Written by Jeeny Freire of New York
Panda (as we named him) is a sweet old boy who was found as a stray in the streets of Ecuador, South America. The day he was found was a cold, windy, rainy Monday. We had just arrived in Ecuador when we saw him, limping, head down, looking defeated and shivering from pain, cold and hunger. “We have to do something!” I screamed. “We cannot leave him out here in the cold!”
We went right home and grabbed a towel and with the help of another family member went down the street once more to see if we could find him. 20 minutes had passed by the time we came back, running down the steep hill where my family lives. I was praying to God so hard, “Please let me find him. Please let me help him. Please help me rescue him.”
We finally saw him, huddled up against a cold stone corner on a ledge, a mere five inches away from a busy street where trains pass all the time. He just sat there, looking so sad and so defeated. My aunt went behind him with the towel, while I approached him with two pieces of ham. He looked up a little with a lost stare, a green crust almost entirely covering his eyes. He smelled the ham, gobbled it immediately and my aunt wrapped him in the towel, while I kept praying for him not to get scared and run. I think he was so defeated, he didn’t even care about fleeing anymore.
We walked to the neighborhood veterinarian, and it being a holiday, with so many people out of the city, we were all praying someone would be there to help us with this sweet boy. We rang the bell and a girl came out. We explained how it was an emergency and we needed help right away.
Thankfully, God helped us again and one of the vets was in and he came down to see what he could do. We put him up on the examination table and he opened his mouth to take a look at his teeth and try to estimate his age. To our surprise, he had no teeth. Evidently, he was old (or God forbid, abused in some morbid form), his joints were really swollen, ribs sticking out, his eyes had some sort of infection and he was whining, complaining from the pain. The vet’s “professional advice” was that since he was old, we should put him down.
“Over my dead body!” I yelped. “No. We are going to help him.”
To the vet’s surprise, his heart was strong and his lungs were okay. The vet injected him with some anti-inflamatory meds and some vitamins. Then we gave him a bowl of food and he almost inhaled the kibble, no teeth and all. As I tried to stroke him to ease his fears, he kept shaking uncontrollably, surely scared to death of people. Who wouldn’t be in that situation? By examining his beaten-up body, we found out he had multiple badly-healed fractures and his jaw was crooked. My husband’s guess was that some monster out there took a blow at him.
We left him at the vet’s office to be de-wormed, fed, bathed and given flea medication. We had to wait for Wednesday, when the holiday was over, so we could do blood work on him in order to rule out other terrible diseases stray dogs usually have, as well as getting a better idea as to how to even begin to treat his many physical ailments. So we went to visit him every day until Wednesday, when the doctor called us with the results from the blood work.
“Everything is normal,” he said, “His liver might need some supplements but that’s about it. Now we can begin treating his joints, which are the biggest issue right now.”
The vet injected his joints with medicine and sent him home with us, prescribing a supplement for his joints and pain and setting up a check-up in the next 15 days to continue the injection treatment.
Still Not Trusting Where His Next Meal Would Come From, He Ate a Rag
Before leaving the vet’s office, he also let us know Panda had earlier pooped a dirty old rag, which Panda had eaten at some point in a desperate attempt to calm the pain of hunger. It was heartbreaking. We walked back home, carrying him. In the meantime, we had emptied out an underused storage room in the backyard of the house, since my aunt has two dogs already and we needed to phase the transition of bringing home a stranger.
We bought a big comfy bed for him and arranged a little place for him to be in temporarily. When we put him down in the bed, and gave him kibble with shredded chicken, he practically inhaled it, but with his first gobble he looked up at us (eyes less crusty than before due to the eye drops I bought him) and gave us a look of disbelief, like he could not fathom this was really happening to him.
When he was exploring the garden, he tried to drink the other dog’s pee, as he had been used to surviving on anything, but we showed him he had fresh water now and he lapped it all thirstily. We fed him and caressed him while I spoke to him, even as he avoided eye contact and didn’t accept me caressing his snout. He obviously distrusted people and could not make heads or tails of what was happening to him. Nevertheless, he ate heartily and when I showed him his bed, he sniffed it a little and then sat and finally laid down. He sighed and stayed there, trembling nervously at my every touch, but I still stayed there, for hours just talking to him, massaging his temples when he wouldn’t turn his face away from me.
That night, I hardly slept thinking about the terrible condition he was in, re-living the events of that week and putting myself in his situation. He knew enough to not go to the bathroom in his little shed. He would come out to the garden and do his business over there, going back to bed once he was done. The next day he got more comfortable in his little shed, grateful for the food and water, and the roof over him, as it is rainy season in Ecuador and he would’ve been soaked and sick otherwise.
Coming To America and Looking for a Responsible, Quiet Home
On Monday morning, we left him to come back home to San Francisco. It broke my heart to leave him, as I know his situation is only temporary. My aunt is old and cannot take care of three dogs for an extended period of time, but she promised she would care for him until he is strong enough to make the trip to the U.S. We cannot take him, because we have three dogs already, which is the maximum allowed in our building.
What we need is your help finding him the perfect home, a place where he will experience the love and affection he deserves after living God knows how long in the rough streets of Ecuador. Panda’s perfect home would be filled with love and attention, a place preferably with access to a backyard and not a lot of stairs, since his joints ache and it hurts to walk. He needs a committed, loving person who would be patient with him and be okay with him taking long naps while he enjoys his hard-earned retirement.
Please visit his Facebook page and like him, so together we can spread the word and help him find a forever, loving home!