One small South African dog with a huge amount of resilience and courage traveled miles with a spine injury and zero use of her back legs.
The people who found her took one look at Poppy and knew they had no choice but to get her help, even if it was hours away.
Poppy was discovered by elephant expert Susanne Vogel and her co-workers at an isolated research camp in the Okavango region of Botswana. While they couldn’t determine the exact cause of her injury, it is believed that she was either hit or kicked by someone or crushed by a larger animal.
Vogel was beyond surprised to see the tiny tan pup crawl into her camp with a hopeful look on her whiskered face.
“She came crawling – literally crawling, because her back legs were completely immobilized – into our research camp,” Vogel said in an interview with The Dodo. “She was unable to walk, but full of love and seeking help.”
Vogel and company quickly realized that Poppy needed a lot more help than they could give her, vigilantly watching over her for several days before they took the trip to the nearest doggie doctor.
The closest vet clinic was a total of eight hours away (told you it was isolated) but Vogel knew it had to be done. If the dog could scoot on her front legs to their camp, the least she owed Poppy was a little medical attention.
It’s a miracle that Poppy wasn’t killed by any number of predators who are native to the surrounding area and higher on the food chain than a tiny dog.
“The camp is in a remote region, filled with elephants, but also lions, hyenas and other predators,” Vogel explained. “Poppy had somehow made it to us, emaciated and soaking wet from the rain.”
Vogel made the long drive with Poppy and fellow researcher Graham McCulloch, taking a boat to the other side of the river to reach the dog’s best shot at life.
Once they finally made it to the veterinarian, Poppy was found to be less than a year old (approximately seven months) and in need of surgery.
Fellow heroic dog-rescuer Amanda Stronza made a GoFundMe page to help raise money for the procedure. In the meantime, Poppy gained her strength, showing all the signs of a tremendous survivor.
“He said the chances were ‘slim’ she could make it through the surgery or recovery afterward,” Stronza said. “But she had so much life in her, and I knew we needed to honor her will to live and the hard fight she had already fought to find us and stay alive. I couldn’t agree to euthanize her.”
Poppy improved in the days before her surgery by staying hydrated and taking anti-inflammatory meds regularly but still needed a bit more time to recover before she underwent the risky surgery.
“Her eyes pulled us in immediately,” Stronza said. “They are huge, imploring, and sparkling with life. She bursts with the sweetest spirit, and we could see that clearly, despite the desperate condition she was in.”
Readers will be happy to know that Poppy started doing amazingly well after being rescued by Stronza, Vogel, McCulloch and the vet, and even began being able to put a little bit of weight on her back legs while walking.
Last we heard, Poppy was in safe hands in Botswana gaining back her health and waiting to be assessed for surgery. But, surgery or not, Poppy’s doing better than anyone could have ever imagined.
The sky’s the limit!
“She already has so many people all over the world who love her from a distance and are checking on her progress daily and are eager to see a happy outcome, namely adoption into a loving family,” Stronza said. “She will regain her ability to walk, or she will gain wheels to help her around. I think she has a bright future!”
Not all animals are as lucky as Poppy.
If you know of an animal that’s being abused or is injured, be sure to do everything you can. And call you local humane society, the SPCA, a shelter (try to make sure it’s not a high-kill facility) or the police.
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