By Josh Saunders
An abandoned skeletal dog forced to eat plastic and rocks in a sewer for a month makes a miraculous recovery
Goldie the two-year-old, Golden Retriever was an extremely emaciated 9kg (19lb) and was ‘barely clinging to life’ when she was discovered by rescuers in Bali, Indonesia.
Vets doubted the severely-food deprived dog would survive, after she had lived off plastic wrappers and stones for a month while ‘left for dead’ in the storm water drains.
After treatment from the Barli Dog Adoption and Rehabilitation Centre (BARC) the canine began to recover and fosterer Sandy Button, 45, originally from Gold Coast, Australia, took her in.
Sandy then spent months building the canine up to eat five meals a day, relearning how to walk and dealing with digestion problems that means she must be upright while eating.
Now one year on, Goldie has gone from half-dead to healthy in her permanent home and happily plays with other dogs.
Sandy said: “An adult Labrador weighing just 9kg, is quite literally the definition of ‘skin and bones’, she was so emaciated that her skin was paper thin and almost translucent.
“She had fluid on her lungs and there were a lot of ‘foreign objects’ inside her digestive tract, she had been surviving by eating whatever she could find.
“There was allot of plastic, stones, and other things blocking her digestive tract, she had to have an operation, before any food was going to make it through.
“We slowly built her up to five small meals a day, initially, when she was too weak to stand on her own I would position her between my legs to eat, while we waited for the food to go down.
“By around three months her bones started to be covered and she was looking more like a skinny dog than an emaciated one.
“After then, her voice also started to return as well, prior to this point nothing more than a squeak had come out when she barked.
“The difference in Goldie between her rescue and now is nothing short of miraculous.
“When I look back over her photos and our journey I honestly don’t know how she survived it all, she truly has such a strong will to live.”
Goldie was discovered after an animal-loving local overheard conversation about a starving dog that had been dumped in the village’s storm water drains.
The unnamed good Samaritan and a vet waded into the sewer and miraculous found Goldie, who at that point was unable to move and a appeared to be a ‘bag of bones’.
Sandy said: “He is a dog lover, so after hearing about Goldie he asked more questions about where and when she was dumped.
“He then took a relative, who is a vet, straight to the location where they found the drain, pulled the lid off and climbed to find her.
“The poor thing was barely clinging to life when they found her, she was so emaciated and weak.”
Goldie was so scrawny that she was unable to stand, couldn’t bark and her skin was paper-thin and translucent.
Vets doubted she would survive due to the ‘foreign objects’ in her stomach, the numerous infections she had acquired and her extremely emaciated frame.
Goldie was a mere one-third of the size she should be, with healthy adult Labradors weighing between 25-32kg (55-71lb/3st 4- 5st 1).
Sandy said: “At times I wondered if we were even doing the right thing by trying to keep her alive and in those moments, it was almost like she read my mind.
“She would wag her tail or lift her head and look at me, just like she was thanking me for helping her, which helped me know we were doing the right thing.”
Further tests revealed Goldie has megaoesophagus (ME) a condition that means her enlarged digestion tract stops food travelling to her stomach.
If she isn’t upright while eating, so that gravity can move food through her body she will vomit as well as risking her choking to death or suffer deadly pneumonia.
Sandy said: “She has to be held upright to eat and then remain in an upright position for 20 to 30 minutes, allowing gravity to do the work that her Oesophagus is not.
“We made adjustments to her diet, including using gelatine in her water so that it was ‘thicker’ and slid down along with a whole series of other tips that support in keeping her ME ‘under control’.
“She may have this condition for the rest of her life, but when well managed it doesn’t have to affect her quality of life.”
Now one-year-on Goldie has made a miraculous recovery from being unable to stand without assistance to playfully running around.
Sandy credits BARC with her survival, maintaining if the charity hadn’t taken her in and gave Goldie a chance at life she wouldn’t be here today.
She said: “The amazing thing with Goldie is that no matter how weak she was, anytime anyone approached her cage she would wag her tail, while she was cautious of new people, she was also so trusting.
“BARC were amazing, even though everyone knew her chances of survival were slim, there was not even a moment’s hesitation about what the next step was after her arrival.
“She needed the operation – so she was to have the operation even though their bill was already high and they didn’t have the funds to pay for it.
“BARC are constantly seeing dogs in conditions similar to Goldie, as well as a whole pile of other situations, not all of them make it, but every dog is given a chance to live.”
To support the Barli Dog Adoption and Rehabilitation Centre or to follow their work visit: http://barc4balidogs.org.au