After an adorable sheltie named Ollie became paralyzed, he was moments away from being put to sleep when a veterinary student found a tick lodged in his fur — leading to the diagnosis that ultimately saved him and a recovery his owner called "miraculous."
About a week after 10-year-old Ollie returned home to Portland, Oregon, from a camping trip, his owner Al — who asked that his last name not be used — noticed the usually active dog seemed increasingly lethargic and weak. Ollie's regular veterinarian conducted tests, including blood work and X-rays, but could not figure out what was wrong with the pup, according to the DoveLewis Emergency Animal Hospital.
Ollie eventually became almost completely paralyzed and was unable to eat.
On May 4, two weeks after the trip, Al and his family made the difficult decision to put Ollie to sleep, according to the hospital.
As Neena Golden, a visiting veterinary student, prepared Ollie for the procedure, she took a moment to comfort him — and while scratching behind his ears, she found a tick, the hospital said.
Dr. Adam Stone of DoveLewis diagnosed Ollie with tick paralysis, a rare condition he had never seen before but learned about in school.
The hospital said Ollie was wearing a tick collar during the trip when the tick likely latched on.
Doctors removed the tick, and the staff shaved Ollie to make sure he didn't have any more ticks on him. Then Stone sent Ollie home, telling Al that Ollie should show signs of improvement in a few days if indeed he was suffering from tick paralysis.
Ollie was moving again by that night.
Golden told ABC News that once she and other hospital staff members heard Ollie was recovering, "We all high-fived and hugged each other."
"That was just amazing in itself, that this dog recovered so quickly," she said.
Al said he credits the doctor and the student with saving Ollie's life.
"He was one minute away from euthanasia," Al told ABC News today. "The doctor walked in and remembered that he heard about this in school. He told me it was just one little thing, one slide, and they mentioned it and [that] it was rare, and that was it. He had never seen a case before in his career."
Al said Ollie has made a miraculous comeback.
"He's bright-eyed, active, chasing the squirrels around," Al said. "He has a spring in his step that he hasn't had in quite a while.
"Our neighbors, our friends and my daughter's youth group all told us after Ollie's miraculous recovery that they were all praying for him," Al said.