Noah, my Valentine

14th Feb, 2024

Written by Yvonne Jansen

Professional photography by FidoPhoto – Dog Photography

Domino was just eight weeks old when his owner accidentally ran him over with his car, fracturing his hind limbs and pelvis (both femurs, above knee, and right tibia and fibula, below knee). I’d seen his post on the 4th of April 2016, which explained that his owner had brought him to a veterinary clinic, requesting that he be put down because they couldn’t afford the surgery. The vet refused – he’s a healthy puppy with broken legs that can be fixed!

They asked Border Collie Rescue SA (BCR) for assistance, although he isn’t a pure-bred Border Collie but probably Border Collie Cross-something.

A lot to survive

Border Collie Rescue SA agreed to help and paid for the costs. The surgery went well and both femurs were fixed with pins and plate, which will remain inside for his entire life (unless they cause a problem); his right tibia and fibula (below knee) were in plaster.

At the vet they named him Samson, even though he was the iron man. Firstly, after being discharged from the vet, he went to a foster family who called him Bits. Some days after, he was very sick; he’d contracted the dreadful disease Parvo and was back at the vet. Yet, as sick as he was, he didn’t eat but was still wagging his tail. He was very brave and adorable – everybody loved him.

In the meantime, I contacted BCR to adopt him and was in contact with them daily. The lady told me that he was very sick, and I hoped he’d make it through the night. And he did make it. I choose a new name, Noah. The little strong Noah survived major surgery on his tiny limbs and conquered Parvo. Soon it was time to come home.

Going from strength to strength

Although I hadn’t met him yet, I picked him up on the 25th of April. Like everyone else, I immediately fell in love with him. He was the cutest ever and stole my heart. At home, I put him down on the grass and he collapsed through his tiny hairless hind limbs when making a poo; his legs were too weak and he was skin and bones. He weighed only 6kg.

On entering the house he was overwhelmed by the toys on the blanket. He was so small and was hardly visible amongst the toys. The first days were quite difficult – the vet told me that he was only allowed to walk 10 minutes at a time; I kept him in the living room, which was hard. He wanted to move, and living on a big plot in the countryside is a challenge for a Border Collie Cross.

However, I restricted him from running around and started to work on his muscle strength, because, due to surgery and being in plaster, the muscles had become atrophic. I took him to a physiotherapist where he ran in water on a treadmill. Day by day, Noah got stronger and more active, playing with his brother and sisters. Luca, his “sister” Border Collie adopted from BCR SA a year before, smothered him with care – she was like a mom to him.

After two weeks, we all went together to the Walkhaven dog park; most of the time I carried him around, still afraid of too much exercise and being run over by bigger dogs. He became stronger, more active, and he was such a handful. I think I adopted a Godzilla. He was unstoppable – he had no “off” button. At 6 in the morning I thought: “Noah is awake – that’s good news,’’ and I could hear him yelling at me: “Get up, get up, it’s already one hour daylight, we’re late!’’. Thank God we live on a big plot.

I went back to the post on Facebook and scrolled through the comments on his first post – there were many, and one I could read was that of his owner. I sent him a message, just telling him: “I adopted your dog and he’s fine.” He replied and sent a photo of Noah’s parents: mom a Border Collie and dad an Australian Cattle Dog-Blue Heeler cross. That explains it – he’s way more Blue Heeler than Border Collie, totally crazy. I didn’t know the breed, but because of him, I fell in love with the breed; they’re unstoppable, tough and extremely loyal.

His hips were struggling

After one year I returned to the vet for a follow-up on his hind limbs because I felt he struggled a bit. The arthritis had kicked in already and they recommended a femur head removal. I objected because he was only around 15 months and, once the head is off, it won’t come back.

I asked for an alternative option and, fortunately, there was a vet who’d just finished a course in Holland on a gel that’s put in the joint capsule to create a little gap between head and socket. That was at the right time at the right place. We started with one hip first, but soon after the other one was done as well. We had to repeat after several months because the body absorbs the gel. Noah was such a busy, crazy boy that we had to repeat earlier than expected as the body absorbs quicker when the dog’s very active. The intervals became longer – up to once a year – and it’s now one-and-a-half years ago. In June last year, x-rays were taken that revealed that his hips were perfect; no need for anything.

Long-term effects

Noah is perfectly fine, and although nothing stops him, he’s developed certain issues over the last years – issues that have started out of the blue. For example, he never liked thunder but was always quiet and okay; suddenly, three years ago, he became frightened, panting, running up and down, climbing on top of me. It’s better now as I know what to do – I stop everything and sit quietly on the sofa, TV switched on, and that makes him more comfortable. One day we went to the dog park and he was in the boot with his brother and sister as usual – all fine. The next day, same procedure as always, he panicked and climbed over the back seat, over the front seat, and came onto my lap. I had no idea where that suddenly came from, and although it’s better, he’s still nervous in the car.

Another issue occurred around three years ago: he was fast asleep in the living room and suddenly he was lying in a big puddle and I noticed dripping. I took a video and showed it to the vet – it seems the car accident damaged/destroyed a nerve that regulates the bladder. He isn’t incontinent, but he doesn’t feel his bladder getting full and, once it’s full, he needs to go immediately. He does drip on the floor once in a while.

It has to be said that major trauma on such a small puppy has a huge impact. At that moment he might have broken legs, but it’s not clear how it develops over time and what lies ahead.

Initially, his foster mom had wanted to keep him, but she thought this is going to be a busy boy and didn’t have the time and space that he needed. She called me when I adopted him; she had so many questions and I invited her to visit him. We became good friends.

Different abilities

I feel so sorry for him not being able to live to his potential because of lack of normal puppy development. His brother and sister do agility, but Noah isn’t a good jumper as it’s too much force on his hind limbs. Instead he goes to yoga, which is of great benefit to him.

However, he’s a very good herder. When the donkeys are on the driveway, let him go and he herds them back into the paddock or the stables in no time. And he’s absolutely ball crazy – he goes on and on.

Noah is very sensitive and looks out for his brothers and sisters. In the evening, when all go out for the last potty before bed, he comes back in but waits in the kitchen until all dogs are inside, then he goes upstairs to his bed that’s in my bedroom. The family grew and he now has two sisters and four brothers (all rescues).

Despite his troubled start in his early life, he’s doing very well and is a tough cookie. Nothing stops him, and although he’s still very busy, he’s not as crazy as when he was younger. But knowing Noah, he’s a handsome, very happy boy and a one of a kind who lives life to the utmost. It’s been a rollercoaster, and I can’t imagine life without him.

Soon he turns eight years old. I had to choose a date of birth because it wasn’t given at the vet. Calculating backwards, it should be somewhere around the end of January, beginning of February. I chose the 14th of February, because he’ll always be my Valentine.

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