Nursing people, and animals, back to health |

Nursing people, and animals, back to health

April E. ClarkGlenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Post Independent/Kelley Cox

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colo. When registered nurse and dog trainer Sarah Cox learned of an injured Pomeranian needing rehabilitation and a foster home, she didn’t hesitate.”I said, ‘Ahh, OK, I can do that one,'” said Cox, on her lunch break at Valley View Hospital.Cox had recently nursed her own Pomeranian -a 4-pound, 6-year-old redhead named Bella – back to health after she broke her hip jumping off a bed. Bella is a registered service dog and agility competitor who provided comfort and support when Cox’s breast cancer returned in 2004.”This is why my heart belongs to Pomeranians,” Cox said. “Bella was a big help – she sits there with me during different treatments and gives me unconditional support.”Joe McQuiston, a Colorado Department of Transportation maintenance worker, found the Pomeranian that Cox is fostering – now named Nugget – in the tall grass of the median of Interstate 70 on June 21, during the New Castle Fire. A mowing service was inching in on the area where the injured dog found shade.”I thought it was a little fox pup that was roadkill. We’re nonstop on roadkill,” McQuiston said. “I felt like someone was watching me, and I went over and it yapped at me. I could feel the hip and it was in really bad shape. I was holding it in the palm of my hand so it could drink water – it was really dehydrated.”

McQuiston was called to help direct traffic during the fire, so he took the injured dog to High Tails Dog and Cat Outfitters in West Glenwood.”When I was putting him in the carrier, I was reaching my arms in there and he was trying to hold on to me,” McQuiston said. “He would sit there and whimper. You could tell he was scared and definitely in pain.”Nugget was taken to a vet and underwent surgery for a broken femur and pelvis in two places with the help of Colorado Animal Rescue’s Thumper Fund and the Mountain Veterinary Surgical Associates Simba Fund. Nugget’s owner still has not been found, so Cox is his temporary keeper, with CARE’s permission.”I’m a nurse, so I was familiar with the medicines and exercises, so they went ahead and let me have him,” she said. “Fostering has been really healing for me.”Cox pursued nursing in the 1980s because of her caring nature. And she believes that’s why she has been drawn to work with animals, training and working with them.”I had already grown up nurturing injured animals,” she said. “It was sort of a natural progression.”

She began training canines in agility, specializing in small dogs, in 2000, and competing the next year. Her husband, Scott Wilhelm, and 16-year-old son, Ethan, have also embraced the competitive sport.”The whole family is into it,” she said. “My son has the No. 3 Flyball dog in the nation. Hopefully he’ll be teaching classes in the fall.”When she’s not working shifts at VVH, Cox runs Fun Times Agility out of her 30-acre home. She was drawn to agility training after seeing a show on television.”I saw it on Animal Planet and said, ‘Wow, wouldn’t that be cool,'” she said. “It’s a lot of fun. Bella titled in novice last year, so that’s why I was so heartbroken when Bella got hurt. She’s an excellent-level agility dog.”And a woman’s best friend.

Contact April Clark: 945-8515, ext. 16601aclark@postindependent.comPost Independent, Glenwood Springs, Colorado CO

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