Over 30% of our dogs come to us testing positive for heartworm disease. Heartworm disease is a serious and potentially fatal disease in dogs that is spread by mosquitoes and is caused by worms that live in the heart, lungs and associated blood vessels. This causes severe lung disease, heart failure and damage to other organs in the body. A simple monthly pill can prevent this disease, but many of our dogs were not taken care of properly in their previous lives. CDR has programs with both the Humane Society of Charles County and District Veterinary Hospital which allow us to treat these dogs at a reasonable cost. We have made the commitment to get all our dogs, whether current fosters or alumni, the care and treatment they need and deserve, so they can get their “happy ever after”. In honor of heartworm awareness month we’re sharing the stories of some of the dogs who were heartworm positive and have successfully undergone treatment. All of these families went above and beyond, caring for these dogs when they needed it most! We love our heartworm positive adopters and fosters.
When asked why they adopted a heartworm positive dog, Puddin's dad said “We are lab lovers and when we saw Puddin’ we were immediately interested. After it was shared with us that she had heartworms I did a little research along with the information you provided me and I learned that this disease is completely treatable. I spoke with several vets and others who have adopted heartworm positive animals. We decided that if we were going to 'rescue' a dog then we had to be fully committed to nursing her back to health for it to be a true rescue.”
The best thing about Puddin' is that she "is an extremely affectionate lab, just as I remembered them to be. She loves attention and is amazing with my small children (pictured above). I waited a long time to get another dog so my kids would have the same memories I had with previous labs. Puddin’ does have an appetite for dress shoes but otherwise she is doing great.” Puddin' was rescued from Bladen County, NC and was adopted in January 2015.
Heidi was rescued from Cleveland County, NC and was adopted by Beth in December 2014. Beth fell for Heidi the minute she saw her shelter photo and didn't see her condition as a barrier to adoption, as it was very treatable. Treatment began this past January, and after initially being concerned about keeping Heidi's heart rate down, which is very important during treatment, Beth realized it wasn't a problem at all, especially since the cold weather made shorter walks easier. They found many indoor activities to keep Heidi occupied, such as making treasure boxes, where Beth would place individually-wrapped treats using newspaper and empty toilet paper rolls in a box. Heidi would dig in and take each little parcel one-by-one, bring it to her bed, and unwrap it to find the treat.
Beth says her favorite thing about Heidi is that "in addition to being completely adorable, Heidi is very easy-going and is a great fit for me. She is friendly with everyone we meet, and she has been a great foster sister to other CDR pups."
Beth also has quite the sense of humor. She says "Because Heidi was surrendered by her owner for chasing chickens, I have quite a collection of chicken themed dog toys that I have purchased so that she can have all of the chickens she wants."
Butler was rescued from Bladen County, NC and was adopted in November 2014. Butler's family says the process of finding a dog was more about personality and being able to get along with the resident young child and a cat. They say "When we found out Butler was heartworm positive it was a little bit nerve-wracking and followed by a LOT of questions. But, after many questions and talking with our CDR volunteers we made the decision to adopt Butler anyway because we didn't want to give up on a dog that was a good match for us just because he had heartworms. Something that was totally not his fault."
His family emphasizes that you don't want to miss out on a great dog just because they are heartworm positive. "I would tell anyone interested in adopting a dog that happens to be heartworm positive--that you should go with your gut. If that is the dog you love and want to adopt, the treatment is just a step in the process, a part of your story together."
Butler has fit right in with his family. He snores and is a kid-cuddler. He is a running buddy. Sometimes he's shy, and he loves peanut butter. He loves to go for car rides as long as it isn't to the vet. He loves to watch soccer games. " We are happy he chose us."
Lucy was rescued from Bladen County, NC and was adopted last year. Lucy's mom Mary had already seen a picture of Lucy and then got to meet her when her foster dad dropped by Mary's son's place of work. After learning more about the heartworm treatment process, Mary decided to go ahead with the adoption due to Lucy's sweet disposition. Her biggest concern was, after having been through so much already, that Lucy would think she was abandoned when spending the night at the vet to receive treatment. The treatment consists of two overnight trips to the vet spaced out over a few weeks.
When asked what her favorite thing about Lucy is, Mary had a hard time picking just one. "She is perfect and has been from the moment I received her, she adores all people, she loves to snuggle, walk, and loves other dogs" Mary's father has some health issues and Lucy goes to visit her grandfather at the Jersey shore often and she acts as his personal therapy dog, taking long walks on the beach together and giving him unconditional love. Mary sadly lost her husband of 36 years just a few months before adopting Lucy and Lucy has provided great companionship to Mary as well. Mary says "I wanted a dog that was sweet and low maintenance but endearing and loving and that is precisely what I have."
Jenny was rescued from Cleveland County, NC and was adopted in December 2014. Jenny's mom Lee says there were a number of reasons she was willing to adopt a heartworm positive dog, as she is a critical care nurse and facing a treatable illness of a loved one was just just not that big of a deal to her. "Dealing with very treatable health issue like this is a drop in the bucket when we look at the whole lifetimes of love and companionship that our doggies have ahead of them to share with us." Lee says "It's a great feeling to know that I was able to welcome Jenny into my life and get her through her health issue. The biggest reward is her happy positive energy and love and kisses."
When asked what she would tell someone considering adopting a heartworm positive dog, Lee would tell them not to let it deter them off the bat and to consider the uniqueness of the dog and how he or she would fit into your family and home rather than focusing on the disease. "It's three months out of potentially 10-15 years of your and your dog's lives together. "
Two-year-old Nicholas is Jenny's biggest fan. He states ""Jenny *MY* dog" and does everything he can for her, including scooping her food into her bowl and opening the door to let her out. He snuggles with his arm around her and makes statements of love such as, "Jenny beautiful dog. Jenny so cute. Jenny soft." Jenny's other human brother, the four-year-old, was fascinated by the science behind heartworm disease and its effect on the heart and lungs. Since her treatment ended, he proudly says, "Jenny is all better now. No more heartworms."
Baker was is another dog rescued from Bladen County, NC. He was adopted in December 2014. When considering adopting a heartworm positive dog, Baker's mom Gabrielle said everyone they spoke to , the vet, CDR, family members, all said it was treatable. Since they had already fallen in love with him "it seemed like a no brainer to continue with the adoption process if this was a temporary condition" and "CDR's offer to pay for the treatment was another huge selling point."
Baker was kept occupied during treatment with lots of Kongs and puzzles. When asked her favorite thing about Baker, Gabrielle said "When he lays next to me and his eyes show his love and happiness."
We are grateful that these adopters and their fosters were able to look past the disease to see the dog and were willing to get through this process together. Although this is a treatable disease, it is preventable by giving your dog (or cat) a monthly dose of heartworm preventative, so please don't forget, even in the winter months when you think there are no mosquitoes.
City Dogs Rescue & City Kitties volunteers.