Flash, right, with his new 'brother,' Tuffy (Courtesy: Gretchen Meyer)
Updated: Monday, 13 Dec 2010, 6:32 PM CST
Published : Monday, 13 Dec 2010, 3:54 PM CST
CEDAR PARK, Texas (KXAN) - Monday marked another turning point in the life of a 2-year-old German Shepherd in his journey from near death to becoming a new family pet.
Flash underwent a second surgery, this time to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament discovered after a prior surgery on Oct. 20 to repair a broken pelvis.
Flash's injuries happened in October after he was believed to have been thrown off a 40-feet overpass in Austin, then hit by a truck after he landed on the roadway. A witness said he hobbled off to hide. That witness, who found the dog broken and battered, took him to Town Lake Animal Center. He was in severe trauma, not expected to live, torn up with road rash, in addition to having broken bones.
Austin Pets Alive got involved, called one of its foster families, and Melanie Boates had her first task as a new volunteer foster pet home: how to pick up and get home a 60-pound dog who likely would die from the seriousness of his injuries.
"I went to get Flash as soon as I got the call. I didn't know what I'd find when I got there," Boates said. "I had a yoga towel in my car. I wrapped it around him and carried him to my car. I don't know where I got the strength to lift him."
It was two days before any veterinarian had an opening to do surgery. It was done on a normal day off by staff at Animal Trustees of Austin. Boates and APA raised $1,300 to help pay for the costs.
"We raised $1,000 overnight after the story about Flash was in the news," Boates said.
Monday's second surgery and medications cost $2,000. The Boates family and Austin Pets Alive ask the community to make donations to help pay for the repair of this "miracle dog's" torn ACL. Boates said he is a dog who showed signs of previous abuse, according to ATA's staff, with old injuries that had healed.
"Flash was going through depression after the first surgery, because he wants to roam and play," Boates said. "We kept him in a kennel near a window so he could see outside." The dog needed the down-time in order to heal from the pelvic surgery.
He will have to be contained and rest after Monday's surgery for a period of eight to 10 weeks. But Flash -- now weighing in at 75 pounds -- won't be turned out to find a permanent home after his recovery. The Boates family is keeping him.
"It would be stupid of us, after all this time of caring for him, to ask someone else to take him in," said Boates. "He's a good dog. We've had him for more than two months now. We have two teenagers who have grown attached to Flash. He's a special dog. Why stop now?"
The family has another dog, Tuffy, a 6-year-old Yorkshire Terrier, a companion that Flash gets along with. Flash is starting to pick up Tuffy's "bossy" traits, wanting to be first to be petted, Boates said.
"Flash was a lifeless dog when we got him," she said. "My dog, Tuffy, knew right away he was injured. He was good to him."
The trauma of the 40-foot fall affected Flash's demeanor, however.
"He had his defenses up when we took him in. He had lots of other previous injuries," she said. "But he is learning what love is. It's been hard, but our family is making changes [for Flash]. Having teenagers in the house, they normally make loud noises. That bothers Flash, so we are making changes in our way of living, stopping those noises. Flash is slowly coming around."
Boates said riding in a car is yet traumatic for the dog, and that when she drives near trucks, Flash acts very scared.
"It takes two people to get him into a car," she explained. "He's appreciative. He knows that he's been saved. It's his time for life now. It's been four months of recovering. When he gets released after healing, he'll go for it. He'll run and play. His pelvis is 100 percent healed."
As for any other injuries, Dr. Kirk Lewis, the veterinarian who has done both surgeries, noticed a slight bulge that may be a hernia. The bulge might go away on its own, but if not, Boates said that would be a quick repair.
"Flash is pretty much a hero," Boates said.
In the meantime, the miracle dog should be ready to run by spring, blossoming into the pet he was born to be, cared for by a family that was in the right place at the right time, with open hearts to take him in.