Fish the emaciated lab lucky to be alive finds forever home! - BC SPCA
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Fish the emaciated lab lucky to be alive finds forever home!

January 5, 2024

He was one of the biggest animal rescue stories of 2023. Fish, a nine-year-old Labrador retriever mix, wandered out of the woods in July in a remote area of Enderby, close to Kingfisher. He was skin and bones and covered in sores. Thankfully, there was a Good Samaritan in the area who was able to get Fish into their car and bring him to the BC SPCA’s animal centre in Shuswap.

With a body score of one out of nine, Fish required a veterinarian supervised feeding program to help him gain weight and muscle mass he lost after not eating for such a lengthy period. He also had dental surgery to remove the infected and broken teeth in his mouth. Fortunately, the sores on his body healed once he had a soft bed to sleep on.

After months of treatment, Fish fully recovered and was soon available for adoption. And just before the holidays Fish found the most amazing forever home. “We couldn’t be happier for Fish,” says Isabell Diederichs, assistant manager of the BC SPCA’s Shuswap animal centre. “He is the most loving dog who deserves the best home and he has that now.”

Who came to give Fish the forever home he deserves? A retired couple who are ready to give him a life filled with endless amounts of love and attention. Tony and Darlene lost their rescue dog Abby to illness in July. After grieving their loss, they started to look for another rescue dog they could bring into their home and shower with love. “We read a story about Fish and we just knew he was our dog,” says Tony. They sent in an application and got the good news that Fish was coming home with them.

Tony and Darlene got their first glimpse of how happy Fish was to be heading to his forever home when they picked him up. “We walked out of the animal centre and when we opened the door to our truck he jumped right in,” Tony says. “He didn’t hesitate at all.” That continued when they got him home. Darlene says that they have had a number of rescues over the years, and no dog settled in as fast as Fish. “Considering everything he has been through, his trust in people is just amazing,” she says. “He is just so loving and big hearted.”

A furry family member was waiting for Fish at his new home. Ballou, a rescue cat who had been close to Abby. “They got along right from the get-go,” says Darlene. “Fish was so calm and gentle around him.” Tony adds that Bilou and Fish now sweetly nap together on the couch. “Ballou was missing Abby terribly. He loves to spend time with Fish and is excited to see him when he gets back from his walks.”

One thing they are sure of is Fish’s love of walks. “When he knows it is time for a walk Fish will pick up your boots or shoes for you to help speed up the process or he will carry his leash,” says Tony. He then walks around excitedly until the door is open and they are on their way. “We have an amazing dog beach right by the lake that he loves. He has been so good with other dogs and just loves meeting new people.”

“We just want to make Fish the happiest dog we can,” says Darlene. “We are retired so there is always someone at home with him. Whatever he needs, he gets.” Tony adds that they are just thrilled they were able to bring him home and take care of him. “He rescued me.”

Update: Emaciated Labrador retriever lucky to be found alive in remote area

Original story: September 7, 2023

Fish, a nine-year-old Labrador retriever mix came out of the woods in a remote area in Enderby, close to Kingfisher. He was bone thin and covered in sores. Luckily, a good Samaritan was in the area and was able to get Fish into her car and get him to the BC SPCA in Shuswap.

“He was so sad looking when the finder first saw him,” says Meranda Dussault, manager of the BC SPCA’s Shuswap animal centre. “When Fish arrived, we took him right to the vet. He had a body score of one out of nine. An ideal body condition score is five.”

Fish needed IV fluids for dehydration, and a specialized diet and feeding schedule to safely get him on track to gain weight. He also required several tests to ensure his internal organs were still functioning after such a lengthy period of starvation. “We have to make sure he stays on the right path to recovery so for the foreseeable future he will be making regular trips to the vet clinic,” says Dussault.

So how has Fish been doing since he came into the BC SPCA’s care? In one word, great!

Dussault is thrilled to report that Fish has gained ten pounds! “We have watched him transform from a skinny, malnourished and wounded dog, into a bright eyed, energetic and playful dog with the heart of a lion,” says Dussault. “Fish still has a long way to go before he is totally healthy, but his progress so far has been remarkable.”

Fish when he was found and now after gaining ten pounds.

“The main thing we are working on is helping Fish regain his weight, muscle and strength,” says Dussault. “Fish was starved for so long he not only lost most of his body weight, he also lost a lot of muscle mass.” Dussault adds that Fish’s sores and superficial wounds have healed up nicely now that he has a nice soft bed to lay on. Once Fish has gained enough weight to safely undergo anaesthetic, he will also require dental surgery to remove the infected and broken teeth in his mouth.

“Fish’s eyes were glazed over and cloudy when he arrived in our care, now his eyes are bright and alert,” says Dussault. “He has such a powerful gaze…it feels like he is looking right into your soul.”

Fish is a resilient senior dog who still has a strong trust and bond to humans despite his hardships. In a perfect world for Fish, he would be curled up on your lap. He loves to be with his people more than anything else. When he sees you, he will wag his tail so hard that his whole body moves. “The biggest change in Fish is his energy level,” says Dussault. “When he first arrived, he could barely find the energy to stand up, though his tail still wagged even when he was unable to get up to greet you. Now it’s like the puppy has come out in him, he could play outside for hours.”

One of the things they have noticed about Fish is his amazing ability to catch flies. “He can spot, hunt and catch a fly like no other dog I have ever seen,” says Dussault. Who knew when BC SPCA staff named him Fish because he was found near Kingfisher, he would have a fly catching superpower!

Fish is still a few weeks away from being ready for adoption. He needs to gain approximately 10 more pounds before he will be healthy enough to complete his dental surgery. “We would love it if Fish could find a foster home to continue his recovery,” says Dussault. “If anyone can give this amazing senior a temporary home until we can find him his forever home, we would be so grateful.”