The Norse god Thor is generally associated with being able to make thunder, which would require quite a feat of strength. Our dog Thor isn’t very strong physically … not yet … but his inner strength is quite remarkable and he could probably make thunder if he wanted to do that. Let me tell you about him:
When Thor was first brought to the shelter he was very thin, he had worms and his ears were badly damaged. He had a huge tumor protruding from his right ear and the little abscesses in it drained out through the ear into the skin and made a draining tract into his face. There were also smaller tumors in the left ear. And, Thor wasn’t neutered. The shelter treated the worms and abscesses, but the surgery to remove the tumors would require a specialist, so the shelter contacted Judith, our Executive Director, asking if Old Dog Haven could find a foster home for Thor and if we could arrange for Thor to have the much needed surgery on his ears. Fortunately we have a special fund called the Maranda Fund that allows us to pay for expensive medical procedures (thanks to our generous donors) so Judith knew we had the funds available to pay for the surgery and it was just a matter of finding a foster home for Thor.
Enter Glory Hikes: Glory is a longtime (Thor is Glory’s 22nd foster dog) foster and she’s had experience dealing with ear issues so Glory agreed to take Thor. Once she knew she had a home for Thor, Judith called Barb Bauer, our Transport Coordinator to arrange transport for Thor from the shelter to Glory.
One of our dedicated transport volunteers, Becky Gerke, was available to pick up Thor immediately from the shelter but it was late in the day so after an outing to the beach with Becky Thor spent the night with Becky and her husband John and they delivered Thor to Glory the following day.
Thor now lives happily with Glory and during the time she’s had him Thor has had multiple vet visits, which included seeing a dermatologist, a cardiologist (He has a heart murmur.) and he’s had two surgeries (including neutering) performed on his ears by Dr. Jha at VCA Veterinary Specialty Center. The surgery for the right ear was especially difficult because the infection was so widespread. Dr. Jha said that the right ear was the worst he’s even seen. Thor’s surgeries are the fifth such surgeries Dr. Jha has done for ODH and we’re very grateful for his skill and dedication to helping our dogs. The above paragraphs give you the bare bones details about what was going on with Thor, but you need to hear about Thor’s personality from Becky and Glory.
From Becky: “He loved the car ride … at the beach he was a little interested in the water but was more interested in the other dogs there … He settled in easily at our house …Our cats were comfortable with him being there … A smart dog … he just loved everyone he met along the way, but when he met Glory he was especially happy and affectionate … like he knew. He had lots of kisses for her.”
From Glory: “Thor is a perfect gentleman with great manners and is very loving. He is only 8 years old and still has lots of spunk and should be even livelier after he recovers from his surgeries. Thor is typical lab – very attentive to me, quiet, well mannered, loving, loves all people and other dogs. He is by my side as much as possible, which is good since he is deaf. What more could you want from a dog? I love him to pieces. When he was first mentioned on Facebook a group called Fur Angel Blessing Blanketeers sent him a beautiful blanket, which he loves.”
Ok, now I want to talk about the lessons that can be learned from Thor:
1) If you’ve ever lived with pain for any length of time you know how difficult it is to be positive, loving and hopeful. It took years for the tumors to form in Thor’s ears and during these years Thor lived in constant pain. How a dog so neglected could continue to function in a positive and loving way is a testament to Thor’s determination, resilience and inner strength.
2) Look for the good in people. I don’t want you to read Thor’s story and get yourself involved in judgment and anger when you think about Thor’s ears and how they became so damaged. Focus on the many people who helped Thor: the shelter, Becky, the group that sent a blessing blanket to a dog they’d never met, the vets, Dr. Jha, our donors, and Glory. Because Thor comes from a place of love rather than fear he’s touched the hearts of many people. Everyone who met and helped Thor are better humans because they care about him.
3) And finally—the obvious. Take care of your dog’s ears. Don’t allow a simple treatable infection to develop into tumors that rob a dog of his ability to hear and cause unnecessary pain and suffering.
Next week’s blog: Smile!