Providing care again for a dog CLAW treated 9 years ago

Vaalie, a dearly loved elderly dog who lives in a township in Emnandeni with his owner, was suffering from an unknown malady.“Oh, but I know this dog! Of course I know this dog!” exclaims Cora Bailey, director of Community Led Animal Welfare (CLAW), IFAW’s partner in South Africa.

We’re in Emnandeni Township, west of Krugersdorp on the West Rand of South Africa. Emnandeni feels like a pleasant place, despite the evident poverty of an old mining town. There are happy children doing an impromptu dance outside a bright green house, and a horde of boys practising soccer moves in the golden glow of a wintry setting sun. The informal coach holds practice for whomever wants to come, five days a week, he tells us.

An Emnandeni resident sent Cora an anxious message asking that she come and look at her dog, as he seemed to be sick. As time passes, another anxious message arrives, ending with the words, “Please don’t let my dog die!”

When we find our destination, it’s only a matter of minutes before Cora realises that she’s seen this dog before, nine years ago.

Back then, a young dog had been hit by a car on the main road running past Durban Deep, where CLAW is based. His back leg was badly injured, but over time, CLAW’s vet and nursing staff nursed him back to health – albeit with one slightly crooked leg.

READ: Sunday at CLAW

Vaalie is a gentle dog, tan and brown with attractive face markings and happy brown eyes. The owner explains that Vaalie’s been shaking all day; she’s scared he may have been poisoned.

They thought from constant shaking that Vaalie had been poisoned, but it turns out it was an intestinal blockage.

Cora runs her hands over his body and carefully checks vital signs: the gums are a healthy pink, and so are the inner eyelids. “Let’s see you walking,” she says, explaining that she wants to check for any neurological symptoms. Apart from the crooked leg, none can be seen. Perhaps it’s pain from developing arthritis?

Concerned, Cora returns to check the next day, and brings Vaalie into the clinic for a scan.

The problem turns out to be an intestinal blockage. With that sorted out, Vaalie goes home with pills for his arthritis pain, to ensure movement remains easy for him.

Vaalie is obviously a deeply loved family member, who comfortably and gently responds to the cuddles and strokes of everyone, from the toddler to the teenager to the mother. After nine years of good life thanks to CLAW’s intervention, he can look forward to comfort in his later years, with some medical help. It is deeply satisfying to see CLAW’s work give dogs like him long lives of love and dignity.

--MS

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Experts

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