The Journey of Joy the Dog

Joy is a dog who was abandoned in a rest area, morbidly obese and totally helpless.

Joy is an adorable Miniature Pinscher (Min Pin) dog who is currently living at Prairie's Edge Humane Society  (PEHS) and is taking us all on a journey with her to regain her health and simplly learn how to be a dog.  Joy was brought to PEHS the day after Thanksgiving by an elderly couple who had made a stop at a rest area along Interstate 35 where they discovered two dogs, alone and in need of much help.  One dog was a Min Pin who was extremely obese and barely able to walk.  The other dog was older, we believe possibly a Chow/Lab mix breed dog with extremely matted hair and who was also having difficulty walking.  There is no way to know exactly how these two dogs ended up at the rest area, however neither of these dogs would have been able to physically walk there on their own, so we are left to assume someone probably abandoned them.  Neither dog had a collar, ID tags or microchip so no owner could be found.

They were both brought to PEHS where they were named Joy and Praise. Our shelter veterinarian discovered that Praise had several tumors covering her stomach and the inside of her hind legs.  She had so many masses that it was difficult for her to walk and one was the size of a grapefruit.  She was an older dog with a greyed muzzle, we estimated her to be 10-12 years old.  She had severe dental disease as well as several teeth that were worn so badly that some of the roots were exposed. She had cataracts that seemed to be affecting her vision and some type of neurological issue that was causing her to seem confused and lethargic at times.

Our purpose at the shelter is to help animals, so when one comes in with health issues that are so far beyond help, sometimes the only way we can help is to assist the poor animal to pass, thus ending it's pain and misery.  These decisions are not taken lightly or made easily, but sometimes it is the decision that has to be made and those days at the shelter are very emotionally difficult.  Praise had so many health issues that could not be treated at this point or would have actually caused her even more pain and agony in the process of trying to treat them.  The health issues she was dealing with did not come on suddenly for her.  Her health would have been deteriorating over a long period of time. Her owner should have taken her to a veterinarian for treatment a long time ago, or at least helped her pass with dignity and compassion, releasing her poor body from this pain and misery.  Instead she was left in a road side rest area to probably die a painful, cruel death, scared and all alone.  Praise spent 7 days with us at the PEHS shelter until our veterinarian and medical care staff was confident there was nothing more we could do for her.  During those days she was kept comfortable and shown much love.  I was watching her outside in our fenced yard area one day when a staff member had taken her out for some fresh air and to relieve herself.  Even though it was very difficult for her to walk she slowly wandered the grassy area sniffing the ground and at times would stop to watch the trucks at the cement plant next door with great interest or perhaps she was trying to understand what those large things making noise were since we believe her vision was minimal.  At times she would stop and put her nose in the air to smell the wind and soak up the sun.  She seemed to be taking in those last precious moments of good smells that dogs so enjoy.  Praise passed away at the shelter being held in the arms of PEHS staff members and surrounded by love.  In her final days and moments she was not alone.  Her gentle soul passed over the Rainbow Bridge and is now free of her pain and neglect. 

Joy, the Min Pin, is approximately 6 years old and morbidly obese.  She is only 10 inches tall and weighed 21.4 lbs on the day she was brought to PEHS. A Min Pin this size should weigh only 8-10 lbs. (I have attached a photo of a typical, healthy weight Min Pin for comparison) She weighed more than double what she should weigh and barely able to walk on her own.  Allowing her to get in this condition is a form of abuse and neglect.  She did not get this overweight on her own, she was fed by a human to the point of being so overweight that she wheezes when she breaths because of the pressure on her diaphragm and lungs.  Sometimes when she barks she has to gasp for air in order to continue.  When she came to PEHS she was for all purposes immobile.  Min Pins have very tiny bones and her legs were unable to withstand her weight for any length of time or allow her to walk normal.  If she stood too long her legs would slide out from under her and she would flop to her belly or she would simply fall over to one side.  This dog did not get loose from someone and run away, she was very obviously brought to the rest area and abandoned. If a caring person had not picked her up and brought her to PEHS she probably would have died there within a short time.  She would not have been able to get away from another animal such as a coyote.  She would not have been able to protect herself from the weather or other elements in the outdoors, find food or water or safety on her own.  She is so obese she has difficulties breathing or getting comfortable when she does lie down.  Put yourself in her body and imagine what it must be like not to be able to stand for long periods of time because your body is too heavy for your legs but you can't lay down for long periods of time either because your weight is too much for your lungs; she is simply miserable.  Yet surprisingly, she is so happy to spend time with people once she knows you and wants to cuddle whenever she can.  Again, we witness the ability of animals to forgive their prior treatment and want to simply share their love with anyone.  When she wants to cuddle she will shuffle herself over to you and stare longingly at you with her sad eyes until you pick her up.  I have discovered that she is most comfortable if you hold her on her side over your chest and she will lay her head on your shoulder.  Her lungs cannot handle her current weight if held with pressure against her stomach. She also looks as though she has probably had numerous litters of puppies as well which also raises questions about her past history. 

We are very hopeful for Joy's future and are working to help her lose weight. When Joy first came to PEHS and was put on the scale to be weighed she was unable to stand for more than a minute, let alone walk further than a few feet at a time without having to rest. You can see her lying on the scale in one of the photos during one of her first weigh-ins. In the short time that she has been with us she has already lost 2.1 lbs, is slowly walking a little more each day, and she now stands on the scale!

We do not want her weight to come off too fast as that is not healthy for her.  It will be a long process but we are committed to helping her.  Joy will not be available for adoption until she is at a healthier weight.  She will need to be adopted into a home that will continue with her weight management program.  Joy did not seem to know what actual dog food was or even how to eat out of a dish when she came to us, so it seems she has just been fed on the ground or on a floor.  If you place her food on the floor one piece at a time she will eat it.  We are slowly teaching her to eat out of a dish and to take a treat from our hand. (her treats are a kibble of low calorie/high fiber food) We will never know what the eating habits were which caused her to be in this condition, but she is now being fed a healthy diet and her portions are measured very carefully.

She loves to hang out in the PEHS business office and to wander various other areas in the shelter.  She doesn't move very fast so it is easy to keep a close eye on her! She is very curious and likes to snoop so we are letting her do just that as it is a great way for her to get more exercise and she enjoys it.  She also enjoys watching the kittens play and following staff around as they go about their daily work duties. She is currently taken on short walks outside, as she gets tired very quickly.  A daily walk to the mail box is a part of her therapy.  We will slowly build up her stamina so that she can take longer walks. Currently she spends her mornings getting exercise and her afternoons sleeping a lot as she gets very tired out from her workouts. 

We do not know how Joy and Praise ended up in the rest area, how long they had been companions, what their previous names may have been, why someone would not get them the medical treatment they both so badly needed or how anyone could leave these two completely helpless dogs to die scared and alone in the elements.  What we do know is that Joy's current journey includes receiving a lot of love and compassion from everyone at PEHS.  She looks at us with eyes that do not understand how she got in this condition or why someone would leave her to fend for herself when she is so helpless.  I believe that she does understand that we are helping her and she is no longer scared or alone.  

We will post updates on the progress of Joy's journey regularly on our website at www.prairiesedgehs.org and on the Prairie's Edge Humane Society facebook page as well as here on Patch.  If you would like to help us care for Joy and other homeless animals, you can do so by making a secure, tax deductible on line donation via our website

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