Friday , 23 June 2017

Nelson the Viral Chihuahua

By : Dr. Amanda Glew 

After completing our first year at the Timberlea Veterinary Clinic, we have accumulated many stories worth sharing. Such as our first fracture repair on a Yorkie dropped by his little girl.  Or the mango pit retrieved from the stomach of a dog. Or the dog with skin allergies, whose owner thought raw was the only solution, but needed help from medication. These stories have been posted and updated on facebook.  But the one that sticks out most in peoples’ minds, is Nelson, the dog who went viral.

It was during the summer on a hot Saturday afternoon when someone showed up to the clinic with a little hairless dog, who was literally was on death’s door. There was no owner. This person had found the little dog tied to a park bench, left to die. He was almost hairless, emaciated, dehydrated and very weak. This is when as veterinarians, you have to make a tough decision – do we treat this dog, knowing no one will cover expenses, or do you just put him to sleep?

Nelson needed a blood transfusion to live.
Nelson needed a blood transfusion to live.

Is it even humane to treat him at this point?  Fortunately for us, we have a little box for our “rescue” animals, which funds exactly these kind of case.  For whatever the reason, it was decided to start treatment, which then had a snowball effect. Dr. Cote placed him on IV fluids, then ran some blood. Not only hyperthermic, but the little dog had dental disease, was not neutered, and was severely anemic. A blood transfusion was in order.

We assume blood transfusions are easy to do, but they require a lot of preparation-  you need a donor dog, you need a dog with no known blood borne disease .(heartworm, lyme to name a few), and you need to do a major and minor cross-match before administering the blood. And on top of all this, you must monitor the recipient for transfusion reactions closely. However, our technicians Amanda and Leah were in for the long haul. Amanda’s Pitbull graciously donated her blood, and they stayed overtime to ensure his safety.

A blood donation from pitbull to chihuahua.
A blood donation from pitbull to chihuahua.

The little dog, given the name of Nelson (either Willie or Mandela, depending who you talk to), decided to live.  His picture was posted on Facebook mainly to see if anyone had lost a Chihuahua, but the story soon went viral. Over 3000 hits happened within 24 hours. The picture and story of this tough little creature tugged at everyone’s hearts. Everyone wanted to know how Nelson was faring, and then everyone wanted to adopt him!

Amanda decided to take him to her home during his recovery, where he learned to live with 2 pitbulls and many cats, and a three year old little girl. He started to come to Vanier College where she and I both teach, and would jump on the desk like a cat in her office. It soon became apparent that Nelson was going nowhere, and Amanda decided to adopt him. With time, he was neutered, his teeth cleaned, and slowly he gained weight. But the most remarkable thing about this little dog was the fact that he never showed any aggression, accepted his fate in our hands, and to this day, loves all humans and animals around. In fact, he was one of our stars during our Christmas fashion show, where he hung out with numerous Rhodesian Ridgebacks, Dobermans and one huge Great Pyrenese. We are not sure if he was always this way, or whether the fact that he shares blood of a Pitbull is the cause, but either way, Nelson certainly became our viral Chihuahua.

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