several watery stools, and we were very glad that she could stay outside. We could not postpone the trimming of the tree, as the first storm could be one too many. We asked God for mercy in this scenario. Early Wednesday morning we put Kosbaar in our front room, and put a few boxes there to cordon off an area, so she'd not go everywhere, and she lay down quietly on her blanket. There she stayed all day, sometimes got up and stretched, then lay down again. Every now and then we'd talk to her, so she knew she was not alone. Twice we took her outside for a few minutes, but she did nothing. By 5 pm the workers left, and she could go outside on her own again. Her diarrhoea had stopped completely for that day, and only recommenced again that evening. We were very grateful that we'd been spared a mess in our house!

We had hoped that the antibiotic would have taken effect soon, but after four days her diarrhoea still persisted, without any notable improvement. A friend from our former home town came visiting, and brought us a sample of Slippery Elm powder, which his wife had sent along (she was a practicing vet for many years). We started giving it to Kosbaar, and by the second day we started seeing an improvement. We are still giving her probiotics, and have completed the course of antibiotics, and they possibly all work together, so we're just very thankful. It does look like the Slippery Elm was the one that helped tip the scale. Although there is some improvement, the problem has (unfortunately) not yet subsided. We're keeping a close watch ...

I mentioned earlier that her paws were becoming swollen. The treatment we gave her, along with soaking them in a solution of 1 tablespoon of vinegar in a cup of lukewarm water, seems to have done the trick, because they are looking much better.

She's had several ugly sores on her body, and they have improved quite a bit, but the best improvement is her overall skin condition (except for an area on her neck that is still not good). Initially (after several treatments) her skin started healing slowly – it was a bright pink, and still had several cracks and looked painful, possibly from all her licking. (Note the dates on the images.)

Then we decided to not leave her without a jacket at all, because it functioned as a barrier against her licking and scratching. We treated the sores and massaged milking cream into her skin regularly. This decision paid off, because there is now a marked improvement! The once bright and tender pink skin has now darkened and is looking good, and is soft to the touch. The areas that had hair on a month ago, are now almost bare. As the skin infection started clearing, her hair in those areas started falling out. They were probably already loose in the hair follicles, but because she couldn't lick there, and had no-one to bath and give her skin massages, they just sat there. Here are a few images, showing the improvement in her skin. 

On Thursday we gave her a good bath again, and I sat with her in the sun, holding her so she does not run back to her kennel, until she was dry, and topped it off with another skin massage. The areas where there were no hair when we found her (face, feet, chest and belly) now have hair starting to grow back.

She had an infection in her left eye, but after treating it a few times with ophthalmic ointment which I happened to have, her eye is looking much better now.

We've come to realize that this dog has a very special character. She is thankful, quiet, and always comes to us when she hears and sees us outside. Then she wags her tail and her whole face smiles, and she often holds out her left paw for us to take. But she does not make a nuisance of herself. She also appears to have some type of "built-in decency", as we find that (after the first week or two here) she's been tending to make her toilet out of sight as far as possible, which makes the risk of stepping in / on a landmine, less, and cleaning up easier, because all the landmines are more or less in one area. :-) 

She is definitely showing a greater zest for life, and sometimes she acts playful – something we have not seen with her before. 




Wednesday, May 9, 2018

It is now exactly 3 weeks since Kosbaar has come to live with us. Her skin is still in pretty bad shape (although there is now not a trace of any fleas or ticks) and she has lost much more hair from her body, possibly because the treatment with the prescribed shampoo has caused the hair follicles to expel the loose hair. Previously she was possibly just too exhausted to bother about the irritation on her skin. Now she licks and scratches a lot, so much so that her skin sometimes bleeds. So she's still wearing a jacket constantly, and this gives her skin a chance to heal beneath it. Scabs are forming and the new skin looks healthy. We continue with the cortisone ointment (for the itching) and cream, and we noticed that the hairs on her legs are beginning to grow again, possibly because the mites are now gone. Her facial skin is also softening from the cream we put on it (this image below was taken after I had just put it on the first time - had to smile - but massaged it in so it does not bother her).

She does, however, lick her feet a lot, and that causes swelling (or perhaps it's the other way round). Initially we did not bother about washing her feet, as we concentrated on her body, but now we started washing her lower legs and feet too with the medicated shampoo, also between the toes. Hopefully that will help. But she's due for a checkup at the vet in about a week's time, so she'll then probably help to sort that out. 

She is now getting 3 meals a day: full meals mornings and evenings, and half a meal middle of the day. When she's hungry, she sometimes makes a few gentle noises at the kitchen door (not loud at all), possibly just to remind us that it's mealtime. We'd actually started wondering about her vocal cords … We have only heard her bark once in three weeks – that lasted about three seconds (mentioned previously). Since then she has not barked at all, despite our neighbours' dogs barking! But this morning our gardener came, and when she saw him (although he was here last week for a few minutes, and she had met him), she started barking very loudly and insistently, until we had to tell her to stop. She acted as if she realizes that she is now our watchdog, and she has a really strong and loud voice! :-)

She is showing more signs of enthusiasm for life by the day and she is visibly getting flesh on her bones. Her 2nd jacket is fitting really snug, and her first jacket (that initially was over-sized) is fitting much more comfortably. 

It's good to see her each morning as we open the door, and being welcomed by her smiling face and wagging tail.


Wednesday, April 25, 2018

It's now the 9th day since Kosbaar has come to live with us.  She still spends quite a bit of time in her kennel (after all, she is still a patient and needs lots of rest after her ordeals), but smiles and wags her tail whenever she sees us.  Her appetite is very good, and she is quiet - so far we heard her bark only once, that was at dawn, several days ago.  I went outside to see why she was barking, and realized that she had heard our neighbour going to his car.  I spoke to her, said it was okay, and she went back into her kennel.  When she's recuperated well, we'll start training her to only bark when necessary.  We don't want her to annoy our neighbours by barking at every bit of movement and noise.

Initially, when we found her, her body was full of ulcers.  But because of her weakened condition, she probably did not have the energy to bother about it.  Now that she's getting better, she tends to scratch them severely, often until they bleed.  On Sunday morning Pierre went to the emergency chemist and bought a soothing ointment for the ulcers.  But as soon as it's been applied, she starts licking it, and they end up bleeding again.  Then we noticed that in the mornings, when we remove her jacket, the ulcers look less inflamed.  But a few minutes later, they're back to being inflamed and some even bleeding.  We came to the conclusion that the jacket (apart from keeping her warm during the cold nights) also helps prevent her from licking the ulcers.  So now I made her another jacket (again from one of her gift blankets), so we can leave it on during the day too, and can wash and rotate the jackets.  Hopefully it will help the ulcers to heal sooner, and with our weather becoming cooler by the day, the timing suits us.  We still continue with her medicated shampoo twice a week, as prescribed by the vet.

Here below is a snapshot of Kosbaar in her new jacket. 


Friday, April 20, 2018

Friday, 20 April 2018

Kosbaar has been with us now for 4½ days.  She rests a lot (enjoys her kennel) and had her 2nd bath today with special medicated shampoo for her skin condition.  She seems relaxed, and smiles and wags her tail a lot.

Whereas during the first two days she looked ravenous each time we fed her, she is now eating more 'decently'.  Perhaps she's starting to realize that the food won't disappear if she does not gobble it down fast.

Last night it was quite cold, so today I made her a coat, because she has so little hair.  It's slightly oversized, but it should keep her snug during the night.  Pierre captured it on video when I put on her coat for the very first time.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018


On Saturday afternoon (14th of April 2018) my husband (Pierre) and I were driving along the Theronsberg Pass road, about 21 km outside of Ceres, when we saw an animal crossing the road (in an unsteady gait).  At first we thought it looked like a hyena, but as we passed, we saw that it was a dog - but VERY neglected.  The type of animal one does not even want to see in pictures, because it breaks ones heart.  We stopped immediately, because it is unthinkable to leave any animal in such a condition.
She immediately started walking towards us, but clearly she was afraid (because of possible abuse previously?).  Moments later another vehicle passed us, then turned around and stopped.  It was Rassie and Malinda Bester from Wolseley. They had passed the dog moments before us, then turned around and came back to help her.

The dog did not want to come close to us, but sought shelter underneath our vehicle.  We tried getting her to come out from under the car, but to no avail.  I knelt behind the car, and spoke to her.  The fact that her tail was moving (ever so slightly) indicated to me that she would possibly not bite.  We offered her some water (in the cut-off bottom of a plastic cool-drink bottle), but she ignored it.  Also did not want a piece of bread.  She was possibly too weak (and perhaps afraid) to eat and drink, so I dipped my fingers in the water and moistened her lips and gums.  After doing that several times, she licked the moisture from her lips.  Pierre slowly drove the car forwards, so we could get closer to her.  She did not resist.
The poor animal was in a terrible state, and surely stood no chance of surviving for more than a day or two, if she did not get help urgently!  The expression in her eyes was that of pain, rejection, desperation, uncertainty and fear - but there was also a glimmer of hope.  Her poor body did justice to the expression, "bag of bones"!  Virtually every bone in her body was clearly visible and palpable, and her skin, which to a large extent was depleted of hair, had a rhino-like appearance, was broken and had ulcers in several places, some of which were bleeding. We could see fleas and ticks moving around in the little hair she had left.  

Malinda called the veterinarian and spontaneously offered to pay the bill.  But it will surely amount to a few thousand rand, so we decided to pay half of it.  The vet said that she would see the dog as soon as we could get her to the animal hospital.  Our new friends helped us lift the dog into the back of our station wagon, where Pierre had spread out a groundsheet.

Dr. Hannelu de Villiers treated her with lots of compassion.  Put up an intravenous infusion, and gave her several medications e.g. a painkiller, antibiotic (she had a fever), and the first of several treatments for her skin condition and ticks and fleas.  Also took a blood smear to test for possible tick-bite fever.  All the time the dog showed no resistance, and Pierre and I kept stroking her gently.

After the initial treatment, we gently lifted her into a kennel.  After having washed our hands and forearms well with germicidal soap, I went back to where she was lying in the kennel.  When she saw me, she wagged her tail very definitely, about 10 cm high with each wag - that made my day!! :-)

After our previous dogs had passed away, we decided that we would not get another dog again, unless one crosses our path, and had nowhere else to go.  She has crossed our path both literally, as well as figuratively.  Now we know that God has sent her to us, so we can take care of her.  We still had the dog kennel from our previous dog, and our new friends gave her blankets as a "welcome" gift when we fetched her from the animal hospital. After only a few hours in her new home, her bare, sunburnt doggy-face started smiling. 
It's now been three days since her discharge from the hospital, where she was treated for almost 48 hours, and she seems to adapt well. At this stage we're still giving her 4 small meals a day, so her body can gradually get used to it.  She enjoys walking with us around the yard, she's eating well, and the only fear I have, is that her tail may come off ... because of all the wagging!  :-)  The road to full recovery will be long, especially as far as her outward appearrance is concerned. 
Somewhere I read or heard something to this extent:  "You may not make a difference to the world, but perhaps you can make the world's difference to one being."  We feel privileged that we can make a difference in this dog's life.  We are also thankful for the kind and compassionate emergency treatment Dr. De Villiers gave her, without which she probably would not have survived.  Our thanks also goes to Rassie and Malinda who helped us with her, in more than one way.
This foundling is precious to us, and will always be. "Precious" would have been an appropriate name, but since Afrikaans is our mother tongue, we named her “Kosbaar”.

Riana Joubert