Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Brava: The Story of a Miracle

Brava (shown here the day before her surgery) touches everyone she meets. People seem to recognize her huge spirit and enormous courage, and are drawn to her. Her eyes are so soft and loving, and she is so receptive to people that she’s like a four-legged angel. She makes me want to try to be as loving and forgiving a person as she is a dog. It’s risky saying that out loud, I know, because I also know I can’t possibly live up to that. But I’m just saying: That’s the effect she has on me, and I believe that is her gift to us all. She’s an incredible being, and she is a miracle.

This is what I know of her story. Directions for how to contribute to her care follow at the end of this post.

On July 21, I learned that a gorgeous, well-bred red Doberman, cropped and docked, was on the execution list at a Phoenix animal shelter. Later I learned that she had been left chained in a yard, unattended. For days or weeks, the chain wrapped around her right rear leg, strangling her foot. She must have chewed it off then, for when I rescued her that day, she had been walking around on a raw stub for so long that her leg had begun to atrophy.

What I saw almost made me scream: a stump with three inches of exposed, baked, dirty raw flesh. There was no skin and no fur; just naked meat and protruding bone. Someone had allowed her to live like that.

Somehow she escaped. She became a stray. Someone called Animal Control. “Velvet”—we know her slave name—had been micro chipped. Animal Control found her owner, who denied responsibility, said he couldn’t afford to care for her, and turned her over to the shelter to die. But she survived.

The 20-mile journey from the shelter to the vet seemed to take forever, though I was driving 80 mph or more. Most of the way she was kissing my cheek, and laid her head on my shoulder. I swore and cried and swore and cried. Who could treat any living being so horribly?

I fell in love, and named her Brava.

Next came the awful amputation, and a very tough recovery. We almost lost her the day after because of bleeding. But she survived.

Oh, but there was more in store for Brava. As if all this weren’t enough horror, her IV tube was allowed to tangle around her inner thigh for hours until it wore a trough-like gash an inch wide and six inches long. Brava was again severely wounded. Our vet was livid and I was sick and cold with fury. Those responsible were terminated. But she survived.

We thought we were on the road to recovery, however after a week, Brava still had not stood--very unusual for canine amputees. Was it Exhaustion? Anemia? The hideous IV wound? The shock of surgery? The endless pain? Whatever it was, she couldn’t stand.

She tried: One morning I saw her rise to a sit and then stand for about 20 seconds before collapsing. She flashed me the biggest, proudest Dober grin, and I cheered her. We thought she'd soon be walking.

But then the IV wound split open, revealing raw muscle beneath her skin. I rushed her to the vet, expecting stitches, but en route, Brava began to bleed heavily from the surgical site. It was Von Willebrand’s Disease. The techs and I spent three hours putting pressure on the bleeding site to try to stop the blood flow, but there was nothing we could do. Brava was rushed to an emergency vet where she spent the next two days in intensive care, very, very close to death. But she survived.

So far she has survived, but Brava faces critical challenges in the days ahead.

Brava’s medical care already exceeds $3500. We expect additional costs of at least another $1500, for a minimum total of $5000. If you will help, please know that you are helping a miracle come to be. Her teaching is love despite everything, and courage in the worst of it. Her example is the purest nobility of spirit and heart. Brava belongs to all of us, and is the best of the best of a wonderful breed. I'm pleading with you to be a part of her recovery.

Those who wish to contribute may do so in any of three ways (scroll to the end of this post). If you have questions, please contact me privately at jsoliver@cox.net

1. Valley of the Sun Giant Schnauzer Rescue is my mentoring 501c3 rescue organization. I’ve worked under their auspices since I began Desert Harbor Doberman Rescue of AZ in January. If you wish to use a credit card to make a contribution to Brava’s medical fund, please use the orange PayPal button on the left side of the Valley of the Sun Giant Schnauzer Rescue website home page. Scroll down to find it. VSGSR will keep a tally of contributions for Brava. These funds will be totaled and used to pay for the enormous North Valley Regional Animal Hospital costs, where Brava was sent for emergency intensive care from the afternoon of August 8 through the morning of August 10. Contributions to Brava made via VSGSR are tax deductible.

2. OR, you may make credit card contributions directly to Brava’s home vet, Deer Creek Animal Hospital, by calling 602-404-0066 and designating ‘FOR BRAVA.” Deer Creek will keep a tally of contributions for Brava. These contributions will go directly to retire Brava’s still-growing Deer Creek account. Deer Creek Animal Hospital is incredibly supportive of our rescue and the Giants’ rescue, and her vet, the incredible Suzanne Higgins, walks on water.

3. OR, if you wish, you may send a check made payable to Desert Harbor Doberman Rescue of AZ and designated “For Brava,” to Desert Harbor Doberman Rescue of AZ, PO Box 97425, Phoenix, AZ 85060. I do maintain a totally separate bank account for rescue purposes.

4. Please contact me privately at jsoliver@cox.net, and let me know your name, address, and amount, and where you contributed, so that I can (1) cross-check the numbers with the VSGSR tally and the Deer Creek tally; and (2) can send you a thank you and acknowledgement.


Any donation, no matter how small, will mean a great deal to me and to Brava.

Thank you from Sidney Oliver, Desert Harbor Doberman Rescue, and Brava.


Pamela said...

Sidney, Brava might have made you a better person but this story reminds us all of the sheer power of love. Brava was waiting for you; she escaped to find you. I am in awe, simply in awe, of what you are capable of. My prayer for you: May God bless you and enable you to continue doing his work. May he grant you the patience, the tenacity, and the hopeful spirit to never give up on his creatures. May you be an example to all. Love from Switzerland.

PICO said...

Brava has made me want to be a better person. I'll try.

You have made me want to be a better person, too. Your unsuspicious generosity, your faith, your trust in your own intuitive powers, and your incredible kindness have modeled ways that any sane person would want to emulate.

My prayer for you is that you reap what you sew. You are very much like Brava, you know.

PICO said...

That should be "sow," not "sew." Duh.

Morgan said...

Hi, I visit your blog from time to time and I read about Brava early this a.m. I hope she's doing better. I wish I could make more of a donation than the 5.00 I sent through paypal, but my employment situation really sucks and it's been a real struggle to make ends meet. But I did this month, and I have a little extra that I could share.

PICO said...

Thank you, Morgan. Godde Bless you.
Pray your prayers to the Power you extol--or send Brava your own White Light--and thank you so much for your compassion and generosity.

We will be hoping for rapid and significant improvements in your job sitch.