Meet Ruger. He wandered into a Greenville, Tennessee woman’s garage in late November and collapsed. The severely emaciated dog was on his last legs and would not have survived the night if the kind-hearted woman hadn’t acted quickly and contacted Bright Hope Animal Rescue for help.
Jason and Amanda Hopson, who run the rescue, immediately drove out and took Ruger home. Over the next few hours it was touch-and-go. They even thought he had died at one point.
“He was cold, he was almost hard, just petting a skeleton with hair on it,” Jason Hopson told WBIR News at the time.
In the middle of the night, they rushed him to the Animal Medical Center of Greeneville and tests revealed he was beginning to bloat. Emergency surgery would need to be performed, but doctors gave him just a 20% chance of surviving given his condition.
Miraculously, he pulled through. The Great Dane mix’s biggest hurdle after his surgery is to gain weight. When the Hopson’s took him home he weighed just 48 pounds. After a stay in ICU and some mild meals, he began gaining weight and put on 5 pounds. But more importantly, a spark is coming back into his eyes.
The Hopsons posted on Ruger’s progress a month later on the Bright Hope Animal Rescue Facebook page:
“I can’t put into words what a joy today was. As all of you know, Ruger has a broken body…but we have amazing doctors to fix that. But what many of you don’t know as we haven’t really shared is that his spirit was also broken. He has not had any life in his eyes and really just didn’t get any enjoyment out of anything. This is heartbreaking to try so hard to get the life back into the eyes of his broken soul to no avail. We sadly thought that he may be so broken that it may not come back.”
“This is something that we have never not been able to overcome and we sure didn’t want Ruger to be the first. But then today when we went to visit. WE SAW A SPARK. WE SAW A DOG ENJOYING LIFE. WE SAW A DOG THAT WANTED TO LIVE!!! He met me in the lobby and WANTED his head scratched. He even put his ginormous paws on my lap and crawled on up. HE EVEN PLAYED WITH A BONE!!! He has a will to survive and a life to look forward to.”
“His hair is shiny. He is starting to get some muscle back. His front ribs are disappearing. His body is surviving on food and not consuming itself. This is all with only a 5 pound weight gain. I absolutely cannot wait to see what the next 5 pounds will do. This would simply not have been remotely possible without everyone’s support. Because of you all we are able to provide him with the best care possible for as long as he needs it.”
“He spends his days walking around the vet clinic building muscle, enjoying head scratches, and all the healthy food he needs. He walks when he wants and then takes a nap and then goes back to work walking and building those muscles. He will disappear and you can call “Ruger” and he will come wandering out of a random room he has been exploring.”
“I know this is anything but a normal case for Animal Medical Center of Greeneville, but I cannot even begin to express the gratitude we have for the Doctors and staff. They have essentially allowed Ruger to “move” in and live there until they feel he is stable enough to move into foster care. He still has a long road, but he sure is happy in his temporary home.”
For the next few months, Ruger was loved beyond measure. He enjoyed Christmas and the love and affection from his rescuers. But he was fighting complex, serious medical conditions. An MRI revealed that he has a large inoperable mass on his pituitary. The mass has started hemorrhaging and this caused the sudden onset of neurological symptoms. Despite receiving radiation treatments and getting top-of-the-line care, in January, Ruger took a turn for the worse and told his new family it was time to say goodbye.
“He passed in Jason’s arms surround by all his family at the vet clinic. He fought like hell to live. But today, he let us know he was ready,” Amanda wrote on Facebook. He may have not gotten the happy ending that we were praying for, but he didn’t die alone on that cold November night. Ruger had more love than I think any of us even know. His legacy will live on.”
And his legacy does live on.