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Ella came from a breeder who wasn't able to keep her because of her many physical disabilities.  They felt their only option was to have little Ella put to sleep.  A neighbor asked them to wait a couple of days before they followed through with Ella's euthanasia and give her a chance to find a rescue for Ella.  A mass email was sent out to dozens of rescues up and down the east coast, and surprisingly several rescues replied to the email to help Ella.  After speaking to them all, the breeder felt that Sanctuary Rescue was the best choice to care for this little girl.  When Ella arrived at Sanctuary Rescue, she had just turned six weeks old and barely weighed three pounds.  She had pneumonia and a severe bladder infection.  We picked Ella up on a Friday and took her straight to the vet.  Things looked pretty grim, and we all just decided to see if she lived through the weekend.  Well, Ella lived through the weekend and the weekend after that and the weekend after that and the weekend after

that . . .

When we first agreed to take Ella into rescue, all we knew was that there was something wrong with her back legs; she couldn't stand or walk.  But that was the extent of our understanding.  We were hoping it was just a developmental issue that some hydrotherapy would correct over time.  After a couple of visits with our regular vet, numerous X-rays and a visit to a veterinary neurological specialist, we learned that Ella's problems with her back legs were much worse than we had anticipated.

Although Ella suffers from several medical conditions, the one that is most impactful is a condition called hemivertebrae.  While this can be somewhat common in some breeds of dogs and never becomes symptomatic, unfortunately Ella's deformed vertebrae has resulted in severe spine damage and complete paralysis from midback down.  She also is missing her left hip.  Yes, you read that right.  The ball part of the ball-and-socket hip joint on her left side never developed.  So Ella's left leg is connected with muscle but not bone.  Ella was also born with a few twisted ribs, and her heart is fused to the right side of her body.  It seemed every time we had an X-ray done of Ella, we would find out a new medical issue she was dealing with. 

It has been suggested many times that Ella be euthanized.  And as a rescue who takes in the sickest of the sick and the most broken of the broken, that is unfortunately a decision we've had to make a few times over the years.  We are strong enough to make the hard decisions.  However, with Ella it was different.  There was another layer to it.  Everyone who knew her on a personal level instantly fell in love with her, while the medical professionals that saw her in the office basically thought she would be too much trouble to take care of as a crippled, incontinent rescue pet.  And while we almost always follow our vet's recommendations, we just had a hard time seeing eye to eye with them when it came to Ella.  Despite all of her difficulties, Ella never seemed to be in pain; she never seemed to be suffering.  As a matter of fact, she has been one of the most vibrant and alive dogs we've ever encountered.  So we decided that we would let Ella decide her fate.  And over the last several months Ella has decided whole-heartedly to live.  Ella is silly, and happy and playful and snuggly.  She likes to go to the mall, wear pretty dresses, eat pupcakes, play with her sisters and sniff out rabbits in the backyard.  There is really not a moment that she is not living life to the fullest.

As Ella grew and got stronger, something unexpected happened.  She began to stand up and eventually even began walking.  As you can imagine, a dog with no hip's version of walking isn't as graceful as you're used to seeing; however, it gets our sweet Ella from A to B, and she's quite proud of herself.  It turns out that although Ella is paralyzed, and her brain is not telling her legs to walk, she has rythmic muscle spasms in her legs that give her enough movement to walk and wag her tail.  Running is more like a hop, but she is still pretty fast.

Ella has become Sanctuary Rescue's mascot.  She has a spirit like no dog we've ever known.  If dogs can have positive attitudes, then we'd say Ella is the poster child for positivity.  She amazes us every day when she learns to do things like go up and down steps.  She's never met a person, place or thing that she doesn't love.  Ella is our resident puppy professor.  As we welcome new puppies into rescue, she is the first to greet them and show them the ropes.  We like to say that Ella is giving them life instructions.  And believe us when we say, no dog is more equipped to give life instructions than our Ella.  Click here to follow the daily adventures of Ella Super Beagle.

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