In the beginning of December 2018 we were contacted by an independent citizen, who was trying to help a family of foreigners to rehome Samoyed named Bars. They purchased him from the breeder in Bulgaria and arranged bringing him to Cyprus in November 2018. According to passports records last time Bars visited vet clinic was in Bulgaria.
The reason for rehoming was moving to a new apartment where dogs were not allowed.
We agreed to help Bars and arranged foster home for him. As soon as ex owners signed Bars under the care of Sled Dog Rescue, we arranged for standard first veterinary examination and CBC test, as we do with all dogs. We suspected that he may have some health complications as he was extremely underweight and was acting frightened as for a dog who used to be a beloved pet.
Our expectation was that most likely Bars contracted one of the most common Mediterranean diseases ( Erlichia or Anaplasmosys), so imagine our surprise when he was diagnosed with heart worm. Theoretically Cyprus is free of this disease. That means that even though there were few isolated incidents through out the years, it was still not enough for vet clinics to purchase and store medicine to treat heart-worm in dogs.
We were faced yet with another challenge. Not only we needed to look for medicine outside Cyprus, but heartworm requires long term treatment, which is also very costly.
Luckily for all of us but especially Bars, we were approached by Giulia, one of the administrators of Facebook group Passione Samoiedo, an Italian group of admirers of the breed.The group was looking to help fundraise for Samoyed in need and our work captured their attention. After we briefed Giulia on what is going on with Bars, not only he received a very generous donation that would cover all his treatment and be enough to fund him for a year, but as another Christmas gift Bars received his medicine from Italy. With funds, medicine and hearts full of hope we started 91-day treatment for Bars.
His treatment has three stages. First 28 days, after all the diagnosis been done (heart ultrasound, blood tests etc) he gets antibiotics doxycycline. The purpose of it is to reduce pathology associated with dead heartworms and disrupt their transmission. On February 3rd, Bars received heartworm preventative pill (as a part of second stage of his treatment) after which he entered one-month wait period. He is also supplemented with CBD oil as per recommendation of our veterinary.
On 61st day of his treatment Bars will receive first melarsomine injection and will stay in the vet clinic for 24 hours under careful observation of the veterinary. From this point treatment will get really challenging for him and his foster family. Bars would have to be restricted to the crate for the next 12 weeks. Even after second injection given on 90th day and third one followed 24 hours later, he would have to stay another 6-8 weeks on restricted movement regime.
As we are writing this Bars is currently on second stage of his treatment.
Even though he was a pet and was purchased from (rather questionable) breeder, apart from his poor health condition, it is evident that Bars was severely neglected not only physically, but emotionally too.
First thing that captures one’s eye is his fear of loud noises and children. Whenever he sees a child, he is hiding behind his foster mother and starts barking. That might have happened as a result of children in his previous family not being taught appropriate ways of communicating to the dog.
At first he was afraid of everything, but with the right gentle guidance using ONLY force free and positive reinforcement training methods, Bars is opening up every day a little bit more. Now you can pet him when he is sleeping on your feet, but if you try doing this at the beginning he would jump up and run away.
If you think how long this dog was living in the family who simply didn’t seem to understand anything about dogs, it is kind of amazing how quickly in his compromised health condition he responds to kindness, love, care and how it helps him to build up his confidence step by step.
Bars also has “his thing”, which is poking. If his caretaker is delaying a walk or food, Bars is just chasing him around and pokes him. That was a great start up to teach Bars Touch game. As it is unfortunately common among dogs, at the beginning Bars was not fond of men. However it is very specific, he does not mind elderly white men, but barks in fear on all other men, especially the darker ones (including white men with dark hair/eye etc). At the same time every blond woman he meets is his best friend and he engages into play with blond ladies immediately.
Since Bars joined us he was introduced to a sniff matt and kong toys. We believe this will help us manage his energy levels and prevent boredom during strict confinement period of his treatment. We are sure that as the time goes by and Bars will continue to learn safely, without punishment or corrections, we will have a lot of funny stories to tell.
Right now our only concern as he is soon to enter the last stage of his treatment, that it will go smoothly and there will be no complications when dead worms will start leaving his body.
Please keep Bars in mind and wish him speedy, full emotional and physical recovery.
We will be posting updates!