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Atlas no Longer Bares the Weight of the World...


Dear Friend,     


In November of 2011, Animal Rescue Corps led an operation on a First Nations community in northern Quebec that we dubbed "Operation Anishnabe Dogs", providing free spay/neuter and vaccinations for all animals in the community of Lac Simon and relocation and placement of all unclaimed, roaming dogs.  ARC assisted well over 200 animals in this community that in the past resorted to inhumane culling of the dogs for population control. Click here to see a mini-documentary of this operation titled "Operation Anishnabe Dogs: The Complete Story".


We are excited to share with you this Furever Friday an update on one very special dog from Operation Anishnabe - Atlas, the Saint Bernard.  Atlas was found in an extremely debilitated condition and was fortunate to be placed with Birch Haven Rescue & Rehabilitation (BHRR), who specializes in assisting giant canine breeds and equines with a focus on special needs.  Atlas, who was placed in their sanctuary program because of his special medical needs, is doing wonderfully under their care and we want to share part of his story in a series of pictures, videos and blog excerpts.  Enjoy!
Atlas Before & After
Atlas in November of 2011                                 Atlas just weeks after his rescue

Atlas captureNovember 7th, 2011 - Atlas was picked up as a stray roaming dog.  You would have never known from his condition that he was only about 3 years old.  His body condition was very poor, barely weighing 90 pounds.  He was suffering from alopecia, bad hips, as well as a leg wound and other lacerations, no doubt received from scuffles with other dogs as they scavenged for what food scraps could be found.  He most likely would not have survived another winter. 

Atlas carriedNovember 8th, 2011 - Animal Rescue Corps' Karla Goodson notes: "We couldn't believe the state Atlas was in when we first saw him.  We picked up his hunched, crumbling figure, because he just didn't have the energy to walk, and carried him to the transport vehicle to take him to our emergency shelter."  It was immediately evident that Atlas had a sweet and gentle nature with people and other dogs, which would serve him well in the weeks of rehabilitation and recovery ahead.  

Atlas at ARC shelterNovember 9th, 2011 - Atlas was relocated from the ARC emergency shelter in remote Lac Simon where he began his physical and emotional recovery to the secondary ARC emergency shelter outside of Montreal.  He had been given a body score of 2 out of 10 and placed on IV fluids and Baytril.  He was going to require a lot of time and effort in the way of medical and emotional rehabbing, but no one was going to give up on this boy - not ARC and certainly not BHRR who had now generously agreed to accept Atlas, as well as a Great Dane, Veteran, who was also in need of specialized care.

Atlas leaves ARCNovember 13th, 2011 - Atlas' journey to his new life begins as he said goodbye to his new ARC friends and was placed in the expert care of Birch Haven Rescue & Rehabilitation. Gwen Boers, founder of BHRR said, "BHRR feels so honored and grateful for the trust that has been extended our way as an approved Rescue Partner of ARC to have this privilege and opportunity to help these two very special boys."  ARC is also very grateful to have a partner like BHRR who is committed to the needs and special care required for these desperately debilitated large breed dogs.

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Atlas with GwenNovember 14th, 2011 - (following are edited excerpts from Atlas' blog, you can read more here.)  Atlas has a story of 'hell' inside of him... that story has caused him to be almost completely shut down.  I worry really strongly about him right now.  He has virtually nothing left to give and you can tell that almost all has been taken away from him.  He is full of scars, healing lacerations and his coat is so coarse, dry and just falling out.  There is something wrong with his hind end and not just the lack of muscle mass.   It is suspected he might have hip dysplasia, until we do X-rays we shall not really know.  He rests as if he was in complete exhaustion.  He must have always felt he needed to keep one eye open when he was out there trying to survive and honestly, this dog would not have lasted much longer.  If I look really deeply into those eyes, I think I see a glimmer of hope.  I want him to know that I want him to live, that he needs to live, that there are so many rooting for him and to please trust... just give one more chance to us as humans to show you how wonderful life can and should be for you.  

Atlas nervousNovember 15th, 2011 - Atlas had a good night.  He is understandably 'worried' about the other dogs.  For a dog that has been so neglected, he does not eat his food as fast I had thought he might... that is good in his poor shape; bloat is a concern. When he was doing a walk about in the fenced yard he came across a basketball that some of the dogs play with and he had NO idea what it was and it made him a bit nervous. All toys have since been picked up outside and remain on the deck so that he does not feel so nervous doing a walk about.  He has had 4 walk abouts on his own on Monday and he was exhausted.  So little strength. It has only been just over 24 hours, baby steps... I hope he will give me the time that is needed to show him that people really really care about him and his happiness, that HE matters and IS important. After almost 25 years of working, caring for and rescuing animals, possessing a Master's degree, working on my PhD etc, Atlas is up there as being one of my most 'special' projects. 

Atlas restingDecember 29th, 2011 - It is so hard to believe that he has been at BHRR since November 13!  It feels like he has always been with us... He has come so far in the time that he has been here.  In bringing him back, I have to give most of the credit to Veteran, the Great Dane.  These two dogs have a shared history and it was Veteran that brought that spark into Atlas' eyes. He drew him out of his shell, he teased and bugged him and got a 'rise' out of him.  Atlas will now zoom and bounce for me outside... Regarding people, he cannot get enough of the loving once he knows you are a friend.  For all that was done wrong to him; his desire to trust and love is HUGE!  After some baths plus major TLC he is looking so much better!  Very sadly, physically the results on his hips are not great BUT he shall be moved to our BHRR Haven Program and ADORED for all the time that he shall have with us!  May it be for a very long time that he shall grace the lives of those around him!  He has become so very near and dear to my heart this boy!

Atlas in yardJanuary 17-18th, 2012 - I did a manicure and pedicure on Atlas tonight and WHAT a dream he is!  AND he is so happy when he sees me.  He has become a whole butt wagger, not just the tail!  Time, patience, and the right treats made with extra love are rehabbing him from his past life of hell.  He had no idea what a kind touch or loving word or what treats and good food were but he is learning!  NEVER again my sweetie shall a hand be raised in anything but care and love. It's a good day indeed!

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Atlas video in snow 
Atlas plays in snow - video 

January 20th, 2012 - FINALLY!  Atlas was comfortable enough for me to get a short video of him and it was SOOOOOOOOO worth the fall on the ice to get it!  His first Canine Water Wellness hydrotherapy session is this Tuesday and I cannot wait!  Atlas makes me laugh and smile as he is doing some zipping and zooming with that nice wagging tail... I could scream from the rooftops about his tail!  I am just beaming for him.  Just beaming!   

Atlas in wather therapyJanuary 24th, 2012 - Atlas has his first Canine Water Wellness (CWW) session today and I am sooooooooo proud of him!  When we arrived, he did not want to walk through the door and I used his safe word 'trust' and he then walked into CWW.  The trust that he has given me over the short time he has been with us is humbling.  (On a side note; he has put on almost 40 pounds of weight plus muscle mass since he first arrived to BHRR!)  We took about 15 minutes for both Jen and Lianne (the owners of CWW) to touch and talk to him and let him relax.  I then used the 'trust' word and he followed me to the swimming area and he was fitted into a lifejacket and, after using the 'trust' word again, up the ramp and into the water he went - no big build up of stress or anxiety for him and it was not long before he found his balance and rhythm.  By the end of the session, he was swimming unaided.  He was so tired at the end that he just was standing on the bench, literally falling asleep as they massaged him!  I hope to bring him every 7-10 days.    

Atlas video of wather therapy
February 9th, 2012 - Here is the video
of Atlas' second session at Canine Water Wellness today!  AND he is without a lifejacket in this one! GO, ATLAS, GO! Such a great day unfolding for him!  We are taking our time giving him more good experiences along the way!  He has helped drop the kids off at school and I think Atlas was in awe of all this love being JUST for him!  I felt my heart feeling a wee bit tight over how he was full of wonder and almost surprise at all this kindness - something he should have had from the day he was born!  


Pretty boyFebruary 22nd, 2012 - Atlas shall have his third CWW session tomorrow! I love our CWW days together! He shall also begin to have chiropractic treatments later this week as his lower back is being affected more and more due to his bad hips.  We are also looking into acupuncture.  The CWW sessions are greatly assisting him in becoming more relaxed and less tense.  It is time that gives him much relief from the pain of his hips/lower back. The Deramaxx and Tramadol can only do so much. If need be, we shall seek stronger medications for him. Quality of life is our priority for him and whatever he needs, he shall receive.


In Gwen's most recent update she reports: "Atlas' best friends are Peanut, Gretta, and especially Maggie May - he really likes to show off his stuff for her and strut and prance in front of her! I am so happy he has good, close friends and no longer feels that all dogs are a threat to him and stress him out."  Gwen closes with, "ARC left 'no one behind', educated and saved SOOOO many lives! I am deeply humbled to have been a small part of this HUGE, amazing, heartwarming experience!  KUDOS to the community for taking a progressive approach to finding a better resolution to the overpopulation of animals in their community."   


Ps:  Special thanks also go to Atlas' buddy and fellow Operation Anishnabe dog, Veteran, the Great Dane.  Veteran remains available for adoption with BHRR

Animal Rescue Corps is a registered 501(c)3 non-profit organization. All donations to Animal Rescue Corps are tax-deductible. Donations to ARC not used in this specific rescue will be used to fund ARC operations, investigations and future rescues.