Vizsladogs, Ltd.

Zack "the miracle man"

By Gael Johnson

It was Monday night, December 13th 1999. I was at agility class with my dog Zack. As many of you probably can relate to, being a Vizsla, this was not a natural sport for him. We had worked hard and he was really coming along. In fact, this night, he was making his rao rao growling noise going through some of the obstacles, he was having so much fun, and so was I.

He had just finished a run, coming off one of the obstacles, when a dog fight broke out a ways from us. A Shepard had gone off his stay, and attacked a Weimaraner that the owner was throwing a Frisbee for. I am sure the Shepard had seen this as teasing and had had enough.
Having heard many dog fights in my life I did not realize that I had a little mental barometer of how long they usually last, but this one kept going. My husband happened to be there that night, and right as the fight began he said his instinct was to jump into the ring and help, but didn't. We all thought it would be under control quickly.

What happened next went so fast, and at the same time seemed to be slow motion. The Weimaraner got away, the Shepard ran over, and attacked Zack from behind, biting him. Zack freaked out, and ran, jumping over the fence that made the ring and into the parking lot of the park. My husband I, and several others ran after him, screaming his name. I heard some people saying "don't chase him". Now, I know this is good advice if a dog is being playful and won't come, but it was totally useless in this situation.

When we got to the end of the parking lot, a man said he had heard the telltale thud of Zack being hit by a car. We flew across the street, but he was nowhere to be found. It was somewhat reassuring that he could still move, but scary as to what damage had been done.

My husband went home to get his cell phone and make flyers (I got a cell phone for Christmas that year!). I called my sister, who lived right down the street to come help. She says she will never forget the sound in my voice when I told her what happened. We got in her car and with about 4 other cars, including the lady who owned the Shepard, broke up into areas, and started searching. One of the people who were helping was a sales rep for animal medical supplies. She had a cell phone, and called every 24 hour vet, and all the shelters in the area to alert them to the possibility that he might show up. The street he went down was a busy main boulevard, lined on one side with apartments. Behind all the apartments there were alleys and parking spaces, which backed up to the freeway. He could be anywhere, and searching was so frustrating and scary. What if he was hurt and hiding, or dead? I could not imagine how scared he must be, and wondering where we were! Almost worse was the thought that I might never find him.

We had a 7-11 parking lot as our meeting point. We drove all around and around. At one point, my sister and I were at a stop, and I put out the most fervent prayer I could, it was getting late, and I was so scared. (It turns out that he was found right across the street from where we were at that moment.) We drove around the corner into the 7-11 lot, and the lady whose dog started the whole thing ran up to the car, saying, "They found him!!" That was the most wonderful moment ever; it felt like finding the proverbial needle in a haystack!! He was at a shelter about 15 minutes away, and I swear it took 2 days to get there! We got to the shelter, and I just went up to the window yelling "you have my dog!!". The man told me to hold on, I think a bit taken aback by this crazed woman yelling at him, and directed me to the door. He had kept Zack in the waiting room with him, not putting him in a cage. Zack saw me, and gingerly got up and his little tail wagged a little bit as he came to me. I almost lost it totally at that moment. He was obviously hurt and had a couple small bites on his face. It turned out he had gone a mile with a broken pelvis, crossed a main intersection, and a FREEWAY on-ramp. Two girls had found him and taken him to the shelter. We carefully got him to my sister's car, and put him in, after making sure that everyone felt he was ok to go to the emergency we usually used near us. On the way there, he spent a few minutes telling us quite vocally about the trauma he had been through. It was a moment of typical Vizsla humor between the horrors of what had happened. There were also moments when he was in lots of pain, so the trip there was hard.

I had called Paul to have him meet me at the vet. I am sure my sister dropped me off with Zack, and she may have stayed there for awhile also, but I don't really remember. Since he did not seem to be in critical state, they made us wait a bit longer than I thought they should, but got us in fairly quickly. Once they started touching him it was evident he had a problem in his pelvic region. I felt so bad when they examined him and he would just scream in pain. We had to leave him there so they could sedate him to X-ray and look at him. We went home and just waited until about 1:00 a.m. when we could call. It turned out he had a broken pelvis. Fortunately it was on a non-bearing area, and the prognosis good.

We brought him home, and started the healing process. We took him to a specialist who confirmed the original diagnosis, and told us he would most likely heal totally, but he had to be kept quiet because it had to heal naturally. There would be no surgery, or cast that could help. Ok, we are talking a Vizsla here, one used to careening around the yard at high speed with two other dogs. So, he had to be kept away from the other dogs for several weeks. We took him to Paul's mom's house sometimes, since at that time she only had a small Chihuahua, and keeping him quiet was easy. Other times, we just locked him in the bedroom with potty breaks. In the beginning it was easy to keep him quiet because he was very sore. He would turn in the night, and wake us up with his screaming from the pain. It seemed forever before he was healed.

Once he was healed, he had a huge fear problem at the park. I thought that, even tho his body was healed, his agility career might be over due to him being terrified at the park. I did not want him to be stressed, so it seemed like he might not be able to continue. I had started working with a trainer to do some obedience with him, and got lots of good information from him, even completed his CGC. I started taking Zack to agility with me when I would train one of our other dogs, Lily. I would put him in the X-pen, where he seemed to feel fairly safe. I would give him tons of treats, and would also throw them to him from the ring when I was waiting for Lily's turn. Eventually, I would try him in the ring, taking him out the minute he got stressed at all, usually evidenced by him not taking food. He was getting better, but still had some problems with class where he would get really skittish and afraid.
I decided to call an animal communicator who had helped me before with Zack and my other dogs. I knew that whether or not this was something everyone was up for or believed, if she could help me, I did not care if it was real or not. Her earlier advice about Zack and agility had helped me to get on a better track with him, so I really trusted that she could help now.

I told her about the accident, and really laughed hard when she said "oh yeah, and he is still talking about it!" It was so very Zack, as he is our little drama boy! I told her the problem I was having with the park. She told us that we needed to let him know how very brave we thought he was to be there after the accident, and just brave in general. We were also to tell him that we would protect him, no matter what, and boy, was that easy to do.
I could not believe it! The very first time we tried it, I saw a difference! It certainly could have been the culmination of all the training I had done. Combining that with the treats, I have been able to get Zack back into agility, and he got his first qualifying score at the first Trial I took him too after it!! You can see how much fun he is having again from the picture. I had been to the Nationals in Los Banos, and Zack had not been able to compete, so I am really looking forward to the Nationals this year. He is in such great shape now, and I am thankful every day that he got through this ok. He is now sometimes known as the Miracle Man, and he truly is!!

Vizsladogs, Ltd.
5-21-95 © 1995 - 2006
Last updated 02