A dog with a horrible past is now the "happiest in the world," according to its owners, as she has now overcome her "fear of people."
Terrified Sarah, an Anatolian Shepherd and Great Pyrenees mix, was suffering from chronic malnutrition, dehydration and severe neuropathy when she was fostered in November 2018.
Journie Durand, 27, volunteered to help the pup, who was also incontinent and parlayed from the back, but Sarah was in “flight or fight” mode and scared of her helper.
She was in such a bad shape the vet Journie took her too recommended to put Sarah down as he felt her condition had deteriorated so badly that should would never be able to recover.
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Undeterred, Journie took on Sarah as a full-time challenge despite the pup panicking “if anyone tried to touch her.”
The situation was made harder by the fact Journie had to keep Sarah “quarantined” from her other dogs, as she was “obviously unwell.”
After months of worry, Sarah finally tested positive for Neurospora, toxoplasmosis, Lyme disease and X-rays showed a badly dysplastic hip.
Journie told Jam Press the vet had said Sarah’s bran infection had been left so long it had “charred” some of her “neural network connections,” including “the part that controls balance and coordination.
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She said: "Finally, after what seemed like endless testing, we got answers.
"She was positive for Neurospora, toxoplasmosis, Lyme disease and X-rays showed a badly dysplastic hip. As soon as we had a diagnosis, we started treatment. Talking to the neurologist about neospora, he explained the infection with the metaphor of it being like a fire.
"It's a protozoal brain infection, he told me, so he spoke in terms that it caught "fire" months ago, and was left untreated so long that some of the neural network connections are now "charred" and permanently destroyed.
"She has damage primarily to her cerebellum, the part of the brain that controls balance and coordination, and that is why she walks like she does. That issue in and of itself doesn't cause her any pain and her vision seems to have corrected itself now, so no permanent problems there."
After diagnosis, Journie was finally able to get Sarah the help she desperately needed, including walking therapy, which enabled her to stand up on her own in a couple weeks.
She said: "It took a couple weeks, but she started to stand up on her own – very shaky, very nervous, and she'd tip over almost immediately, but she was trying and I was there for it.
"Our vet had us start physical therapy, which was just walking regularly and stretches/exercises at home since she was too fearful to work in-clinic.
"She is on medication to manage pain from hip dysplasia and she is also on medication to manage seizures and the residual effects of the Neospora."
Once Sarah was given the all clear and no longer contagious, Journie introduced her to her other dogs, who she claims immediately knew something was wrong with her.
Journie said Arlo would nudge her to help her stand up and Wampa would guard her and labelled them "natural guardians."
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Journie said: "The bond between Wampa and Sarah is indescribable – he is such an intuitive, natural guardian and he took to Sarah like a big brother from the day he met her.
“He is protective of her, watches over her like a baby and, as you can see, he compensates for her when they play and is super gentle.
“He's 130lbs, and she's barely 50 and he is so, so gentle and careful to make sure he doesn't hurt her. In some of my more recent videos you can see this too – he can tell she needs a little extra love and attention and he makes sure to be there for her.
“Sarah is very attached to both my dogs. Arlo would nudge her to help her stand up. Wampa would guard her when I had to give her pills. She'd frequently sneak into Arlo's crate and hide behind him at bedtime, thinking he'd keep her safe from me.
“If not for my own dogs, I know it would have taken much longer to gain Sarah's trust. They have taught her so much about how to be a dog and trust again.
“When she was first learning to walk, both of my Great Pyrenees would nudge her trying to get her to stand up and try their best to give her support. I truly believe their encouragement and support is part of what gave Sarah the motivation to push through those really tough early days."
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