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For "Hope" the Journey Home Begins.

Dear friends of Dalmatian Rescue of Tampa Bay:

This story was updated at 8:07 AM, Sunday November 9, 2003

Hope is fighter! Please scroll to bottom of the page for the latest updates.

As the Christmas season rapidly approaches, for everyone involved with Dalmatian Rescue of Tampa Bay, the offering of thanks has never been more prevalent in our minds or in our hearts. The outpouring of affection you have shown this precious girl as she bravely faces each new day with a wag of her tail and a determination to beat the odds stacked against her, well, it has touched all of us. Hope needed your support, and you gave. When setbacks caused medical bills to rise, you gave some more. And you continue to give.
Hope thanks you. We thank you.

Hope wants to thank Theresa & Richard Klingel who have donated a generous $100 to help pay for her blood work and the x-rays of her heart on Tuesday.

November 4, 2003: a special "thank-you" to J. & Kay De Rogatis (Tracy, their daughter is Charity's mom) who donated a generous $50 for Hope's care today.

Also to Nancy Devore (Jasmine's new Mom) who donated $15.

On November 6th, heartfelt thanks go to Vicki Kahler for a $50 donation for her care, Michelle Owen & Michael Brown for their $25 contribution and Bill Sushil donated the $20 for Hope.

Claudia Rysden has joined in the spirit of giving by donating $150 to the Hope "get well fund". Claudia donates in the memory of her first Dalmatian named "Dalmer" ,who was also found abandoned and in horrible shape. We are hoping that "Hope" will be Dalmer's "foot print".

On November 7th, Hope wants to say thanks to Merna Feygelman who time and time again comes through for the Dals...Merna has donated $100 for Hope's ongoing care!

November 8th: Hope sends a big puppy smooth to Jean Newcomer-Lichtel for a bag full of new toys and a $25.00 donation. Thanks Jean! There are approximately 96 spots on Hope. One of those spots is for you!

November 13th: Our sincerest thanks go to Ruth McCormick & Andrew Jablonsky for their donation of $100 to Hope's get well account.

November 20th, thank you Tom and Marlene who have donated $30.00 to the "Hope" Fund in memory of their Dalmatian "Pepper".

November 22nd: An anonymous donation in the amount of $200.00 from a very kind person dedicated to Pongo, Casey and Paddington!

You've heard it said that a picture is worth a thousand words? Well then, take a look at her. This one-year-old female Dalmatian happened upon a Golf Course in Lakeland today, so close to starvation she could barely walk. When golfers called animal control to come get her, an emergency call was placed from Lakeland Animal Control to Dalmatian Rescue of Tampa Bay. Once it was confirmed that we would rescue this poor girl, they stayed the euthanasia and began injecting fluids. As this story comes to you, the animal is being transported from Lakeland to Tampa and is expected to arrive at the rescue sanctuary after 5PM, where she will receive medical evaluation as soon as possible.

We are always in your debt for the compassion you show towards these helpless, abused and abandoned animals. We must thank Florida Cocker Rescue...Carol and Sherry Cassin who both have helped us many times in the past and now with this Dal in distress. They transported her to a predetermined location just west of Plant City, where they were met by Dalmatian Rescue of Tampa Bay's Pat Shepler, who has now delivered the extremely weak pup safely to the sanctuary.

Once again we ask that you dig deep into your pockets and help us provide this young girl with a chance for life. We will need donations of baby food (lamb and rice), canned puppy food, and dry puppy food. As soon as her condition has stabilized, we will need a foster home to watch over her until a permanent home can be found.

If anyone in the Lakeland area knows anything about this dog, or the person responsible for this neglect, PLEASE contact us immediately. Animal abuse is a felony. The person responsible for this neglect should be held accountable. Call us at 813-926-5430 and we will notify the proper authorities.

Please contact Susan Weber if you can help in ANY way. Together we can give this girl a chance to see the "good" side human nature!

Donations may be sent to:
Dalmatian Rescue of Tampa Bay,
P.O. Box 341951
Tampa, FL 33694-1951

Most Recent Updates:

Friday 10/24/03 AM:
Susan reports: "We got the first wag of our little girl's tail this morning (still tucked way under her body but it came out for just a moment)! She is definitely responding to love and affection, as I think all animals will if given the chance. She peed all over her cage, but we forgive quite easily things like that. She was too scared and tired to go out last night. This morning she ate (with gusto I might add) two small jars of baby food! We're going to feed her small amounts slowly and after a visit to the vet, get her on some vitamins or whatever else he suggests. She is now snuggled back on clean blankets (this is where the donations of blankets are so much appreciated as we can go through many) with her favorite new toy from her uncle Rich! She has a long, long way to go before looking like a healthy dog again but it's the start of a new beginning for her now."

Friday 10/24/03 PM:
Hope (an inspiration to us all) is on her way to a new beginning. Our day began with a trip to our wonderful veterinarian, Dr. Tom Hong. He shook his head when he saw Hope and said she must have gone without food for quite some time. She weighed in at 20 lbs. - she should be about 50 pounds. We found she is actually 2 to 3 years old and has never had puppies. She is not spayed and has Class II heartworms but until she gains weight, she cannot withstand either procedure. She has a massive amount of hookworms and coccidia which is causing her some anemia. So we left with lots of deworming meds, vitamins and good wishes from everyone in the office.

Tonight, with all her dignity in tact, Hope is off to her foster home. There she will get undivided love, attention and the constant care that she needs right now to see her through the next couple of months. Linda and Patty, her new foster Moms, have adopted from us, have had their friends adopt through us, and have helped us in the past with fostering and transporting. So we have completely entrusted them with Hope's care. (and we know where they live!!)

We will get regular updates from them and keep all of you posted. Thanks to all of you for your thoughts and well wishes for Hope. Thanks to Ann and Andy, Sam and Merissa, and Rich for providing all the food and toys to keep her fed for a while. Thanks to Claudia for her dontation that has paid the first of probably many vet bills for Hope. We couldn't ask for a more generous, caring group of people. We are truly touched by your kindness for Hope.

Sunday 10/26/03 AM:
Linda and Pat report: "Well, this little Dal is definitely a sweetheart. She is good with our other Dals as well as little Max & our 2 cats. She smiles constantly. She sits on command. She has had no accidents in the house and walks well on a leash. She has been urinating well and had a well formed BM (no visual worms). She's doing GREAT!"

Monday 10/27/03 AM:
Susan reports: The good news: A very kind young gentlemen named George has offered to come to Hope's rescue. He has an 8 year old Dalmatian named Gretchen and was looking for a companion. He saw Hope's story on our website and fell in love. George met Hope yesterday and is now fully committed to making the rest of her life a wonderful one. He is fully aware that due to the starvation and lack of care she has had thus far, her life expenctancy could be shorter than normal. And, he is more than willing to go through our tedious home check and vet check requirements of the adoption process.

The bad news: We also saw yesterday that Hope is far from being "out of the woods". She is extremely weak from the strain of hookworms and heartworms and lack of nourishment. Although her mind is very alert and she wants to be a part of everything, her little body just can't keep up at this point. To make absolutely sure that we are doing all we can to help Hope survive, we are going to have a heart x-ray done this week, along with full blood work.

So please keep Hope in your prayers as she continues to pay the price for what an uncaring and cruel human put her through.

Monday 10/27/03 PM:
Linda & Pat report:
They say the human spirit is an incredible thing, but this dog is the essence of spirit. Patty took a half day of personal leave today so that she was home at noon & I'm taking several hours of annual leave tomorrow to be with Pepper (only because that's the only name she answers to!). She is stronger every day. She tried to be part of the Dal squirrel hunting party today & we had to hold her back. She was not pleased with us. She's been resting, both voluntary and forced. Her breathing and heart rate are normal and she has no cough which is a good sign. Tomorrow is her scheduled x/r & blood work for the extent of heart worms and anemia. I have a good feeling she'll be a fighter and the outcome will be positive.

She's definitely a Velcro Dal. I feel like I have a rib cage attached to my leg. I'm trying to be lighthearted, so forgive the harshness, but this is one of the worst cases, both human & animal that I've seen - and I've seen both farm animal and child starvation growing up in a poor rural community as well as a mother who survived WWII and near starvation in Europe.

What a lover. This dog holds no grudges. Just a trusting soul who still has faith in humans- go figure.

I'm cooking the same Dal diet I feed our other rescue dogs and she is definitely gaining strength and weight, although a day at a time. It's a good thing I love food and love to eat as much as they do. I have increased her carbs and she seems to be responding well.

Well, that's about it on the update. It's definitely a privilege to take care of such an angel. Let's all hope tomorrow brings good news and this little dog holds true to form. She sort of represents what Tampa Dalmatian Rescue is all about. A lot of good people trying to give back a fraction of what these Dalmatians have given us in our lives.

Wish her well.

Tuesday 10/28/03 PM:
Susan reports:
An x-ray of Hope's heart showed no permanent damage - only Class II heartworms which we will begin treatment on when she gains more weight. She has gained 5 pounds since last Friday! Also, the hookworms are gone. She is being put on a vitamin supplement with iron to try and help her anemia. Blood results will be back tomorrow morning. All in all, she's a little trooper!

Tuesday 11/04/03 PM:
Susan reports:
Because we have all fallen so much in love with little Hope, we have been truly optimistic about her getting well. Too much, too soon it now appears. Many thanks go tonight to the watchful eyes of her foster Moms who noticed immediately last night that something was not right. She became extremely listless and wasn't better by this morning. She was running a fever of 106 which is very high. So off to the vet she went where a complete blood count was done and she was put on IV fluids and monitored throughout the day. Tonight's results show that we have alot of problems to yet overcome. All of Hope's blood level's are EXTREMELY low. We are going to take her to a specialist tomorrow and try and find out what exactly is going wrong. Indications are that it is a viral infection, bacterial infection or complications stemming from her heartworm disease. Because we at Dalmatian Rescue have NO lives (but we love what we do) and do nothing but run dogs to the vets all day, every day, we will keep her here until she has once again stabilzed and can return to her foster Moms. She is still on IV fluids tonight and is currently fast asleep with her new brown teddy bear friend.

Unfortunately Hope's care is now going to run much more than the $600 we originally thought. If you can spare even a little to help with her care, we would be very grateful for the help. Thanks again to all who have already donated to help this beautiful, innocent Dalmatian.

Thursday 11/06/03 PM:
Susan reports:
An updated report after Hope's visit with the internist will soon follow. Hope saw her foster Mom's tonight and it is very obvious that she loves them dearly! They brought her homemade food, dry food and her Uncle Rich's toy that will go with her wherever she goes!

Friday 11/07/03 PM:
Susan reports:
Thursday our little Hope made a special visit all the way to Largo to see a veterinary specialist. Since major organ malfunction or damage has been ruled out due to thorough blood testing (this is a good thing), all signs of her recent fever spike and extremely low blood levels are pointing to a possible tick disease.

Since we have no idea of Hope's past (where she came from, how far she has traveled, or if she was dumped by someone from up north), it is possible that she could have any one of a number of diseases that are caused by ticks. If she is carrying a tick disease, the way to treat it would be through antibiotics and steriods. We now have her on both. If the fever spikes continue, we will have a tick titer done in one month. If they don't, we will assume we have cured the problem. If the tick titer shows no ticks but the fever spikes continue, we will have to look further such as doing a bone marrow test to look for cancer or other possibilities.

Our little Hope's spirit is so strong that we are going to be very hopeful and optomistic that she will survive!

Hope goes back to her foster Moms on Saturday since she is now doing better again. We sure will miss her here at the Dalmatian Plantation - she is a little cuddle bug! (we've all now thoroughly spoiled her by lettting her sleep in bed every night but we think she more than deserves it!)

If you don't believe love can change things ... then take a look at this. On the left, Hope, just captured and in the shelter. On the right, Hope, three weeks later. Still fragile and delicate, but oh what a difference. You made the difference! In the phtos below: Left column, Hope stands at attention. Is that her foster Mom's voice she hears? In the Middle: I get my hug. In the Right column, Susan Weber gives a hug and a well wish kiss as Hope leaves the sanctuary to return home with her foster family.

Saturday, November 8, 2003

Rich Reports:

Today was a great day for me. For the first time since the evening she arrived in Tampa, I got to see Hope. A little over three weeks have passed since I saw her lying in the back seat of that car, her will to live all but gone.

Volunteering to do layout on the Dalmatian Rescue of Tampa Bay Web Site is not without its perks. Information comes into my email directly from Susan Weber before I post it on the site. So, like all of you following this sad story, I waited for those update emails. Like you, this little girl was never far from my thoughts.

Hope has done well in the loving arms of Susan and Pat, and her foster Moms', Linda and Patty. When I saw her today, wagging her tail, I couldn't believe it. I gave her a gentle hug. It was great to see her standing proud, like a little Princess.

Hope is doing well following her setback with the fever at the beginning of the week. The doctors have revised her feedng and med schedules. They want her to have lots of rest, and lots of food. She is eating six meals a day!

You'll notice that I have referred to the pup as "Hope" all through this update, as we have since her second day of rescue. Obviously this name was chosen by nearly everyone as the "name of choice" given the circumstances.

It would appear however, that the name of choice does not settle well with "Hope". Her foster Moms mentioned this in one of the earlier updates. If you call "Hope!" , you can only hope she will come to you. However, if you call "Pepper!", the tail wags and she gives you an immediate reaction. She will also

"sit" on command, so someone had to have taught her.

Could her name have always been Pepper? We may never know. But we are of the opinion that she is telling us loud and clear what her name is, and she wants to be called Pepper. So this little girl has two names now. She is "Pepper Hope". A last name will be added on that wonderful day when adoption papers are signed.

In the meantime, we'll keep you posted on her progress, so please, keep checking back.




Thursday 11/20/03 PM:
Linda & Pat report:

Well, this journey started off pretty rugged, but Pepper appears to grow a little stronger each day. Instead of the unsteady back legs giving out because of weakness and atrophy, she now prances out like a true Dal to do her duty. She's gained several more pounds and her rib cage barely shows now. She's still on antibiotics and prednisone from her last setback, but so far no more high fevers. She'll have more bloodwork in a couple of weeks, once the medication regime has been completed. Hopefully her anemia has improved, although that will be a slow process building up new blood cells. I can report that her gums no longer match her white hair, and actually have a pink tinge. That's GOOD!

She never takes her eyes off you, even if you get up and go to another chair, she has to follow. It's as if she thinks that by taking her eyes off you for a moment that you'll be gone. She'll only wander off several feet before looking back to be sure you're there.

She carries her ghost and snail squeaky toys (gifts from a well wisher) with her everywhere. They are constantly retrieved from the back yard as she insists on taking them out. It's amazing to see the transition from a walking skeleton to a dog making her squeaky toy squeak. I almost cried the first time I saw her pick up her toy and play. It was like a breath of life -fun, for a dog who has not seen that for a very long time.

Pepper has a lot more hurdles to conquer. Getting her well enough to withstand the grueling heartworm treatment and then eventual spaying are down the road. She's already started the journey, and thanks to a lot of wonderful people she is able to continue the trip. It's truly a blessing to have been touched by this incredibly sweet dog.





December 3, 2003

Susan Reports:


Hope has once again returned to the sanctuary. Although she looks absolutely wonderful, a full 52 pounds!!, we are still encountering some problems that are requiring extra care. These problems are most likely the result of being so starved that her muscles deteriorated and possibly some nerve damage. Despite another recent blood test showing all levels nearly normal, Pepper appears to be having some bouts of body pain and stiffness. Our vet gave her an injection of Rimadyl and we will be keeping a very watchful eye on her for the next few days.

We can't thank her foster Mom's enough for all they have done for Ms. Pepper Hope. With their loving care, she has blossomed into a beautiful full-sized Dalmatian girl. And they sent her home with a beautiful hand painted dog bone bowl of her very own - big enough for extra large portions.

Of course, Uncle Rich's toy, though somewhat worse for the wear, is still with her. And she continues to wreak havoc on it.

We again thank you for all of your thoughts, prayers and contributions for our Pepper Hope. She sends each and every one of you a big hug and warm holiday wishes!