Saving Tiger – Part 3

“I can’t even give her 50/50.” The vet’s lead-weighted words dragged on the air in the room. No false hope. I appreciated that. It’s good to know what level you are fighting on. We drove home with Tiger for a long weekend.

My son poured himself into research on the internet. Surely someone else had battled this and won. He had bonded deeply with Tiger during those days and nights of doctoring. When I would be long in bed, he was still up, face to face with her pain and her fight against the enemy organisms that were eating at her body.

“These people say raw honey helped. I have some. I’ll add that and keep up with the hydrotherapy. After all, why not? What is there to lose?”

“Yeah, why not?” I said. “Why give up now?” We had a miracle going. Were we going to give up so easily? It was going to take persistence and patience.  Those require time and time is something we hate to spend, but nothing good comes without it.

He used a strong stream of water from the hose directly on the open wound, then pour raw honey into the hole, and bandage the leg. Three times a day. We saw the pain it caused her, but Tiger never bit us or snapped at us. She kicked a little, but she knew we were trying to help her. Her trust in us flowed from her eyes. Now she wore a Cone of Shame. I think that bothered her more than the treatments, but it kept her from licking the leg and making it worse.

I prayed for her. “She’s already a miracle, Lord.” I talked to Tiger over and over. “You are strong, girl. You are a fighter. We won’t quit. Don’t you quit.” She might not understand my words themselves, but I made my voice carry hope. Dogs understand your tone. But we needed more than hope. We needed a change. And we needed it by Monday.

Nothing changed Friday or Saturday. She still had a fever. She couldn’t put any weight on the leg with the gaping wound.

“Does it look better to you?” my son asked.

“About the same. But not worse.” We put so much pressure on how things look.


After church on Sunday, I ran into my friend, Meg.“Do you pray for animals?”


“Well, we have one that you can pray for. Tomorrow is D-Day.”

And we prayed, standing outside the church building in the open air and we believed that God heard us on Tiger’s behalf, on behalf of His animal, His creation. We asked for a new miracle. Everything is a miracle anyway. I have never created one thing, not the smallest grain of sand, not the tiniest speck of dust. We asked for a miracle – for a dog. Why not?

Sunday afternoon, the change came.

My son called me over when he removed the bandage. “The wound is closing. The hole is much smaller than it was.” It was. The change was dramatic.

When the vet saw it on Monday, her smile returned and she said the only thing she could. “Wow!”

To Be Continued


Copyright H.J. Hill 2016 All Rights Reserved

Saving Tiger – Part 2

Tiger knew the dog that attacked her. They had each escaped from the safety of their separate kennels while their owner was not at home. If Tiger had stayed in her place, she would have been okay, maybe. The attacker was aggressive. Tiger should have been mindful of that. But then so should I have been mindful in my own life. Watchful, alert, awake around aggressive humans.

We were Tiger’s guardians now. My son took her in out of a strong heart and the merest breath of a hope.

“50/50, huh,” I told her, sitting by her side and feeding her again with the syringe. “Let’s up those odds on our side, girl.” 50/50 just didn’t sound right. I laid my hand on her head and prayed for God’s mercy to His creature. And to us. Hope reflects light and light shows things for what they really are. I needed hope and so did the dog.

The next evening she stood up for the first time since the attack, on three legs, not four, but she was up. Then she pooped. I was never so happy to see a dog poop in my life. She chewed on the end of the plastic feeding syringe so we offered her food and water in bowls and she lifted her head readily for each and ate. My son put the medications in soft dog food that he mashed into attractive meatballs in his hand. Tiger devoured them.

My job ended at noon on Monday. I told them it was my last day. I decided not to fade away.

That afternoon, to everyone’s amazement, Tiger walked with us into the vet’s office on her own. The doctor smiled. From being carried in my son’s arms and out on a towel stretcher one day to walking, albeit slowly and gingerly a few days later, was a miracle. We all need miracles at least once in a while. The 50/50 chance was erased from our minds. “I’ll see her again on Friday,” the vet said.

When I got up Wednesday morning and walked by Tiger’s crate, bright red goop was on the floor. Tiger’s worst leg wound had opened up and a deep tissue infection had burst out. It was a danger the vet had worried about, but we had hoped Tiger was beyond it when she responded so quickly those first few days.

When the vet saw her, she no longer smiled. The wound was deep enough that a man could put his fist in it. Amputation was no longer an option, if it ever had been. This breed doesn’t always handle it well and the hidden infection had likely spread further up in the leg. Hydrotherapy, another antibiotic that works against anaerobic bacteria, and that was it. The vet said that she had seen dog’s legs literally dissolve from this. If Tiger lasted the weekend, Monday we would have a decision to make.

To Be Continued


Copyright H.J. Hill 2016 All Rights Reserved


Saving Tiger – Part 1

Some stories require more words. Tiger’s story is that kind.

The week had started out for me as the best of times or the worst, depending on your interpretation of the same events. My job was ending, something I had desired since I had started there five years before. Still the news arrived suddenly, an abrupt announcement, no fanfare.

“You are burnt out.”

So this is what burn out looks like. He should know. He set the fire. He told me to go part-time and then “fade away”. I must be an old soldier. According to General Douglas MacArthur, isn’t that what they do?

To be honest, I was no longer where I was supposed to be. The time to leave had fully come. I have always chased a paycheck and not even a good paycheck. I was afraid to let God use me. I was afraid of what His use would look like. Anyone in this society can say, “She had to go to work.” There is immediate understanding, immediate acceptance. Everyone is on board with that. And some really important things get shoved aside, shunted aside, because everyone understands. Money, right? What else is there to do? If someone says, “She had to chase a dream,” embarrassed silence lets you hear all the crickets chirping in the background.

The day after the “fade away” announcement, I went part-time. An hour before I was to leave for the day, my son called me.

A friend of his had an Olde English Bulldogge that had been attacked and mauled badly by another dog of his. The friend could not care for the bulldog. He didn’t have the time or the money and it was going to take both. And the dog might die anyway. He would give my son the dog if he would take her on. My son went and picked her up. She was prostrate, muddy, her legs gouged by multiple bites. The other dog had shaken her; worrying is what they call it, when an animal grips and shakes a victim. That’s where we get the word. That’s what worry does to us – grabs us, shakes us, rips us.

Would I be willing, my son asked, to pick up some puppy replacement milk on the way home. He had cleaned her up, but he had to get to work. Sure, I said. When I got home, she was on her side, breathing and little else. We mixed the puppy milk and he ran on to his job. Then I sat beside her and pushed the milk and water into her mouth with a long-nosed plastic syringe. She drank it, gratefully, I think.

A few hours before, I had been sitting in a clean, well-lit office, hoping for a future I could not see, and that afternoon, I was sitting on the floor, feeding a mangled dog that I had never seen before. It was the best day I could remember for quite a while. So this is what it looked like to be used by God.

The vet gave us 50/50 for her chances of survival and even that was hopeful. She gave us pain meds and antibiotics. She would see us again Monday if…well, if there were still a reason. On the way home from the vet’s office, the dog lifted her head from the car seat. It took a lot out of her to do that, but I think she wanted us to know that she was trying, fighting. If we would, she would.

My son had seen the dog at his friend’s house when she was younger. She was a fine dog, he said, beautiful and active. A jumper with powerful, springing legs. I had a hard time imagining it and I can imagine quite a bit.  A lemon brindle, she had just turned a year old the week before the attack. Her stripes gave her the appearance of a tiger. It hurt him to see her that way. “He called her a name that means ‘Fat Girl’, but if she had been mine, I would have called her ‘Tiger’.”

“She’s yours now,” I told him. “Call her ‘Tiger’.” Apart from the stripes on her coat, she was no tiger at all. Head on paws, paws tucked in, all drawn up as tight as she could make her long body, and back legs oozing and draining, blood and more mud and fluids. Tiger. Better than Fat Girl. Hopeful. Strong. Tiger.

To Be Continued


 Copyright H.J. Hill 2016 All Rights Reserved