Bark for Peace!
musings & ramblings, mostly about dogs, from a three being, three species family

Bark for Peace!

Elsa, a brave-hearted dog, saved from severe abuse needs our support

March 24th, 2011 . by lisa knaggs

The call came in before 9am., not the earliest call of the day but still early for me.  It was our Vet, Dr. Justin Green, and he pulled no punches, “I’m calling to pull at your heartstrings.”  (that’s an easy pull, I thought, and Justin knows that.) “I have a dog here who’s a cruelty case.”  ”Tell me what’s going on,” I said with a deep sigh.  I was not prepared for what I was about to hear, especially pre-coffee.

Alert: some of the details of this story may be upsetting as the dog’s condition upon arrival was horrific. (other details have been intentionally left out for the same reason)

Dr. Green proceeded to tell me about a German Shepherd who was carried in to see him Monday morning- “…they told me she was paralyzed and it just happened, that she’d been fine just the other day; they also said she’s 16 but she looks younger than that to me.”   When the 30-something couple laid “Ginger” down on the table before him, she was emaciated.  Her temperature was 104.4º (101º- 102.5º would be “normal”); she was so dehydrated her skin could not be picked up, it was stuck to the fascia like plastic wrap.  The poor thing was so weak she could not even raise her head.  Not knowing what caused the dog’s condition, Dr. Green said there were some things they could try, he didn’t know if they could help her, but that euthanasia was certainly something to be considered to end the dog’s suffering.  The woman cried and asked him to help, so the good doctor said he would try.  Then they left.

Upon further examination, Dr. Green found that under and between both her front and hind limbs was packed with feces and urine.  As he began un-packing her waste from her gaunt carcass-like frame, he gagged from the smell of waste, rotting flesh, and infection.  Then, the maggots began their exodus.  They had been eating her decomposing flesh.

"oozing wounds, now free of maggots, reveal mammary gland infection and possibly tumors"

After she was cleaned as best she could be at the time, Dr. Green ran blood work, checking the health and function of her vital organs.  Amazingly, the only abnormalities were off the chart WBC count (indicating significant infection) and “anemia of chronic disease” indicating she’d been under extreme duress for at least 120 days- that means for all of Winter.  Next task: X-rays.  A little arthritis at the lumbosacral joint (typical for most older dogs), her stomach empty of food but her colon packed with waste she didn’t have the strength to expunge, but no sign of tumors or organ deformation.  In other words, there was simply no other explanation for her condition than this, she had been starved.

Dr. Green had called the police in.  They took one look at this pitiful pup barely clinging to life and said it was the worst case of animal cruelty they’d ever seen.  That’s a strong statement from the town that sends more dogs in worse shape to our regional shelter than any of the others.

"Elsa, bulging ribs reveal her emaciated frame after 3 days of IV fluids & 11 cans of dog food"

The good news was, “she’s eating like a horse!”  11 cans of food in three days and counting.  This dog wants to live, I thought, she’s not ready to give up.

All of this I heard over the phone, before coffee.  ”What do you need?” I managed to croak out through tears. “I need someone to foster her, give her a place to heal and help me find her a forever home,” he replied.  ”I can do that, no problem,” I answered, before I asked if the people knew she’d been declared an animal cruelty case, figuring if I got shot along with the dog no one was gonna be of much help to anyone!   “She’s going to need surgery to remove what I think are mammary tumors, but we’ve gotta get her healthy first.” I agreed to meet her at the clinic late afternoon.  I made only one request.  ”I think we should re-name her.  She shouldn’t have to listen to the same name her abusers used.  I want her to have a name that gives her hope of a life to live into!” Dr. Green is a good natured sort of guy and typically happy to humor me, naturally he agreed.

When I arrived at the Vet clinic, fashionably 10 minutes late, he and his fiancée  Sam came out to meet me.  They were excited, we all were, but they were also careful to make sure I was ready to see her, obviously worried I might be upset by her condition.  ”Can we call her ‘Elsa?’ I blurted out with my usual lack of social etiquette.

It had come to me in something like a vision earlier in the day- known simultaneously in my mind’s eye and in the deep rumblings of my heart.  Even though I hadn’t yet met her, I somehow knew “our” Elsa had the heart of a lioness, like the one made known to the world in the story Joy Adamson told, Born Free. The original Elsa taught us that the limitations we set for lions was based only on our own lack of understanding.  The African Elsa learned to trust that her humans were safe and she shared her food and affection with them freely.  I have no doubt that “our” Elsa will learn to trust, love, and live happily in relationship as well!

We walked back to the kennel and there Elsa laid, on her side with soulful eyes that didn’t seem to reveal much expectation at first.

"Elsa at rest."

I knelt beside her and offered her duck and salmon treats alternately.  She gobbled them up, as fast as I could get them in front of her.  Then she leaned up toward my treat pouch and Dr. Green said “look she’s wagging her tail!”  We all giggled with glee which seemed to delight Elsa as well.  I brought out a squeaky frog toy which perked her up again as I squealed in my best mother-ease, “This is your frog, Princess Elsa, if you kiss him enough times he’ll turn into a prince!”

Elsa ate and we cheered.  She was not only happy to indulge her ravenous appetite, Elsa seemed demonstrably encouraged by our cheering and we were encouraged to see her efforts to engage.  I used the lightest touch possible to move her skin and energy in soothing ways.  After a few minutes, we decided to help her onto her feet (something she’d only managed for the first time earlier that afternoon for about 3 seconds). Vet and fiancée tenderly wrapped towels and a fleece blanket around her midsection to support her.  As soon as Elsa realized she had assistance, she began rocking her body to and fro in effort to get onto all fours and the next thing we knew she was standing!

"Justin and Sam help Elsa stand"

As delighted as we were, none of us expected what came next- Elsa, full of the tenaciousness of life, insisted upon walking.  And walk she did- out of the kennel room, through the hallway and the meds storage room, all the way into the lobby of Alpine Veterinary Hospital.  (there were a couple of pitstops along the way to unload the waste inside her- we cheered, of course!)  She even climbed two stairs, albeit not too gracefully.

Our Elsa has already proven that she is no ordinary miracle.  She has the heart of a lioness like her namesake, courageous yet tender.  If she continues to gain strength, I may be able to bring her home this weekend! (I kept telling her she was coming to “the spa!”)  I called a family meeting upon arriving home tonight: Clementine, SARK, Ronski have already been apprised of Elsa’s special needs and our commitment to nurture her healing.

Elsa has a long road ahead of her and probably at least $1,000. of expenses to get her healthy enough to move into a forever home.  Obviously, she’s got a crackerjack Veterinarian who’s willing to do all he can, but there will still be significant hospital costs.

We need your help- we need your thoughts, energy, and prayers for Elsa’s continued safety from those who harmed her.  We need your thoughts, energy, and prayers for her continued strength and healing.  And we need you to spread the word about what it will take to help restore Elsa to health so that she can live into a life of trust and love, with lots of play!  We are sure that if enough people know her story, somehow the resources will come together to take care of her.  And we know that everyone has an important part to play in Elsa’s healing- no one’s fervent care on her behalf is insignificant!  Remember, “We can do no great things, only small things with great love.” Mother Teresa

"Elsa, her prince to be, and her savior, Dr. Green"

Please send your thoughts, prayers, energy, and good intentions on Elsa’s behalf.

If you’d like to contribute dollars toward her medical and foster care, you may send checks to: Elsa’s Transformation Fund, care of: Justin Green, D.V.M.,  P.O. Box 613,  Monte Vista, CO. 81144

Thank you so much for all the comfort and hope your care and concern on Elsa’s behalf brings!

Peace & Paws,

lisa, Clementine, SARK, Ronski & the Forever FORD~ always in our hearts

22 Responses to “Elsa, a brave-hearted dog, saved from severe abuse needs our support”

  1. comment number 1 by: Martha

    Oh, poor baby…lion-hearted dawg.
    Thank you all for taking care of this sweetheart.
    I can not fathom a human spirit that would not want to keep her from harm.
    May I suggest a link from here like to “”- that makes it easy to contribute using paypal or online payments?
    Thanks for sharing this story.

  2. comment number 2 by: Gail Cumming

    What a lesson in hope, Lisa. Hope Elsa gets to come to the spa by this weekend.

  3. comment number 3 by: Therese

    As I sit here with tears streaming down my face, know that I’m sending good thoughts to Elsa. I’m sure she’ll do well now that she has great medical care along with endless love surrounding her.

  4. comment number 4 by: Adrienne

    She is BEAUTIFUL!! It’s thanks to good people like you, Dr. Green and his fiance that help animals like Elsa! She is going to have a wonderful life once she is all fixed up. Many thoughts, and prayers go out to her! And I hope she gets to come home to you this weekend. :)

  5. comment number 5 by: Liza

    Thank-you on behalf of Elsa for doing small things with great love… that is the key ingredient to healing and fulfilling her doggy destiny

  6. comment number 6 by: Dolly E

    You my dear are in the right place at the right time — actually I talking about you Lisa and Elsa who has “those” ears like her American cousin Clementine, making Elsa Clementine’s German cousin! When I was a little girl growing up in Baltimore, waiting for our first family pet, I befriended a neighborhood German Shepherd who in my mind was “my” Rin Tin Tin or Roy Rogers dog “Bullet” — all to myself because everyone else in the neighborhood were scared of the dog. The dog must’ve known how much I loved it & how I wasn’t a threat like others. So German Shepherds have a very soft place in my heart. Now let’s see if only 40 of your friends — you’ve got waaaay more than that — donate $25, then you’ve got $1K easy. Now let’s say many people can only donate $10, but might not think their $10 counts, but it does because then that’s 100 friends and you’ve easily got that too! So I challenge 20 of your friends to donate $25 each as a bday gift & the rest of them what they can give …. Elsa, we’re pulling for you — you’ve found the best friend EVER!

  7. comment number 7 by: Carol Braly

    Yaaay! Soooooo glad to hear she has decided to recover! She is so pretty! Bless her heart, how can people do that to an animal? Beyond my comprehension. I had 2 German Shepherds, she tugs at my heart!

  8. comment number 8 by: Cindy R

    Seems that Cool Hand Luke was just a mild little opening for this crack rescue team of Green and Knaggs. As Luke’s forever mom, I know up close and personal the miracles that Team Green/Knaggs call forth. You aren’t just in ‘good hands’ sweet Elsa, you’re in the best. Your cousin Luke is pulling for and will always be ready for a play date. Welcome to the family Elsa! We love you!

  9. comment number 9 by: blogadmin

    thanks, Martha for this super suggestion- should we try Chipin???

  10. comment number 10 by: blogadmin

    Thanks, Gail! So grateful for your support on Elsa’s behalf!

  11. comment number 11 by: blogadmin

    I’m sure Elsa can feel your love and solidarity, Therese! You have a beautiful heart and we’re so grateful for all the good work you do for quadrupeds! :)

  12. comment number 12 by: blogadmin

    I know, Adrienne, I was SHOCKED at how beautiful she is, despite her vulnerable state- this girl is ready for her real life to begin!!! Thank you more than words can say for your prayers on her/our behalf- she’s got a long road to recovery but half the battle is having journey partners and I knew we could help her find those! :) xo

  13. comment number 13 by: blogadmin

    Thanks, Liza! Here’s to fulfilling doggy destiny! :)

  14. comment number 14 by: blogadmin

    Dolly, you’re the best!!! Thank you for sharing your big ‘ol gorgeous heart!!!! Have you heard of Chipin? My friend Martha suggested that as an easy way for people to donate via PayPal. Would love to have your feedback. We’re praying for your continued healing as well!!!

  15. comment number 15 by: blogadmin

    Carol, I would love for you to meet her- she is a sweet soul with some spunk, I suspect! Elsa has certainly tugged at our hearts!! THanks so much for all your care and concern! :)

  16. comment number 16 by: Becky

    Lisa, My heart aches for this GSD. Sending love and hope to Elsa and all of you. I hope Elsa makes it to the Spa soon. Please send info on online contributions when you can. And HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

  17. comment number 17 by: blogadmin

    Becky, I know you love those GSDs!! Elsa is something else- she walked outside and “went potty” today! We are readying the Spa for her arrival! I hope to have online giving set-up by Monday!! Thanks for the push and all the love and hope you send out everyday, not just for Elsa but all the dogs you love and nurture!!! I have so much to learn from you! :) xo

  18. comment number 18 by: Shari

    Thanks for sharing your day with us and this dog and giving me a great reminder that… if you give a little, these dogs will amaze you at what they can do and recover matter the age or circumstance.

  19. comment number 19 by: blogadmin

    Elsa is coming to the Spa on the ranch tonight!

  20. comment number 20 by: Trisha de Borchgrave

    Could your vet take a credit card payment as I live in the UK and sending you a pound sterling cheque would be incur too many costs to cash at your US bank? I’d like to donate $100 but I don’t know how else to do it. ~Thanks

  21. comment number 21 by: blogadmin

    Trisha!! Thank you so much for your generous offer!! We will be setting up online donation services on Monday and I will post as soon as it is working!
    How lovely to connect from you! Was that through Nina?? (one of my favorite bright lights!:)) Your website and art work are gorgeous! We love that Elsa is touching hearts! Bless you! Peace & Paws, lisa

  22. comment number 22 by: blogadmin

    Thank you, Shari! You model giving and serving vulnerable dogs with such beauty and in so many creative ways! You are an inspiration!

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