METAIRIE, La. -- A Metairie couple is remembering the gift of a stranger years ago. It's a gift that has allowed them to enjoy the love of their pet for seven more Christmases.
Blue the Anatolian shepherd is lucky to be enjoying his senior years. In 2006, he was playing near the Bonnet Carre Spillway with his parents who rescued him.
But later, the Thevenots knew something was not right. A trip to the emergency room didn't turn up anything. But a day or so later, the worst happened.
'By the time we brought him to Dr. Benbow, we had to carry him in on a blanket,' said Lou Thevenot, Blue's owner.
Blue went into a coma for days.
'I was, I was out. I was completely, I had lost my mind because he's my baby,' said Lyle Thevenot, Blue's owner and Lou's wife.
When Dr. Cynthia Benbow shaved his front leg, there were puncture wounds everywhere. Phone calls to experts and research solved the mystery.
'They said that the amount of bite wounds and how severe the symptoms were and what happened to him, it had to have been a nest of baby water moccasins that are more toxic than the adults,' said Dr. Benbow, who owns Benbow Veterinary Services in Metairie.
It was too late for anti-venom. Besides, there was none in Louisiana. With medical support, Blue finally woke up. But skin and tissue, down to his muscle, was black and dying.
Dr. Benbow had to do the largest area skin transplant in her career, surgically moving it from his back and abdomen to his front leg.
'For a person, they would be in the hospital bed and not moving and we would tell them, 'Don't bend it. Don't move. It's going to compromise that graft area,'' said Dr. Benbow.
But this independent herder loved unwrapping bandages and moving. Part of the transplanted healing skin died, leaving scars today.
But Dr. Benbow had a plan.
'So she took him home and she and her daughters slept on the floor with him so that he would feel calm and not do any scratching at the wound or anything like that. And stress, he had to have someone's hand on him at all times that night. So they all had their hands on him at all times,' Lou said.
Years later, when Blue came for an annual exam, Dr. Benbow's daughter just happened to be at the clinic.
'When he saw her, it was like, it was, it seemed like he was more excited to see her than to see me,' said Lyle.
What's also special about this story is that there are companies that donated medical supplies to help with Blue's healing. And there's a person, who to this day, wants to remain anonymous, who paid a large portion of Blue's medical bills.
'I wish we knew who they were. I wish they could see now. I wish they could see what their help has done,' said Lyle.
Maybe the anonymous donor is seeing Blue now.
The veterinarian said owners should always trust their intuition when a pet is not behaving normally, since they are so familiar with their pet's daily personality, even if the medical tests come back normal.
For more on Dr. Benbow, click here.