After losing my VERY best friend Kimber at the start of the year, I ignored all those statements; I couldn’t find it in my heart, there was a deep hole in my heart when Kimber passed I was not sure could ever be filled.
Our home was no longer a home, there was so much silence, no dog to greet me, lick me when she was excited I was home from work or snuggle up on the couch. Then on June 15th I received a text from a co-worker who works for our local police department and a fellow dog lover. He said, “This may not be the right time, I know Kimber just passed 5 months ago, but the Sergeant and I just pulled a German Shepherd from an abusive home. She is sitting at animal control; she is very thin but a young dog and thought you may be interested.”
I remember thinking, no way, there is no way I am ready. But something tugged at my heart and hearing her sad story and the horrible conditions she lived in was almost unbearable. Zia was severely abused by her owner and several calls from neighbors to the local police were logged. She lived her life in a small plastic kennel outside. She was not provided shelter, food, water or comfort. She lived in her urine and feces. She was stomped on repeatedly; neighbors reported witnessing them stomping on her and dousing her with cold water. They would frequently hear Zia’s whimpers day and night. Then one hot summer evening, her heroes showed up and pulled her from that place (it cannot be called a home).
I went to visit her at the shelter. Our first meeting was in doggy jail, but still her tail wagged, her hips were moving side to side showing her excitement. She was so very thin, you could see her rib bones against her emaciated skin, her ears were back and not up, her coat was filthy, she smelled horrible and looked quite unappealing. She just had these big brown eyes and eyebrows I had never seen on a dog before. I went home told my boyfriend, “I don’t know, you go see her, and if you want her, she is ours.” On June 18th I received the call from animal control, Zia is yours come pick her up. I hung up the phone and cried!! No one knew this but June 18th was Kimber’s birthday, it was then I knew she was sent to me from Kimber. Kimber was the most loved dog, she was my adventure partner. Kimber knew Zia needed love, she needed healing, she needed a mama and in turn knew Zia would heal my heart.
Sadly, Zia’s journey in this new life will be a long road as she needs healing from the inside and out. During a vet visit it was determined her left hip was completely out of socket due to her living conditions and abuse. Her left hip socket sits above the hip and while she has put on weight in our care the disfigurement is still visible. She underwent her first surgery for a hip toggle. Not too long after the surgery, we noticed her hip looked out again and she was favoring it. We went back to the vet for more x-rays which showed her hip was completely out of socket again. We were referred to a surgeon who specializes in total hip replacements for dogs. (Dr. Schwarz with Veterinary Emergency & Specialty Centers). The referring veterinary doctor said, you want a doctor who does this type surgery all day every day, you need a specialist.
Off we went with Zia to her 4th doctor visit for her hip. After his examination he looked me in the eyes and said, “Jolene, I can do this surgery she is a candidate for a total hip replacement, but she will have to be kenneled for 3 months. Her movement must be restricted and gradually reintroduced over time. She absolutely cannot be jumping on couches, running around the house; she must be kept kenneled.”
That broke my heart, and the tears would not stop. She lived her whole life in a kennel prior to being with us. She has been free and never been in one since we adopted her. I had to ask myself, can I put her through this again. Can I send her back to life in a kennel? While a tough decision we both knew we wanted her to have a complete recovery and better quality of life. We said let’s do this. She is Zia strong, we got this.
She underwent surgery December 9th. We were so excited get her home, we had bought her a new big kennel, loaded with warm blankets and toys waiting to start her recovery. We received a call from the vet that they wanted to keep her another night as Zia was not progressing as she should have been, and the Dr. wanted to monitor her another night. Dr. Schwarz said it was a hard surgery; she had damage to her hip socket, the previous hip toggle surgery had snapped, and she had an infection again that he had to thoroughly clean out. This worried us, did we make the right decision, was she strong enough to come through this? The staff reassured us and said she was such a good patient, by the following day she was progressing and we got the news we could bring her home!
Zia’s healing will be a long road, her being adopted by us was only the beginning. Her surgeries and upcoming rehabilitation have been expensive, we have to date far surpassed $8000 on her medical care and know there is more to come. We knew going in there would be vet visits, however did not realize how damaged she really was. She is a young, vibrant, kind dog and worth all our efforts to heal her. Her introduction to humans was cruelty and abuse; yet she has this “light” about her. We wanted nothing of her old life to come forward with her, then learned Zia means “light” and knew that was her name. While still finding her way in a life outside of cruelty and abuse she selflessly, unassumingly heals others. She has mended my broken heart; I was not sure I could move past the loss of Kimber. She met a close friend’s dog who had recently lost his brother and wanted no part of interacting with another dog. It was like she knew he needed healing, she happily licked his face through his growls and indifference. She stayed close to him and when nothing worked reached down deep to find her bark. This was a first! She had never barked, we assumed she had been debarked to beaten to stay silent. Here she was, so thin, learning about life outside a kennel, more comfortable in silence yet found it in her to free her bark.
We are now committed to ensuring Zia receives the life and body she deserves; we want to give her what she gives others. Never did we imagine how that one text changed our lives, what saying yes to this girl would bring. It has been expensive all because a human treated her so viciously instead of just surrendering. We can never ask why; we can just stay in the light. Any contribution towards her care would be so appreciated and our solemn promise is every cent will go to her healing. Her new life is beginning … She is safe! She is loved! She is Zia Strong.
We thank you in advance for any amount of assistance as we continue to heal Zia’s body and for taking the time to read her story.
-Jolene & Ben-
- Chris Karriker
- Gina Manfredi
- Heather A Small
Organizer and beneficiary
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