Transformed from a tortured, terrified pup to a confident, beautiful dog, Flame’s story continues to inspire us to do the maximum possible to bring a 2nd chance for life and love to as many animals as possible. We have named our medical fund in honour of Flame.
On the morning of December 28th 2012, a call came in from a local ex pat lady regarding a stray dog that had wandered into her garden the evening before. She described a dog that looked very sick with a damaged paw that was too terrified to come close to her, could I come and help? By the time I arrived the dog was nowhere to be seen. As we searched the extensive garden suddenly this strange little creature came into view. The animal’s face was crusted and red , its body bearing the same crusty appearance, aahh, mange clearly. But what grabbed my attention was her front right paw which was bloodied and swollen to 3 times the size of the other paws. A long, thin string tied around the ankle of this paw trailed behind. The face peered out at us and then swiftly turned back into the bushes. She couldn’t run, , but she hobbled on through the bush for 20 minutes until we eventually gently corralled her into the porch area of the house where we managed to throw a towel on her and hold her till she calmed.
In close quarters, this poor creature was a sorry sight to behold. Mange over 80% of her body apart from one long patch of fur along her back which showed that she had once had a beautiful brindle coat of black and brown and gold. Her patch of fur over the red crusty skin reminded me of a flame and from that moment on, she had her name. The damaged paw had necrotic skin and the thin string that had tethered her to a stake in the ground had cut into her ankle and was now embedded cutting of circulation to the paw. It took 20 more minutes working with a tiny scalpel to cut through the string and release the cord. A rusted, broken chain was still attached to her neck. The pup was terrified as we gently bathed her skin before putting her into our van and taking her to the C.A.R.E. shelter.
Once there we took photographs and sent them to our vet at Ross university vet school in St Kitts. For two days we bathed the damaged paw to try to reduce the swelling. On December 30th Flame and I caught the ferry to St Kitts and off we went to Ross University Vet Hospital where Flame was admitted to the ICU. Our Vet, Dr Spacarelli thought he may not be able to save her leg , but we asked that he do whatever he could. Dogs can do fine on 3 legs, was my thought.
Upon my return to Nevis I immediately launched an Appeal to raise funds for Flame’s medical treatments. A poster showed her sorry state with a copy of the estimate from Ross for her upcoming treatments; almost $3000 dollars. Many people who saw the appeal poster shook their heads and proclaimed that this dog was beyond redemption. That we should put her out of her misery’ to them she was a ‘lost cause’. But not to me, not to CARE who saw in her eyes that the diminished flame still had a spark and that mange can be cured and 3 legs was not a handicap that couldn’t be overcome.
Through the month of January with regular updates we followed Flame’s progress in the ICU. Dr Spacarelli and his staff worked miracles on this tortured pup. She gradually came to see humans not as the source of pain, but of healing. On January 25th I returned to meet with an entirely different dog. Her skin no longer was crusty and the fuzz on her skin showed that a new coat was gradually pushing through. Still a little shy, but she had lost that haunted look that we always see in abused dogs. Dr Spacarelli had saved her paw. She had lost some toes but through skin grafts and pad grafts to replace the necrotic tissue that had destroyed her foot pads, Flame’s leg had been saved. I met with a young student who had been instrumental in taking care of Flame in the ICU, Lisa. She asked if she could foster Flame when ready to leave the hospital. Perfect, a vet student foster mum, who lived next to Ross university? We agreed that Flame could go with Lisa as soon as she got the green light from the doctor.
CARE continued to cover the medical bills but Lisa continued the healing of the psyche of Flame, ably assisted by her other dog, another rescue, called ‘Kitty. Through February and March Flame learned how to be a dog rather than a live scarecrow tethered to a stake in a field in the hot sun. In April her recovery was complete and Lisa was sitting her final exams. Would she adopt our now bright little Flame ? You bet ! I returned to pay my last visit before Flame would fly off to a new life in New Jersey, USA, with Kitty and Lisa and Brian, her fiancé. I was met by a chirpy, happy girl with the biggest ears I ever saw ! What, did they do an ear transplant !? But the biggest joy of my last visit with Flame was in watching her playing with Kitty running with all four legs, her healing paw encased in a little black bootee to protect the new skin.
When everyone else had given up, C.A.R.E and a small group of supporters gave this previously tortured pup a 2nd chance. Flame is now a ‘Jersey Girl’ loving life and being loved. This is what we do.. with your support CARE can offer such seemingly hopeless cases, new hope, a new life and a lifetime of love.