With his once lustrous coat reduced to mere patches and his skin inflamed with a fiery redness, he looked like a shadow of his former self.
A Good Samaritan had just found him roaming the streets of Chicago and brought him to Chicago Animal Care and Control to get help. No one knew how long the 1-year-old dog had been out there — but it was clear no one had cared for him in a very long time.
“He had the worst case of mange I have ever seen,” Stephanie Lee, volunteer, and foster with the shelter told The Dodo. “I walked by his cage and literally just started crying. He was shaking and licking his paws. Several spots on his body were bleeding because of how raw and infected it was.”
That’s when Lee connected with Tanner Smith, a Knox County Humane Society shelter worker, to get Oliver out of the high-intake city shelter and into a loving foster home.
Despite the pain, Oliver was in, it was clear from the very beginning that all he wanted was to be loved. When shelter volunteers sat down on the ground with him, he started rolling all over them and his tail wouldn’t stop wagging.
“He was not malnourished when he was found.” Lee said. “It seems like he was someone’s dog and they didn’t take him to the vet when his skin started getting bad. They just dumped him when he didn’t get better.”
“He was so uncomfortable that he’d just be tossing and turning all night.” Lee said. “He really didn’t sleep well for a while.”
“Most dogs would try to escape the bath or get really stressed out.” Lee said. “But he would just sit there very calmly like he knew that I was trying to help him. It was pretty awesome.”
After about four weeks of daily baths, ointments, and medication, Oliver finally made a breakthrough. His horribly irritated skin had begun clearing and he suddenly wasn’t spending his days in pain.
“He stopped trying to rub his body everywhere to get relief.” Lee said. “He just opened up. He wanted love. He wanted to play. He wanted to go on walks. It was great to see him just be a normal, happy dog.”
As the days went on, Oliver kept getting better and better. He became obsessed with toys and even started going on runs with Lee. He became excited about meeting new people and other dogs, too.
After six weeks with his foster parents, Oliver is finally mange-free and healthy.
He’s now looking for the perfect family to spend his days with — a moment Lee and Smith are anxiously awaiting.
“It’s like he’s experiencing love for the first time.” Smith said. “And he just loves everyone right back.”