When Rosie appeared on the 18th February 2013 I knew that I would not turn a dog away, but I would not have foreseen how I will grow to respect this dog in addition to loving her.

I was told that she was found on the streets of Gloucester with a sore leg which was “turning black”. The people did not speak English, they would not take her to a vet for the cost of treatment, and I was left with the decision about the fate of a living being I never saw. After a Gloucester veterinary practice with whom I arranged on the phone the test confirmed that she was not microchipped, I asked the people to bring her to me.

When she arrived, the first thing I did was to clip her inches long nails that bent in various directions like an elephant’s tusks, and then I opened her mouth and forced down her throat an antibiotic tablet, because she would not take it, even when wrapped in food. I said to God that if he wants me to do more work, he must make sure that the dog will not lock her jaws on my fingers, and I am still doing God’s work.

I reported Rosie’s find to the Gloucester and Cheltenham dog wardens, animal shelters, vets, and the police, but no–one made an attempt at getting her back. She stayed, and we went on healing her.

Rosie has shown me that I was wrong when I suspected that all staffies were prone to being ever so slightly dumb, because she is a pretty smart staffie cross, and her bravery may be unique. The pictures above show her in May 2013, by which time she stopped resembling a hippopotamus and she was able to not just stand, but walk on all four, albeit with deformed toes and sore nails.

In February 2013, her front left leg looked like this:

The width of her underbelly on the picture right indicates how grossly overfed with calories she had been. She could not drag herself onto the car floor. Three weeks later she jumped on the back seat. If only all conditions were as easy to treat, as is obesity in dogs, once they shed an ignorant owner!

I could not diagnose the condition affecting the leg, beyond presuming that it will have been a road traffic accident of some kind, but when I took her to be inoculated a week later, the vet recognised it as “radial paralysis”, which occurs when a nerve at the front of the leg is permanently damaged or even severed, usually as the result of the animal being hit by a car. Rosie also had a cataract in her left eye and the vet found it possible that it could be the result of a trauma to the head occurring at the same time. My jaw must have dropped when the vet said that he normally amputates these legs.

It was a good thing that he did not tell me this on the first day, because I would not have thrown myself into healing Rosie’s leg with the same vigour. Lysseus left me ignorant on the nature of the injury, and I was determined to see the wound closed and the leg healed and walked on ASAP! By the time we got to the vet, the leg already looked better, and another two weeks later the hole was closed, but people asked me why is she still limping and not using the leg? I had to tell them that according to the books, this injury is permanent. Rosie’s toes were enlarged with scar tissue and the nails were deformed and getting infected. All of these changes had not happened as a matter of weeks, and according to the books, if this type of an injury does not repair in weeks, the paralysis is considered permanent and amputation is considered the best option.

As with all acutely ill animals we healed, Lysseus was telling me several times a day what to give to Rosie, and after we got rid of the hole, I sensed from the remedies, that we went for a full repair, since amongst the many supplements we were giving her, was also folic acid and an array of various forms of Vitamin B. These help with nerve development and repair.

The vet reckoned that Rosie may be one of those animals who learned to use their muscles at the back of their leg to throw it forward, so compensating for the lack of muscle control at the front. My view was that it did not matter how she got the leg working, for as long as she could use it, and I asked the vet whether he would declaw her, because the more Rosie used the foot, the worse seemed the infection around the nails, and it was a complication that no-one had wished on Rosie.

The vet would have liked to see her walking, but whenever she came to the surgery, she held the foot up as if she continued to be lame. It got embarrassing, because it started to look as if I lied! By the time the buttercups came out, Rosie was not just walking, but running around almost like any other dog, but she would still not put her foot down for the vet! I took this clip the next day and sent it to the practice:

The vet felt that taking the nails off may help to suppress bone infection which would follow on from the problems we had with the nails, but now we also had another problem. The very next day after Rosie came to live with us she came on heat and three months later she believed that she is going to have puppies. She needed to be spayed at the same time as the claws would be seen to, but the op had to be postponed twice due to her producing milk. Ideally, Rosie should not have walked with such nails, but once she knew that she can run, she seemed determined not to let the gap between her and my greyhound and my lurcher to get too big when they shot off chasing one another or a rabbit across the land and open space. Rosie became slim, but not weak and unable to pull to get me flying, in addition to pining and squealing from the top of her voice as if the greatest of suffering and injustice were inflicted upon her, if I let the other dogs run, but tried to keep her walking beside me. As far as Rosie is concerned, there is nothing in this world, that would come before her freedom to move, and I suspect that she spent much of her time locked up in a confined space by herself, because it took days for her to realise that she is expected to follow me into the house, rather than curling up in the porch, and even when I made her to come in, she acted distressed, expecting that I will be angry with her.

When I took Rosie for the first time into the woods and we crossed the style into the “wilderness” of nature, I realised what the term “stars in her eyes” meant. I am sure I could see little sparkles circling around Rosie’s eyes, and I almost heard her saying: “This must be the heaven!” She set off by copying my other dogs, but her own instincts kicked in, and in no time she sniffed and explored the forest as confidently as any other dog. Rosie’s first day in the woods had been a very happy day, not just for Rosie.

All dogs that found their way to me told me about their past and one of Rosie’s secrets was quite funny. She has not known fresh meat, but was fed on some dry fish based formula. When I gave her a portion of cooked meat and some bread as her first meal, she picked out all the bread, but found the meat too squidgy, and she spat it out. She recognised the smell of the cooked fish in the evening, and she has eaten it. After that Rosie changed her mind with regards to meat. Meat to me is dog food, and “Dog Food” rubbish by food industry to be thrown away but flavoured and packaged attractively. I do not feed to my dogs anything that I would not eat, should I be a carnivore. They get freshly cooked meat, fish, and dairy like cottage cheese, twice a day, or more often, if one of them is poorly. Rosie was getting several small portions of quality protein throughout the day when I was shaping her up, and the layers of fat fell off her.

The spay and foot op eventually happened in June 2013. Rosie was neutered and the leg had been declawed, and she recovered fast from the long op. I hope that we did not heal her too well, because one of the nails started to grow back while attracting new infection. In October 2013 the vet cleaned off the remaining toe and we hope that Rosie’s leg will not need more intervention. During her last visit she showed the vet her mastery of the more intricate use of her legs, like stepping over on the spot, and making small steps diagonally, while coordinating the shift of her body weight between all four of her legs in a manner that appeared smooth and balanced. It may be wishful thinking, but to me also the cataract appears to be going.

Rosie’s age is guessed at around 10 and she would generally be considered an old dog - an appropriate age to be loved and happy.

God could help Rosie to regain the use of her leg, because she had the willpower to make it happen. This story is dedicated to Rosie’s vet who helped her to achieve what some would not even have considered.

Rosie on 17.12.13, exactly ten months after she arrived.