An S.O.S. for “Indie” Emmerich

An S.O.S. for “Indie” Emmerich

posted in: General News | 1


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Please visit our fundraising page at
Thank you for helping us help Indie!
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Indie needs URGENT medical intervention for a mysterious systemic illness that has already claimed one eye, is trying to claim the other, and may have farther reach into other organs as well.
His costs are high and rising. 
We are reaching out to our extended ISDF family in an urgent plea for help on behalf of the Emmerich family, who adopted Indie 10 months ago into their adoring home and is devastated by the progression of his mysterious illness over the past two weeks.
Please consider passing up that Dunkin Donuts coffee today and instead donating a dollar or two to help us help this deserving boy. Thank you!

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Being a bit nervous around strange humans often comes with the street dog territory – and who can blame them? But every once in a while, a dog like Indie comes along to remind you that eternal optimists exist, even among street dogs…

In the fall of 2014, Dawn traveled to India to meet some of our rescue partners. While there, she was introduced to handsome, young, affectionate Indie, who was then known as Hero. She fell in love and after hearing the story of his short but difficult life, she was determined to help him.
ISDF rescue friend Isobel had spotted the then 7-month-old pup a few weeks before. At the time, Indie was a heartbreaking sight to behold: not only was he putting himself in danger due to speeding traffic, but he was rail-thin, with a moth-eaten coat, the effects of lifelong malnutrition. And yet, despite his sorry appearance, he appeared cheerful, happy and sweet, tail up like a jaunty flag and wagging.
Touched by his loving nature, Isobel searched for Hero over the next few days. Four nights later, she saw him – just as he decided to play Frogger in the busy traffic of the main road by her house. Fortunately, he made it across the street unharmed. Isobel called out to him pleadingly, and he came to her, to be coaxed into the safety of her car.
Indie’s life made a complete 180 degree turn that night. He first went into medical boarding at Happy Paws in the city with the lovely Aarti, who nursed him back to health with good nutrition and lots of TLC. Indie was then welcomed with open arms into the Heller family, where he was fostered on their idyllic farm outside of New Delhi for four months.
During that time, Indie was put on an extensive regimen of medications because he had arrived with an eye injury of unknown origin. It was assumed that he had scratched it interacting with other dogs, or possibly had some other trauma to the eye while on the streets, prior to Isobel’s rescue.
The Hellers’ vet noted that Indie had corneal edema (swelling) and blepharitis (inflamed eyelids). No cataracts were noted. A smear test was performed revealing no malignancies. Indie was then put on a thorough regimen of both oral medications and topical medications, including steroids. He responded beautifully and we all assumed that Indie was healed, for all intents and purposes.
It was now March of 2015. Dawn and our New Delhi rescue team had completed travel arrangements for Indie and ISDF was eagerly anticipating his arrival come mid-March.
An application came in for Indie and Dawn knew immediately that the Emmerich family was the perfect match for this sweet boy. A family of four, living in our area, with one dog in the household who needed a friend – a loving, compassionate, dedicated family who had read Indie’s story and felt something compelling them to adopt this little boy in need.
Indie arrived and it will come as no surprise to hear that despite his long, exhausting journey; despite his culture shock; and despite saying goodbye to his beloved foster family two days previous, Indie arrived with (you guessed it) his characteristic smiling face, his tail up high and waving, and his perpetual optimism on full display.
The Emmerichs met this boy and adopt him they did, since they fell in love with him at first sight.
If you are a regular on our adopters’ FB support page, you know his familiar, sweet face too now – his family posts loving updates and gorgeous photos regularly, charming us all with tales of Indie eating apples like a little pony, sucking his Mom’s thumb, and enjoying his Christmas gifts.
All went beautifully until a few months after Indie’s adoption when his left eye began to swell and tear again. An exam with their vet revealed shocking news – Indie’s eye had superficially appeared to be completely healed, but something had been happening quietly under the surface, and whatever it was had completely claimed vision in that eye. The damage was sadly irreversible. Suddenly, many mysteries were explained, in one fell swoop – his family had always noticed that Indie startled more when approached from his left side, for example.
Hard on the heels of this news came the vet’s even more stunning proclamation: that if Indie’s eye did not respond to medical treatment, it would need to be removed entirely. Knowing the eye was blind did not make this news any easier for his family – there are risks with any surgery and eye surgery is particularly delicate. They were terrified at the prospect of any secondary damage to Indie’s remaining eye, as well as saddened to think of the cosmetic changes from such a surgery.
For the past eight months, the Emmerichs have fought the good fight to aggressively treat Indie’s mounting left eye issues, hoping to avoid surgery. They dutifully brought him to their vet for multiple checks and rechecks, as his oral and topical medications were tweaked and fine-tuned, based on his responses to them. ISDF was able to procure a discount with an eye specialist in Wisconsin to further determine the best course of treatment and to be sure all bases were being covered.
Even with rescue pricing, however, Indie’s costs were mounting – still, to his family, this fact was negligible so long as he could be helped. FIndie responded promisingly to medications and veterinary care all along, thanks to his family’s diligent perseverance. He even had some long periods where his eye appeared entirely healed, and it seemed, until very recently, that his eye troubles were behind him forever, at long last.

Then, abruptly, a couple of weeks ago, Indie was in acute pain. His left eye socket protruded prominently from his face in an effort to accommodate his bulging, swollen eyeball. His eyelids were swollen, discharge ran from his eye, and a blue cast came over its surface –

– and the symptoms worsened quickly over just a couple of days.
The Emmerichs tried all of the usual treatments but their vet cautioned them that if he did not respond quickly and fully, the eye would need to be removed. The good news, they promised him – and their words should have proven true, under almost any circumstance – was that as sad as it was for Indie to lose his eye, he would still have a properly functioning one left. He would never experience the ongoing discomfort his left eye had subjected him to for so long – that was supposed to be the silver lining of the cloud, and 99% of the time, this would have proven true.
The Emmerichs faithfully began aggressive treatment under their vet’s supervision, but when a week passed with no improvement, they reluctantly realized that the time had come.
Last Thursday, February 12, Indie underwent surgery to enucleate, or remove, his left eye. The surgery was uneventful and Indie was expected to make a full recovery. He went home that evening.
The next day, all that had been promised came to fruition. Indie was pain-free for the first time in almost three weeks, and his old joyful self again. His tail wagged in the wind, he smiled his big doggie smile, and he tumbled and played with his “brother” Bolt and his family as he had not for many days.
But this happiness was to last only 24 hours. The following morning, Indie’s family was devastated to wake up to Indie again in acute pain. Tragically – as we now know after a visit to a top-of-the-line specialist in Wheeling – his eye issue is much bigger than any of us could have anticipated.
Thursday morning, before surgery, Indie’s right eye was in perfect shape with unimpeded vision, as it has been all along. The veterinary ophthalmologist we saw this week – Tuesday, February 16 – noted that his right eye now has inflammation, clouding, corneal blooms, swollen eyelids, and worst of all, complete vision loss. Worst of all, these symptoms developed so quickly that we can safely assume their rapid progress will continue if not addressed immediately.
Indie’s family is heartbroken. A biopsy of his left eye is pending, and we pray the results will inform us better as to what is going on, but two things are clear: 1) Indie may lose vision and/or his right eyeball next, and 2) this so-called “eye issue” is potentially actually something infectious and/or systemic (affecting more than one system in his body), with the eye being what we are all focused on for the moment, but with more possible symptoms to come.
These are very troubling possibilities, especially since his family has noticed recently that he also periodically has respiratory issues. The scariest part is how fast the eye issue spread – in just a few days, it claimed the vision of his remaining eye. The specialist feels that saving complete, or even just partial, vision in that eye is a 50/50 chance at this point, and only if extremely aggressive treatment is pursued without delay.
I just have to pause here for a moment to say – part, if not all, of the vet’s compassionate discount to us was earned by Indie himself. Ayize and I were at the appointment, and although it felt like I knew this boy already, from phone calls with the Emmerichs over the past year, as well as all of his charming photos – we met for the actual first time in the specialist’s office just two days ago. Indie came to his feet, then hesitantly bumbled his way towards my 8-year-old son and myself uncertainly. He was unable to see; he was in pain; his surgical incision was even still oozing and bleeding as well, not to even mention the issues that had just begun with the remaining eye. Yet, we received the sweetest, most gentle, loving greeting from this dear boy, despite being complete strangers to him and despite his physical condition.
The doctor and technician met him a moment later, and you could almost see their hearts melt as they received the exact same loving, gentle treatment. This boy is truly a trooper who was able to put aside his deep pain just because he was awash in the sheer joy of meeting a handful of people – strangers – who were kind to him. That tail went on auto-wag for us and his smile was on full display, despite the effort it took to seek us out in the room without bumping into the many obstacles – chairs, exam table, sink stand…
Indie is such a lovely and deserving boy. This is breaking everyone’s heart to witness, and we are all praying he can return to the life he has so loved for the past 10 months.


At any rate, the vet performed his exam and despite his wonderful and loving nature, it was clear that any handling was just horrifically painful for Indie. The last thing we wanted to do was increase this sweet boy’s discomfort, so Indie was sedated. He had a full eye exam performed to determine the exact extent of damage for later comparison – and the wonderful vet spent two hours in the room with us, not just performing work on Indie, but also kindly answering our many questions and concerns. Knowing we are a rescue, and being sympathetic to this tragic situation, he extended a generous courtesy discount to us as well.

Ultimately, Indie was given a powerful steroid injection directly into his eyeball which is his best shot at reducing the spreading inflammation and hopefully saving all or some of his vision. He was put on a course of oral and topical medications yet again, but these tailored carefully to the specific symptoms.
Now, we wait…the hardest part.
– We wait to see if Indie responds to the treatments. In the past 48 hours since the specialist, his mom has seen a spark of promise, as the eye appears slightly less painful and swollen, and his appetite has improved as a result. We are cautiously optimistic about this, although he is still non-visual in that eye.
– We also wait since at the moment, the most crucial information we need are the biopsy results of his left eyeball. Unfortunately, there has been some kind of lab error and the results have been delayed for days now. We have a tentative promise that we should have them sometime between tomorrow, Friday the 19th, and Monday, the 22nd.
The biopsy is very important as it may provide clues as to the big picture, as far as what is causing these spreading symptoms, and it will also help us spend wisely since the results can very well guide us in the right diagnostic direction. There are multiple possible causes and all require different forms of diagnostics, from radiographs (x-rays) to blood tests to infectious disease tests of blood and urine to other eye tests. We need to target our choices wisely to reduce stress on Indie and to reduce his family’s financial burden, as they have already done so much for this boy, and never expected anything like this with their new best friend.
To that end, we have decided – despite not yet receiving biopsy results – that we need to reach out to our extended ISDF family in a desperate plea for help.

The cost of Indie’s eye care for the past two weeks alone now stands at $1787.81.

This includes this week’s specialist visit, surgery to remove his left eye, and three eye exams before and after surgery at his regular vet’s office – all bills are attached here and they reflect a higher amount but that is because he had routine vaccines and bloodwork on one of the bills, and a nail trim on the other, which we subtracted from the total costs.
This figure – of nearly $1800 – does not include the myriad costly visits the Emmerichs incurred at their regular vet’s office for various left eye flare-ups over the past 10 months since he was adopted, or this visit to a Wisconsin specialist for a blue cast on the left eye shortly after his arrival in May 2015. Even with a kind discount for ISDF, the Emmerichs paid over $230 for that visit alone.
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We hope this snapshot of just the past couple weeks helps to illustrate how big an issue his family is facing, especially in light of the diagnostics and treatments to come, once we receive biopsy results and begin to make choices moving forward as we attempt to save Indie’s vision if at all possible. More importantly, we are potentially going to need to address what we now presume to be one of several possible systemic conditions, which can affect other organs beside his eyes alone.
ISDF has covered a portion of the costs above, and Indie’s family has covered the rest, as we attempt to tackle this issue together. We hope this fundraiser helps us reimburse both our organization and Indie’s family in part, as the last thing the Emmerichs want to do is have us spend money that could be used to help future street dogs.
However, this is a true medical emergency of an urgent nature and we have assured them that this is the right thing to do – and that we feel our ISDF family will fully agree, and if possible, find it in their hearts to send $1 or $5 or whatever tax-deductible donation they feel fit, in an effort to pull together on Indie’s behalf.
Below, we give a breakdown on the receipts, which you will find in the photo gallery, including how we arrived at the current goal for Indie’s care.
As we move forward, we will update this fundraiser real-time as soon as we have biopsy results and options to consider. Additionally, we have reached out to veterinary friends and rescue partners, and it looks like Indie has a lot of pals in the wings – we have several offers of help at incredible discounts or even cost, for the non-specialist portions of his diagnostics, depending on what is indicated by biopsy results. We would like to extend a special thanks to both Eye Care for Animals of Wheeling, IL and Green Paws Veterinary Clinic of LaGrange, IL for their generous and compassionate offers of financial help as we move forward with this journey to help Indie, so we can get that tail up and waving again, and bring the happiness back to this lovely boy.
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Elkhorn Veterinary Clinic in Elkhorn, WI
Exam for painful, swollen, discharging LEFT eye
Sedation, eye tests & four medications
285.25 – 15 (nail trim) = $270.25 total
Screen Shot 2016-02-18 at 12.53.04 PM
Elkhorn Veterinary Clinic in Elkhorn, WI
Recheck exam for LEFT eye
Annual vaccines, blood test & Heartgard
198.47 – 163.47 = $35 total
Screen Shot 2016-02-18 at 12.53.37 PM
Elkhorn Veterinary Clinic in Elkhorn, WI
Surgery to enucleate (remove) Indie’s LEFT eye
$974.90 total
Screen Shot 2016-02-18 at 12.53.50 PM
Elkhorn Veterinary Clinic in Elkhorn, WI
Recheck exam for painful, swollen and discharging RIGHT eye
One eye test & one eye medication
$79.89 total
Screen Shot 2016-02-18 at 12.54.21 PM
Eye Care for Animals in Wheeling IL
Eye specialist exam
Sedation, eye tests, treatment & medications
30% discount graciously given as well as a reduced initial bill
$427.77 total

One Response

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