Gremmy was one of the worst cases of abuse that National Mill Dog Rescue has seen and the second worst case the animal hospital had ever seen. When Gremmy first arrived at our facility in May 2014, the volunteers were under strict orders not to touch him. Only authorized personnel and members of the rehabilitation team were allowed to handle him as they did not want him to regress in his rehabilitation. He arrived with a broken and wired jaw, which had to be monitored, and he was placed in a kennel run, by himself, right up front. Gremmy’s parents fell in love with him and were approved to foster him in September 2014, after extensive work by our Rehabilitation Team. On November 1, 2014, his parents officially became “foster failures” and Gremmy became a permanent member of their family.
For the last several months, Gremmy’s health deteriorated and despite numerous tests and excellent veterinary care, the years of abuse could not be overcome. Gremmy crossed the bridge on Thursday, February 4, 2016, surrounded by the family he had come to love and trust.
His family would like to raise enough funds to dedicate the kennel that he spent so much time in at National Mill Dog Rescue. The cost for two years is $730 and any remaining funds will be donated to NMDR directly. A bronze memorial plaque will hang on that kennel in his memory. Please consider making a donation at this link.
The following is Gremmy’s story as told my his mom:
“See this face? This is Gremlin, aka Gremmy. You may not be able to tell just by looking, but he is a survivor … a survivor of horrible abuse and neglect that he endured for years. My husband and I are long-term volunteers for National Mill Dog Rescue and because of that, Theresa Strader, the organization’s founder, agreed to let us foster Gremmy … that was in September of 2014 … but his rescue story began in May 2014 when Gremmy arrived at the NMDR facility, Lily’s Haven.”
“Gremmy is one of the worst cases of abuse that NMDR has seen and the second worst case the animal hospital had ever seen. When Gremmy first arrived the volunteers were under strict orders to not touch him. We were advised that only authorized personnel and members of the rehabilitation team were allowed to handle him – for his safety as well as ours – as they did not want him to regress in his rehabilitation. He arrived with a broken and wired jaw, which had to be monitored, and he was placed in a kennel run, by himself, right up front.”
“Gremmy quickly became a kennel favorite. Many of the volunteers fell in love with him right away – it was hard not to. How could you not fall in love with ten pounds of scared, traumatized Shih Tzu, with sad, but hopeful eyes? Videos and pictures of his progress would be posted in National Mill Dog Rescue’s Volunteer Group. One in particular of a Rehab Team Member rubbing his belly and him crying/talking, really pulled on my heartstrings! This one had my husband and I both in tears. Who could hurt such a darling little guy?”
A NOTE from Mama: In this video Gremmy is working with his lead rehabilitator. He is voluntarily on his back and he is not in any pain. Gremmy is just vocalizing. If you listen closely you can hear her calmly reassuring him and saying “good boy.” The Rehab Team Member states: “It was all new to him to have kindness and gentle hands. It’s just how he communicated with me.”
“When my husband and I would make a trip to National Mill Dog Rescue we always made a point to visit Gremmy, and each time you could see the progress he was making. The first time we met him, he stayed in his bed, not making eye contact, but he would watch out of the corner of his eye. The next time, his lead rehabilitator was working with him and you could see how frightened he was. He kept her hands in sight and when they would get anywhere near his face he would fight, bite and attack. I had to walk away, tears flowing – I couldn’t watch. On another visit, a Meds Team Member was so excited to show us that when you approached his kennel with a special treat, you were his new best friend. She walked up to his kennel, calling his name, hand out stretched. Gremmy came walking right up to the front of his kennel, tail wagging, even did a dance for her and took the treat from her hand! I will never forget the smile on her face when she turned to look at me. Amazing baby steps!”
“In September of 2014 there was talk of Gremmy being ready for a foster home. They had done all they could for him at the kennel. You can bet we were all over that and we put in the request with the Foster Care Coordinator. If NMDR felt that our home (which had kids and dogs) was right for Gremmy, we would love to have him, but we really wanted to make sure that Theresa and the Rehab Team were okay with us fostering him. They know we have kids and other dogs, they know my husband’s background with prior rescuing, rehabbing and training Rottweilers in the past and if they were okay with it, we’d be thrilled. The Foster Care Coordinator called one day and said they had all discussed it at length and yes, they felt that Gremmy would now, hopefully, flourish in a home environment and that they’d love for us to foster him. Yes!”
“He had an upcoming Vet appointment for his broken jaw, so we were not able to bring him home right away, but we went down to NMDR and introduced our dogs to Gremmy. I was so excited, yet nervous. I hoped everybody got along and wanted to exude confidence for Gremmy’s sake. He liked his space, but nothing too bad. When Bugsy, our Pomeranian, got too close, he would turn and snap. Also, it was explained that he did not like to be touched above his shoulders and we were shown how to handle him. They were using a little blanket to pick him up, no bare hands, and he knew the command ‘pick up’ so he’ll prepare himself before you do. We were told that he was a very finicky eater and that he liked his chicken ‘fluffed.’ At the house our kids were told that Gremmy was a rehab dog and was strictly off limits. We set up his own area in our master bedroom, where we spend the majority of our time, with an x-pen so he has his own space, soft bedding and we bought a LOT of the special treats that he liked. We were as prepared as we could be, the only thing remaining was bringing little Gremmy home.”
“On September 19, 2014, just four months after intense rehab at NMDR, my husband met the Director of Operations halfway between Colorado Springs and Denver to pick up Gremmy. After we got him home, our first order of business was getting a collar with ID tags and a bell on him. Not such an easy task on a little guy who does not like to be handled and touched above his shoulders. It took a little figuring out, with a lot of protest from Gremmy. We succeeded after we swaddled him like a baby and sang to him. He was also sent with medication, in pill form, to take on a daily basis. That was a different story entirely. It was hard for him to get it regularly at the kennel since he was not the best patient for obvious reasons. They were hoping now that would change and that the medication might really help him.
“The first few days were really difficult. He was super picky about his food, he wouldn’t even eat the soft food they were giving him at the kennel, so we couldn’t hide it in anything, and believe me – we tried just about everything. His jaw was still healing and wired, so we had to be careful about how it was touched. My husband had to wear gloves and we had to ‘pill him’ as they say. He would fight, scream, cry, bite and draw blood. He’d be crying, I’d be crying, the dogs and kids would come running to investigate. Finally, after a couple days of this, we asked different people for suggestions and we went to our vet for some syringes, crushed the pill, mixed it in with yogurt, PRAYED he liked it and success! He DID! Praise the Lord! I think we all cried with relief!”
“During Gremmy’s first week at home, he reached major milestones: he walked on a leash, during potty time he decided to stay with the pack and not growl at anyone, he let us get a Thunder Shirt on him since he shook all the time, he went for his first official pack walk and did really well – he didn’t freak out about the passing cars and even seemed to heel at times, and he let us reach out and stroke him a few times before moving away. Gremmy even came to check on me in the mornings while I was getting ready for work, he would peek around the corner or pace outside the bathroom. I finally moved a bed right outside the door and that is where he laid in the mornings while I was getting ready … and to this day, he still does.”
“Two weeks home and Gremmy was somewhat enjoying sleeping on my husband’s chest or the bed, we were getting big tail wags – it wasn’t tucked under his butt all day, and he started coming to us wanting butt scratches! He even started to rub up against my legs like a cat when he wanted to be close to me – in thanks, or just to be near me. Again, amazing baby steps which we celebrated with the National Mill Dog Rescue’s rehab team through texts. In those first few weeks we saw a precious boy who just wanted to be loved emerge … yet the nagging question of who would hurt him was always in the back of our minds.
“After three weeks at our home, we scheduled a vet visit. He had stopped eating his kibble, as well as his favorite special treats which he loves, he started rubbing his face in the grass and we were afraid he was in pain, so we scheduled a check-up just to be sure he was okay. Gremmy’s lead rehabilitator from NMDR met my husband and I at the appointment and we were glad she was there with us for moral support. We were both nervous and anxious. It was at this vet visit that we finally learned the horrors that Gremmy had to endure for his approximately 4 years…”
“During Gremmy’s vet appointment we saw, for the first time, his before and after photos. His condition was so bad that his case was documented. I was speechless. Dirty, huge matted knots on his face and he looked like he had never been groomed before. (But we saw our boy peeking out from underneath it all.) I then received the official Neglect Summary and that’s when the anger crept up from my toes. As I read, the words seemed to jump off of the page:
‘…presented in such poor care, that it prompted an investigation for neglect … extremely scared, fractious to human contact, slightly thin (body condition score 4/9), and severely matted throughout 80-90 percent of the body … fecal mats were noted around the rectal area, as well as on the facial area … toenails were found to be overgrown and his feet had evidence of yeast infection, secondary to chronic unsanitary conditions. On cursory examination, this dog has significant evidence of an extreme lack of basic hygiene care for a long period of time, months and possibly years. This dog was extremely reactive to human contact and was difficult to be safely handled. Comprehensive examination required general anesthesia. Once anesthetized, this dog was found to be suffering from a chronic ear infection, chronic pain secondary to the matting on the body, and a chronically fractured jaw of unknown cause. While sedated, we were able to shave this dog head to toe to relieve the pain from chronic mats, clean and apply a single treatment to his ears, and extract the few diseased teeth caused from his chronically fractured jaw. At this time, we are uncertain if the fractured jaw will ever be repairable. We are contacting specialists about recommendations for possible surgical repair of this chronic fracture. This dog’s behavior is severely anti-social and reactive towards humans. This type of reaction is rarely seen in dogs raised in human environments. The antisocial behavior in this dog resembles that of puppy mills dogs that have lived in a cage devoid of all positive human contact. Sadly, due to the living conditions this dog has endured, he is highly reactive to any human contact and at this time, it is uncertain if this dog is able to be rehabilitated to become a household pet. We will be recommending that this dog undergo long term rehabilitation with the highly experienced non-profit group National Mill Dog Rescue based out of Colorado.’
“As I read I could feel the anger start at my toes and burn behind my eyes. I wanted to throw up. Gremmy is a living, BREATHING animal, with feelings and a soul. WHO hurts defenseless animals? Is it any wonder he acts like he does?! Our boy. Who hurt our boy?!”
“The rest of the Gremmy’s vet appointment seemed like a blur. His doctor decided we would make another appointment at the bigger office with their best x-ray machine to x-ray his jaw to see if it was healing correctly (if at all), x-ray his back since he kind of walks like a gorilla indicating he might have some back pain. All this they would do while he was under general sedation as to not stress him out – as he displays time and time again, he does NOT like being handled or touched above his shoulders. He did prescribe Gremmy some antibiotics for his chin where the wires from his broken jaw protruded, as that was a little red, and we also decided to try some pain medication for his possible back pain and we would see how he does.
“Gremmy’s surgery was right before Halloween 2014. I took the day off and we all headed down to Colorado Springs where the surgery would be performed. Gremmy spent all day there and the wires in his jaw were removed and his spine was x-rayed. It was determined that his jaw was as healed as it was going to get without having to have major surgery which would include bone grafts. He can eat just fine and he has good scar tissue bond so we decided to leave it be. His back has major calcified discs from his T – L area and most likely from trauma. The vet said some discs could possibly slip in the future, making him unable to walk, but is not really concerned about them right now. We just have to be careful about him jumping off the bed, with stairs, etc. so we do not cause further injury.
“Before this surgery, when we added the pain medication, we could already see a difference. He was back to eating his kibble and amazing things started to happen – he walked up to the SIX year old for butt scratches (we were shocked!), one day as I was getting one of his ever present special treats he heard the bag and BARKED at me, tail wagging and even did a dance! First time we had seen him do that since that day months ago at the kennel. A few weeks later, as I was playing with the dogs he put his head IN my hand and nibbled on my fingers in AFFECTION – not to draw blood. But after the wires were removed, his demeanor was different. He was a lot more comfortable, he was nicer – not as grumpy and he didn’t mind and didn’t snap at you if you didn’t think about it and happen to brush and scratch his head. The combination of adding pain medication and getting the wires out of his jaw helped tremendously! He is a precious boy!”
“Now that we knew Gremmy’s medical future, that he got along with the kids, the dogs, and had our hearts, a week later my husband and I had ‘the talk’ about making this little guy a permanent member of our family. It was an easy decision. I sent the official text to the Foster Care Coordinator asking her if it was okay we earned the title ‘Foster Failures’ and adopted this little guy. Almost immediately I got a ‘heck yes!’ text right back, and once I announced it in the foster/adoptions text group, Theresa (even though she was out on a rescue) took the time to send a message back letting us know how thrilled she was for Gremmy, that he finally had a home and thanking us for taking such great care of him.
“He went from ‘It is uncertain if this patient is able to be rehabilitated to become a household pet …’ and having to be only handled with a blanket, biting and snapping at anybody who came near him, to our ‘Bubba,’ who LOVES chips, tater tots, car rides, butt scratches (from even the kids) and rubbing up against my legs like a cat. Although he still has to be handled with care (we often tote him around town in a pet stroller for the safety of others since they immediately want to stroke his head or pick him up without asking), still takes his daily medication with yogurt and pain medication on bad days, and has to be sedated and put under general anesthesia for his grooming, he has come SO far and he is very happy!! We celebrate every little milestone … recently it was learning to go up the stairs, unassisted.
“As we approach the one year anniversary of his ‘Gotcha Day’ (November 1st), I try not think about his former owner too much or what he may have gone through. His physical injuries and psychological scars are enough for us to know that it was way too much for any living creature to have to endure. We have been in touch with the veterinarian who did his neglect summary; we like to keep her up to date and let her know how he is doing. We did learn that his former owner only received a slap on the wrist and was ordered to pay his approximate $800 vet bill over a period of approximately 6 YEARS. That was it. No jail time, no fines. When I read that email there was that familiar feeling creeping up from my toes. When I went to bed that night I cried huge, weeping, ugly sobs for Gremmy. That’s all I will let her get from me. She is not worth my tears. Instead, I use it as motivation for the voiceless, the abused, the suffering. I will use my voice to speak even louder for them – I will not let Gremmy’s suffering be in vain. After all, that is the least I can do for Gremmy and those animals like him. WE are their voice. If you see abuse or neglect – report it, say something. If we don’t speak up for them, if we aren’t being that somebody, who will?”
Gremmy went to the Rainbow Bridge on February 4, 2016 and his mom wrote the following post on his Facebook page:
“It is with a broken heart that I write to tell you that Gremmy, our Bubba, made his way across the Bridge this morning. For the last few months he had been fighting a mysterious disease that was first diagnosed as Cushing’s Disease, and his tiny, battered little body could no longer fight. We told him that as much as we love him and love having him here, it was okay to leave us. But oh, how hard it is to say goodbye to such a precious spirit as Gremmy. We are shattered beyond description.”
“It was never my intention to start a Facebook page for Gremmy, have almost 4,000 fans fall in love with him, and then break all of your hearts as well. This is the third time NMDR has run his story in a year and a half, and each time it ran we would be asked about a page. I was reluctant for different reasons, but decided that it was our job to speak for him (and his brothers as well), tell his story, and bring awareness to the mistreatment of animals. When I started this page Gremmy had just been diagnosed and we were optimistic that he would respond to his medication regimen and this post would not be necessary anytime soon.”
“If you know our family, you know Gremmy has been in and out of the hospital a few times, has seen numerous specialists, had numerous blood draws both to diagnose him and to monitor him, and you also know that he presented unique symptoms that sent numerous doctors to consult with other experts in their field, and also sent them back to the books to conduct research. Since we started his treatment for Cushing’s a short time ago, Gremmy had not responded like we had hoped. We took him back to the vet yesterday where we were given our options. He was not responding like we needed him to; if there were tumors that required surgery he wasn’t even stable enough for surgery, nor was she even comfortable putting him under anesthesia at that point.”
“So, there you have it. We took him back home to say goodbye.”
“Gremmy slept in our bed most of the night last night, snuggled between us. At one point he made his way back to my husband’s chest. This morning when we got up, it was obvious that he had had enough and he told us he was done. He made his way across the Bridge comfortably at the vet’s office in my husband’s arms, with both of us there. He had done enough fighting in his short 6 years, and his fighting is over.”
“We transported him to Colorado State University’s Veterinary Hospital late this morning for a necropsy to see if we could get a final determination for his cause of death. Since he didn’t respond like he should have to his medication that meant there was something else going on. We wanted him to be able to help animals in the future that might be fighting the same thing. By the time we got back home, our vet had called with preliminary results from CSU. The determination? Gremmy had the most severe case of hydrocephalus (buildup of fluid on the brain) he had ever seen. They do not know what caused this yet, these results are pending. So, it didn’t matter what we would have done for him, he would have lost the fight eventually.”
“We want to thank all of the veterinarians and their staffs who have fought so hard for Gremmy over the past few months, especially Dr. Tande. Thank you to Michelle, who first made the call to NMDR and blessed our life with this 10 pounds of spunk. Thank you to Terese and the Rehab Team at NMDR for ALL they did for Gremmy; they did such an amazing job! Thank you to Cheryl and the NMDR Vet Team for grooming him when it was time. Last but CERTAINLY not least, thank you to Theresa Strader and everybody at NMDR for their support, especially during these last few months. He would have not made it as far as he did without you!! We are forever indebted to you and love you for what you did and what you continue to do for those precious lives you save. (I apologize if I’ve forgotten anyone, it is certainly not intentional.)”
“Thank you, also, to all of our friends and family for being there for us, keeping us calm when we wanted to freak out, and understanding our love for these precious souls. This page will go on in Gremmy’s honor. I will not let the almost 5 years of abuse and torture he suffered through win. We will continue to bring to light mistreatment of animals and help in whatever way we can and we hope you will fight with us. For now, please understand we need to mourn our loss. Thank you for being there for us, and for Gremmy. I know he felt your love and prayers.”
Gremmy’s legacy lives on and his Facebook page will continue. Please follow here: www.facebook.com/gremmythefighter
Gremmy’s family would like to raise enough funds to dedicate the kennel that he spent so much time in at National Mill Dog Rescue. The cost for two years is $730 and any remaining funds will be donated to NMDR. A bronze memorial plaque will hang on that kennel in his memory. Please consider making a donation at this link.