Everyone’s Dog: How one miraculous pup won the heart of a community

Hank, a 2-year-old hound mix, relaxes in his Harrison Hot Springs home. No one is sure where he came from, but kind strangers and capable caretakers all helped nurse the dog back to health after a frightening experience. (Photo/Heather MacPherson)Hank, a 2-year-old hound mix, relaxes in his Harrison Hot Springs home. No one is sure where he came from, but kind strangers and capable caretakers all helped nurse the dog back to health after a frightening experience. (Photo/Heather MacPherson)
When Hank was first spotted in the community, he was clearly not well, not taking food nor moving much at all due to severe gastrointestinal issues. (Photo/Heather MacPherson)When Hank was first spotted in the community, he was clearly not well, not taking food nor moving much at all due to severe gastrointestinal issues. (Photo/Heather MacPherson)
Now that he’s healthy again, Hank is rarely seen without a smile on his face. (Photo/Heather MacPherson)Now that he’s healthy again, Hank is rarely seen without a smile on his face. (Photo/Heather MacPherson)

No one knows where he came from. With no microchip, no collar and no one coming to claim him, Hank the hound was alone, weak and extremely sick – just out of puppyhood at age 2.

He couldn’t have known his life was about to change for the best when he wandered into a local garage and collapsed.

Experienced dog rescuer Heather MacPherson, along with frequenters of the local Facebook groups, had seen Hank before, wandering around for at least a week before he came to a stop. He was clearly getting sicker and sicker and walked quite literally until he could walk no more, taking shelter in a neighbourhood garage one fateful day.

“He wouldn’t get up,” MacPherson said. “(The homeowner) posted he didn’t know what to do with this dog.”

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With the help of a volunteer and a pickup truck, MacPherson whisked Hank off to Kent Veterinary Clinic. MacPherson said Dr. Laura Madsen stayed late with Hank, making sure he stayed hydrated. However, Hank’s condition deteriorated overnight.

“He started vomiting, he was very, very thirsty,” she recalled. “We brought him back in the morning, and he was very sick and extremely dehydrated.”

Though Hank was dealing with a severe gastrointestinal infection, he seemed determined to keep going. Dr. Carli Ricka administered medication and gave Hank fluids via IV, a task MacPherson took over later that night when she took him home.

At that point, there was about a 20 to 25 per cent chance that Hank wouldn’t survive. Tests revealed his bowels were full of gas and he was not passing stool. There were fears Hank may have suffered from gastric torsion, a life-threatening and often fatal disorder in which a dog’s stomach fills with gas and it becomes twisted inside them.

All while Hank was fighting for his life, the community ramped up its collective generosity to donate money to help cover his veterinary bills along with a raincoat, bowls, dishes, towels, food and rides to the vet.

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“People really came together. It was so encouraging,” MacPherson said. “What’s so incredibly amazing is it all came together. (The community) completely covered his vet bills, neutering and vaccines for the new owners. Hank kind of became Agassiz’s dog; he’s famous in Harrison Hot Springs, too!”

After a few gruelling, long days, Hank was showing signs of recovery. A few days into recovery and he started eating a bit of solid food, much to MacPherson’s joy. The gas in his intestines started to go down and life returned to his eyes.

“It was pretty miraculous; he was on death’s door and very, very sick,” MacPherson said. “For the first two or three days, he just stared into space. He could barely hold his head up, and he wouldn’t walk. We had to lift him up and carry him out.”

Soon, the dog’s personality started to show through. A few of Hank’s quirks rose to the surface as he rested. For a dog who was clearly emaciated due to his condition, Hank proved to be a bit picky with food. It had to be turkey. Not veggies covered in turkey grease. Not turkey that had touched fish or veggies. Definitely not turkey with medication or vitamins in it. His keen sense of smell due to his hound heritage ensured he would get his turkey and accept no substitutes or alterations.

After a series of “huge victories” – with him walking on his own and passing stool – Hank was at long last discharged. There was no torsion detected in his bowels, and he began gaining weight and strength as he continued to fight the GI infection.

“It was pretty remarkable and pretty quick,” MacPherson said of his recovery. “Now he’s got lots of energy.”

Hank now lives with Harry Maslin, a heavy mechanic who lives out in Harrison Hot Springs. Hank is a regular at Maslin’s Abbotsford workplace, traveling with his adoptive dad to work three times a week.

“He just seemed, honestly, like he wanted to love but was scared to love (at first),” Maslin said of meeting Hank for the first time. “If only a dog could talk, you know? He could tell us what he’s been through.”

Maslin said it took Hank a little bit to warm up to the kids, but it was clear he had a very gentle nature.

Hank has since developed an unlikely friendship with the family cat and loves to be wherever his humans are. His favourite pastimes now include running and chasing balls, but the concept of fetch is something he’s still working on.

Hank is quick to make friends with other people and always has a smile on his face.

“He’s doing excellent,” Maslin said. “He loves animals, everyone and anyone. He definitely loves to run and be outside.”

Hank enjoys walks in Harrison Hot Springs and has earned notoriety throughout the community.

“He’s famous,” Maslin said. “I can’t walk him without someone recognizing him.”

In MacPherson’s mind, quick action and a caring community saved Hank’s life.

“It further solidified for me that if you act in an emergent situation, things will come through,” she said. “I did not know what I was going to do or how to cover his vet bills. I learned that people really do care and have the ability to give however they can give.”

MacPherson also wanted to encourage the public to not ignore stray animals.

“These precious souls, they matter,” MacPherson said. “If we have it in our capacity to help in any way, it’s very rewarding. I’d do it all again, in a heartbeat.”


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adam.louis@ ahobserver.com

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