Going way back in the rescue’s history, all the way to 2013, I want to tell the story of the piggy puppies. We came across an urgent posting from ACCT, the Philadelphia shelter, for a litter of 4 puppies who were surrendered for severe skin infections and needed out of the shelter ASAP. These puppies were so sad…they were completely naked, with horrible skin infections – crusted skin, raw spots, bleeding sores, they were so uncomfortable! And when I say horrible, I mean horrible – they had literally NO fur. They were, by far, the WORST case of mange I have ever seen in my life. Demodex mange is a very treatable skin condition that often affects young dogs or puppies – they are microscopic mites that live in the skin and cause irritation, that then leads to fur loss and secondary skin infections. It is typically easily treated and resolved with medications and special shampoo, but it can get severe if left untreated! We saw their picture and knew we could help, so Jen, Amy, and I flew down to the shelter to grab them. We went with a pig theme, obviously due to their pig-like appearances, and their names were Wilbur, Oscar, Babe, and Piggy. They were still adorable, even if it was in a horrible, and crusty kind of a way!
At the time, Jen and I had not yet started Pennridge – we were still working at our previous practice, and when they arrived, we were immediately most concerned about Babe. She was depressed and not eating, was running a terrible fever, and we determined that she was actually going septic from the severity of her infections! Jen and I decided to divide and conquer – so she took on the care of Babe, and I took the other three. Babe was pretty rough that first night – Jen stayed up with her all night in her make shift ICU in her bedroom, and actually thought a few times she was going to lose her. But she was a little fighter, and with lots of support – IVFs, pain medications, antibiotics, heat support, and a wing and a prayer, she slowly started to improve. After a few very tense days, she turned a corner and began to eat on her own, and to get stronger each day! I remember how relieved we were the first time she ate and took more than just a few shaky steps – we really thought she wasn’t going to make it in the beginning.
The other three creatures were a handful, to say the least. I can still vividly remember the smell of their stinky skin – it permeated my house so thoroughly, that you couldn’t walk in without being slapped across the face by a dirty feet mixed with corn chips kind of a smell. I had a whole wardrobe of little jackets and sweaters for them, and would change them daily to keep them clean and warm! They were on a whole regimen of medications, and required baths every other day to help with the mites. As stinky as they were, watching their transformation was pretty magical though. They went from weak little babies with no fur and very little spunk or personality, to three balls of energy and love with a zest for life! Slowly over the next month, their fur started to regrow, and we eventually split them up into a few foster homes to continue their recovery!
Once their infections were resolved and their fur was really growing back, we put them up for adoption and all four got scooped up into wonderful homes! I can’t believe that they are 8 years old now, and I’m so thankful that we still regularly see Oscar, as it has been so fun to watch him grow (and he definitely still remembers me, which brings me joy!). Sadly, at only 2 ½ years old, we lost Wilbur – his mom was devastated, but he was one of the very unlikely and rare dogs to develop a form of lymphoma that attacks young dogs, and despite our best efforts, he was lost to that terrible cancer. We don’t get to see Babe or Piggy, but have periodically gotten updates that both ladies are doing well, and are so loved.
This litter of puppies is one that I think of often. Their situation was so dire when they came to us, and it breaks my heart that such a treatable condition got to that point. I’m so thankful I saw their picture that day and we were able to take action so these babies could go on to live the lives they deserve. Stories like this are my WHY – seeing the joy that they have gone on to bring to their families, makes it all worth it in the end.