As l watched the large Boerbul walk into the clinic, he didn’t move with enthusiasm, but it was not resignation either. There was a certain peace about him, an acceptance as he gently placed one big foot at a time.
About three to four years old he had been found in a ditch lying quite still and covered with flies. The kind man who came across him took a moment to look closer and realised that the dog was still alive. Summoning help he rushed the dog to Mdzananda where we discovered that he was literally being eaten alive by maggots. A long wound the length of his spine was a seething mass of wriggling critters, digging into his flesh and burrowing beneath his skin.
The logical course of action was euthanasia but this gentle giant looked at me with his beautiful big eyes and I knew he deserved a chance. We named him Frank.
After setting up an IV drip and giving him a good dose of pain killers and antibiotics, I spent the next hour and a half working to clean the wound. He was too weak from hunger and dehydration to risk an anesthetic but we needed to get that wound clean. Frank lay quietly as l told him he was okay now, how beautiful he was and how much he was loved.
The next day he was anesthetized and we took a better look at the wound. A thick layer of honey was applied and anti-fly ointment rubbed into the surrounding area to prevent more flies on his. Honey is a natural wound healer and the Mdzananda routinely use it with great success to repair cuts and lesions.
For the next few days the wound was cleaned and dressed with honey and the new flesh grew rapidly. Frank was gaining strength and eating small, regular meals of high protein. We had no idea how long he had been in the ditch and had to be cautious not to overload his system.
A week after admission, in spite of all precautions, Frank showed signs of internal bleeding. By then we were all completely smitten and vowed to fight with him. He was given a blood transfusion, Vitamin K to assist blood clotting and oral preparations to help line his gastro-intestinal tract.
The following morning he was happy to wander around for a while before having a few teaspoons of food and settling down for a snooze. It had been a big setback but still we hoped for a happy ending.
Another day passed. Frank was stronger amd his mucous membranes a nice pink. On New Year’s Day it seemed he had turned the corner – he walked happily around the clinic following me as I did the rounds, enjoying small snacks of boiled chicken, watching me as l babbled away to him.
But the miracle we had hoped for was not to be. That evening he suffered another internal bleed and quietly left his body.
Not all stories have happy endings - some end in heartbreak and tears - but there is some comfort in knowing that Frank did not die alone in a ditch. He died having known a gentle touch and kind words and he lives on in our hearts.
R.I.P dearest Frank, until we meet again.
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