Call it puppy therapy, instinct, or simply a miracle — whatever it is, it sure has worked for Mabel, a tripod dog who evolved from a bedridden patient to a babysitting playmate after a litter of puppies arrived at the Pure Mutts Animal Sanctuary in the Woodlands, Texas.
These days, Mabel is as busy as a tripod with no hips can be, hopping around after the fun-loving pups she took under her paw, but just a few short months ago this happy Bulldog mix was sedentary and depressed after a life-saving surgery.
“I got a call a few months back from a lady who was crying on the phone, saying she’d found a dog who has been shot,” explains Priyanka Johri, founder of Pure Mutts.
The woman on the phone was very distressed, as she’d called several different shelters and rescue groups and hadn’t found anyone in her own county who could take Mabel.
“One of the rescue groups gave her our number, and told her that we take sick and injured dogs and that we may be able to help,” says Johri, who asked the woman to bring Mabel across county lines to Pure Mutts’ vet.
When Johri met the good Samaritan at the vet’s office, she learned the woman’s initial assessment of the cause of Mabel’s injuries was incorrect.
“It wasn’t a gunshot wound. Mabel had been hit by a car, run over really badly, and she had maggots in her wound,” says Johri.
“Her back legs were shattered, her hips were shattered. She had been lying on the side of the road for at least three days because she was unable to walk.”
Poor Mabel had been through so much, but her ordeal was far from over. The veterinarian initially planned to amputate both the dog’s damaged legs to stop a spreading infection. Unfortunately, plans changed mid-way through the procedure.
“She was in surgery for three hours, and then I got a call that they had to bring her out because her heart had stopped,” says Johri. “They had been finishing the amputation of the second leg, and they could not sew her back up, so she still had open wounds.”
Mabel’s veterinary team decided to clean the pieces of shattered hip from the remaining leg and try to save the limb. Mabel would now live the rest of her life as a tripod, but she would be missing both hips.
According to Johri, the weeks that followed were incredibly difficult for Mabel.
“Mabel came to the sanctuary for recovery, and she was not very happy. She was quite depressed and in a lot of pain. After a couple of weeks, we were supposed to start her physical therapy, but she wouldn’t even let us touch her,” Johri remembers.
The folks at Pure Mutts continued to try to get Mabel to stand, in an effort to strengthen her hipless leg, but poor Mabel refused to get up.
About four weeks after Mabel’s surgery, Johri got another urgent phone call about a dog who needed help — only this one would come with 11 puppies. The mother dog had been dumped outside a shelter that didn’t have space to take her in. She had given birth outside, and the puppies were now slated for euthanasia.
“We got a call from the shelter, even though we don’t do puppies — we only do older sick and injured, special-needs dogs — but because of this situation we decided to give it a try,” says Johri, who had no regrets about bending her rules to bring the mom and her pups to Pure Mutts.
“When the puppies were around two or three weeks, they started crawling around. We introduced Mabel to the puppies, and that has changed everything.”
According to Johri, the previously stationary Mabel began trying to drag herself over to the puppies so that she could help the mother dog take care of the large litter.
“She started helping the mom with the puppies, and just to help those puppies, she would put pressure on that leg and try to get up on it,” says Johri. “That helped her get better and better, and she started letting us do physical therapy, letting us touch that leg.”
Johri says Mabel has been absolutely determined to make sure the puppies were well cared for and didn’t get hurt.
“She would follow them so that she could get them back into their little bed. I think that saved that other leg.”
Mabel wasn’t the only one to benefit from her interaction with the pups. Johri says the mother was overwhelmed with that many babies and was happy to let Mabel step in as a foster mom.
As her foster babies grew, so did Mabel’s confidence and strength. The pups are now being adopted out to forever families, but Mabel may remain at the sanctuary long-term.
“She is available for adoption, but if she never gets adopted, she will always have a home here.”
While Mabel is more than welcome to stay at Pure Mutts for the rest of her life, Johri hopes she can find the dog a forever home where Mabel can be the center of attention.
“We would love for her to have her own family,” explains Johri. “Just having your own human being who is just yours is completely different from having a mom who is taking care of 20 other dogs.”
Thanks to Mabel’s puppy-focused rehab, the dream of a forever home is closer than ever before.
“She is playing around, running around, being normal. Somebody with a single-story home will be perfect for her — or somebody with big muscles who won’t mind getting her up and down the stairs.”
Johri hopes maybe one day someone will come forward to carry this determined dog the way she carried the puppies who needed her.
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About the Author: Heather Marcoux is a freelance writer in Alberta, Canada. Her beloved Ghost Cat was once her only animal, but the addition of a second cat, Specter, and the dog duo of GhostBuster and Marshmallow make her fur family complete. Sixteen paws is definitely enough. Heather is also a wife, a bad cook, and a former TV journalist. Some of her friends have hidden her feed because of an excess of cat pictures. If you don’t mind cat pictures, you can follow her on Twitter; she also posts pet GIFs on Google+.