Heroic dog coming home reconstructed

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ZAMBOANGA CITY—Indeed, you reap what you sow.

The good deed of Kabang, the hero dog who delivered the daughter and a niece of her owners from what could have been a potentially fatal accident in December 2011, continues to attract good karma.

The Asong Pinoy (Aspin) saved 9-year-old Dina Bunggal and 3-year-old Princess Diansing from possible harm when she blocked the path of a speeding motorcycle, losing her snout and upper jaw in the process.

After beating cancer last year, she is now on the road to full recovery and would soon be sent home from the University of California-Davis (UC-Davis) where she had undergone maxillofacial surgery on March 27.

During the five-hour surgery undertaken by UC-Davis doctors Boaz Arzi, Frank Verstraete, Bill Culp and Amy Fulton, Kabang’s wound from the loss of her upper snout was closed “with skin flaps pulled from the top and sides of her head.”

The UC-Davis Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital (VMTH) said Culp also “reconstructed (Kabang’s) nasal openings and inserted stents in those passages to allow for two permanent new nostrils to form.”

She had been at the VMTH’s intensive care unit (ICU) since the surgery.

 

Not uncomfortable

“Kabang does not appear uncomfortable when people touch her face, which is a great sign that her recovery is progressing successfully. She remains stable in the ICU,” said the April 5 bulletin on Kabang, which the VMTH released.

In fact, Kabang has regained her playfulness, which has worried VMTH doctors a bit as she might “scratch her face and/or remove her sutures.”

She is now also able to eat and drink “without any complications” but will remain in the ICU until, at least, she has her sutures removed,” the VMTH bulletin added.

In foreseeing her fast recovery from the surgery, the VMTH also said Kabang is no longer taking pain medication and has not been sedated lately because “she doesn’t appear to be in any pain.”

“It appears she is now able to eat pain-free and enjoyed her meal. At no time was it necessary to insert a feeding tube,” the VMTH added.

 

Ideal patient

“Her vets describe her as the ideal patient,” Rob Warren, VMTH communications officer, said.

“She’s receptive to everyone, and no matter what we put her through, she wags her tail,” Warren added.

However, Warren said Kabang might have to contend with the fact that she would be spending the rest of her life without her upper snout restored even by prosthetics only.

“Kabang’s upper snout and jaw cannot be replaced with prosthetics,” he said.

“They are not planning to create prosthesis,” Gina Davis, VMTH’s primary care veterinarian, agreed.

Warren said Kabang might have realized early on that there was no way her upper snout could be restored that she learned to “curl her tongue back into her mouth to scoop food.”

Coping well

Dr. Anton Maria Lim, Kabang’s personal veterinarian, told the Inquirer by phone that Kabang was coping well with her situation and even the doctors who conducted surgery on her “really expressed their amazement over how their patient recuperates fast.”

“She is now very playful, back to her old self, although her body is adjusting to the two stents that were inserted on her nasal openings. Once it’s fully healed, the stents can be removed and that will serve as her permanent opening, like a nose,” Lim said.

Lim said that as of March 20, Kabang had more than 20,000 “likes” on the Care for Kabang Facebook page and had generated donations from more than 23 countries.

Lim said many families in the United States expressed interest to adopt Kabang but “she has to return home.”

“We are really grateful for the overwhelming support they extended to Kabang, but she has to come home soon,” Lim said, adding that by mid-May, the dog could already be returned to her owners, the Bunggal family here. With a report from Allan Nawal, Inquirer Mindanao

 

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