Matai’s Rescue Story – Chapter 1

After two of our Coconut Mutts volunteers lost their battle to save a kitten they had rescued, the stumbled upon another animal in need of rescuing. He was sick, emaciated and abandoned. Our volunteers didn’t hesitate to help…

The dog was trotting down the road – emaciated with his ribs rippling underneath his skin and his hips bone jutting out. Green pus ran over his eye and down one side of his face. I slowed the car down. The dog hugged the side of the road dodging overgrown hibiscus plants and ferns and continued past us. I stopped the car.

“We can’t leave him.”

“No. We can’t.”


We got out of the car in unison. Jess had a bag of chips we were snacking on in her hand. We eased ourselves around the back of the car making cooing noises and moving slowly so we wouldn’t frighten him. He was blond with white socks. His ears drooped over. He finally stopped a ways away from us. Jess threw some of the pretzel mix toward him.

“Good boy. Hey buddy,” she said.

I held my breath waiting to see what he would do. He could run. He could become aggressive. He could be friendly. He wagged his tail. I exhaled and gently opened the back on the car and began laying out a blue tarp and layers of the local American Samoan newspaper. Jess continued to talk to him as he wandered toward us – following the trail of Doritos, Cheetos and pretzels that she was tossing in front of him.

“Oh my god. Is he blind?!” I asked out loud.

Blood and pus completely covered the left side of his face and obscured his eye. One beautiful brown eye peered at us innocently as he came closer and closer. His fur was thin – not patchy like other other mangy dogs I had seen – but thin, like it was slowly fading away, revealing his bare skin underneath.


“I think I can pick him up,” Jess said without taking her gaze off him.

Before I knew it, she scooped him up into her arms. His mouth immediately unhinged…He didn’t move. He didn’t bite. He froze in Jess’ arms and let her carry him to the car. She gently down set him down. He curled up. His head up. His one eye alert. His other eye moved under the blanket of ooze.

“Maybe he wasn’t blind,” I thought.

His skin stretched across his skeleton. Bones and joints jutted out at all angles to the point where it seemed like his skin would break and split open. We pulled up to the vet clinic. Tanya came out of the door shaking her head. This was the fifth, maybe sixth time we had brought an animal in this week. Tanya looked at him and went quiet. We watched her as she watched him.

“Bring him inside so I can decide whether or not we can save him,” she said.


Jess carried into the clinic and set him on the exam table. We were both holding our breath this time – waiting for Tanya to make her decision. Could he be saved? Or were his injuries too severe? Wipes were produced and the dog’s face was cleaned. Tanya gently wiped the film off his face and with each pass of the cloth, the dog’s other beautiful brown eye was exposed until he looked at us with two perfect, innocent eyes. Finally she said, “Alright. Let’s see what we can do.”

Hands went to work. An IV. Fluids. Dewormer. Injections. Antibiotics. More cleaning. And the best part: Vienna sausages out of a tin can. The dog waited patiently, too weak to put up any protest to the attention he was receiving. By the time all that could be done was done, the tally of his injuries included:

  • Broken jaw
  • Fistula in his upper gum
  • Missing teeth
  • Various cuts on his face
  • Mange
  • Malnourished
  • Dehydrated
  • Poorly healed broken leg

We gently loaded him back into the car and took him home. His healing process began and his adventure was just beginning.

To be continued…



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