Tuffy - the pup who never gave up

When a vet tells you to prepare yourself, you know you're going to be in for a shock. But nothing prepared me, as this pathetic little form lay shivering on his towel in the recovery cage after being brought in to our hospital in Chengdu.  A tiny naked pup, with a red raw body that looked like a huge blister, looking out at the world with bulging eyes and the misery of an animal who couldn't understand why he had been punished with pain. 

Tuffy 1 - beforeFor the crime of chewing on a mobile phone, Tuffy had been doused with boiling water and thrown out of a fourth floor apartment window onto the concrete ground below.  Miracles have a strange way of presenting themselves, and Tuffy had already seen two miracles in his very short life.  It's said that people who jump out higher than the third floor of a burning building are unlikely to survive -  Tuffy escaped this particular incident with a bruised and battered body, but thankfully his bones unbroken and intact. 

The second miracle was the extent of his burns which, when over 50% of the body, it's said that the animal is not expected to survive. With over 60% burns, Tuffy slowly earned his name as the definition of toughness each day, as he silently "asked" for a chance through a language that can only be described as a desperate will to survive.

Tuffy 1 Those days saw a slow but positive response to his 24 hour care by the most amazing vet team in the world. A lick of dog food, a look to the left at a new toy placed gently beside him, a low bark whenever anyone entered the room, and a million other signs that Tuffy was determined to live.

Tuffy - toyHe quickly learned that being gently lifted on to the surgery table would mean an uncomfortable few minutes as his bandages were changed each day........his pitiful whimpers broke our hearts as he was gently sedated and silently slipped in to sleep. Over the weeks, sedation was gradually replaced by a never ending supply of distracting snacks, and he began to take the bandage changing more into his stride. The bandages became more "artistic" every time they were wrapped around his naked little form.  Creative crescent moons (after our moon bears), red love hearts, and xxx's lovingly cut out of crepe were all stuck on by our adoring vet team, as if he were being fitted for a new designer jacket each day.

tuffy - bandagesAnd slowly he responded, as a team who would normally be caring for the bears were now determined to do everything in their power to bring this burned and blistered victim of shameful abuse to life.

tuffy - recoveringI'd walk in to the surgery to see Tuffy tearing around the room after a never ending supply of balls and toys, with the strangest wobbliest gait known to caninekind. The entire vet team pandering to his every whim, almost competing as to who could think up the silliest game that would keep this rambunctious, increasingly joyous puppy entertained.

My never ending respect for Eddie, Mandala, Wendy, Emily, Jen, Max, Wen Yan, Nic, Nguyen, Christe and Alaine, all who spent long hours and nights around the clock helping Tuffy's mission to live another day, and another day after that...

Team TuffyAs with all burns victims, the skin began to tighten on his body - and now would come the time after his burns had healed when he would need multiple nips and tucks, and a skin graft too to loosen the skin and see him walking as "normally" as possible - and yet more nips allowing his eyes to properly close in sleep.

I cried at the irony of it all, as our vet team gently explained that one of the healthiest places to take the skin for the graft was from his scrotum. Tucked under his body, this had been a place where the boiling water hadn't reached -  so Tuffy was duly castrated and nothing went to waste.  The procedure was perhaps the third miracle in his life of several weeks.......the graft took and soon, bearing a proud and shiny scar that joined all the other multiple scars from loosening his skin, Tuffy was almost walking normally like the proper dog he was born to be.

Tuffy - recoveryThroughout this time, these wonderful young Chinese women - Yan Ying Ying and her friends - who had picked up this dying puppy from the highrise courtyard and brought him to our door, were making daily trips to our hospital.  Both with jobs in Chengdu, they would drive the hour out to our sanctuary just to be near him with thoughts and prayers. They created a wonderful t-shirt, "Team Tuffy", featuring a googly eyed pup, and began posting his story on the Weibo so that people across China could follow and support the recovery of this brave little dog.

Tuffy - healedToday, they have Tuffy at their home (despite a queue about a mile long from those of us in Chengdu who all volunteered to take him) and a life he could only have dreamed of with their domestic cat who has also grown into his new best friend.  Spoiled rotten, he has a bigger wardrobe than Paris Hilton, and his hoodies and coats of many colours would put Joseph to shame.

tuffy - coatBrave and fearless, he has grown from a depressed and miserable shell of an animal to a proper dog who barks at strangers while his previously singed and now ragged ears wobble in the wind.

oiutsideAnd he couldn't be more loved...


Read more of Tuffy's story and watch his video in our news article

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