By Vanesa Brashier, email@example.com
A dog abandoned on the side of the Grand Parkway in Porter has a new lease on life thanks to a Splendora couple. The female husky, who is being called Willow by her rescuers – Steven and Shana Loftin – is expected to completely recover from months of neglect.
Willow was near-death, suffering from sarcoptic mange, malnutrition and exposure to the weather, when the Loftins brought her home. Trained dog fosterers through Kingwood-based Texas Rescue Riders, the Loftins have six dogs of their own and seven foster pets they are caring for until they are adopted into forever homes. Adding one more dog to the mix hasn’t been the biggest hurdle; keeping her in isolation while her mange heals and she is no longer contagious has been a challenge, said Shana.
The Loftins were first alerted to Willow’s plight through a social media page. A passerby had reported seeing a dog sitting in the grass along the Grand Parkway. The post on social media included an approximate location and a photo of the dog. When Shana saw the post, she felt compelled to go look for the dog.
“It was raining that day. I told my husband, ‘Get in the truck. We have to go find this dog,'” she explained. “I knew the dog had probably gotten up and moved away from where she was seen, but I had to go see if I could find her. I knew she didn’t have much longer to sit there based on her condition in the photo and it had been raining several hours by then.”
Using the background of the photo to pinpoint the dog’s location, the Loftins initially passed her. They returned to one location after Shana had a hunch that she might be in the tall grass along the freeway.
“I backed up and found her. She was curled up in the tall grass. She couldn’t walk and she wasn’t going anywhere. I think she had laid down to die,” she said. “I thought she was dead at first but then I saw her shiver. I ran over and picked her up and put her in our truck.”
Too weak to move, the dog put up no protest and simply groaned as she was moved into the Loftins’ truck.
“I just knew she wouldn’t hurt me. I have a dog-grooming business on the side, so I deal with dogs a lot,” she said, adding that she has learned over time to read a dog’s attitude and personality based on their behavior.
The Loftins drove from there to a local grocery store where Shana purchased 10 pounds of chicken breast.
“When you have a dog that is that skinny, you have to feed them a bland diet. I made her chicken broth, boiled chicken breasts and rice for the first couple of days. She did well and was able to eat,” she said. “I knew she had mange and that it was probably contagious, so I gave her a bath and then put her in a kennel in my bathroom, so she would be separated from our other dogs.”
Every two hours for the first couple of days, the Loftins took turns feeding Willow.
“She couldn’t move around much. We took her to the vet and had her tested for heartworms. The test came back negative, but they gave her wormer and mange treatments,” Shana said.
Sarcoptic mange is highly-contagious, which Shana knew going in, so it did not surprise her when she contracted mange, known as scabies in humans.
“I ended up at my doctor, too. Sarcoptic mange is caused by little bitty mites that get under your skin. It’s very itchy,” she said.
After a round of Ivermectin – the same medication used to worm livestock, Shana is on the mend. Willow is also doing better but her recovery may be extended to three months due to the severity of her mange.
“The vet is thinking it will be at least a couple of months but she might not be contagious for that whole time. I am taking her back in for a skin test, which will determine if she is contagious,” Shana said. “I am looking forward to having her interact with our other dogs and I just want to pet her.”
The Loftins are still not sure if Willow will remain with them or be adopted. They say they will decide when the time comes.
“It won’t be until the beginning of next year. She has to be completely healthy and spayed. I have had people reach out to me asking if they could adopt her but I’ve told them all that it will be up to Willow,” she said. “I have a few family friends who had said they are interested in her. I am kind of thinking that won’t happen, but we will see. My husband looked at her the other day and said to me, ‘I guess we are up to seven dogs now.’ Maybe we are. I just don’t know yet.”
Shana is thankful to the woman who reported Willow’s plight on social media and is frustrated that other people didn’t take the dog in when her condition was less severe. However, her greatest frustration is with the dog’s original owner.
“You took her into your home with the promise to love her for the rest of her life. You just left her to die. Whether she was out in the yard and ran off, you just left her. Whether you dumped her off, you just left her,” she said. “A dog doesn’t get in that condition overnight. I am sure there were other people who ran her out of their yards. I understand that not everyone wants to be in the middle of helping a dog like that. No one wants to catch scabies from a mangy dog, but just know there are people who want to help, who want these dogs to have their best life. It just really bothers me that people just see animals like this and walk away.”
Two weeks after she was rescued. Willow is able to stand now and is eating well. Until her hair returns, she is wearing puppy pajamas that keep her from scratching and protect her from chill.
Willow’s name, Shana said, was inspired by the location where she was found in Porter.
“We had to go down a road named Fern Street in Porter. My husband said we couldn’t name her after that street because that’s where she nearly died. I wanted it to be something that would mean a rebirth, something good, and that is what she got. She became Willow and she is a dog with a new beginning,” Shana said.