By Stephanie Edwards
Dr. Jacquelyn Gates watched the news coverage like the rest of the Kansas City area. Just days before Christmas, an emaciated German Shepherd was dropped off at a local animal shelter. His condition was described as comatose. The dog was not able to walk on his own; he was not able to use his right hip. He was nearly frozen to death.
His condition was so severe that he was brought into the shelter on a stretcher. The man who brought him in claimed to have found him. It was later revealed that he was the owner, and that the dog he called Jake had never been off of the chain in his back yard.
His condition appeared to have been bad for some time. He was underweight and his fur had worn to nearly nothing. The German Shepherd first named Jake barely made it through the first night.
The folks at the shelter renamed him Caesar. Caesar was a conqueror; it fits the dog’s fighting spirit.
Dr. Jackie, as she is known to her friends and patients, knew then there was something she could do for the dog. “I knew he needed someone who could care for him,” she said. “I just knew.” She called the shelter for more information. She was told that she was among around 150 others who wanted to care for the dog. But for Dr. Jackie, there was something more to it.
The shelter directed her to Missouri German Shepherd Rescue, or MOGS, the group that took over the dog’s care. After a few formalities, the dog ultimately ended up in her care. “He needed someone that could care for him, be with him,” she said. “I work from home. It was perfect.”
Caesar continues to improve. He has begun to put on more weight and he is able to stand and play in the yard though his leg is still weak. He is receiving cold laser treatments on his bad leg in the hopes that the leg can be saved. He plays with his new foster brothers, Eli and Moses, a pair of Boston Terriers Dr. Jackie rescued individually in the past. He has learned to share with his foster brothers, even if they like to pick on him. The stairs in his new home were, at first, an insurmountable challenge to him. But with care and patience, Dr. Jackie coaxed him to try them out, and he has now mastered the steps.
“He has a long road ahead of him,” Dr. Jackie said. MOGS is on top of his care. He faces more surgeries and has a long way to go before he is whole again. He has learned to play, something his caretaker thinks he had never before been able to do. He is also learning to trust, though slowly. Though he was reluctant in the beginning, he will now lay his head on Dr. Jackie. He has learned to lean on her, she said.
Dr. Jackie has learned new things, too. She has learned that the good people at MOGS see far too many abused and neglected dogs across the state. And that is just for one breed, she said. If you added up all breeds of dogs that face similar conditions, the numbers are mind boggling.
“Dogs, cats, horses, they all face abuse and neglect,” she said. “They have no voice.” Thankfully, there are groups like MOGS and the KC Pet Project and people like Dr. Jackie who help speak up for them.
As for Caesar, Dr. Jackie explained that it is too early for a prognosis. Just this week he spent some time away from his new home, facing more treatment and tests at the vets. An MRI is in his future, paid for with funds from MOGS. The near future may bring eye surgery, neurological testing, and continued physical therapy among other things.
As Dr. Jackie and Caesar continue to take it one day at a time, the work of rescue other nameless, helpless animals moved forward. It is hard to consider the nearly-frozen, almost dead German Shepherd named Caesar lucky, but he is certainly one of the lucky ones. “The problem is bigger than most people know,” Dr. Jackie said.
For more information on how to help Caesar and other German Shepherds, please visit http://mogsrescue.rescuegroups.org/.