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'Machiko' recovering, dog's first rescuer shares details of hit and run

Machiko lounges with his new friend
Machiko lounges with his new friend
Gina Wirth

Machiko, the seven-month-old Lab mix brought from Lewis County to the Jefferson County SPCA, is doing well since hip surgery at North Country Animal Health Center last month. The lucky puppy now has a home with the person who recognized his potential and took it upon herself to foster him and raise funds for his surgery.

Machiko, an injured Lab mix from Lewis County Humane Society

Gina Wirth was just picking up a few dogs at the Lewis County shelter to bring to the Watertown shelter in an ongoing goodwill effort to help place the homeless animals. Little Machiko caught her eye as he limped around his kennel, but no one seemed to know how he came to be injured. After undergoing a Femoral Head Ostectomy (FHO) or "False Hip"for his right hip fracture, "Chiko" has since demonstrated considerable spirit and a will to get well. He has also found a permanent home with his rescuer and her family.

"I sure didn't expect to fall for him," said Ms. Wirth. "He is off kennel rest and has a lot of work to do to get the muscles in his hind end to where they should be. Dr. Gordon showed me some exercises and said he could start doing some stairs."

Ms. Wirth says Machiko continues to improve every day. He has gone from 23 pounds to 35 in six weeks. The other dogs in the family have embraced Machiko with open paws, encouraging him to stretch his wings and try new things. He has a favorite playmate in one dog, and a steadfast buddy in another who is helping him with potty training. Ms. Wirth added that Machiko's veterinarian will be putting him on a supplement for his joints due to the fracture he sustained in the left hip that has potential for arthritis in the future. Machiko is now starting to run and play like a normal dog, which is quite heartening to his new family.

Earlier in Machiko's story it was unknown how he was injured or ended up at the Humane Society, although it was surmised his injuries were consistent with being struck by a car. In an interesting turn of events, the woman who initially carried the injured puppy out of the road after the hit and run accident came forward after reading the article in Watertown Dog News.

Erika L. Smith, of Croghan, was headed home that night when a litter of half-grown puppies appeared at the side of the road. Some of them ran into traffic. She witnessed Machiko being struck by a red pick-up truck hauling a trailer, the dog being caught under the truck's right front tire. Several people stopped to help, however the driver of the truck kept going. It is unknown whether or not the driver realized he had hit an animal. Meanwhile a third puppy was prevented from running into the road by bystanders. Ms. Smith scooped up the bleeding puppy in a blanket and all of the young dogs were returned to their home. She says they were instructed by the family to place Machiko in a box inside the door.

Feeling bad about the whole experience, Ms. Smith says she did not know what else she could have done at that point. She really did not believe the pup would make it through the night. Strangely, another turn of events found her at Walmart where she overheard a conversation at the check-out and found out about the puppies being taken to the Lewis County Humane Society. She also learned that the injured puppy was having surgery at last.

It is still unclear how the puppies wound up at the Humane Society. However, Ms. Smith said a friend had notified the shelter several times when the same puppies were found in the road again. It is unknown if someone from the shelter investigated or if the family decided to surrender the puppies.

After that, Ms. Smith read the Examiner article sent to her by the same friend and through that link made contact with Ms. Wirth. She has kept in contact, receiving follow-ups on Machiko's progress and confesses she even sent him a gift. Amazingly, she describes herself as "not a pet person" although she helps care for her family's pets.

". . .this little guy has certainly wiggled his adorable self into my heart! He keeps "coming back" to me for some reason. And I'm glad. It's brought me joy to know that he was rescued a second time and that he is recovering well. I am even more thankful that he has been blessed with a loving forever home," said Ms. Smith.

Most likely Machiko and the rest of his well-wishers would heartily agree with her sentiments.

Thank you, Ms. Smith, for having a big heart and taking the time to make such a big difference in one little dog's life.

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