When she was only 10 weeks old, little Shyla was relinquished to Desert Labrador Retriever Rescue in Phoenix, Arizona. At the time, she was extremely dehydrated and underweight, weighing in at only 5 pounds, 6 ounces, due to a severe cleft palate that made eating and drinking difficult.
To save her life, a feeding tube was necessary to give Shyla the nutrition she needed to gain enough strength to undergo surgery.
For a month, Shyla’s foster family and doctors built her strength via the feeding tube, because without surgery, she would have constantly been at risk of contracting aspirated pneumonia and various infections in her nasal cavity and respiratory system.
Even after the surgery, Shyla was fed through the feeding tube for another week while her palate healed. But the very thing that was saving Shyla’s life was also causing additional challenges for her to overcome. “Her first tube had such an infection around the entrance site that it had to be replaced,” Debra Prince, Shyla’s foster mom explained. “[After surgery] she was very emaciated, and [there was] almost no response from her at all. I brought her home to my family, where we fed her every two hours and constantly gave her love. She was so weak and could hardly walk; we were so worried of a successful recovery.”
Eventually the tube was removed as Shyla slowly recovered. “Once her feeding tube was removed,” Prince said, “she was like Jekyll and Hyde. She became uncontainable with the sound of her meals being prepared. She found her voice.”
As Shyla’s health continued to improve, the next step was finding her a great home with a loving family. But something happened to Shyla’s foster family that they didn’t quite expect. “We didn’t start off with the intention of keeping her,” Prince admitted, “but after all we went through with her, we just could not give her up!”
Who could blame them? Of course Shyla stole the hearts of her foster family — she stole the hearts of everyone who laid eyes on her and followed her story on Facebook.
Now Shyla is making up for lost time. “She does a funny little twirl dance when she gets excited, and loves to play all day,” Prince shared. “I think we spoiled her with so much affection and love when she was down that it’s hard to contain her for love now.”
“She really is a miracle,” Prince said, thinking of how incredibly rare it is for dogs with Shyla’s condition to survive the ordeal. “We just love her and are still amazed to this day by how far she has come.”
With the holiday season well in fold, Shyla’s story reminded us of how important rescue work really is. Thanks to the efforts of Desert Labrador Retriever Rescue, Briarcrest Veterinary Care Center and her adoptive family, this year Shyla is celebrating her very first Christmas in her forever home, and we think that is worth celebrating.
Images: Debra Prince & Briarcrest Veterinary Care Center Facebook