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Posts Tagged ‘Northwest Indiana’

miracle-dogOne of her rescuers dubbed the stray dog in the photo, “Miracle.”  She had a raging case of mange, and was afflicted by heart worms, dehydration and starvation. After she finally was coaxed into the back seat of a car, the Humane Society of Northwest Indiana in Miller Beach took her in. Donations arrived from people saddened by her condition and hopeful for her future. She was only a year old.

After weeks of vet care, affectionate attention and sessions with an animal behaviorist, Miracle had to be euthanized.

“I hated making this decision,” said Frieda, the shelter manager. But she felt obligated. The more Miracle’s health improved, the more unpredictably aggressive she became.

The first time she lunged at a shelter worker, she latched onto his beard as he reached to leash her. “She’d be wagging her tail at you, and then if you moved the wrong way, she’d come at you,” Freida said.

Freida wasn’t ready to give up. Maybe the constant commotion from all those barking dogs was the problem. She brought Miracle up to the front of the shelter, where she could lounge quietly behind the counter near the entrance. An animal behaviorist was brought in to work with her.

Three more attempts to bite followed. She began jumping up on the counter, alarming staff and visitors.

The decision was made when Miracle clamped down on the arm of Sandy, an employee, as Sandy bent down to the floor to pick up something. Sandy had worked with Miracle more than anyone, yet this time the bite left bruises.

None of those donations were wasted. They allowed Miracle to be given every chance to recover her health and to demonstrate she could safely be adopted.

Meanwhile, a Rottweiler was brought in with a badly broken front leg. It had to be amputated. But he’s healing and has already been adopted. The miracle is that the shelter sees far more happy endings than not.

 

 

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red-tailed-hawk

The woman at Indiana’s Department of Natural Resources tried to reassure me that capturing an injured red-tailed hawk was doable.

Get a box, a towel and a pair of thick gloves, she said. Throw the towel over its head so it can’t see. Pick it up from behind and put it in the box.

From behind?

“You don’t want its talons to get you. Hold it away from your body.”

A moment of silence followed while I regarded the curved claws on the bird, picturing how easily they’d pierce flesh. She heard my hesitation.

“It’s really not that hard,” she said into the phone.

As the bird glared at me, I noticed the sharp tip on his beak, used to rip bloody chunks of flesh from prey. The notion of grappling with this predator looked risky.

The hawk and I were just off Interstate 65 in Gary, Indiana. Mention this town to anyone who doesn’t live here and they’re likely to think of steel mills belching pollution or a deserted downtown of boarded-up, graffitied buildings. They wouldn’t be wrong, but there’s more to the place than that.

There’s a surprising amount of still natural land. Patches of open prairie, forests and dunes stretch in a series of local and national parks along Lake Michigan from Chicago to Indiana’s western boundary and beyond. In my neighborhood abutting one of these parks (and often in my yard), it’s common to see deer, coyotes, sand hill cranes and occasionally even an elusive fox.

Red-tailed hawks are common, too, typically circling high above the trees. This one, however, had perched on a guard rail along the highway just before an exit. He was impossible to miss – maybe 15 inches tall, as big around as my cat. His back was turned to the traffic as if he wouldn’t deign to acknowledge it. His bearing exuded invincibility. You couldn’t tell he had an injury that amounted to a death sentence.

I pulled my car onto the shoulder and edged it closer, hoping to gawk at him for a minute.

His head swiveled. He saw the car creeping up and tried to fly away. I could see that half of one wing was almost broken off and hanging limply. He couldn’t gain altitude or get far. He landed about five feet below the guard rail on the downward slope of a weedy berm.

Now that he was on the ground away from the busy highway, he was even more vulnerable to predators – raccoons, foxes, great horned owls. I’d made his bad situation worse.

After talking with the woman at DNR, I drove home and assembled the recommended equipment: a cardboard box, a cat bed to cushion the bird, a large beach towel, a pair of leather gloves and a pair of insulated barbecue gloves to put over those.

He hadn’t moved when I returned 25 minutes later. I put the box with the cat bed in it on the ground, donned the two pairs of gloves, unfolded the towel and slowly advanced on him from behind.

Again, his head swiveled. He turned to face me. With each step I took, his unbroken wing lifted higher, his feathers puffed further out and his beak opened wider in warning. It felt like he was daring me to look down his gullet. I imagined being a small animal struggling under his talons as that sharp point lowered towards its meal.

His yellow eyes never wavered. He showed no fear. He was all threat.

Three feet from him, I froze. Fortunately, the U.S. Army came to the rescue.

A young soldier, seeing a woman on the berm holding a beach towel open on a gray January day, pulled over to find out what I was doing and whether I needed help. He hadn’t seen the hawk. The sight of it impressed him.

This was a combatant he could easily handle. He held the towel in front of him so it shielded his entire body; only his head and his booted feet were visible. The bird ended his threat displays. The soldier slowly stepped closer, talking softly to it, until the two stood toe-to-talon. He dropped the towel. Then he bundled the bird, gently lowered it into the box and placed the box in the back seat of my car. He even strapped the seat belt around the box to keep it from tipping.

It was a half-hour drive to the DNR-designated vet who would take the hawk. The back of my neck prickled the whole way. The bird was secured in a box with a lid weighted down by my purse, but I was nervous. How strong was he? Could he bust out? I imagined the car careening while I flailed my arms as he lunged, screeching, towards my face.

For one moment, his talons had scratched briefly against the box. Other than that, he didn’t make a sound.

The vet discovered that the hawk’s wing wasn’t just broken; it was rotting off. He was too badly injured to be healed. He had to be euthanized.

That hawk was the wildest creature I’ve ever encountered up close, without a thick plate of glass or bars between us. The experience was thrilling and humbling. Even half-dead, boxed up, and much smaller than his captor, he scared me. He showed me what “untamed” means.

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The domiracle-dogg pictured here had huddled in the doorway of a public building. She had a raging case of mange. Her boniness indicated she hadn’t eaten well for some time. She barked at anyone who approached her, but wagged the tip of her tail at the same time. Clearly, she needed help.

Two women from the building came out to see what they could do. Tiffany kept refilling a small plastic bowl of water, which the dog lapped up immediately. McKenya had some dog treats, which also were eagerly accepted. By now, the dog would sit in front of whoever offered her food or water and wag her tail. But given her skin condition, none of us felt it was safe to pet her.

After 20 minutes, we managed to coax her into the back seat of my car. By now, McKenya had dubbed her “Miracle.” She’s at the Humane Society of Northwest Indiana in the Miller neighborhood of Gary. A treatable autoimmune deficiency aggravated the mange, which (fortunately for the back seat of my car) was the non-contagious kind. She also has been diagnosed with heart worms. It’s treatable, but adds to her medical expenses. A couple of people have contributed to the cost of Miracle’s care, but more donations of any size would be mighty welcome.

 

 

 

 

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This is the fourth week of Brownie’s three-times-a-week laser therapy treatments for arthritis and a torn ligament. Just last week, unable to see improvement, I began to wonder if the expense and inconvenience were worth it.

This week, she started to put weight on her injured back leg, which had been dangling uselessly since she tore the ligaments in her back-right knee. We’ve started going for short walks, and she’s felt good enough to repeatedly initiate play sessions with a 90-pound doberman who was boarding with us for a few days. I hated to have to put a stop to that, but couldn’t risk letting her chase or be chased on a bum leg.

The picture above, taken off the Internet, shows what a session is like with a dog about Brownie’s size. The vet tech puts a comforter on the floor for Brownie, who gets very anxious and antsy if lifted onto a table. Brownie can stand, sit or lie down, as she likes, while the vet tech gets down on the floor with her and maneuvers herself around to reach whatever spot is being treated. My mother and I sit right there in a couple of chairs, petting Brownie and gently holding her in place if she gets restless. The vet tech simply moves the head of the laser back and forth and around whatever area is being targeted for five minutes, close enough to ruffle Brownie’s fur but without any pressure. In Brownie’s case, the tech treats her back knees, hips, one shoulder and part of her spine.

It’s likely that a combination of laser treatments, bi-weekly pain shots and special joint-boosting treats have led to this improvement as their effects accumulated over the past month. The techs say most dogs grow to enjoy and look forward to their laser treatments, but Brownie isn’t one of them. She cooperates, but remains very anxious about car travel and vet visits. We’ve added a Busy Bone treat to her car trips, in addition to a tranquilizer and a personal transportation aide (Mom) to hold her steady and pet her while I drive.

Laser treatments aren’t easy to find around here, as not many vets want to invest $40,000 in one machine. We go to Vale Park Animal Hospital in Valparaiso, Indiana, and patients come from all over Northwest Indiana for laser treatments there. At our next session, we’ll meet with the vet to map out what’s next for Brownie.

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