– Luna's New Life –
March 29, 2004 – Nine weeks
ago we met Luna, a victim of horrendous abuse. In mid-December, 2003, Luna was
Michigan. She was close to death due to extreme starvation and neglect.
Four days later,
by her owners – under order of the Michigan authorities – and
immediately adopted by Jackie Overbeek, a vet assistant who had fallen in love
to nurse Luna back to good health and give her all the love and affection she
deserved. (If you missed it, please read Luna's
Luna's road to recovery
complicated by the fact that she had an advanced case of heartworm disease. Treatment
even for a healthy dog, but for a dog like Luna, starved to the brink
of death and weighing only 65 pounds, treatment had to be
deferred until she
gained at least 35 pounds. After just five weeks with Jackie, Luna had put on
enough weight to begin heartworm therapy.
Jackie wrote, "Granted,
heartworm treatment is horrible, but much less so than death by heartworm infection.
will require 2 to 3 injections spaced out over 1 to 30 days. The injections are
given with a long needle in the lumbar muscle in the back. The patient must then
kept quiet for 30 days while the heartworms die and are absorbed by the body.
Otherwise, the dead worms can cause blockages in the pulmonary arteries or embolisms
has been sending regular updates on
progress, along with some photographs:
February 21 –
heartworm treatment series on the 19th and 20th. The treatments are extremely
and after. They involve long needles in the lumbar muscles,
resulting in much pain and stiffness afterwards. Luna has had a little coughing
vomiting, too. However....she is doing VERY WELL. She
loves to take long walks and exercise those long legs and her incredible
sniffer. Right now she's restricted to shorter walks
around the yard and the
neighboring woods. She continues to be her happy,
silly self, and she really wants to chase our local squirrel population. She
though, that she has to remain physically quiet for 30 days after the treatment.
physical activity can cause serious pulmonary complications from the dying heartworms.
Luna weighed 120.2 pounds on the 20th. That's 55 pounds higher
than when she was admitted to the hospital on December 18! As much as she loves
we don't want her to get any heavier. The chest x-rays taken prior to her heartworm
treatment show significant arthritis in her spine; and as she has gained weight,
we've noticed that she struggles a bit to stand. We're keeping her at a lean,
trim 120 pounds.
March 23 –
We are doing pretty well. Luna went through her heartworm treatment with flying
colors. After 2 months of being forced to be sedentary, we took our first long
We walked about a
mile and by the end, my big girl was VERY tired. She was still smiling
trotting and using that big sniffer with gusto, but she was panting, drooling
The next day we went out to do the same route. About a half mile into it,
Luna started to limp. After we got home, she wouldn't even bear weight on her
leg. I gave her a dose of aspirin, but it didn't help. I looked her over
carefully and couldn't find any injuries,
I took her directly to my clinic, where the doctor who first treated Luna happened
did a thorough exam and ordered X-rays. The radiograms showed nothing significant.
was terrified that they might show osteocarcinoma, something I understand Danes
are prone to get. We went home
with pain medications and instructions to take 3 enteric-coated aspirin a day.
After 2 trips to the clinic, we have good news about my Luna girl.
She doesn't have any nasty syndrome or disease. ( I was thinking wobblers
or osteosarcoma.) The bad news is that she does have some significant
cervical spine issues. The points on her vertebra are starting to
bridge together and fuse. This might be the result of age, but the
doctors think it's mainly due to malnutrition
and neglect – fundamental lack of exercise, non-existent
preventative medical care, and poor quality food. Her spinal problems
are progressive, but we can slow the damage considerably with anti-inflamatory
medications, moderate exercise, and doggie glucosamine. We've increased
her dose of coated aspirin to 2 a day and after another week
of rest, Luna can start slowly exercising again with short
walks in addition to her daily sniffing patrols around the yard. Because
of her neck problems, she can only wear a light-weight collar to display
her ID tags. For walks we've been using a harness. I bought
her first one last night only to have her chew through one of the
straps while I was not watching her. Sheesh! She LOVES to chew, especially
things like pillows, stuffed animals and comforters. Fortunately,
she doesn't try to swallow the stuffing. She has mauled several
sofa pillows and her favorite afternoon napping comforter. Soft
doggie toys last only about
4 minutes. I hate to see her so destructive, but
she gets such JOY out of it. It's hard to scold her when she's got
hanging on her lip, some on her head and such a goofy look on her
face – while the family room looks like a blizzard
How about a crate?
Crating might help alleviate the chewing
problem, so I asked Jackie whether
she has attempted to crate Luna. She replied, "Unfortunately,
Luna suffers from SEVERE crate anxiety. A crate was
thing I purchased
home. It's one of those super-strong gorilla models and she's managed
to bend one of the wires. She barks and whines and digs until her feet
are bloody, and gets so upset she vomits. During her heartworm treatment,
she couldn't be stressed like that, so we gated off part of
the family room for her. This has now become 'her' room. We refer to
it as "Luna
She is very content there. It overlooks the
lake (with many geese and critters by it) and the bird and squirrel
feeders. Now that her heartworm treatment is over, I'm planning to
start reintroducing the crate to her. I truly believe that dogs are
I've started crawling into the crate with her favorite treats.
Luna follows me in and then we cuddle (she sits on my lap) and she
gets a good scratch and some treats. Then we get out. I try to stay
in there for
Gradually, we'll start increasing the time spent, so hopefully by summer
or fall, she'll have fewer issues with it.
abusers want her back!
Jackie tells me that Luna's former owners want her back and they've
talked about trying to get her returned to them. Jackie's response?
dead body!" She says Luna is hers now. "Legally, spiritually,
and emotionally. There is no way they can legally get her back." She
goes on to say:
so incredibly blessed to have her. I love her dearly, and
can't remember what my
life was like
without her. She is joyful, loving, playful and very mischievous.
She always makes me laugh, and offers great comfort if I've had a stressful
shift at the vet ER clinic. No one, human or 4-legged, has ever loved
me as fully and totally as Luna does. Don't get me wrong, my other
pets and family members love me, but not like my Luna girl. She loves
me with her entire heart, mind, soul, and (considerable) body."
Jackie enjoyed hearing from
everyone who contacted her after Luna's story first appeared on
DaDane of DaWeek. You can write to her at email@example.com.
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