She was a wandering dog who belonged to no one and to everyone. People in Moses Lake would scratch her head and feed her scraps of food.
Then, a little more than a month ago, she was hit by a car. And in what appears to have been a misguided mercy killing, someone struck her on the skull with a hammer and buried her in a field.
Four days later, the dog showed up hobbling, dirt-covered and emaciated at a nearby farm.
Incredibly, she was wagging her tail.
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Theia, a 1-year-old bully breed mix, has been winning over a lot of hearts during her short life, including those at Washington State University’s Veterinary Teaching Hospital where she’s been receiving care.
Despite a dislocated jaw, leg injuries and a caved-in sinus cavity, Theia vigorously thumps her tail and plants kisses on people’s cheeks.
“Considering everything that she’s been through, she’s incredibly gentle and loving,” said Moses Lake resident Sara Mellado, who took the dog into her home after hearing about her plight on Facebook. “She’s a true miracle dog and she deserves a good life.”
The folks at WSU agree, which is why the veterinary hospital’s Good Samaritan Fund committee awarded $700 to help pay for Theia’s treatment.
Mellado, who has two young children and works full-time, asked a friend in Moses Lake to drive the dog 2½ hours to the Pullman campus hospital for an exam.
“I adore this dog and was happy to do it,” said that friend, Jessica Radish, as Theia nuzzled her jet-black nose against Radish’s leg in the exam room. “If we didn’t already have three dogs, I’d take her in minute.”
Theia’s loving gaze belies the injuries she suffered from being hit by a car and then clubbed.
In fact, she can be so lively and tail-waggy around people that sometimes it’s hard to see that anything is wrong at all.
That is, until she rests her head to sleep. That’s when, struggling to take in breaths, she snorts, grunts, whistles and rasps.
A scan of her skull done at WSU revealed a condition called nasopharyngeal stenosis, the constriction of the nasal passages that restricts air flow into the lungs, said surgery veterinary resident Andrea Sundholm, who’s helping with Theia’s treatment. It was caused by several nasal bone fractures.
“We have proposed surgery to try and make her more comfortable,” she explained.
Not long after Theia was clouted with a hammer, buried and later literally rose from the grave, Mellado took her new foster dog — struggling to breathe — to a veterinarian in Moses Lake.
“From what I’ve been able to piece together from talking to him and other people who had contact with Theia, her injuries to the sinus cavity were caused by hammer blows to her head,” Mellado said. “I’m assuming that the person who did this meant to put her out of her misery, but I’m still horrified by the carelessness of the act.”
Often when Theia labors to draw a breath, she’s forced to open her mouth to breathe instead. But with a dislocated jaw from being hit by the car, opening her mouth has been challenging as well.
“When I brought her home, she hardly slept because breathing was such a chore,” recalled Mellado.
Fortunately, Theia’s jaw is healing on its own, but the nasal-bone fractures have caused lasting problems, said Sundholm. To fix that will require surgery to insert a stent, she said.
It takes a village to resurrect a dog — especially a needy stray. That’s why Mellado is trying to raise $3,000 for the procedure on the crowdfunding website GoFundMe under “Help Theia.”
By Tuesday afternoon, just over 90 people had raised about $3,400 toward the vet bills.
So far, contributions have come from Moses Lake, WSU and elsewhere.
“You have a wonderful heart,” a contributor wrote to Mellado.
No, said Mellado. “It’s Theia who has the wonderful heart.”