GSD puppy Koda was born deaf, and it saved his life
by Carolyn Martell
I am involved in dog rescue, and this is Koda's story:
Koda was born deaf, and it saved his life. He was a singleton puppy born to a backyard breeder. He was going to be kept and used for 2 purposes:
1. To be bred to his own mother for more puppies
2. To be a guard dog, spending his life chained up in the filthy yard like his parents, with no toys, no exercise, and limited social interaction
When the breeder/owner realized Koda was deaf, he decided he was useless and was going to get rid of him "one way or another". Fearing this would involve a one-way trip to the Spokane River, I stepped in and took Koda, this fluffy, wobbly, deaf little 6-week-old puppy. Little did we know that things were about to get worse for him.
First, the vet worried about neurological problems. He was just so wobbly and off-balance, and he always seemed to walk with a cocked head.
This snuggly, bitey, goofy ball of German Shepherd cuteness needed me, and I wasn't going to let him down. So what if he walks funny and can't hear? And so the 2 of us drove 80 miles down to the WSU Veterinary Teaching Hospital in Pullman to see a veterinary neurologist, who said nothing is wrong with Koda neurologically, he simply has a congenital vestibular problem. It causes deafness and dizziness. The good news is that the dizziness will get better, but the deafness is forever.
Unfortunately, though, during his exam, she noticed his heart sounded a bit funny, and off to Cardiology he went.
The cardiologist confirmed that Koda has a condition called Patent Ductus Arteriosus, the most common heart problem in puppies. It is fatal if untreated. If he does not get the $3500 surgery to close off this extra artery, he will die of congestive heart failure by his 1st birthday.
So if Koda hadn't been born deaf, he would have spent a year chained up in a disgusting yard, being bred to Mom, before dying of heart failure.
Koda now has the chance to live a rich, full life, and he definitely deserves it. He is a fabulous little puppy, who is madly in love with every animal and person he meets. He bonds instantly to everyone. He is charming and adorable.
So what if he sometimes bites too hard, snores when he sleeps, and hates bath time? So what if he likes to play tug-of-war with my pant leg and chew on my shoes and refuses to eat his ridiculously expensive puppy kibble? I still think he's pretty special.