Rescuing Bobo: Reaching out Beyond Myself

For those who aren't familiar with my background, just a short review of the last years. After my husband's brain surgery in 2010 which left him completely paralyzed on one side, I had to end my career and also put on hold my activity within my animal rescue organisation Three Spotted Brothers Shelter (Trei Frati Patati), taken over by Amicii Dog Rescue in 2014. A year later I went back as a volunteer-administrator of the shelter till the point my mother got terminally sick and had to quit my endeavor for good. Somehow life assigned me with the mission of family personal nurse, a role that is still active at the time being. Aside from that, I have my 5 dogs, complemented by undesired "living gifts" brought by people in my neighborhood once in a while.

This a story of two puppies; one of them is a special case.
 The two black mongrels appeared on my alley last February. On a cold rainy evening.
Whoever abandoned them was certainly missing humanity within his or her heart.
A neighbor of mine informed me by text message that someone threw some pups in my yard. I rushed outside but the pups were rather further. Even when I still had 6 more dogs inside and there were these two ladies walking one Bichon each but waiting for me to pick the puppies, either one wouldn't assume the responsibility of taking them home, just praised me by "bless you".

Those coffee beans eyes looking around helplessly, those tiny little figures all wet and trembling, clinging tightly to each other as if they were one body; it's a scene to which I am not immune. Unfortunately for me most of the people in my neighborhood are, and that's how I end up having an overcrowded home many times. Although at that moment I wasn't thinking of that, I just knew I had to take the muddy wet puppies to a warm place, bathe and feed them. It's just that I had no puppy food as most of my dogs are older. No milk either, no open store close by, nothing to feed them with ..., that was what I was reviewing rapidly in my mind. Fortunately one of the ladies offered her kid's milk portion from school. Well that saved me for the night! And the puppies! 
I knew my nights will turn into days with two small pups, but heck, I already lost my sleep to panic attacks I had ever since my husband's granny had a stroke and collapsed last summer. Back then, I could feel the axe teetering over my head for two long weeks whilst the neurologist kept "threatening" us with the discharging from the hospital. I was terrified by the idea of having yet again another family member motionless ill in bed, not being able to eat or talk, and no one else to help me with the care at home. Two weeks after, right on my birthday, she passed away peacefully in the hospital but my anxiety developed into these horrid panic attacks under the pressure of being a family caretaker. 

Shortly before the pups landed with me, I saw a post about a small size very friendly female wandering alone on the streets. And it was cold and snow outside but yet again, no one offer her more than a notice on the local Facebook page. I took a risk by taking her inside as my previous foster-pups had all distemper; but there were also menacing dangers outside and in these cases you have to go for it. However never thought that this sporadic episode would attract another one and I'll end up by having a full house in a very dog unfriendly neighborhood. 
I've named the newcomer Sandy and the pups Sissy and Bobo. The friendly female rapidly took on the role of baby-sitter. Seeing how nicely was guarding and playing with the pups, I realized she must have had her own babies sometime somewhere. But heck, we have our own female that normally takes on this role every time a new puppy appears in our family, and this time poor Piky was not able to be close to the puppies as much as she would have loved to.  Although I could see the hurt in her eyes, she did not interfere, respecting Sandy's role. And I couldn’t help but respect the the way animals know/understand what/how to (re)act in a specific moment. What a beautiful lesson for us humans! 
6 weeks later, Sandy went to Uk. Lucky for her as the pups grew too big and she might have ended up harmed.  

Sissi and Bobo
The morning after Sissi and Bobo’s arrival, I've noticed the differences between the male and female. While everything seemed to be just fine with Sissi, several facts caught my attention on her brother. Firstly the strange shape of his head immediately got me thinking of hydrocephalus. In addition to this, his left eye was bigger than the other (exophthalmia), and the right one was colored in blue (heterochromia). And before long I figured out he was almost blind. He had also difficulties of keeping his rear legs straight while he ate, and instead of stepping on paws he was using the lower bones (metatarsus) that were pretty much curved. Comparative to his sister, he was much smaller and pretty wobbly.
All these clear facts led to the conclusion that poor Bobo was to be a special case. 
Of course I went out for help on FaceBook!
I received some puppy food for the beginning but I knew I had to take Bobo to the Cluj's specialists to be visually examined as soon as possible. I did ask for a ride to Cluj as I had no money, but I got no response. So I had to wait to raise funds. Ever since I no longer administrate the shelter, people think of me as managing my own shelter from my home. However the only income in our family is my husband's disability allowance and no matter how hard I try to stretch it, the money doesn’t reach from one month to another. So the unexpected arrival of these new pups has turned into a financial burden to us. The luck came, as in other times, from my old Swedish friends from Dogs Looking for Home Organisation to which I can't be more grateful; and from few other friends in US and UK! Thank you ladies!

And that's how the long series of trips to different veterinarians began.
Firstly Bobo has been suspected of having hydrocephalus. Just as I feared! So he had to have his brain X-rayed. But nothing conclusive was to be seen. Then I took him to a neurologist. A beautiful young lady concluded there is nothing neurologically in his wobbliness but most likely it's a lack of vision matter. So I went for an eye specialist; this one said that the swelling of his left eye is most probably caused by glaucoma, but being a small pup can't be explored with the medical equipment yet. The good news was that Bobo wasn't completely blind but the vet couldn't establish exactly how much he does see. He recommended that we return when he’s older.

Somehow none of these explanations satisfied me. That’s because Bobo remained unwell. Especially during the nights he was agitated and kept whining as something was troubling him. I didn't know where to look for answers, but I felt there is more to be explored.
In time, as his sister grew up beautifully and svelte as a gazelle; Bobo rather looked like a sumo wrestler with heavy foot due to his out of space elbows and stiff rear legs. His walk was loud and slouched. A weird rasping noise made by his bones could be also heard. Also the middle of his spine was curved, which made him looked crooked.
At this point I felt we have to visit an orthopedist. I did some research to look for the best specialist and again asked for funds. My Swedish friends once again assisted me in this project. When we finally got an appointment, the vet took several X-rays of different parts of Bobo's body. In the end, his bitter remark got me pretty rattled: "never have I seen such a defective dog, so far!" And explained to me in each picture the many problems of the poor pup. Practically there were no normal joint; each of them (hips and elbows) was out of its normal place and plated instead of being rounded, rubbing the bone on bone and creating the squeaking sound. The cause of the severe dysplasia couldn't be known, however it is mainly congenital and less as a result of poor nutrition. 
But nevertheless, Bobo acts like a normal puppy, full of life and has an excellent appetite.
The vet recommended good food and a proper diet not to get overweight, as any extra stress on his bones could be harmful. In the same vein, his muscles seems to be atrophied as he can't walk properly and doesn't get much exercise either. While his sister is doing laps to the yard and upward back to house, Bobo is very much afraid of stairs. He managed though to climb up, but descending seems to be pretty scary to him. Sometimes I give him a lift but as he grew pretty large (15 kg+) my injured back warns me with a severe pain along my right leg each time.

 Being still a pup (approx 7 ½ months old) any medical intervention can be done only after the bones stop growing. What will be needed? Most likely prosthesis. There is a huge risk of developing arthritis or arthrosis, very painful for the poor boy; and that is why surgeries are a must. Unfortunately none of this intervention can be done in Romania!
Bobo will need treatment and long term support, consisting of joint and anti-inflammatory supplements. Unfortunately I wasn't able to procure anything so far.  I saw this natural US product which I think would be perfect for him, but I need help to get it to Romania: advanced-hip-joint-chews-with-glucosamine-msm-chondroitin-turmeric.

Few weeks ago we went back to the clinic, this time for an eye check. We managed to get an appointment with a visiting optometrist from Hungary. We have been told that this vet usually comes to Cluj's clinic (Biovet) only once or twice a year. There is a great need of eye specialists in Romania as there are only two in the country; one at the Veterinary University in Cluj, where we've already been and the other in Bucharest. But both of them use old mechanical devices that are not very accurate. We had taken the opportunity for a digital scan (again with my Swedish friend's participation). The very friendly vet was the one who finally helped us to put together all the information we had regarding Bobo's "defects". His diagnosis: "inoperable congenital cataract", most likely as a result of toxoplasmosis of Bobo's mom during pregnancy. 
This was the last piece of the puzzle, and we finally understood that most of our pup's health issues were congenital malformations due to a nasty parasite called Toxoplasma gondii that affects the fetuses both in humans and animals.

My torment and my dilemma
I have to admit I’ve fallen for this pup!
Occasionally, compassion/sympathy towards a defenseless being can easily turn into something more complex. Looking deep into my soul I found reasons why I became so profoundly connected to Bobo; some almost beyond the threshold of imagination.

In December 2016 I've lost my iconic dog, Freddy - the full-hearted mirthful dachshund. The distress following this episode left a heartbreaking wound. And I had the feeling that this hurt will never go away. 
I constantly dreamed about him until the two pups arrived in my life. Then I had this peculiar dream of holding Freddy to my bosom and embracing him tightly. It was the first time I felt him happy. And he non-verbally communicated me: "I came back as I've missed you so much!”
It was impossible to forget such a powerful dream!
It was the last time I dreamed about him!

Meantime, few odd things caught my attention on Bobo's behavior; a comportment that was... kind of duplicating Freddy's habits. Looking for Lucy (Freddy's mom) first think in the morning was one of it. The ardor with which he is dashing from one room to another, seeking for her to clean her eyes, her teeth or the skin marks of her old age (warts/papillomas) from head or neck, the wagging of his long tail when finding her, reminds me so much of Freddy. The next on his favorite's list is our big Rocky, same as Freddy's. Should I add that he also took over the role of my "personal shadow" following me everywhere, even the loo? And oh, how he cries when I go away..., simply heartbreaking! Freddy did the same. And besides these, he loves to lick my feet; long time haven't been that pampered!
 Eventually I've opened up to my husband and he admitted that the peculiar idea of Bobo being Freddy's reincarnation might be true after all. As fanciful as it sounds!

But this is the happiest part of the story; what peace Bobo has brought to me after Freddy’s loss. The less happy is Bobo’s special needs that require professional help. In addition to this, being partially blind and having slow reflexes due to his wobbliness, his constantly attempts to play along with the other dogs of our family ends with injury; mostly for the older dogs, but that puts stress both on them and on me, trying to guard them all the time. For this reason, poor Bobo is sometimes ostracized by the pack, being avoided or warned by growls. The only one who plays with him is his sister, Sissi, but weird thing she started to attacks him. I realize she doesn't feel her brother has special needs. Much like the kids within a family, and they all compete for mommy's affection; and once there are differences, jealousy appears. 
In this video Sissi wears the fluorescent collar

Leaving aside my ideal situation, Bobo’s need make living with us not the best option for him. Regardless the feelings we share for each other, knowing that I can't meet his needs increases my own frustration. No matter how much I would like, I can't make him the top priority of our family as there are so many external facts beyond of any reasonable control, and I can’t neglect the needs of the other dogs in our family.

I've been seeking for help/solutions for months now, but everyone turned me down.
 People are not willing to take on such a special case while it presents a financial burden. 
Nor are rescue organisations willing to accept such responsibility, as the costs involving the prosthesis interventions can get pretty high. Other's policy is not to promote special needs dogs for adoption due to past bad experiences. 
The vet has said that Bobo doesn't have to be destroyed. He is a young lovable pup, full of life! I couldn't do that, especially after having had a previous agonizing episode with Freddy.

So what should I do? 
I am struggling with this financially and emotionally. 
Where else should I seek for help? 
My idealistic side doesn't want to give up counting on people's kindness. 
Sissi will hopefully adopted to Sweden. I can imagine her running freely on an open field or in a forest, enjoying her new life to the fullest. I trust someone will fall for her, as she is beautiful and healthy!

As for Bobo, no matter how strong our connection has become in these months, I am aware that our home is not the best place for him. He has shown a lot of improvement, and is a beautiful male dog. Even though his growth and development has caught up to his sister he still needs special care. We are now dealing with a nasty ear infection because of the heat and the humidity that affects long-eared dogs. Even with all his troubles, he hasn't lost his appetite nor his joy.

What is the perfect home for him?
Without stairs for sure, so he can easily go outside whenever he wants to, 
for personal business or fun. 
And with open space so he doesn't keep bumping on furniture.
 Preferably not within the city since walking in a noisy environment distracts and upsets him.
A home with one dog only, or less active family, who can spend time with him as he is totally depended upon human's presence. Healthy people that could lift 15 kg+ whenever necessary. Someone committed to fall in love with a disabled pup, no matter of his special needs. 

And ultimately, someone for whom this special needs dog is not a financial burden, but a loving challenge. Is there someone like that in this Universe?

If anyone would like to support Bobo's case, donations are more than welcomed!


Update 1, March 2019: 
My dream came true! Sissi has been adopted by a very nice family in Sweden!

Update 2, May 2019:

After searching for professional orthopedists in Europe, finally I found one near by, in Hungary. In one day trip, I took Bobo to Nyiregyhaza Pets Clinic

Same as the Romanian orthopedist told us last year, the dysplasia is most likely a congenital malformation. What we've found in addition to that is that the front legs issue is called short ulna syndrome - meaning the ulna bone is shorter than the radius.

"If diagnosed in a young puppy, where there is still substantial growth potential, cutting the ulna bone relieves the constraining effect on the radius allowing continued limb growth and releasing pressure upon the joint surfaces.
In more mature dogs, a corrective osteotomy and stabilisation (bone cut and fixation with plates and screws or an external frame) can be used to realign and stabilise the joint and limb for more normal configuration. If the condition is diagnosed later, joint instability and degenerative joint changes may be too far progressed and reconstructive surgery can be less effective.
The post-operative care for these procedures can be difficult and lengthy for both owner and puppy, so prompt recognition and management of these cases is vital".

Unfortunately for Bobo is too late! The very nice Hungarian vet told us that there is no use in doing the surgery now, exactly for the reasons mentioned above! The post-op care would be extremely difficult and no one can assure us that his life's quality would indeed improve. It might be on the contrary! He explained that Bobo's body adjusted to the "defects" so it can go on like this. 

My concern was the pains, but he explained that it can appear in 5 years or even only in his older age. Meantime he definitely needs an ongoing support treatment consisting of bones supplements. He gave us NeoK9 Clinical formula, currently recommended as being the best on the market (but also quite expansive)!

Bobo's biggest issue at this point seems to be his vision. He has been diagnosed with: cataract, glaucoma, retinal detachment and degeneration. 

Being congenital malformations that destroyed the eyes even before being borne (most likely due to the fact that his mother suffered from Toxoplasmosis, as the previous oculist has said), none of these can be fixed through surgery!

As I have also observed (sensed), Bobo only sees some shadows with one eye, “the sensitive one”. Being still sensitive, it is also painful. Therefore eye-drops treatment for the time being is a must, and later on eye removal surgery! 
Unfortunately we haven't found here Pilocarpin - one of the two eye drops medicine prescribed, and we are hoping someone can help us get it to Romania! The other one is Xalatan - we found it here! Both eye drops are for human usage!

What's next? Well, we'll take one step of the time, assuring Bobo the best life conditions in the given circumstances.

 But we'll definitely have to look for a better place! An adoptive family that can provide him a better environment to develop. A quiet place with regularly walk and no other dogs around, as he gets very scared and attacks. And no, that is not only because he isn't socialized, it's something common to blind dogs! (Especially that he experienced the attacks of his sister while being just a pup). A home with no stairs, as he cannot use it and keeps him “captive” inside the house. He is 20 kg now, he could even weigh more in time, which makes it very difficult to handle on the stairs. 
Here, with us, he has already learned everything I could teach him. He is a very smart dog that needs further training to develop his abilities. He required lots of attention, which he gets from me, but at the expense of my other 4 dogs and my other family duties. Which also stops me from taking in new foster dogs. 
This is why for his own best, but also for the others, he needs another home! And here we cannot find it!



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