KANSAS CITY – Diane Huey never stopped hoping she’d find her beloved dog, Gizmo, who wriggled out of his leash on a December day to chase after a deer during a walk on Line Creek Trail. But after two months of frantic searching, a reunion seemed increasingly unlikely.
Then the telephone rang.
On the other line was a hiker. He and his wife were trekking through the woods when they found Gizmo at the bottom of a 10-foot well. They rescued the 9-year-old shepherd mix, who was still wearing the tag with Huey’s name and telephone number. Could she meet them at a local Quik Trip so they could return her dog?
Overjoyed, Huey rushed to meet the hikers. But when she saw Gizmo, she almost fell apart.
“He was unrecognizable to me and I don’t believe he recognized me,” Huey said. “He was a skeleton.”
Huey thanked the hikers profusely and immediately took Gizmo to BluePearl Veterinary Partners hospital in Northland. From her work with an animal rescue group, she knew the hospital would have the clinicians and equipment necessary to handle such a dire case.
“I thought for sure they were going to tell me that he was not going to make it,” Huey said. “He looked that bad.”
Dr. Kim Gugler, a critical care clinician who oversaw Gizmo’s case, said the dog was extremely malnourished and dehydrated. A dog his size should weigh about 80 pounds – Gizmo was just 27. His body condition scored 1 out of a possible 9 points.
Gugler’s biggest challenge was getting Gizmo rehydrated and slowly re-introducing him to food. If he was fed too quickly, he could experience refeeding syndrome, which creates metabolic alterations in dogs that have been starved.
“Of course he’s hungry and he wants to eat, but his system just can’t handle it,” Gugler said.
Throughout his hospital stay, Huey continued hoping for a good outcome. Her family adopted Gizmo when he was just a year and a half old and it didn’t take long for the shy, skinny dog to win over their hearts.
Gugler’s goal was to get Gizmo home as quickly as possible, and after three days of hospitalization, the dog was ready to be discharged.
Today, about six weeks after his rescue, Gizmo looks like a different dog. During a recent visit to BluePearl, he was bright and perky, if still a little thin.
“It makes my heart so happy to see the two of them reunited,” Gugler said. “He’s a ball of energy, and he just wants to run around and greet everyone.”
Huey is overjoyed to have her dog by her side again. She calls Gizmo’s story “a miracle” and said she’s amazed by the kindness of the people who have helped her dog – particularly those anonymous hikers.
“If it weren’t for them, I don’t think he would be alive today,” Huey said.