Peek Into The Pack Blog

Two Rare Medical Conditions, One Happy Ending

Article by Katie Forbis

May 26, 2023

When our new Executive Director Brittany McDonald was hired in 2020, she traded our old motto for a new one: “The Animals Come First.” And for anyone that truly knows us, you’ll know those aren’t just pretty words, but a promise born from the depths of our souls. So, when the Universe attempts to test just how far we’ll go for our rescues, we show up tenfold, and this story is truly a testament to our dedication.

Following a vet visit, Brittany went to bed with an overwhelming sense of anxiety regarding Aragorn, a young, healthy high-content wolfdog. She had no reason to worry about him other than “mother’s intuition.”

The next morning, Brittany came to work early to check on Aragorn. She found him lying near his completely empty water bowl- lethargic, disoriented, nauseated, and wanting nothing but to drive, only to regurgitate the water.

Naturally, we contacted our vet immediately. While we waited to hear back, Aragorn allowed us to administer fluids and even check his vitals, which alerted us to further irregularities.

In the end, our boy was diagnosed with an extraordinarily rare and predominantly fatal medical condition called exertional rhabdomyolysis, most commonly seen in racing breeds like horses, greyhounds, and sometimes sled dogs. This condition results from physical activity that causes extreme muscles, putting stress on the heart and kidneys, and requires immediate and intensive care in order to prevent fatality.

Fortunately, we found an emergency clinic willing to commit to Aragorn’s intake for days of round-the-clock care.

By the time we’d made the 3-hour drive back home for the night, we received a call advising that his condition had progressed into disseminated intravascular coagulation, a life-threatening bleeding disorder that can result in uncontrolled bleeding, organ failure, and ultimately death.

We later learned that, in the medical care field, DIC is colloquially called “Death Is Coming”. The vet explained that in her entire career, she’d seen only 2 animals survive it and our primary vet corroborated this statistic with similar results on his end.

To our surprise, less than 24 hours later, the emergency clinic called Brittany to state that, while Aragorn’s condition was still critical, they were ready to send him home as he had improved so significantly that they could no longer safely house him in their facility and we were most qualified to provide him with the remainder of his care.

From there, Aragorn still required nearly round-the-clock care, including fluid administration every 12 hours, and daily blood draws to check his kidney levels. With each day, he progressed beyond what should have been possible for an animal with his diagnoses, and every single day our Executive Director gave up time and energy to be by his side through recovery, while the rest of our team pulled together to keep the sanctuary running smoothly.

Nearly a week later, Aragorn was released back into his enclosure, where his companion Beans greeted him with excitement and adoration.

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again. This isn’t just a job for our team- these animals, our mission, and our teammates are our entire world. It may seem silly, but looking at Aragorn, we sincerely believe he knows that we saved his life, just as we know every day that he and our other rescues allow us to live the lives of our dreams.

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1 Comment

  1. MaryChristine Barvoets

    WoW incredible 💙💚🪴💙💚🪴💙💚🪴🦕


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