Success Stories

Ralphie's Road To Recovery

A photo of two dogs in the same neighborhood as Dr. Holgate's clinic Had it not been for the help of two four-legged neighbors, they still may be circling the winding streets.

Dr. Holgate is a Navajo veterinarian serving her community residents and animals living in and around Tuba City, Arizona. The clinic sits above the town on a residential plateau, driveways connected by alternating gravel and paved streets.

For over a decade, the Reservation Animal Welfare (RAR) program has worked with Dr. Carol Holgate and sincerely appreciates this special partnership through our Animal Welfare service.

Even though we have been to the clinic many times over the years, it’s location always seems a little elusive. Case in point, during our pre-Christmas visit, the staff passed by her clinic twice and had it not been for the help of two four-legged neighbors, they still may be circling the winding streets.

A photo of Ralphie, the dog Dr. Holgate introduced us to Ralphie, a lanky tan pup.

Once we arrived, we were welcomed by Dr. Holgate before her first morning patient arrived. We are always aware of her time and began visiting about the current residents of the clinic.

She introduced us to Ralphie, a patient “going on about three weeks now.” A lanky tan pup, Ralphie was shy but enthusiastic about a new visitor. “I think he is part Shar-Pei,” Dr. Holgate told us. He kept close to Dr. Holgate until we took a seat on the floor and his tail began to wiggle with his head burrowed into excited, open arms. Scratches, hugs, and praise were all it took for him to get comfortable despite the waiting room surroundings and the visitor.

Dr. Holgate expanded, “His story we don’t know. We didn’t get any kind of history. This guy, he is pretty young and was critical when we got him. He was bleeding from his mouth and had a strong odor around him — almost like something was rotting — and he was icteric (yellow), like the white parts of his body.”

A photo of Ralphie, the pup Ralphie is just now getting his energy back and becoming a puppy again.

They conducted blood work and determined it was a tick related disease. Dr. Holgate added, “It affected his bone marrow and I didn’t know whether he would crash that night. He’s doing better but the recovery is slow for him. He was very fragile he was seeping blood all around his teeth and that was causing the odor in his mouth.”

They started Ralphie on a course of doxycycline. Fortunately, in a few days the seeping went down and after a week it was gone. His red and white blood cells and platelets were all affected, so his body needed to replenish those. It wasn’t Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, but rather “appeared to be Ehrlichiosis,” a tick-borne infectious disease of dogs, usually carried by the brown dog tick.

They see a lot of tick diseases. Dr. Holgate explained that “now that it’s colder we see the effects of it.” There was another case last week, and the symptoms were a repeat of how Ralphie presented. She related, “He was pretty bad. Lethargy is a first symptom some people say, ‘my dog got lazy,’ but lazy is ‘I don’t want to do it,’ and lethargy is ‘I can’t do it.’”

A photo of Ralphie, playing fetch Ralphie played with a ball for the first time while we visited.

Ralphie is still recovering, but has a little while before he can be turned over to the foster network and ultimately get adopted. He is just now getting his energy back and becoming a puppy again.

Dr. Holgate offered up a ball to see if he would fetch, and even though his legs were a little unsure on the tile floor, Ralphie went after the ball several times! She was really pleased to see he was socially active and even shouted to her husband Elward, “He went after the ball!” She then clarified that was his first time playing.

These small milestones are built upon one another. With a strong foundation of recovering from his illnesses, soon he will be well enough to woo a forever home into adding him as part of their family. RAR is so proud to partner with Dr. Holgate’s clinic and to be a small part of Ralphie’s recovery, as well as his ultimate rehoming! He was sure to have a blessed holiday with the Holgate’s and a wonderful new year with his friends at Desert View!

Thank you for helping us provide support for cats and dogs like Ralphie!