Axel, October, 1999
Axel's is one of those stories with an unhappy ending. It's the story of a Good Samaritan that did her best, running up a large vet bill to try and help a neighborhood dog.
Axel's rescuer passed his yard daily, noting with disgust the ugly conditions in which the three dogs were forced to live. She noticed Axel, the Lab slowly deteriorating. Finally she could stand it no longer and 'persuaded' the owner to let her take Axel to the vet.
The veterinarian knew Axel was in bad shape, but whether the extremely emaciated condition was simply due to neglect or something else, could not easily be determined. He was heartworm positive, loaded with parasites, and very anemic.
The rescuer decided to take Axel home and give him lots of supportive care and love, probably the first real human kindness Axel had known. For a day or two things seemed to be looking up, but it didn't last.
Another vet was consulted. Heartworms alone could not be the cause of his condition. It was determined that more extensive tests needed to be run before a prognosis could be made. Some of the things that were ruled out were Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Ehrlichia, and Lyme disease. An abdominal ultrasound was indicated, but could only be performed by a traveling veterinarian. The bills were mounting and the rescuer simply did not have the funds, but was not willing to give up on poor Axel. She applied to LABMED for assistance. We were able to help with a small portion of the diagnostic costs. Before the ultrasound could be performed, Axel was given several blood transfusions. The rescuer's boyfriend's Labrador was able to provide the needed blood. With each new treatment Axel improved for a time, then continued to deteriorate. When the ultrasound was finally performed, it was determined that Axel suffered from a cancer that invaded the stomach.
Axel was humanely sent to the Rainbow bridge while in the loving arms of a kindly neighbor who had grown very attached in a few short days. Although we now know that neglect did not cause Axel's problems, until someone cared enough to step in and seek veterinary care on his behalf, no one could tell. Instead of dying in a waste filled dirt yard, attended only by two other canine pals, Axel died in the loving arms of a new human friend.
One good thing came of the whole incident. Axel's former owner has cleaned up his yard and started paying more attention to his remaining dogs.
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