Meet Molly!

Molly in ICU with her favorite monkey toy

Molly in her favorite patio door spot

Molly & her best friend
 Molly is a fawn colored female Pug that was born on January 24, 2005. My wife at the time, Rianna, and I purchased her from a breeder in Virginia. She was a happy, healthy, energetic little puppy that could fit just about in one hand. If one of us were with her it was a perfect day in the life of a dog as far as she was concerned.

When Molly was spayed at 6 months, she had no complications, no adverse reactions to the anesthesia, and recovered well as expected. Molly had been going on and off antibiotics to treat urinary tract infections which we later found were being caused by her vulva being recessed. Because it was recessed, Molly was getting bacteria in the folds of the skin surrounding the area. That in turn was causing urinary tract infections. The veterinarian recommended a surgery that could would remove some of that excess skin and correct the issue of the recessed vulva. Caring about as much as Molly as we did, we not only wanted to get her the surgery, but we took her to an animal hospital that was supposedly top in Northern Virginia. The price was about double our local veterinarian because they had a fully staffed office with Anesthesiologists, Cardiologists, Neurologists, Surgeons, etc. We wanted the best for her because we knew if something happened to her it would be devastating to our lives. Fast forward to Molly at 9 months old, and we dropped her off early morning at the animal hospital to have her surgery performed..

Luckily I talked Rianna into taking that early morning drive on October 27, 2005 because little did we know that it would be the last time Molly would get to see our faces. Around lunch time the same day I received a call from a frantic surgeon who said, “ Mr. Long, we have some bad news.” I replied back to her as my heart nearly stopped, “No you don’t.” She began to tell me that just as Molly’s surgery was nearing completion she went into cardiac arrest. I dropped to the floor for several seconds, pulled myself together, and then drove like a bat out of hell to see her. The only good news at this point was that they were able to revive her. .

See we got talked into allowing them to also extract her 4 baby teeth that hadn’t fallen out yet and were causing irritation. We figured that presented no additional harm since she would already be under anesthesia. Molly made it through the vulvoplasty and 2 teeth extractions. After they “flipped her over” to do the remaining 2 teeth extractions she went into cardiac arrest. Her vitals were supposedly good throughout the surgery so when she went into arrest the staff initially thought the heart monitoring device was malfunctioning (yeah sounds fishy to me too). After realizing she in fact had no pulse, they paged the lead cardiac surgeon who began performing CPR and was able to revive her. Unfortunately she was in arrest well over 2 minutes which caused serious oxygen loss to the brain. Needless to say, I regret allowing them to do the extractions and to this day I still fault myself for the disabilities she was left with.

Well, now here I arrive at the veterinary office, furious, nervous, scared, and heart-broken. I walked in to hear Molly yelping continuously in what was explained to me as an involuntary vocalization as her brain was “resetting.” I was assured she was not in pain, but I burst into tears immediately. She looked awful and I wasn’t even assured by the staff that she would make it through the night. Rianna arrived shortly after me as I broke the news to her on my car ride to the animal hospital. Now it was going to be a waiting game as to whether she would survive and if so how much brain function she would recover. We spent several days in and out of the hospital as Molly was under 24 hour watch in the ICU unit there. After 2 nights of being stable, they were confident she was not going to go back into arrest, but she also had no movement, no mobility, no vision, no hearing, and didn’t eat or drink. After a few more challenging days of nearly living at the animal hospital and bringing her out for visits, we made a break through.

The staff there was trying everything they could to get her to eat without success. I was thinking to myself – she used to go nuts for easy cheese, if she doesn’t smell this and want some then nothing will stimulate her. Sure enough she smelled that cheese and started licking like she saw light on the other side. The cheese licking led into eating wet foot and then drinking water from syringes. Once the veterinarian saw this, they released her home for us to rehabilitate her. It was a trying experience that I would do again for her without hesitation. Failure was not an option for me. I was going to get her better, and if not than at least I knew I put in my all. I bought syringes, prescription food, dog massager (she had to be massaged and stretched daily to prevent atrophy), a baby play pen to keep her in, and a number of other items to aide in her rehabilitation. I took some time off work to stay home with her initially, and then began working half days at home. The first few nights Molly didn’t sleep much and most panted which was dangerous because it elevated her body temperature. So Rianna and I took turns staying up with her at night her to make sure she was ok and let her know that we were with her.

Fast forward about a week later and Molly began trying to move her legs a bit. On a daily basis I was trying various things to test her hearing, vision, and mobility to gauge any progress. I would play a CD of dogs barking at full volume to see if she would have any reaction. Many days went by with no reaction at all, but one day when I got home from work and put on the CD, I got a reaction. She began consistently reacting to noise. I knew at this point she would regain her hearing. Another week went by and I decided to try giving her regular food instead of the prescription food from a syringe. At first I had to push it to the back of her tongue so she would swallow it, but soon enough she began eating it from a bowl on her own. She was also getting to the point where she was almost able to sit up her own. I knew she wasn’t going to get her mobility back unless I stepped it up and tried new ways to encourage her to try. So what I did was I took her outside and brought a t-shirt that I cut 4 holes in to act as a support device which essentially supported her body weight and allowed her to focus on trying to balance and move the legs. Sure enough after a few days she was holding herself up and making great progress. After a week or so of this therapy I was taking her on walks again. She was moving full speed ahead with her progress except she still had not regained her vision.

Throughout this process Molly had seen a neurologist at least 10 times. He was amazed at her recovery each time he saw her. She more or less beat all odds. There was a 20% chance of her living let alone recovering to the extent that she did. He did tell us though that while her pupils were dilating with light, she was still blind. If she didn’t regain her vision within 3 months of the trauma it was likely that she never would. Well sure enough, here I am over 3 years later with an energetic, loving, happy pug that loves life and is blind.

It’s not that her eyes are damaged; it’s that that she had severe brain damage to the part of her brain that interprets the signals coming from the optic nerve. I was glad she was alive and being blind wasn’t something that I was going to let hold her down. I purchased octagon gates for her to roam in while I was at work, and gates to block the stairways. I think it was mostly me that was afraid to watch her learn and bump into things, but that was the only way she would learn. I padded furniture that had any sharp edges initially to reduce the risk of her hurting herself butting into objects. I even wedged bones under furniture so she could have a spot to chew on a bone and feel independent. She amazed me at how quickly she was able to memorize where things were. Within minutes she would map out where her water was, areas she could let loose a bit without the risking of hitting a hard object, and she even found her favorite spot near the heat radiating from the sliding patio door.

She didn’t stop there; she learned multiple houses and multiple levels of houses. More or less anywhere I took her she was able to map out and memorize. It’s absolutely incredible. She doesn’t know that she’s blind. She’s feels independent, happy, and knows she has an owner that loves her just as much if not more than before. She’s living a great life.

So the point of my story is that it’s incredible what you can do when you are faced with challenges in life. When you have determination and a good heart, incredible things can happen. Molly could have easily been put down if someone less caring about animals was her caretaker. Dogs that are in shelters and blind without any brain damage are put down at very high rates. Have faith in yourself and in a furry friend that will appreciate you and give you unconditional love that you will likely never come across elsewhere.

John Long
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