While working with St. Bonnie’s Sanctuary, an animal rescue shelter, Jolene was brought into contact with Gemma. While Jolene is a caring human being, Gemma is a white-coated German shepherd; a German shepherd that was initially plagued with a severe case of mange. While nearly three-quarters of Gemma’s body was affected by parasites and despite the fact that her mange was easily treatable, Gemma’s owners saw fit to leave her with St. Bonnie’s instead of seeking veterinary treatment.
Mange, also referred to as “acariasis,” is a skin condition that results from a parasitic infestation. This infestation manifests in the form of patchy hair loss and is derived from one of two major genera of mite; the Sarcoptes genus infests within the skin of its host, while the Demodex genus infests within the follicles of the host’s hair. The fact that this disease can manifest in multiple methods is why mange is referred to as demodectic or sarcoptic; in Latin, “demo-” is a prefix that refers to fat and “sarco-” is a prefix that refers to skin. Gemma had been suffering from a severe case of demodectic mange, which is also referred to as demodicosis or red mange; sarcoptic mage is also known as canine scabies.
Jolene was tasked with helping Gemma recover, necessitating constant care and multiple daily baths. Unable to constantly spend time at the shelter, Jolene consulted with her husband about fostering Gemma at her residence; he was perfectly fine with the idea.
After several weeks of treatment, Jolene recognized a considerable amount of recovery in Gemma; the German shepherd had regained her lost fur and returned to a healthy weight. While Jolene was overjoyed at the progress she’d made with Gemma, she began to worry after noticing a disproportionate amount of weight had been developing around Gemma’s stomach. Once again fearing for Gemma’s health, Jolene took Gemma in to have an ultrasound machine take a look at the dog’s belly. While Jolene feared the worse, she was elated to discover that Gemma’s extra belly weight was merely an indicator of her pregnancy. In truth, Gemma had been with pups even before being seen by the staff at St. Bonnie’s Sanctuary.
Canine pregnancies are noticeably shorter than human pregnancies. Human mothers will carry their offspring for nine months, or roughly 273 days; canine mothers will carry their offspring for only 58 to 68 days, depending on the particular breed.
St. Bonnie’s Sanctuary is a 4.5 acre rescue shelter based in California’s Santa Clarita valley. The facility is a branch of the Lange Foundation and, much like its other branch, the Halfway Home Kennel, specializes in the care, treatment, and relocation of dogs and cats. Unlike the Halfway Home Kennel, the large size of St. Bonnie’s allows it to also tend to horses and ponies.