Goldilocks. Blood. Sweat. And Tears.

Warning: Graphic Images: Viewer Discretion Advised

Harris County Animal Shelter in Houston, TX is a tough place to be if you’re a dog. They are overcrowded and understaffed. A group of volunteers work tirelessly creating videos to post socially for the ones who need the most help getting out.

Two nights ago, it was Goldilocks’ turn. She is a 12ish year old blind cocker spaniel with a huge tumor. Here is the video which has been viewed over 28,000 times to date:

What Happened Next?

1. The director of Gulf Coast Cocker Rescue, Stephanie Collins, received 100s of pleas to pick up this dog from the shelter after people saw the video. But her rescue is full, their funds are low, and the group would need not only a committed foster, but one who would agree to take this dog into their home and their life forever if it came to that. It was unclear whether Goldilocks would be a hospice case at this point or not, but for sure she had a long way to go. And a lot of vet appointments.

2. Vickie Grissom is a volunteer for the rescue group and has fostered over 30 dogs in the past 5 years. Most of them were special needs. Vickie, her husband Ashley, and Vickie’s parents (who live with them) made the committed offer.

3. An email was sent to the shelter and plans to pick up Goldilocks were made for the next day. I met them at the shelter.

It is overwhelming and easy to get swept away by the magnitude of the homeless pet population, and to become overwhelmed at all the deserving animals needing a home.
— Stephanie Collins
It takes resolve, focus, compassion, and a belief that the individual dog, like Goldilocks, has a value that makes the extraordinary commitment of time and money worth it. Given that little dog’s attitude and spirit, it is obvious to me that she deserves this chance.
— Stephanie Collins
Our motto is ‘quality care and forever homes, one cocker spaniel at a time’. The never-ending supply of these dogs is suffocating, but we founded on the principle of ‘if everything we do is for “just one”, it’s worth it.’
— Stephanie Collins

Once they saw how bad she looked in person and smelled the stench of the tumor, they decided to bring her from the shelter directly to the ER for evaluation.

The point is, everyone who is bothered by the problem needs to engage and do something to help it. They are either part of the problem, or part of the solution. There sure are a lot of people who jump on a thread and demand someone do something, especially when they see horrendous photos like hers, but how many of them actually step up to foster, volunteer, or donate? It takes all of that to help the organizations like ours who will go out on a limb for the one like her.
— Stephanie Collins
Gulf Coast Cocker Spaniel Rescue will never be a high volume operation. We find ourselves full of old, sick and behaviorally challenged dogs that just don’t move quickly, if they move at all. But there is nothing sweeter than being able to help one of them...and, thankfully, we find that like-minded people have been drawn to us. We often refer to the Starfish Story when we begin to feel overwhelmed, and it takes us back to our founding principles... focusing on The One.
— Stephanie Collins

Here was the first report about her condition:

Her white blood cell count is very high due to the infection. It is around 47,000, instead of the 15,000 it should be. Additionally, her red blood cell count is very low and she is quite anemic. This vet said the low end of normal is around 37%, and she is only 19%. They planned to put her on antibiotics, orally as long as she would eat for them, and to see if the numbers started to head in the right direction. We need the RBC count to bounce back or they may recommend a transfusion.

While the shelter estimated 12 years of age, despite her cataracts and overall poor body condition… The vet felt it is a very likely possibility that she is younger.

What I would love would be to be able to restore her vision in at least one eye, but first we need to address the tumors. There is one big mammary chain down the entire left side of her body, so they would address that, the baseball sized growth, and spay her. We would then start heartworm treatment once she gains her strength a bit.

Friday afternoon report:

Clinically, she's still doing great. She's happy, eating, and resting comfortably. The results of the ultrasound were as follows:
• distended uterus with wall thickening. combined with high WBC count, pyometra (severe uterine infection) is suspected
• well defined cysts in body of spleen, cancer/neoplasisa is considered unlikely, but while in the abdomen, suggests removing this as if the masses grow (whether or not benign), the spleen is at chance for rupture
• changes in pancreas, consistent with chronic pancreatitis
• lymph node enlargement in abdomen, but it's likely secondary to pyometra
• Nothing to note about the diaphragm

Next steps: They are contacting a surgeon who does emergency/more complex surgeries for them, and has been doing so since 2004/2005. The question remains if this would require one surgical procedure or two. If two, the large tumor and mammary mass removal would be first, followed by the spay (to remove the uterus) and splenectomy a month or so later. That said, due to suspicion of pyometra, it's probably best to get the uterus out sooner rather than later, but obviously, the large, ruptured mass must come off as well.

The determination of how to proceed will, unfortunately, have to be made once the surgeon 'gets in there'. They are touching base with him this afternoon to find out when, over the weekend, he might be available to do this.

Red blood cells are holding steady, so soon this precious angel will receive the help she so desperately needs!!

Stay tuned... and please help if you can.

Update:  Surgery is tonight at 8 pm. 

The rescue group is accepting donations now for her care here. And thank you.

To Be Continued..

robyn arouty