Rescue Dog Downplays Illness And Continues Work

Rina, a working dog, has a mission: find one of her owners, who happen to be hiding behind their home at the Golden Gate Estates. The German shepherd naturally catches a scent left behind the watch of Brad DeLuca, a corporal at the Collier County Sheriff’s Office, left in the patch of grass for her to look.

naples search and rescue dogvia NaplesNews

With her eyes and nose intently on the ground, Rina keeps her pace steady while following a scent trail for about a quarter a mile. When she senses something nearby, she raises her head. Then she wags her tail. She finally found Brad.

If this was an actual search and rescue mission, Rina would be run straight into the woods, use her scent until she successfully finds a lost or stranded adult or child. Her senses would remain on the ground the entire time until she finds the person she’s asked to look for.

Back in October, Rina received a heartbreaking diagnosis: degenerative myelopathy. It’s a disease of the spinal cord that hinders a dog’s mobility over a period of time. The disease slowly eats up the spinal cord fibers capable of sending sensory signals from the legs to the brain, and movement signals from the brain to the limbs.

DeLuca and his friend, Delaney, sensed his dog’s health problems early last year.

Now, Rina is struggling to walk normally. A wheelchair holding up her limbs is the only thing that can help her get off the ground. Delaney and DeLuca are also making use of a sling to help make her lower body mobile. Rina is using rugs to glide her body all over the house with her front legs.

Delaney and DeLuca have more than 10 years of experience together training and rescuing dogs. Both created a nonprofit organization, Big Cypress German Shepherd Rescue, to offer rescue and rehabilitation service for German Shepherds who are suffering disability and abuse. Since opening their organization last November, they’ve looked after dozens of German shepherds.

A fundraiser will be held at the Naples Italian American Foundation at 1pm Saturday.

Here are the facts:

• Rina previously worked as a rescue dog for the Sheriff’s office at Collier County.
• Rina is now suffering from degenerative myelopathy.
• Rina’s owners have set up a nonprofit to aid abused and helpless German shepherds.

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