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The Miracle of Jilly--A Survival Story PDF Print
Written by Linda Plaster   
Friday, 02 October 2009 10:14

Editor's Note:  We're running a multi-part story of the survival of Jilly, a collie that was lost this summer in the High Country, and the miraculous discovery of the dog over three weeks later.  The WATA Pet Patrol and Pet Patrol Page on GoBlueRidge.net followed the search and offered our on-air and on-line help.  Jilly's owner, Linda Plaster is the writer.


FINDING JILLY (condensed version)


Part 3 of 3 


Dr. David Linzey came out to my SUV, picked Jilly up and carried her to an exam table.  Two vet techs, Caitlynne Garland and Patterson Gelok, worked to immediately shave her front leg and get an IV started.  She seemed really happy to see people and to have us all around her – she just layed there while the team worked on her.  They also quickly shaved Jilly’s behind right away as they could tell something was wrong back there – hair was completely missing on part of her tail.  The flies had been all over her when I found her and Dr. Linzey told me that she had “fly egg casings and some mature larvae” (a euphemism for maggots) on her hindquarters.  She had a wound and skin inflammation on her hindquarters that may have attracted the flies, or she could have been incontinent attracting the flies, or both.  One of the vet techs cleaned the wounded area and Dr. Linzey examined Jilly and put her on the scale – she had gone from 57 pounds to 44 pounds.  Incredibly, she shuffled off the scale and wanted to walk around.  She was smelling around and I’m sure thinking – I’ve been through all this, now where’s the food – I really want food…

  jilly_hospital_5.jpg Caitlynne walked with Jilly and watched every step she took to ensure she didn’t injure herself further while trying to walk around.  Clearly her back legs were very weak.
  jilly_hospital_4.jpgDr. Linzey thought she was going to be OK – unbelievable.  He wanted me to leave Jilly there so she wouldn’t be distracted – she needed to be on fluids all night and be fed every 3-4 hours - and he wanted to do blood work and x-rays.  He called me around 10:00 pm to tell me that Jilly’s white blood cell count was elevated, meaning she probably had an infection, and that she was a bit anemic – nothing terrible, nothing that some medications and food and water wouldn’t heal.  Her x-rays also came out OK – Dr. Linzey said that her hips looked really good for her age but that she had some back issues – some discs must have been protruding or had ruptured as fusing had taken place – dogs natural response to these type problems – incredible how their bodies can create their own vertebral fusion!  Too bad humans can’t do this…
  I couldn’t wait to pick Jilly up in the morning.  I got to the animal hospital and Dr. Linzey took me back to show me Jilly’s x-rays – there was just a little something toward the end of her intestinal track and then her intestines were COMPLETELY empty until the very front where we could see the little food she had eaten during the rescue and at the vet’s office.  Poor baby…
  Jilly was very weak when I first got her home – she could hardly walk and was a little incontinent.  The very first thing she did was walk to the water bowl and drink the entire bowl.  She was scared to death when I took her outside after we arrived home – I had to carry her outside and set her down on the ground – she wanted to go right back in after doing her business – she got a little better each time we went outside.  Within an hour, two tops, I caught Jilly and Peanut snuggling up real close together, like they always do.  Peanut apparently had snuggled up right close and covered up her shaved and wounded hindquarters – maybe because he knew she was injured, or maybe because he feared she was cold from not having any fur back there.  They were sound asleep when I found them, and, of course, I took pictures.jilly_homecoming_1.jpg
  Jilly has gotten a little stronger each day – and so many things have happened since she’s come home:  Jilly has had many visitors and others asking to visit, people have sent her treats, a breeder has named one of their new Samoyed puppies after Jilly, newpapers have printed articles (they printed info when the tracker was here too), a metropolitan area TV station has come out for an interview, countless people have called thrilled (some crying) about the happy ending for Jilly and Peanut – people have said that they can’t wait to tell their children (and sometimes spouses) the good news, a preacher did a sermon about Jilly related to never giving up, one woman told us how this story has helped her through a painful break up with her finance, the Collie Club of America made a member posting about Jilly’s search and rescue that helped them move away from some of the bureaucracy they had gotten caught up in, people who either write publications or have colleagues that write for publications, where they want to see a story about Jilly (and Peanut) published, a local radio station has made announcements about Jilly’s search and rescue and have the story on their website – they also want to take the story to CNN. 
  Most importantly, people have shared how our perseverance, Jilly’s determination to survive, our love between pet, pet owner and pet companions has renewed or strengthened their faith, and in at least one case gave them reason to believe when they hadn’t before.
  And then there are the countless animal stories that we have been told during and after the search, and, we have run into many strays along the way – two have shown up at our house in the last week…is the word out that we are totally committed to taking care of our animal friends (fur babies, as one local author put it)?
  We have made a donation to Friends for Life that will be used to help a special 4-month old puppy with a congenital defect – and we plan to do a fundraiser in honor of Jilly for Friends for Life to help them get a facility – right now the owner is keeping almost 30 dogs on her property while trying to find homes for them – they have foster homes but all are at capacity…Our hope is that we’ll be able to help Friends for Life – we believe the community, and maybe beyond will want to help Friends for Life for all they’ve done to help – emotionally and physically, with Jilly’s search and rescue.  The ultimate goal will be to help the surrounding counties to start programs like Friends for Life instead of inhumanely killing 6,000 animals each year.  Friends for Life has had a huge impact on the way Animal Control handles stray and injured animals – Animal Control in this area only euthanized 67 animals in 2008 (aggressive or mortally wounded animals) as opposed to the thousands mercilessly killed in contiguous counties.
  We have received countless email and phone messages during and after the search – the things people say, and the stories they tell, would warm the coldest of hearts…Many people have said that we have to make this a book – they can’t wait to read it.  At least one person has said that this story needs to be a movie…
  It’s been a long time since we had a good Lassie story… Fortunately, I have been journaling all along and have documented most of the events, emotions, calls, details, etc. about this story – never thinking it might end up being a story – keeping a journal was suggested by the tracker so we could keep track of sightings.  I can’t wait to put it all together – every little piece seems so interconnected…  
© Copyright 2009 Linda Plaster
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