Dogs Save Terminally Ill Owner
When Zach Skow was diagnosed with liver failure at age 28, his diagnosis was grave. His eyes were yellow, and his frame was weak and frail. However, his three adopted dogs offered him hope.
In 2007, Skow had worked for an animal shelter in Southern California and adopted three dogs. The dogs, a Labrador Retriever mix named Tug, a Pitbull mix named Marley and another named Buddy, forged a bond with Skow that remarkably helped save his life.
A downward spiral
Skow's ultimate diagnosis was the result of years of substance abuse. He worked the door at an improv club in Tempe, Arizona in 2000 where he was heavily exposed to drugs and alcohol.
At the age of 28, Skow finally hit rock bottom when a doctor informed him in July 2008 that his heavy drug and alcohol abuse had given him a serious case of cirrhosis. It was so serious that Skow was facing end-stage liver failure and was told that he did not have much time to live without a liver transplant. One doctor informed him that he had an 18 percent chance of living if he did not get a liver transplant within 30 days. For Skow, the party, and his life, was over.
Skow was placed on a liver transplant list at Mount Cedar-Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles. However, like most transplant lists, Skow had a long waiting time, one that he could not afford. After six months in a hospital, Skow lost more than 20 pounds and walked out of the hospital weakened and wary. Skow eventually moved back to his childhood home in Tehachapi, a small, mountainous town two hours north of Los Angeles.
A glimmer of hope
There he stayed with his three dogs, going through severe withdrawals. However, Skow claims that his three dogs helped keep him connected and willed him to keep fighting. They also pushed him to start walking. Slowly but surely, Skow's life started to look a little brighter.
Skow started to take short walks with his three dogs around his neighborhood. Then his short walks turned into longer hikes. Soon, he was taking long hikes through the mountains of Techapi with his three dogs by his side. Skow began to feel better and started to focus on his dogs and others around him. He believes this focus and caring is what helped kick start a slow recovery. Skow's care turned into charity when Skow decided to start his own dog shelter in 2009. He dubbed the shelter Marley's Mutts after his beloved rescue pup.
The rescue shelter gained popularity and began to save hundreds of dogs in the surrounding areas. While Skow was helping these dogs, he unknowingly was also helping himself. He continued his hikes with the rescue dogs that were continuously growing in length. His focus on the shelter and saving dogs took his focus off of his ailing condition and his substance abuse, allowing him to stay sober.
Then a miracle happened. Skow visited the doctor to discuss his health condition, and he was informed that he no longer had cirrhosis of the liver. As a result, he did not need a liver transplant anymore. Today, Skow is seven years sober and living happily and healthily, all thanks to his few rescue dogs. He believes that he recognized their need to be saved, and they recognized his. Together, they won the fight.