Lying in the critical care unit at Angell Animal Medical, Blackie, a Cairn terrier mix, really needed a friend. The dog had plunged through a fourth-floor apartment window in Lawrence, Mass. and hurtled to the ground. His owners had witnessed the accident. They rushed the dog to the MSPCA-Nevins Farm, where veterinarians diagnosed Blackie with a traumatic head injury.
The dog had come through the fall without breaking a single bone, according to Rob Halpin, MSPCA-Angell spokesman, but as a result of the blow to his head, Blackie couldn’t see and couldn’t walk.
Doctors hoped the losses would be temporary, but no one could say for sure if the little dog could make a full recovery.
And then, Blackie’s sad story became even sadder—because he also needed a new home.
“His owners opted not to keep him because they were concerned about the length of time his recovery would take,” Halpin said. “So they surrendered Blackie to Nevins Farm.”
The Nevins never counted Blackie out.
“Thankfully we were able to provide Blackie the initial care he needed after such a tragic accident because of generous donations to our Angels for Animals Fund,” said Mike Keiley, director of the Noble Family Animal Care and Adoption Center at Nevins.
After the initial evaluation, the Nevins transferred the little dog to the critical care unit at Boston’s Angell Animal Medical where Dr. Jaclyn Morency took over the case, Halpin said.
“Our initial focus was to reduce Blackie’s pain and anxiety, and we were able to do that quite effectively with pain medication and by keeping him comfortable,” she said.
That’s when Katelyn Guay, an attendant in the critical care unit, noticed the sad little patient.
“I saw him really quickly,” she said, as she was passing by. But Guay wasn’t working in the unit that day, and she didn’t deal with Blackie’s treatment. She did know he was “almost completely blind” and “wobbled” when he tried to walk.
But she also noticed Blackie was a Cairn terrier mix, and that’s the breed she and her family love, she said. When Guay heard Blackie’s story, she “felt bad” because he had lost his home and was up for adoption. On the spur of the moment, she filled out the adoption application, and the Nevins accepted her.
Doctors didn’t give her any guarantees about his future, she said.
“They told me head injuries are pretty unpredictable,” Guay said, and problems might recur. Morency had thought the dog would walk and see again because Blackie, thought to be between six months old and a year old, had youth on his side and was otherwise in good health, Halpin said.
And for now at least, Blackie can see and walk, as doctors had hoped. He also isn’t on any medication, but Guay will monitor his progress carefully, she said.
“You wouldn’t know anything had happened,” she said. “He is doing amazing. He’s not even the same dog. He’s gone back to being a puppy.” Guay said Blackie is either playing “nonstop” or is “passed out” on the couch from too much playing.
“We love him to death,” she said. “It feels like we’ve always had him.”
Blackie has also met her parent’s two Cairn terriers. They’re a little standoffish, she said, especially the 11-year-old, but the dogs all get along, and he loves them.
Guay knows Blackie might someday suddenly lose his eyesight again, but she is taking one day at a time, she said. The important thing, she said, is that Blackie is happy. He knows he has a home and people who will take care of him, she said.
To contribute to Blackie’s medical expenses or to help animals in a similar predicament, go to www.mspca.org/blackie for details about the MSPCA-Nevins Farm’s fund.