Nikita Milagro came to ODH at the age of 14 years. She had been locked in her crate and left by her owners when they vacated their apartment. When she was eventually found after an unknown period of time, she weighed just 52 pounds even though she has the size and frame of an 80-90 pound German Shepherd Dog. It is an understatement to say she is severely emaciated. Thankfully, Nikita Milagro was released to Old Dog Haven.
Her life-long name is Nikita, but when the Shelter took her to the veterinary clinic for a Cruelty Exam, the clinic called her Milagro, which is Spanish for “miracle” – maybe because it is a miracle she survived at all.
Nikita Milagro is very tall with huge feet and a pointy muzzle. She was infested with fleas, and has large areas of hair loss along with crusting, redness, itchiness, ulceration, and a yellow greasy film all over. The fleas are now gone, and she gets medicated baths, but at this stage in her life and with her starvation and severe skin damage in general, her fur may never grow back. The fur she does have is severely matted. But because she is literally skin and bones, without any muscle or fat, any brushing or combing is painful for her.
Her ears were severely inflamed and completely obstructed with yellow wax. She has had three cleaning treatments, and her ears are slowly improving, but she is completely deaf. So far we still cannot visualize her ear drums, but in all likelihood they were ruptured years ago as a result of long standing infection.
Nikita Milagro has difficulty walking. This is partly from weakness from her emaciated state, loss of all muscle mass, and being folded up in a crate for an extended period of time. But she also has severe age-related spinal disc degeneration, most noticeably affecting her left rear leg causing her to knuckle over when she walks. Most sadly however, she has multiple old fractures of her pelvis that were never treated, and which therefore fused abnormally over time resulting in narrowing of her pelvic canal. She would have been in great pain for many months when this happened.
Thanks to Old Dog Haven, and all the wonderful donors, Nikita Milagro is finally getting the loving care she has waited so long for, and that she so rightly deserved for her entire life. Her final chapter will probably be fairly short, but that’s OK. She will be well loved, kept pain free on her comprehensive pain management plan, and always have a plethora of cushy beds to choose from. She will also have FOOD to eat 4 times a day.
Nikita Milagro was in ODH care for 9.5 months – she was just shy of 15 years old. She gained weight, and stabilized at 71 pounds. She grew more hair (so many fur-bunnies all around the house) and built up her muscle mass by slowly going up and down hills.
She so enjoyed her walks, especially the time spent sniffing – she was a sniffer extraordinaire. Occasionally she would smell something she wanted to roll in, but laying down was a very slow process due to her old injuries and mobility. So instead, she would just flop over on her side and start rubbing her face on the ground. People would see her fall, think she had collapsed, and come running to help. But she would readily get up when I grabbed her harness. If a bunny or a squirrel or a crow caught her eye, she would let out a “woof” and attempt to lunge toward the offender. These were the only times she ever made any noise.
Many people stopped us on our walks to ask “what” she was – even stopped their cars – they specifically wanted to know if she was a pet wolf. Nikita Milagro definitely had wolf-like characteristics (huge feet, long legs, narrow frame, pointy nose, etc.) but we do not know her genetic make-up.
Ultimately she went to the Dermatologist twice to have her ears cleaned under anesthesia, and to have a malignant tumor removed from one ear canal. After that, her ears were treated at home once a week to prevent future flair-ups. She remained totally deaf, but the constant ear pain was gone.
Managing her diarrhea was an ongoing effort, as was keeping her eating three times a day. Nikita Milagro would not eat her medications wrapped in anything, so they were dissolved in water and stirred into chicken baby food. She always laid down to eat, and her bowl had to be placed just so for her to reach it. I had to stay next to her the entire time, or she would stop and wait for me.
In October she began showing signs of GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease,) so she was started on medication to help keep it under control. In January her GERD got worse, and X-rays showed a mild lung pattern consistent with aspiration pneumonia – a common risk factor for GERD. Along with this she was slowing down, and her appetite started to decrease. Sunday she had a very nice day – two good walks with lots of sniffing, eating well, and sleeping well – running many miles in her dreams. Monday morning her walk was slower with little interest in sniffing. She refused all her favorite foods except for peanut butter and banana dog treats. It was time for Nikita Milagro to use her remaining strength to run over the Rainbow Bridge.
Because of all the generous donors to Old Dog Haven, Nikita Milagro had the wonderful final chapter that she deserved.