NOTE: Scroll down short ways for ‘Updated Information’ on Luka’s Journey!
WARNING: The first picture may be unpleasant for some viewers.
This is the first picture I ever saw of Solovino and I was told he looked quite good in this photo compared to when he was first discovered. I was still in Canada at this point and I would hear many stories about this fella thousands of miles away in another country, that he was repeatedly kicked by a drunk, that he had been hit by a vehicle and left to die on the side of the road, that the owners refused to allow humane intervention, as well, that he had no home and was a street dog with nothing to offer and no future.
The vehicle accident left Solo with severe damage to his hind quarters making it difficult for him to walk and trauma causing blindness in his left eye. He was unable to hunt or fight for food and was slowing starving to death on the side of a busy road in a ditch.
Language barriers can be difficult and unfortunately based on some misunderstandings Solo continued to live in an impossible situation for some time. He likely only survived as long as he did because some caring people would bring him food and showed him a little love everyday and he gave back by showing an incredible willingness and desire to survive.
The day I arrived in Solo’s little town and he and I met was magical, he was such an incredible spirit. He looked at us with his good eye and you could tell his little heart was full of love for life. My hubby and I fed him that day together but no one was around to ask about his home or who owned him. We went home that night and I cried myself to sleep, it was December 23rd, 2011 and I was not feeling very merry knowing this poor pup was spending yet another night outside in a ditch.
This is where Solo lay day & night for many months after he was hit by a car.
The next day we returned and the people were home. They confirmed he did not belong to them or anyone that they were aware of, and that was all we needed to hear. Solo came back to our casita with us that day, it was Christmas Eve.
The next day we all moved up into the main house which had a little more area for him to go do his business and work on improving his walking ability, but not much more, he was still relatively trapped by the stairs and surrounded by slippery tile. We needed to find him a flat enclosed yard that would allow him to have the dignity and some freedom to move as he pleased.
This is Solo after a few days of regular feedings, love and basic grooming…incredible that this is the same dog as above isn’t it! ;D
We made two appointments for Solo that first week, one with Lupita at her doggy spa for a bath and nail clipping and one with the vet in the next town. Solo was not impressed at first with his spa day but Lupita won him over and he loved all the attention.
This is Lupita giving Solo a kiss on his head. She nick-named him Hans Solo as he was a warrior in his fight to live. The name Solovino we are told is typically given to street dogs or for a more direct translation it means “he came alone”.
A very wonderful friend of ours from the area with a flat enclosed yard was more than happy to lend a hand, and we brought Solo to his new temporary home where he could get up and wander around without worrying about slipping on tile or falling down stairs. Thank you John!
Picture above: Barry & Solo hanging out in John’s courtyard.
Next was the vet visit and thanks to the wonderful Dr. Francisco GONZALEZ we got lots of our questions answered. Dr. GONZALEZ believed Solo was 3 or 4 years old and agreed his life was not so cheery. Both upper and lower front teeth were completely worn down, but thankfully his canines and back teeth were good. He agreed there was trauma in his hind quarters but could not confirm exact problem as he did not recommend anesthetic for him to take x-rays until he was stronger. As well, the eye is likely cataract from trauma for which a specialist would be required. Solo got all his vaccines that day (poor baby) and blood work which revealed a blood parasite that affects circulation and with treatment may improve his ability to walk.
Dr. GONZALEZ’s vet office!
I took a video of Solo’s progress on December 31st and to think he could barely walk a few weeks prior to this video, view the video at:
His disposition is so amazing, he’s been surrounded by cats, dogs, people, kids and all he does is wag his broken little tail and take in all the love that goes his way.
Originally we were looking for a good home for Solovino (now named Luka!), however, after a few promising possibilities of new homes for him that didn’t quite pan out Barry decided that on January 22nd he would bring Luka home to Canada with him and see how and if it could work out with our other two rescue dogs, “Maggie and Jasper”.
On January 18th Barry, my Mom, Carol & Luka had a big day ahead them. First to Dr. GONZALEZ’s office for booster shots and a letter for the airlines that Luka was fit to fly. Then to Dr. RUELAS, a specialist vet in Colima, where he determined Luka’s left eye would never see again, however, did not cause him any pain or discomfort.
They also took an x-ray of his hips which showed a severe dislocation in his right hip which could be fixed by cutting the femur head off and moving the limb back into place, this procedure is called an FHO and has a lot of success, but the procedure would have to wait until Canada as he was booked to fly in just 4 days from this time which was not enough recovery time after such a procedure.
Luka’s x-ray of his hip dislocation. Thank you Dr. RUELAS for everything!
That Saturday Barry, Mom, Dad & Luka traveled to Puerto Vallarta where Luka spent his last night in Mexico. The hotel in PV gave them a court side room so that Luka could have a nice flat grassy area to hang out in while soaking up the sun. He had never seen grass before and LOVED it. He also had never seen glass sliding doors before and walked right into it, and he even saw his own reflection for the first time that day.
The big fly day finally arrived and I was a wreck! That whole day I just kept worrying about him and he if was alright. Mom & Dad took Barry and Luka to the airport that day. Thanks Mom and Dad for all your love and dedication to Luka and of course to us as well, it was so very appreciated. xxoo
Barry & Luka checking in at the PV airport.
Our very good friend Richie who also happens to work at WestJet was so awesome that day, re-assuring me that Luka would be taken good care of and he was. Luka was the first one off the plane, not passengers, not luggage, but Luka! Thank you Richie…Your Awesome! ;D
Barry & Luka (in the kennel) with Richie at arrivals in Kelowna Airport, BC, Canada!
The kennel you see here was lent to us by our wonderful friends at Cisco’s Amigos! Thank you Julie, Rusty and of course Cicso for lending us the kennel that got Luka home to Canada. Your generosity played a key part in making it possible for Luka to get his new start in life! *Hugs*
Luka’s first snow walk in Kelowna, BC went much better than I expected. He did not seem to mind the snow at all and in fact appeared very curious about it.
Luka settled in really well right away. Our English Lab “Maggie” warmed up to him almost instantly, however, our Husky Shepherd “Jasper” did not, does not, possibly will not ever like him but we can only hope time will fix that.
The next step in Luka’s journey was his hip surgery and believe me we had all kinds of concerns. We were dreading taking his mobility away from him again even if it was for short term pain for long term gain, but Luka’s vet, Dr. RAE, and surgeon, Dr. PENNER, were able to put our minds at ease.
Dr. PENNER with Luka the day before his surgery.
On February 2nd Luka went in for hip surgery. Everyone at Westbank Animal Care Hospital were amazing with Luka and his surgery went without a hitch. A special thanks goes out to Luka’s buddy at the vet office, “Jenny” who works there had a special bond with Luka and kept close by him pre & post surgery. We thank you for that Jenny! Your awesome!
When we came to pick Luka up at the vet office Dr. RAE brought him in to us and he starting wagging his tail right away…I couldn’t believe it…! He’s so special!
Dr. RAE advised that not only did they fix up his hip but they also removed a pellet from his chest. Yes, a PELLET! Luka had also at some point in his life been shot by a pellet gun and the pellet was still lodge in his chest, and to prove the point we referred back to one of his earlier x-rays. Barry and I hadn’t seen it at first but now it was quite clear. Can you spot the pellet?
It’s the bright white spot at the far left of the image.
They also removed a tooth that was open, exposed, painful and now thankfully gone. Thank you Westbank Animal Care Hospital, Dr. RAE, Dr. PENNER, Jenny and the entire staff!
Even after only one week since surgery Luka was already weight bearing and wanting to get out and about.
Maggie and Luka have a nap together. Maggie rarely leaves his side and is quite fond of him as we all are.
Castanet in Kelowna, BC contacted us and did a wonderful story on Luka. Here’s the link: http://www.castanet.net/news/West-Kelowna/70910/Animal-lovers-go-above-and-beyond
Shortly after the Castanet story, CBC radio contacted us and we did a short interview with the local radio station all about Luka’s journey. Here’s the link for that too: http://www.cbc.ca/radiowest/2012/02/13/west-kelowna-family-rescues-dog-in-mexico/
Our little celebrity! ;D
UPDATE: Luka’s (aka Solovino’s) Journey!
After a few weeks of basic rehab it was time to start Physio. Lake Country Vet Hospital has a great set-up. Here is Luka in the underwater treadmill. He participated in 10 physio sessions with Pat and Susie and they were paramount in helping Luka through the hard part of rehab. Thank you Pat and Susie!!!
Some other good news, Jasper is coming around! It took him a couple of months but they have finally become one pack. It’s this a cool picture of them snoozing!
On April 15th Maggie, Jasper and Luka celebrated their birthdays. Maggie turned 5, Jasper turned 4 and Luka (we think) turned 3. They all got yummy doggy treats and wore party hats for the photo op. So cute!
My husband made this beautiful leather collar for Luka from scratch. Isn’t it awesome! I absolutely love it. He’s made one now for Maggie and Jasper too. You can see more of his creations at http://leatherbybaz.tumblr.com/
Luka has been participating in some trail walking with his pack for a while now. He still can’t run too fast and still has some weakness in his hind quarters but his spirit is getting stronger every day. He is our little hero!
Here’s a video of Luka and Jasper trail blazing, at the 1 minute mark Luka takes off running down the trail, this is the first time he’s run since his accident! Thankfully I had my camera on video! Video taken May 2012.
Luka had all kinds of adventures during his first year in Canada. We came across some coyote pups playing one day on a hike. I think they may have thought Luka was a coyote too! We moved on quickly as we didn’t want to upset the parents who were close by but I just couldn’t believe how the one pup just ran up to Luka. I was lucky enough to get some of it on video.
Luka loves camping and he gets so excited when we are about to head out on an adventure! As you can see he’s still running! I love this video of him taken October 2012.
There were so many people to thank who were involved and who helped in this process of supporting Solovino out of an impossible situation to bringing him to where he is now as Luka this name meaning “the bringer of light” in Italian and inspired by the Spanish word Lucha for “the fighter”. He is truly special and as with all the precious animals in this world deserving of a loving home.
Go out and adopt an animal today. You will be happier, healthier and richer in spirit for doing so, and be a responsible pet owner, spay & neuter your pets. ;D