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From Queenie to Sasha

by Donna L. Velez, Founder
Hearts of Gold Pit Rescue
Memphis, Tennessee 

A local rescue group that mostly rescues mixed breed dogs called me regarding temperament testing for a pit bull they had rescued. Since the rescue has trouble finding foster homes for bully breeds, they usually board them until they are adopted. I drove to the boarding facility and was heartbroken to find a very sweet female pit bull living in a filthy, dark kennel in a bad part of Memphis. This pretty girl had an excellent temperament. I reported back to the rescue and the rescue asked if she could come to my facility for further evaluation with other dogs. Without hesitation, I said yes. 


“Queenie” had been rescued from life on the end of a chain. She had been tied to a mobile home in Kentucky and that is where she had lived her entire life, probably 3-4 years. She had heartworm and had two young pups who were adopted before I got involved. 


Queenie is one of the most precious dogs I have ever met. When it was her turn to sleep with me, I’d get so excited because I knew she would curl up with me and stay that way the entire night (her muzzle buried in my hair and touching my neck). I absolutely adore Queenie. Since the rescue that was responsible for Queenie did not screen adopters the way that I do for bully breeds, I asked them if I could be in charge of finding Queenie her home. The rescue agreed. So I listed Queenie on the Hearts of Gold Pit Rescue web site and our search began.


After six months, she got adopted by a very nice couple. They changed her name to Sasha. They sent me frequent photographs and we kept in contact on a regular basis. In fact, they later adopted a 12 week old male pittie puppy from Hearts of Gold so that Sasha would have another dog in her life. Things were splendid. Sasha visited many restaurants in the downtown and midtown areas of Memphis. She was truly a breed ambassador.


After about 2 years had passed, the family contacted me and said that Sasha was very sick. She was in the hospital and the vet was running tests. The vet diagnosed her with Tetanus (“lock jaw”), a rare diagnosis, one that is very hard to make and is often fatal. No one knows how she contracted it- the best guess was that she stepped on a nail at the dog park. She was critically ill, practically at death’s door. She could not open or close her mouth normally. Her ears were drawn back and pinned to her head. Her tail was stiff and straight out. She could not bend her rear legs. She was extremely lethargic. The vet’s prognosis was very guarded. He began to research Tetanus and how to treat it in dogs and he began looking for the antitoxin that she would need.


In the midst of all this turmoil, I contacted Joanna and asked her to begin healings for Sasha. Joanna began an intensive program of daily healings for Sasha right away.  


The vet had to test the antitoxin by administering a small amount to see if Sasha was going to have a bad reaction to it. Joanna worked with her right at that time. She did not react badly. He then infused the entire vial of antitoxin. We waited. Joanna kept the healings going. We were all anxious and afraid. Not many animals survive Tetanus. We prayed, we hoped. Joanna kept up Sasha’s healings.  


Miraculously, after 5 days, Sasha was discharged to go home. She was 80% back to normal. An absolute miracle of a recovery. Joanna continued Sasha’s healings. Some three weeks after being discharged, she was back to her old self, 100% Sasha again. She could run, play and wrestle with Mack, her sidekick pit bull brother. 


Sasha is doing fantastic and has made a complete recovery. The entire City of Memphis followed her story on Facebook and we are all rejoicing that she beat this horrible disease and has no apparent damage from it.  


It is very clear to me that we were blessed to have a wise vet who recognized the symptoms of Tetanus and began aggressive treatment right away. And, given that Tetanus is often fatal in animals and reactions to the antitoxin can be as well, we feel very blessed that Joanna was on board with Sasha, working with her day in and day out. There is no doubt in my mind that this is why Sasha did so well on treatment and has no lingering side effects from the disease.


Sasha is now living a perfect life with her family, happy and healthy, and enjoying every minute.

For more Hearts of Gold stories click below:

Jaimie the Amazing

Half Pint Billy

The Miracle of Isaiah

Merci's Story

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