It Takes a Nation: The Amazing Rescue of Nick and Noel

It was shortly before Christmas 2013, when Dawn Weeks, a Corgi owner active in Corgi related Facebook groups, learned of two Corgis in a Louisiana shelter in desperate need of help. The dogs, a male and female, who at the time went by the names Galaxy and Integra, were owner surrenders by a husband and wife who reported that the wife had become allergic to them. In reality, the dogs were infested with scabies, which was the likely cause of the “allergy,” and were in such a poor state that their survival was questionable. What happened to them over the course of the next few months was simply a miracle. This is their story.

The Amazing Rescue of Nick and Noel

Photo Credit: Dawn Weeks

“All the Life in Their Eyes Was Gone”

Dawn was six hours away from the shelter where the dogs were being held and was having difficulty getting them pulled. She contacted Judith Rivet from Cajun Corgi Rescue seeking assistance. When Judith spoke to the shelter, she was warned that the dogs were in such poor shape that any attempt to help them might be futile. Judith, whose rescue did not have much in the way of funds, was sent a photograph of the dogs and found herself completely shocked by their appearance. “I sat in my car and cried,” she said, “and I told myself I would have to work till I was 100, then just looked up and said, I’m going to jump off this cliff and save these babies, please catch me.” From there, she committed to rescuing them, no matter the cost.

Nick and Noel before
Initial photos of Nick and Noel were heartbreaking

Photo Credit: Judith Rivet and White Oak Animal Hospital

The dogs were delivered by the shelter to White Oak Animal Hospital, and the diagnosis was poor. They were seriously neglected, infected with scabies, had numerous parasites, and worst of all had advanced heartworm disease. The male was overweight, but not necessarily well nourished. He also had mobility problems. They were renamed Nick and Noel based on the Christmas holiday. Judith initially doubted that they would live. As she described it, “Their skin was raw meat. Nick was just oozing blood, but worst of all the life in their eyes was gone.” The Corgis had seemingly given up, but Judith held out hope. She said, “Even when I could not touch them because of their scabies, I would sit and tell them how great life was going to be.”

corgi rescue before
Nick and Noel had seemingly lost their will to live

Photo Credits: Judith Rivet and White Oak Animal Hospital

The Power of a Nation

Corgi lovers on Facebook and the Internet affectionately call themselves “Corgi Nation.” As an author, I follow many animal-related social media accounts, and the power of this breed specific group is among the strongest I have ever seen. Facing the prospect of an expensive cycle of boarding and treatment, Dawn turned to Corgi Nation for help. Dawn set up a Facebook group to run a nine-day auction, ultimately attracting 700 members. Over 125 items were donated, ranging from small trinkets to valuable custom portraits. The result: just under $10,000. Meanwhile, people began calling the animal hospital to donate funds directly.

Dawn described it as a Christmas miracle. Still, it was a difficult situation. As Dawn described it:

“I was staring heartbreak square in the eyes. My brain knew they would not be able to overcome such illness, they were too far gone and had given up their will to fight, but my heart wouldn’t give in. It was very hard to keep promoting, campaigning, and trying to stay positive knowing what the end result would probably be, but somewhere along the line, they must have felt the prayer and love being sent their way, be in donations, bids, or just moral support. Every time my phone rang, or a text came in, my heart sank, just knowing it was Judith saying we lost one of them. There wasn’t anything that was healthy on them. They truly were fighters.”

And fight they did.

Nick and Noel began to show signs of happier life as their treatment progressed.

 Photo Credit: Judith Rivet and White Oak Animal Hospital

As treatment progressed on the parasites and skin condition, life began to return to the Corgis’ eyes. Amazingly they pulled through. No longer was there fear of an immediate death. However, the next roadblock was yet to come. They had to undergo heartworm treatment.

Dawn with Nick and Noel
Dawn visits Nick and Noel as they began to come back to life

 Photo Credit: Dawn Weeks and White Oak Animal Hospital

Are You Educated About Heartworms?

Heartworms are transmitted via mosquito and can be deadly. They also are entirely preventable with affordable prophylactic monthly medication. But the sad fact is that many pets, especially those who are abused or neglected, do not receive heart worm prevention.  As heartworms crowd the heart and lungs, the animal will develop a cough that progresses into weakness because they will become winded easier. With severe heartworm disease, the animal can pass out from the loss of blood to the brain and retain fluids. Eventually, most animals will die if they are not treated. Treatment involves injection with an arsenic-based product. The injection kills the worms, but as they die and break up, they can cause dangerous blockages of pulmonary vessels, especially if the animal is active. Thus, it is imperative that the animal be kept confined and inactive during that time. Heartworm treatment can kill a pet. Learn more about heartworm disease and prevention.

heartworm prevention

 Photo Credits: Elizabeth Lloyd   and Nomadic Lass

By Late February, Nick and Noel were looking almost normal and were finally happy, unaware that their heart worm treatment was about to begin. Then the worry began anew. Dawn noted that the heartworm treatment was” brutally hard” on them. Because the infestation was so heavy, they went through several methods of killing the worms. Dawn said, “We prayed … HARD. We watched them regress from happy, somewhat healthy Corgis, to not even wanting to get up again with each hard kill treatment, but it was a necessary evil.” During that time, Corgi Nation held its breath, watched, and prayed. By late April, Nick and Noel were cured. Once declared free of heart worms, Noel who was unaltered, was scheduled to be spayed. However, she developed a urinary tract infection that first had to be treated. Finally, in late April, she was spayed, and the Corgis were ready to leave the animal hospital.

Judith with Nick and Noel
Judith with Nick and Noel on their adoption day

 Photo Credit: Judith Rivet and White Oak Animal Hospital

The Happy End of A Four Month Journey

Over four months later, on May 1, 2014, two healthy Corgis, who were once doubted to survive, left the animal hospital to face a bright new chance at life. The changes were remarkable. Dawn noted that once Nick recovered from the scabies and intestinal parasites, he started to blossom. She told me: “He is the happiest, silliest most lovable guy I know. He insists on being in your lap and assaulting you with his very thick tail! He is extremely laid back and goes along with anything as long as there’s some loving involved.” Noel meanwhile, who was focused on food and surviving in the beginning, began to become more social. Dawn observed that “She wasn’t much on getting love, but by no means was mean or distrusting.” As Dawn put it, “She was still in survival mode. I’ve seen the biggest psychological change in her. She is now just like Nick. She hasn’t shown any attachment to toys yet, but has decided she’s a fan of belly rubs and has actually started to ba-roo, a form of Corgi speak that they are famous for.”

corgis looking good
Happy at last

Photo Credit: Judith Rivet and  Dawn Weeks

Nick and Noel Today

Both dogs initially went to stay with Dawn, who had four Corgis of her own. However, after an incident where Noel became seriously aggressive to the other dogs, the two were split up, with Nick remaining with Dawn and Judith taking Noel. While the initial desire had been to keep the two together, it may have been a blessing in disguise. With Noel away, Nick, who was very submissive, came out of his shell. Dawn reports that he is doing incredibly well, telling me: “He’s starting to play with the young ones and has settled into the routine perfectly. He has lost four pounds and is getting around better. I’m doing home water therapy with him daily in the wading pool which also seems to be helping.”

nick collage

Photo Credits: Dawn Weeks

Meanwhile, Noel is adjusting to life with Judith and enjoying her time assisting in taking care of horses. Judith reports that “Noel is doing well. She was very nervous when she first came in. But she is very smart and has my routine down better them me. She loves being a cowgirl and is the first one in the car to go to the barn in the morning. She has the sweetest smile I have ever seen on a Corgi.”

Noel collage

 Photo Credits: Judith Rivet

A Wonderful Life

Everyone knows the phrase “it takes a village” when it comes to caring for our children. When caring for our pets, sometimes it takes a nation. Judith summed it up perfectly while Nick and Noel were still at the animal hospital:

“Their story is really the true meaning if Christmas. Two little Corgis left at a shelter to die two weeks before Christmas with no life left in their eyes. A shelter director who got them to rescue instead of putting them down. Me, an elder lady who knew when she saw their pictures after so many years of rescue that their bill would be so high she would have to have two jobs to pay it. The vet hospital that took them even when I said I did not have much money in my rescue pocket. To all the people who began to call the hospital donating to their care (Judith would not accept money personally). They have people who still check up on them from Australia. And to Dawn Weeks who ran an auction for them. Yesterday, I was there, and my kids and I like to sit on the bench and watch the staff walk the dogs before closing. Their ears perked up, smiles on their faces, and I thought of Jimmy Stuart. ‘It’s a Wonderful Life.'”

Yes, it is a wonderful life indeed.

You can continue to follow Nick and Noel by joining the Nick and Noel Facebook group.

See more from my own corgis at Corgilicious and Puppy on a Roomba.







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