written by Connie Versagi

If someone had asked me a week ago for the definition of survivor, I would have come up with something close to what you find in Webster’s.  If you ask me today, I have one word for you.  Goldie.

For the past two years an Airedale had been spotted running loose in the mountains of Colorado.  No one knew if she got loose from some campers, or how exactly she came to be there, but it was a normal sight to see her running loose.  A couple months ago it was noticed that the dog was no longer being seen.  Everyone assumed that it had met up with a coyote or mountain lion.  The wild is survival of the fittest, right?  Well, you have no idea just how true that is.

A couple used to seeing this Airedale in the area were driving home one day when they saw what they described as a mass of fur pulling itself across the road.  Since they were pulling a trailer, they couldn’t stop immediately.  They went home, switched vehicles and went back.  Nothing.  They couldn’t find this animal that was obviously in distress.  It had looked somewhat like the Airedale they were used to seeing running loose.

They began keeping their eyes peeled when they traveled around, just in case.  Of course the odds were against finding it alive anymore, but they continued to watch.  Then  heading to work one day the woman saw a bundle of fur next to the road, under some bushes.  She stopped and after a few reassuring words it allowed her to approach.  It was the stray Airedale.  She was soaked with urine, caked with feces and since cold weather has already set in, had a quarter-inch thick coating of ice covering her fur.  Something awful had happened.  It could not get up, its back legs hung useless.  The dog let her gently pick it up and load it into her vehicle.  She took the dog to the animal hospital and asked them to help.

When ATRA got the call, they told the clinic to do what they needed for basic life support for this girl while arrangements were planned.  Everyone just kept asking how could this dog have survived in the wild, paralyzed and helpless.  From the look of the muscle atrophy in her back legs once some of the filth was shaved away, it had been weeks, if not a couple months, since she had been able to walk.  Incredibly she had been pulling herself along by her front legs.  Somehow finding food and water and managing to keep herself safe from predators.  With sheer determination surviving the cold, the hunger, fear and loneliness.  How could this be? 

A long road trip to get this dog to bring her to the city for the best treatment by an ATRA coordinator was passed with great anxiousness.  What would she find when she got to the hospital.  She couldn’t help but notice the beautiful golden colored mountains as she drove, but what a frightening place they must have been for this dog, and decided right then the strong girl who had somehow survived these mountains should be named Golden Mountain Girl – Goldie.

Goldie has been on her own for whatever reason for a long time.  She had a collar, but it was rotted to the point of falling off, no tags. All of her canine teeth were missing and the rest were badly worn down.  But she had belonged somewhere, she was so happy to see humans.  Giving kisses in return for her rescue from the elements right from the start.  Pulling her front legs up into a lap, giving the nose push for attention.  Just a sweet girl.

After medical evaluation we still have more questions than answers about Goldie.  A specialist who did X-rays and an MRI found no broken bones to explain her paralysis.  All of her blood work came back negative.  The vet is thinking maybe a vascular incident like a stroke as a possible cause.  There has been a small amount of movement seen in her back legs now and hydrotherapy is definitely in the plan for her.  Her future may possibly hold her being fitted with a cart for mobility.  For now she rests safely on a soft bed, with food and water close by.  Thanks to ATRA, her days of surviving alone are over.  Donations are being accepted to help with Goldie’s current and future medical expenses.   Specify that your donation is for Goldie, she sends you big kisses.

Goldie has her own Web site!  To read her updates and follow all of her adventures, visit Goldie of the Golden Mountains.

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