Mahtab, whose name means "light of the moon" in Persian, arrived at Home for Life just after Easter in 2016.
Mahtab, a very shy sighthound mix with beautiful dark eyes and short white fur and tan spots, lived as a street dog in Iran and suffered cruel abuse before her rescue - xrays have revealed prior injuries including gunshot wounds with shot from a 0.22 caliber still visible in her body, causing the paralysis she suffered up to age 2, and which you can see in the videos taken shortly after she was rescued from the Vafa Shelter. See the videos.
Because of the gun shot wounds, and other injuries and abuse Mahtab is suspected to have suffered, she was wary of people, and moved in the sitting position, pulling herself along with her front legs. In addition, one of her front legs still had gunshot in the elbow joint, causing her to hold it up in the air when she tried to move.
Although Mahtab was now safe after being rescued by the Vafa Shelter, she would have to live with many other dogs at their shelter, and in her fragile condition, would have a hard time competing for food and sustaining herself. The photo below was taken following her spay surgery at Vafa in about April 2016, and shows how terribly thin she was at the time of her rescue by Vafa. Although she was so lucky to be taken in at Vafa, they didn't feel they could protect and care for her with her injuries and resulting disabilities. Although Mahtab is not paraplegic, she has significant difficulty moving at all, and is also very timid and shy, no doubt due to the very hard life she experienced trying to survive as a street dog. Mahtab is believed to be just two years old but how much she must have endured and suffered in that short time —
Photo (above left) taken at Vafa Animal Shelter Of Qazvin.
Just after Easter 2016, Mahtab made the long journey from Tehran to the United States and a new life — at Washington Dulles International Airport.
After a few days' rest in Washington DC at the home of a Vafa volunteer, Mahtab travelled from Virginia all the way to Home for Life in Star Prairie WI via The Liberty Train, a wonderful volunteer transport service who also transported Shoja another of Home for Life's dogs from the Vafa Animal Shelter.
The Transport took two days and involved an overnight stay for Mahtab. We were so appreciative to the transport coordinators and everyone who volunteered for the transport for the Liberty Train for all the care they took to keep Mahtab safe during the long journey in her fragile physical condition and given how very shy she was.
Once Mahtab arrived at Home for Life, we kept her quiet and isolated for a few days to allow her to rest and so we could have our veterinarians evaluate her. Xrays taken by the clinic revealed the portions of bullets from a .22 still in her side; the vet speculated that the bullets, passing thru her body must have struck her spine, causing her back injury and inability to use her hind legs well, while additional fragments left in her elbow caused her to hold her leg in the air rather than put any weight on it. The cruel treatment and scorn she must have endured as a street dog were responsible for her very timid and shy nature.
As Mahtab settled in, started eating well and gaining strength, we decided to try her with one of our dog groups made up of gentle, larger dogs. Many times, shy dogs like Mahtab will gain confidence from friendships with other dogs, and also learn from them- they tend not to fear others of their own species like they do humans who have been mean to them. Mahtab's first friend at the sanctuary was Tiger( link to his profile), a pitbull mix from the Animal Welfare League of Chicago who is now about 9 years old. He was kind to Mahtab, and showed her the ropes, like how to use the dog door, how to be ready for daily treat time and in general what to expect from the daily routine at Home for Life. Here's a great video of Tiger and Mahtab taken shortly after they became fast friends, and shows her growing confidence and comfort with life at the sanctuary
Our vets didn't think it advisable to try to remove the bullet fragments, nor did they think removing the bullets would help Mahtab's mobility, so we tried a few other strategies to help improve this young dog's quality of life including medications for arthritis like gabapentin and tramadol as well as chews with glucoscamine and chondroitin and MSM. In addition, Mahtab receives regular treatment with Home for Life's cold laser on her front leg, hips and lower back. All these therapies have greatly helped Mahtab's mobility and quality of life. As she has experienced less pain she can use her front leg instead of holding it in the air and can also now stand up straighter on her hind legs, get up on the futon to take a nap and even play in the fields with her dog group!
Mahtab has remained very shy with people, and we have let her take her time to build her confidence about being handled. For example, she panics to be on a leash- who knows why? Was she seized or captured at some point as a street dog with a rope? We have other dogs with mutilated tails and ears that are terrified of scissors- they can't tell us what happened to them, but their fear is real. Traumatic memories will always haunt sensitive dogs like Mahtab. So when going to one of our fenced meadows to exercise, we let Mahtab follow her group and best friend Tiger, off leash. She stays close to her friends and always gets to where she needs to go. See the heartwarming videos below of Mahtab in the meadows with her dog group family which includes Tiger, Pluto and Yuri and Dagney.
For Home for Life, there is no greater reward than seeing a dog like Mahtab who has suffered so much overcome such a tragic past and go on to have a place to belong, and a true and a loving home at the sanctuary.