Everyone’s Dog: How one miraculous pup won the heart of Agassiz-Harrison

Hank, a 2-year-old hound mix, rests in his Harrison Hot Springs home.  No one knows exactly where he came from, but kind strangers and capable caretakers all helped nurse the dog back to health after a frightening experience.  (Photo/Heather Macpherson)Hank, a 2-year-old hound mix, rests in his Harrison Hot Springs home. No one knows exactly where he came from, but kind strangers and capable caretakers all helped nurse the dog back to health after a frightening experience. (Photo/Heather Macpherson)
When Hank first appeared in the community, he was clearly not well, not eating or moving much due to severe gastrointestinal issues.  (Photo/Heather Macpherson)When Hank first appeared in the community, he was clearly not well, not eating or moving much due to severe gastrointestinal issues. (Photo/Heather Macpherson)
Now that he's healthy again, Hank is rarely seen without a smile on his face.  (Photo/Heather Macpherson)Now that he’s healthy again, Hank is rarely seen without a smile on his face. (Photo/Heather Macpherson)

No one knows where he came from. No microchip, no collar and no one coming to claim him, Hank the hound was alone, weak and very sick – out of puppyhood at just 2 years old.

Little does he know that his life is about to change for the best when he stumbles into a local garage and collapses.

Veteran dog rescuer Heather MacPherson, along with frequenters of local Facebook groups, had seen Hank before, roaming around for at least a week before he stopped. He was clearly sick and sick and literally walked until he couldn’t walk anymore, until one fateful day he took refuge in a neighboring garage.

“He can’t get up,” said Macpherson. “(The homeowner) posted that he didn’t know what to do with this dog.”

With the help of a volunteer and a pickup truck, MacPherson took Hank to the Kent Veterinary Clinic. Dr. Laura Madsen stayed with Hank late, making sure he was hydrated, MacPherson said. However, Hank’s condition worsened overnight.

“He started vomiting, he was so thirsty,” she recalled. “We brought him back in the morning, and he was very sick and very dehydrated.”

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Although Hank is dealing with a severe gastrointestinal infection, he is determined to continue. Dr. Carly Rica administered medication and gave Hank fluids through an IV, a task McPherson took over when she drove him home that night.

At that point, Hank had a 20 to 25 percent chance of survival. Tests showed that his intestines were filled with gas and he was not passing stool. There are fears that Hank may have suffered from gastric torsion, a rare and often fatal disorder in which a dog’s stomach fills with gas and twists inside them.

While Hank was fighting for his life, the community stepped up its collective philanthropy, providing money for his veterinary bills as well as a raincoat, bowls, dishes, towels, food and rides to the vet.

“People have really come together. It’s been very encouraging,” MacPherson said. “The amazing miracle is that everything has come together. (The community) has completely covered his vet bills, neutering and vaccines for the new owners. Hank has become a type of Agassiz dog; he’s Harrison Haute. Also popular in the springs!

After a few difficult, long days, Hank is showing signs of recovery. A few days of recovery and he started eating some solid food, much to Macpherson’s delight. The gas in his bowels began to subside and life returned to his eyes.

“It was amazing; He was on death’s door and very sick,” MacPherson said. “For the first two or three days, he stared into space. He couldn’t hold his head up and he couldn’t walk. We had to lift him up and carry him out.

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Soon, the dog’s personality began to emerge. Some of Hank’s quirks surfaced as he rested. For a dog who was clearly emaciated by his condition, Hank proved to be a bit picky with food. It must be Turkey. Turkey is not a vegetable covered in grease. Not a turkey that touches fish or vegetables. Definitely not a turkey with drugs or vitamins. His great sense of smell due to his hound heritage saw to it that he got his turkey and did not accept substitutions or changes.

After a series of “huge victories” — with him walking on his own and passing stool — Hank was long discharged. No torsion was found in his intestines, and he began to gain weight and strength as he continued to battle the GI infection.

“It’s been great and it’s been so quick,” MacPherson said of his recovery. “Now he’s got a lot of power.”

Hank now lives with Harry Maslin, a heavy mechanic who lives in Harrison Hot Springs. Hank is a regular at Maslin’s Abbotsford workplace, traveling to work three times a week with his adoptive father.

“He seemed like, honestly, he wanted to love, but was afraid to love (at first),” Maslin said of meeting Hank for the first time. “If only a dog could talk, you know? He can tell us what he experienced.

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Maslin said it took Hank a little while to warm up to the kids, but it was clear he had a very sensitive nature.

Hank has since developed an unlikely friendship with the family cat and prefers to stay wherever his humans are. His favorite pastimes now include running and chasing balls, but the concept of fetch is something he still works on.

Hank is quick to make friends with other people and always has a smile on his face.

“He’s doing an amazing job,” Maslin said. “He loves animals, everyone and anyone. He absolutely loves to run and be outside.

Hank Harrison enjoys walking in the hot springs and has earned a reputation throughout the community.

“He’s famous,” Maslin said. “I can’t walk past him without someone spotting him.”

In MacPherson’s mind, quick action and a caring community saved Hank’s life.

“It reinforced to me that if you act in an emergency, things will happen,” she said. “I don’t know what I’m going to do or how I’m going to cover his vet bills. I learned that people really care and have the ability to give however they can.

Macpherson wanted to encourage people not to ignore stray animals.

“These precious souls, they matter,” MacPherson said. “If we have the ability to help in any way, it’s very rewarding. I would do it all again in a heartbeat.


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