Braveheart the German shepherd flashed a smile that aptly matches his bravery and big heart, during his walk last week inside his indoor-outdoor run.
While every animal at the Grand Strand Humane Society in Myrtle Beach deserves a loving home, Braveheart has cleared some extra hurdles in the past few months in his own marathon just to survive.
The shelter, at 3241 Mr. Joe White Ave. Ext., west of U.S. 17 Bypass, will have a fundraiser from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and from 1-4 p.m. Sunday to help offset medical expenses accrued and forthcoming for this canine, who is jet black atop light-colored paws.
Sandy Brown, the humane society’s executive director, grinned at seeing Braveheart being himself, adding his voice to the atmosphere in a room of other large dogs, who bark out of curiosity and excitement upon any visitor’s entrance. At first glance, it might be hard to imagine Braveheart had ever been down so low — on the brink of death — a few months ago when he arrived at the shelter.
Brown talked about this dog, whom she and colleagues named, and about his rebound and another immense challenge ahead.
Question | How did Braveheart end up in your crew’s caring hands?
Answer | We received a call from a judge. It was a legal issue, of neglect. … So he came to us in the back of a truck, and we had to carry him inside. He was so much worse than we expected, so much unlike anything we had seen. If he had been treated for just a skin ailment from the beginning, it never would have gotten to that point. … He was in a lot of pain, and he was raw from the tip of his nose to the tip of his tail. It was like he had no hair and a lot of lesions. You could see that his left eye was infected. … We all cried; it was just a horrendous thing for us.
Q. | So from the outset, he also provided a surprise in that he was still just a puppy?
A. | It was determined that he was less than a year old. Our staff veterinarian, Dr. Michelle Crull, got him pain medications, antibiotics and fluids, because there was so much infection in his body. … He had the sweetest disposition, and he was so loving, even in pain, when he could barely lift his head. We are fortunate to have a really dedicated staff and a group of volunteers.
Q. | So teamwork has been the key in Braveheart’s rebound, step by step?
A. | Braveheart had a private room as he got better; he had to be walked just a few minutes at a time, five times a day. … He got better and better and better, and now he looks awesome. …
He was so thin, about 40 pounds, and he should have been 70. With the infection, it was hard for him at first to just drink water or eat from a bowl. Now as it turns out, the infection probably caused some issues with his muscles and things like that. Now he has to have hip replacement. We’ve gotten him this far, and we’ll do everything in our power to get him this surgery. It has to be a university veterinary hospital such as N.C. State or Auburn, with specialists. … We know that this surgery could be as much as $7,000.
Q. | That reality also helped prompt the idea to invite the public to the benefit this weekend?
A. | What we hope to do is introduce them to Braveheart and let them see what an amazing dog he is, and how hard he has worked to get this far, and really, we just want people to come and meet him, and make donations and help us to give him the life he so deserves.
Q. | What other medical routines continue in this lucky dog’s recovery?
A. | There are other things he is getting now. One is massage therapy, by Dr. Michelle, to get his muscles strengthened. He had to get some more weight to get stronger. He looks great, and he’s gained weight.
Q. | Does he still act like a puppy, or at least, catch up to make up lost time from puppyhood?
A. | He’s a good looking, handsome guy. … He plays with his toys. Even from the beginning, from a month or so after we got him, after he was able to raise his head, he loves his squeaky toys. He likes people; he likes the attention. … He is a lover.
Q. | What other special observations have been made with Braveheart?
A. | It may turn out he needs to be an only child. The other thing we’re going to need, after he has hip surgery … we’ll have a really tight schedule for the care of him, and we’ll have to make sure the bandages are kept dry. … We may be reaching out to see if someone can foster him for us. It’s been one step at a time.
Q. | How frequent are German shepherds coming through the humane society?
A. | We get German shepherds often. We get every breed. Recently, we had a mastiff, a great Dane and a tiny poodle. We have everything in between.
Q. | Just how heavy a degree was Braveheart’s case amid the everyday task of helping homeless animals?
A. | I would say the neglect was so horrendous that he’s really been a special case. We determined we were going to save him. That goes against what is the new catch phrase, herd medicine, especially for shelters, where you do what’s best for the herd, for all of them, instead of putting all the resources into one, but we understand that, and we like to do both. …
For all of us here, it’s our passion. We all have multiple animals at home — you can’t help yourself. It’s a lifestyle; it’s not a job. …
Braveheart is going to live, and he’s going to be a strong family member for somebody.