Tiger is a a young mixed-breed male dog who came to Home For Life® from The Animal Welfare League, a Chicago-based shelter. Tiger's original owners more or less starved him, and as a result, his bones did not grow properly. When Tiger was surrendered to The Animal Welfare League as a six-month old puppy, he already had a severe and painful deformity in his hindquarters, compromising his movement.
The Animal Welfare League gave Tiger to Home For Life® in the hopes that he would receive medical treatment that would enable him to live a happy life free of pain. Tiger's owners had called the puppy Elvis, but we renamed him Tiger because of his striking orange and black stripes.
Because his bones were still growing, the University of Minnesota surgeons who evaluated Tiger wanted to wait until he was almost one year old to perform the surgery. Despite being in near constant pain (which we alleviated somewhat with medication), Tiger has always been the best dog: happy, gentle, and good with other dogs.
While waiting for his surgery, we kept him happily occupied at the sanctuary. He participated in the Renaissance Program with Totem Town student, Nico, who helped Tiger master novice obedience and pass his therapy dog test. Tiger and Nico also met dog whisperer Cesar Millan and participated in the World Famous Dog Parade at Home for Life's 4th Annual Fall Gala.
In the summer of 2008, Tiger underwent surgery on his hind legs. The surgeries were too complicated to do both legs at one time. What's more, each leg had to be realigned from hip to toe because of the extreme deformity Tiger suffered. The first surgery occurred in July, followed by six weeks of recuperation, and then another surgery in August. In preparation for his surgery, the lead surgeon had plastic molds made of Tiger's leg bones from an MRI. The surgeons used these models to determine how they would realign the femur and tibia, and where the surgical incisions should be made. The surgical team was very deliberate about the procedure in order to achieve the best result possible for Tiger.
Great dog that he is, Tiger went through his surgeries and recuperation in the intensive care unit like a champ. The doctors commented that he was an excellent patient. Even the second time around, when Tiger had to know what he was facing, he remained a brave dog. Maybe he realized that it was his only chance for a normal life, and that the vets and their staff were trying to help him.
After the surgeries and recuperation, Tiger began to rebuild the muscles on both sides of his legs and hips. To aid in this process, Tiger received water therapy at K9 Hydrotherapy in St. Louis Park, where therapist John Lambert worked wonders with him in the warm pool and on the underwater treadmill.
Tiger's surgeries and therapy were made possible by donations to Home for Life's Emergency Medical Care Fund, which provides care for animals admitted to the sanctuary with a serious or life-threatening injury or illness.
It has now been a few years since Tiger's surgeries, and he is as active and happy as ever. In the absence of pain and discomfort, he can even be a bit of a troublemaker! He lives in a townhouse with harlequin Great Dane Dodi, ;a gentle, humble St. Bernard named Dagney, the two Taiwan Mountain Cur dog brothers, Pluto and Yuri who came to Home for Life from the Northshore Animal League, and a very timid young female dog from Iran's Vafa Shelter, Mahtab, whose name means " light of the Moon." All are survivors of mistreatment or misunderstanding before coming to Home for Life but somehow the group of friends understand one another and balance each other out. It has been very heartwarming to see Tiger take the younger Mahtab and Dagney under his wing - both girls were unsure, and timid when they first arrived but with Tiger's
friendship and mentoring, both girls have grown in happiness and confidence keeping Tiger active and on his toes—something he needs in a roommate now that he is the dog he was always meant to be!
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