“Ginger chose Tom to be her foster, and there was no way he could deny her immediate and unconditional love,” says Rona, Tom’s partner, of the dog he fostered until she could receive the surgery she desperately needed.
A compassionate member of the community found the cream-colored adult dog in late June and called Animal Services after failing to find the dog’s guardian. Upon arriving at Dane County Humane Society (DCHS), our staff immediately noticed the dog was wobbly and struggling to walk on her hind legs. They named her Ginger and started her on pain meds to keep her comfortable.
DCHS’s veterinarians examined Ginger closely and took X-rays of her hips and back legs. They found that both hind legs had lost muscle mass and strength. Ginger could put a little more weight on her right leg than her left, but both were unsteady, and she couldn’t extend either leg correctly.
X-rays revealed multiple fractures affecting both hip joints, some of which had already begun to heal improperly. The placement of the fractures prevented Ginger from being able to use her back legs effectively. Veterinary staff determined Ginger would need surgery to fix the fractures and regain full and painless use of her hips and back legs.
DCHS has a highly skilled team of veterinarians on staff who can perform a wide variety of procedures, including the bilateral femoral head ostectomy Ginger needed. But because Ginger's case required significant time and specialized equipment, DCHS veterinarians decided this was a great opportunity to partner with outside support.
Fortunately, we have a wide network of specialty veterinarians in the community who assist us with special cases. A specialty surgeon could perform Ginger's procedure much faster and supply all the specialized tools necessary. This meant a more efficient and less traumatic surgery for Ginger and a better outcome than if she’d received a longer surgery or separate surgeries to address each hip. Having a specialist perform Ginger’s surgery also allowed DCHS staff to focus their efforts on other animals in our care who also needed medical, dental, and surgical services (like spay and neuter surgeries) before they could go home.
A specialty surgeon in our network agreed to come perform Ginger’s procedure. In the meantime, we knew Ginger would be more comfortable out of the shelter and in a home, so we began the search for a caring foster family who could provide comfort, close monitoring, and specialized care. Friends of the shelter Tom and his partner Rona were searching for a dog, and we thought they might be a good fit.
“The main thing I recall hearing about Ginger was that she was just an especially sweet girl,” says Tom. “That was all I needed to hear to know that she was at least worth meeting.”
Because Ginger was feeling stressed in her kennel, DCHS staff brought her into an office to relax and enjoy extra pets and snuggles.
“I was sitting on the floor when they brought Ginger in,” recalls Tom. “Within a minute, she was curled up in my lap. There’s no greater sales pitch than a snuggly dog, and I pretty much knew right away that Ginger and I were a match.”
Ginger stayed with Tom and Rona for a few days until her surgery. The procedure went well, and after two nights in the shelter to make sure she was healing properly, Ginger returned to her foster home for the rest of her recovery.
“Ginger’s back legs were very weak, so getting around was a challenge,” says Tom. “She was also on a slew of medications that impacted her health and personality. But she recovered like a champ from her broken hips. She has gone from barely using her back legs – I used to carry her up and down the stoop when she went out to potty – to running and playing and wrestling like any other puppy.
“As she recovered physically and was weaned off her meds,” Tom continues, “her body became strong and her real personality came through. She is sweet and loving and affectionate.”
“Ginger is the most loving and optimistic dog you can possibly imagine,” adds Rona. “Her joyful spirit shone through even when she must have been in severe pain. On top of that, she instantly bonded to Tom and stayed nearly attached to him from her first hour in his home. Ginger’s favorite place to sleep is on Tom. She ‘holds hands’ with her favorite people – she always likes to have at least one paw on you.”
“Ginger loves to be physically touching me – leaning against me, lying on top of me when I nap on the couch, putting her paw on my foot,” says Tom. “It’s super sweet how she likes to bond like this.”
The better Tom got to know Ginger, the more certain he was that Ginger was the dog he had been searching for.
“What led to my decision to adopt her was her sweet and affectionate personality,” says Tom. “The fact that she had adorable Yoda-like ears and soft golden eyes only helped seal the deal.”
Tom officially adopted Ginger on August 3rd, after a few weeks in foster care and regular check-ups with DCHS veterinarians to ensure she was healing well.
“Ginger healed faster than anyone predicted and has adapted to being in her new home like a superstar,” says Rona. “She’s so eager to please that she’s quickly filling in any gaps in her learning and is developing excellent dog manners.”
“I wasn’t put off by any temporary physical limitations she might have,” Tom says. “The bigger challenge I assumed, and it’s proven to be true, is simply teaching her to trust that she will be well cared for and the basics of being socialized to get along well with people and other pups. I was super pleased when I took her to the lake with how quickly she explored and seemed comfortable in it. She also loved it when I took her paddle boarding a couple times.”
“Regardless of pain or stress, Ginger always radiated this remarkable spirit of love, trust, joy, curiosity, and zest for life,” says Rona. “The first time she ran was such a fun surprise, as was her first discovery of what it felt like to play in water. Ginger is still learning how to be a dog who can move freely in a safe place with the security of someone who loves her, and each new thing she learns fills her with even more delight.”
It’s thanks to the support of our incredible community that Ginger could heal from her wounds and thrive in her new home like every dog deserves. Give today so more dogs like Ginger can experience healing, new beginnings, and a zest for life!