Grover’s foster transformation

When this sweet senior came to PAWS in February, he was extremely emaciated and suffering from untreated heart disease and a mouth full of bad teeth. He had lost his home of 14 years and needed extensive vet care, dental work, and nourishment. Fortunately, veteran dog foster Alice was up to the task!

“When I first met Grover at PAWS,” writes Alice, “it was difficult to comprehend how this tiny emaciated, little dog could still have the energy and heart to walk over to me wagging his tail. Rarely have I seen a dog so skinny that it looked like his skin was shrink wrapped around his skeleton. Honestly it hurt to look at him, and it was only because he had on a thick orange winter coat that I felt I wasn’t hurting him as I picked him up and took him home.”

Working closely with PAWS’ medical team, Alice slowly nursed Grover back to health with a careful feeding plan, diligent monitoring, and lots of TLC. From Alice: “When a dog is starved as much as Grover it’s important to start a strict refeeding program so the body can actually “relearn” how to process the nutrition slowly and safely. While I felt terrible restricting his food intake those first few weeks, I knew it was necessary – but Grover was a champ. He seemed so grateful to have whatever food he was given, to have all the water he could drink, and to be able to rest his frail body on a warm soft bed. That made the process so much easier.”

“He ate tiny meals four times a day and as I slowly increased the calories (big shout out to the UPenn nutrition team and Dr Carrie Childs for their advice and encouragement) Grover’s initial anxiety at meal times eased as he learned that meals were always going to be served on time and he was never going to go hungry. He never became food aggressive or showed any signs of resource guarding which could have been a natural reaction to starvation, but instead accepted his food gently and happily.”

“As Grover slowly gained weight, his eyes became brighter, and that was a beautiful sign he was on the road to recovery. The sores on his hips healed, he settled into long easy naps, and he seemed to take pleasure in pottering around my small garden, as day by day his body relaxed into being the pup he was before starvation.”

“They say hair growth is the last bodily function to recover from starvation, and Grover’s coat finally morphed from sparse and dry to a luxurious coat of lovely chocolate brown with a stunning white shoulder wrap. Every little milestone, from gaining his first pound to having the strength to go upstairs, was quickly surpassed by the next one, until it became nearly impossible to remember the frail, starved little dog I first met. To say that he blossomed into the dog he is today is pretty accurate.”

Four months later, Grover is a brand new dog! Nearly twice his original weight and sporting a shiny new coat, Grover looks great on the outside and feels so much better on the inside! “Now that he’s fully recovered,” writes Alice, “he enjoys walks around the neighborhood, meeting new friends, and smelling all the smells. Grover maintains a calm, old soul attitude in a hectic household of foster pups, but shows enormous joy at the prospect of a meal, a chance to sit on my lap, or just to sit in the sun. Grover even took on the job of being a big brother to another foster pup who was going through her own medical issues and needed a calm friend to spend time with as she healed.”

“He is simply a very sweet, brave, calm, trusting dog and it has been an amazing recovery journey of both body and spirit. He’s come a long way from starvation and neglect to the happy, handsome little dude he is today. He has really stolen a huge piece of my heart!”