You may already know of a really amazing Rottweiler in our program, named Zera. I bet you don't know where she came from, and when you hear her story, you'll love her even more. Zera had spent the first four years of her life in a breeding program in Houston. She was kept in a 36 inch crate in the back yard, along with 17 other Rottweilers. She had no dog house, no play area, no shelter. She had no relief from the elements. She suffered four years in a crate in the back yard in the sun, the rain, the cold, and extreme heat. She very literally spent her life in that crate, except when she was having puppies every 6 months. She was not a family pet, nor was she loved.
Her previous owner was incarcerated, and Zera (along with the other 16 dogs) was passed on to the owner's grandfather. He contacted APA! for help with these overwhelming, unsocialized dogs. I went to his house to assess the situation, and was dumbfounded. Most of the dogs were either sick or aggressive. We removed all the younger dogs, and were able to find homes for them fairly easily. Then I started behavior evaluating the adults. Two of them were so aggressive, that I could not get near them. Two others had actually died in their kennels. The owner found out later that they had distemper. I met Zera, and immediately fell in love. She was overweight and had obviously been bred repeatedly. She was a little dominant with other dogs, so we evaluated her extensively. She was deemed appropriate for our program, so off to the vet she went! She was vaccinated, spayed, and heartworm tested. The spay was a little rough, since she was in heat, AGAIN! With a giant e-collar and many antibiotics, she recovered from her surgery.
She was adopted by a great family, with lots of large dog experience and love to give. A few weeks into her new home, Zera began behaving strangely. She didn't want to go for walks, and actually growled at her new mom. So they brought her back to us for further testing. They were very sorry to give her up, they just could not afford her large size and any potential aggression. We had her evaluated again, by an aggression specialist. The Behaviorist noticed that Zera was very painful in her rear end. Our fabulous vet, Dr. Jefferson, evaluated her and put her on pain meds and anti-inflammatory meds. Zera did great! She started playing and RUNNING! Yay!
I take Zera out with me every time I do adoptions. We have a great time together. We do a lot of walking and belly rubbing. That's her absolute favorite! This Tuesday when I had Zera out for adoptions, I noticed a few small masses in her mammary region. I called the vet and we made arrangements for Zera to be seen again. By Thursday, one of the masses had burst. I took Zera to Dr. Jefferson's office for more tests, and we got some really worrying news. Zera might have cancer. The mass that burst is probably a skin infection and not cancer but she also has a few mammary tumors. This is very common in dogs that are not spayed early (before their first heat) and luckily usually does not spread. But without doing a biopsy, we will not know if the masses are malignant or benign. We are treating her skin infection with medication for now and assuming the breast tumors are benign. We will revisit in a few weeks to check her progress. We did X -rays and also found a very bad case of hip dysplasia. We have a plan to deal with the hips that involves some hefty weight loss and probably surgery, and we are managing her pain in the mean time. When/if we do surgery on her hips, we will biopsy her mammary tumors then.
The thing that truly pains me is that during this whole procedure, Zera was a complete lady. She let us turn and twist and push and pull, and didn't react. She is a big girl, and could really hurt someone if she tried. I sit and wonder how long she has been in this pain. I think about all the litters of puppies that she has borne. I think about all the years in a stinking crate in the back yard, and I get angry. I'm extremely thankful to be a part of such an amazing organization as APA! Many rescues do not have the resources available to deal with these types of illness. We have such a dedicated group of professionals, that I know Zera will be fine in the end. She will beat the hip dysplasia. She will escape without cancer.
Zera is the poster dog for why it is important to spay and neuter your pets. She has the issues that Rottweiler's commonly have: obesity and hip dysplasia. If she had been spayed four years ago, she very likely would not have this cancer.
Please help me to change the fate of this gentle giant. Please help me to find the forever home she deserves. She will do absolutely anything you ask of her. She is potty trained and crate trained. She walks beautifully on the leash. She absolutely loves people. She picks her dog friends carefully, so I would recommend that she meet any four legged members of the family. I just can't say in words how cool and sweet and smart and loving and amazing this dog is. I adore her and really want to see her at home, on the sofa with her feet up, relaxing and watching a movie.
If you can't take her home, please help us by donating to cover her medical costs, which will be quite hefty.
Again, thank you to all the members of Austin Pets Alive! I am extremely proud to be a part of this organization.