When veterinarian Dave Haebler walked into the exam room Wednesday to check on his newest patient, Charlie, the puppy darted out the open door. When Haebler inserted a thermometer to check Charlie’s temperature, she squirmed, trying to break free. She thrust her head from side to side when the doctor pried her mouth open to check her teeth.
But her antics didn’t bother the doctor. Instead, he calls her the “miracle puppy.”
“This is what we want to see,” he said. “A typical puppy that wants to fight.”
It’s a marked difference from three weeks ago, when the black Lab mix puppy was brought to his Carson City practice, DOCS, after being discovered June 20 abandoned outside the Dayton Community Center.
“You go back to that day, she just laid on her side,” he recalled. “She was shocky, dehydrated. Skeletal, basically.”
Helen Houston, who adopted Charlie, credits Haebler’s initial response for saving the life of the 6-week-old puppy.
Haebler said he had to inject a needle into Charlie’s bone marrow to get her the needed fluids, but he shares the credit with a number of veterinarians in the area who collaborated in the first week to save the puppy. The puppy’s white blood cell count was extremely low, he said, but tests came back negative for common viruses such as parvo and distemper.
“Our main goal at that point was just to get Charlie into the next hour of life,” he said. “We took it by every hour. We considered her the miracle puppy.”
Stacy Masters, Houston’s neighbor and one of the handful of women who rescued Charlie, is grateful for the work of the veterinarians, but also for the support of the community. Shortly after finding the puppy, Masters created a Facebook page, Saving Charlie Dayton, that now has nearly 200 friends.
“I think all the positive energy that was focused on her had to help,” Masters said.
She said that as veterinary bills stacked up, she and Houston struggled with how much was too much to spend on a dog that had been given a 25 percent chance of survival.
“So we put it on Facebook,” she said. “Everybody just kept saying, ‘We’ll raise the money; you keep her alive.’ We were very encouraged by that.”
Support came from across the country and from as far away as Afghanistan and New Zealand.
The bills amounted to just over $7,000, leaving a $1,100 surplus from the fundraising efforts that was donated back to area organizations that supported Charlie’s recovery.
“She became Dayton’s puppy really quickly,” Masters said.
“But she chews up my furniture,” joked Houston, who brought Charlie home a little more than a week ago.
Houston said she will continue to give Masters updates so she can continue to post on the Facebook page for Charlie’s fans, whom Houston and Masters refer to as “Charlie’s Angels.”
“I don’t mind sharing her,” Houston said. “I can’t blame them for wanting to know how she’s doing. This little puppy captured their hearts.”