Thanks to fortunate timing and a pair of Good Samaritans, a young dog survived a life-threatening injury sustained while exploring the great outdoors.
Michele Hillier and her partner, Danny Dares, had been hiking a familiar path along Cable Bay Trail on Dec. 31 with Pip, a two-year old Australian shepherd, when the dog hurt itself.
“Pip was running through the woods and launched into a blunt stick – basically, like a big blunt log – and was immediately injured,” said Courtnay Huber, Hillier’s daughter-in-law, who was not with them at the time.
The pup was in such shock from the injury that she bit Hillier’s hand when she reached out to console her pet.
“It was a pretty hairy scene, by the sounds of it,” Huber said.
Hillier and Dares had a two-kilometre trek back to the parking lot, and the pup needed to be carried back. Dares struggled with Pip for approximately half a kilometre before the couple came across a group of friends walking their own dogs.
“When we came upon them, [Hillier] had her hand wrapped … and they just looked stressed … her partner was quite out of breath,” said David King, who was the first to ask if the couple was all right.
King and his friend, Brent Murphy, offered to carry the pup the rest of the way.
“Pip was just a total champ the whole way,” Murphy said. “Maybe she was in shock, or who knows, but we couldn’t really tell from the dog’s reaction what the situation was.”
“Honestly, we had thought Pip had just broken her leg,” King said. “When I first picked up Pip … she didn’t feel heavy at all, but after two or five minutes … I see why [Dares] was so tired.”
Since Hillier required medical attention for the bite, Pip was dropped off with Huber and immediately taken to Central Island Veterinary Emergency Hospital in Nanaimo.
“At which point, [she] was swelled up like a little balloon … she had air trapped under her skin,” Huber said.
The vet identified the injury as a ruptured trachea and immediately sedated and x-rayed the dog.
“They had to tap her chest because her chest cavity was filled with air and it was collapsing her lungs,” Huber said. “So, probably 30 minutes to losing her.”
Pip’s life was saved just in the nick of time, and Huber said she is immensely grateful for the “phenomenal care, second-to-none” provided by the veterinary hospital.
“I look at her and I can’t believe we still have her because we were so close to losing her,” she said.
While Pip is recovering well and should have no lasting effects, the pup will need to refrain from “big walks” for four to six weeks.
Two days later, with her dog on the mend, Huber wanted to thank the Good Samaritans who helped on that potentially fateful day and so she took to Facebook. Within two hours of posting a picture of Murphy and King, which has been shared nearly 2,000 times and appeared in dozens of Nanaimo-based Facebook groups, they were recognized.
“It’s pretty wild how quickly those connections can happen,” King said, noting that a friend of a friend had recognized them in a local hiking group.
“It was nice to see everyone’s reactions online and we were just super happy that Pip was OK and that we were able to help out,” Murphy said. “It didn’t really seem like a heroic thing or anything like that … It really was just the right thing to do … But it was nice to see that people thought that it was nice enough to share.”