All of us in veterinary medicine have surely experienced many a story of success, of happy outcomes we’ve seen in the clinic. Rarely, however, do remarkable “coincidences” with clinic staff, community, and perhaps even fate, work together so remarkably as they did in Wylie’s case.
Wylie, a lively Jack Russell terrier, was thrown from his owner’s vehicle when it was involved in an accident on I-15, the interstate that runs through Pocatello, ID. Wylie actually lost the bottom half of a hind leg in the accident and apparently escaped the scene in a panic. Remarkably, he did not bleed to death, and equally remarkably, managed to survive in the hills for four days.
The terrier was discovered by caring residents not far from the interstate, and from there a Pocatello Animal Control officer brought him to Alta Animal Hospital, where I practice. Wylie was not in good shape, but seemed to understand that he was there to be helped. With the assistance of my dedicated staff, I amputated the remaining mangled portion of his leg. We watched in awe as he handled all of this with courage, resilience, and even when he could, a wagging tail.
During his stay at our hospital, the rest of this story unfolded. Wylie belonged to a family which was driving past Pocatello on their way to a memorial service for the owner’s brother who had committed suicide – a sad enough situation made even worse by the accident. Officers at the scene told the family there was no way that Wylie could have survived, but the two young daughters never gave up hope. With their mom still in the hospital due to injuries she sustained, they called area clinics and shelters in the days after the accident, hoping against hope that someone had found Wylie. In fact, the family had called us at Alta Animal Hospital even before we had seen Wylie. But as soon as Wylie was brought to Alta, I was re-connected with his family and able to pass on the happy news that Wylie had survived and was going to be OK!
The family was concerned about their ability to pay for the costs of Wylie’s care, so my staff and I looked for solutions (as veterinarians so often do). I donated my surgery time, and we decided to share his story with the local newspaper. The newspaper printed the story, and mentioned that we were accepting donations at the clinic to help Wylie’s family with his remaining medical costs. No sooner than the story appeared, our phones began to ring with individuals making donations. Soon, caring folks from the area even began to arrive at the clinic to donate in person! In fact, the donations eventually exceeded the costs, and thus a “Wylie Fund” has been established. This fund awaits another pet in need.
Meanwhile, Wylie recovered nicely and everyone at Alta fell in love with the perky, loving little fellow! A week or so later, Wylie’s family made the trip back to pick him up. What an emotional reunion it was! The staff and I were elated to see Wylie all wags and wiggles upon seeing his family, but so sad to see him go – we’d grown attached. I confess that I got a little teary-eyed when I saw him so happily reunited with his family.
My staff and I will miss Wylie and his bright, upbeat view of the world, but I am especially called to appreciate the many individuals in this community who stepped forward to find Wylie, bring him to Alta for care, and assist his family with the costs. Wylie’s case demonstrates that positive “coincidences” and community involvement can bring wonderful outcomes.
Kirsten M. Nickisch, DVM
1601 Bannock Highway
Pocatello, ID 83204