An intern saves a dog who became mysteriously ill at the last minute after the owners of a 10-year-old Shetland Sheepdog brought him to the veterinarian after they noticed he had become lethargic and unwilling to eat.
The dog, named Ollie, went through multiple screenings, including bloodwork and X-rays, turned up nothing, and his condition continued to worsen, ABC News reports. Al and Joelle Meteney, Ollie’s owners, made the heartbreaking decision to put him down after the dog was unable to stand or go to the bathroom.
“They finally decided they had reached their limit, and it was time to help him pass. He couldn’t stand, he couldn’t walk, he couldn’t urinate, couldn’t defecate,” said Dr. Adam Stone of the Dove Lewis Animal Hospital, who said the problem could have been caused by a number of issues. “Anything from cancer to trauma, or a fracture of a vertebra or a spinal fracture. Any one of these could have caused similar signs.”
But just before the procedure, Neena Golden, an intern saved the dog. While working with veterinarian Adam Stone at DoveLewis, Golden gave Ollie a comforting scratch behind his ear and felt a strange lump. What she felt turned out to be an embedded tick, presumably picked up during a recent camping trip, that had caused a rare condition called tick paralysis, WREG reported.
“He was in the room about to get put to sleep, and it was just pure grace that the people found something and decided to check it out further,” said Ollie’s owner, Falline Fate. “They have a neurotoxin in their saliva that prevents nerve transition to the muscles, and that takes time to build up in the body and cause paralysis like what we saw in Ollie.”
Veterinarians removed the tick, and by the next day, Ollie was back on four feet.
“Tick-borne diseases occur in all 50 states and often cause serious illness in dogs, ranging from acute and life-threatening to chronic conditions that significantly impact a dog’s quality of life,” says Dr. Diane E. Brown, CEO of the AKC Canine Health Foundation.
The organization recently launched the Tick-Borne Disease Initiative to raise funds for research aimed at discovering innovative approaches to understanding, preventing and treating tick-borne diseases. All donations received through this initiative, up to $250,000, will be matched by the AKC.
The Comment said that as the intern saved the dog from the tick, Ollie was back to his energetic self in just 10 hours. “The next morning my mom opened the door and said ‘look at your doggie’ and he comes walking up to me, and I’m barely awake, and just smiled at me,” said Fate.