pit bull
DIY Pets

The Rehabilitation of Oakley the Pit Bull : Part 1

It Started As A Normal Day

Welcome to the ongoing series on the rehablitation of Oakley the pit bull. 

pit bullIt started as any normal day. Garrett took a few vacation days and since I am still looking for work we decided to spend some time together. We got in the car and left for town. There was a fabric store in town that Garrett claimed I would just LOVE. 

We have more conversations in the car than anywhere else, and as we were talking Garrett suddenly slams on the breaks. I honestly had no idea what was going on as he whips into a driveway and turns back around. 

“What is happening? Why did you do that?!” 

He says, “I saw a mangy dog. Could have been hurt.” 

He slows down and we peer out the windows in the general direction of the sighting. Disappointment followed promptly. Just a mangy ole coyote. Can’t do much about that. 

So that’s where it began. The need to save. The need to love. The need to rescue. Garrett needed a project dog. 

Fast forward 4 hours and Garrett is scrolling through the local “Pets for Sale/Adoption” pages on facebook. He came across a picture of a little red pit. The owners were trying to sell him for $50. Of course they claimed that they just wanted him to go to a good home where he would be taken care of. Unfortunately, we think they wanted money more than anything.

pit bullThis young pit was covered in red bald spots from a skin condition of some sort. We immediately thought it would be mange or a severe flea allergy. He was also quite a bit underweight from what we could tell. pit bullGarrett offered vet references and phone numbers while promising the best for the pup. We felt like giving them money in this particular situation was only contributing to the continuing, neglectful cycle of pit bulls without  homes or proper care. But when probed for information on her vet, she immediately blocked Garrett so I had to step in and play her game.

Ultimately, they would not be dissuaded from their money and we did give them some. It was for the sake of the dog. It’s really sad how many people breed and buy puppies (especially pit bulls) and get tired of the care/attention they need. Suddenly, the floppy little puppy grew up and became an easy paycheck. 

Day 1: Meeting Oakley the Pit Bull

We picked Oakley up from a neglectful situation. There was a putrid smell in the house….like urine and feces was ground into the carpet. He was scared to jump into or get out of the car. We could see his ribs. He was covered in red spots and scabs.  Fleas were still crawling all over him. And he acted like he had never been more than 10 feet from his door. 

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After we picked him up, there was still a couple of hours to kill before his vet appointment. Taking Oakley to the lake seemed like a good idea. We helped him out of the car and walked him to a grassy area. He was a little leery of grass, which we thought was strange. Once there, he immediately squatted and unleashed a tidal wave of liquid fury from his backside. We later assumed it was the car ride that upset his stomach.

After a little walking and weaving, we took him down to the water and, of course, he was afraid….but after a few minutes of positive coaxing and petting he trusted us enough to walk out to the end of the dock. We did this kind of “exploring and discovering” for a few more minutes before deciding to load up again.

Since our vet appointment was still a little ways out, we decided to stop at the park in town and walk a lap or two. Oakley actually did exceptionally well on the leash considering how little we figure he was ever outside. He was a bit distracted by a random squirrel off to the side (what dog isn’t?) and that took some concentration on our part to redirect him. Additionally, Oakley was VERY concerned with objects he couldn’t see around like fences, parked cars and buildings. However, he is eager to please and very quickly learned to heel and trust that we weren’t walking him to certain death.

The Diagnosis

We arrived at the vet without a lot of information on the condition he was actually in or any previous treatments that he had received. There was quite a bit of conflicting information given to us about shots, dewormers, flea meds and overall condition in general. As a result, we were all questioning what Oakley might need. The vet assured us that it would not hurt him to give him a second dose of shots if he had already had them in the first place. Personally, I doubt he had ever stepped paw into a vet’s office. 

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He went ahead with the basic set of shots and then took 2 stool samples to test for worms as well as giardia, which is another type of intestinal parasite that can be passed to humans. Oakley tested positive for round worms, which is common, and negative on the giardia test. 

Afterward, the vet performed a skin scrape to determine the cause of his extensive skin issues. The test came back positive for demodectic mange. Demodectic mange is caused by the demodex mite, which is naturally present on a dog’s skin, but in dogs with compromised immune systems the mite population multiplies causing skin irritation and hair loss, resulting in what is more commonly known as “mange”. This type of mange is not contagious to other dogs or humans but takes a while to clear up once it gets out of control. So we are giving him a daily dose of vet perscribed anti-parasitic to clear it up. 

A New Start 

In addition to the medications Oakley is getting, we are making changes to his diet. After visiting with the vet we know he needs to gain 5 to 8 pounds. He will get a nutritious new food, Taste of the Wild. Ole Roy is what he was getting before which had very little nutritional value to his body. Ole Roy uses a lot of “fillers” and doesn’t provide the nutrition most dogs need to be truly healthy. It simply sustains them. 

pit bull

A cocunut oil and VitaHound mixture is on the list as well. We have seen drastic changes in Hollie’s skin and coat by supplementing her diet with these. Hopefully this will aid Oakley in regaining a healthy skin and coat. Hollie expressed to us how delicious it is as well! 

We are also researching different training options and programs to get him involved in. This is something that will probably come in the near future, but we are taking things slow for now. Oakley may have the potential for a “job” such as a therapy dog or PTSD dog. There are just so many options for him out there. Should we find him a new home I refuse to put him back through the “pit bull cycle” of adopt/breed/sell.  I’ll keep you updated on those plans as we progress. 

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For now, we are sticking to bettering his overall health,  basic obedience and socialization. Those are three things he has been lacking prior to coming to live with us. 

Stay tuned for Oakley’s next update! 

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