I have never seen a dog so close to death.

A young French Mastiff called Tank has overcome a horrendous skin infection, which almost claimed his life, thanks to the dedication of various people especially the Helping You Helping Animals (Huha) organisation in Otaki.

Tank was living with his adoring Whangarei family when he accidently swallowed a corn cob.

A vet surgically removed the cob but Tank's immunity took a hit and then he contracted a seriously nasty bout of mange which saw his skin riddled with parasitic mites.

Initially it was diagnosed as something different and he was given steroids, which suppressed his immune system even more, and he hit rock bottom, with his weight plummeting to 42kg.


The family's money was dried up so they contacted Huha saying Tank was terribly ill, they hadn't been able to find a way forward for him, and were considering putting him to sleep.

Huha agreed to see if they could help, which was a lot different from its day to day role as an animal shelter, so Tank was flown, courtesy of a kind donation, to Kapiti Coast Airport and picked up by Huha founder Carolyn Press McKenzie.

"Blood oozed out of his legs as I walked him across the carpark.

"I have never seen a dog so close to death."

She took the Dogue de Bordeaux straight to the Levin and Horowhenua Vets where a platelet count was done and found him to be about 20 per cent anemic.

"They were severely worried about him."

"If Tank was better off dead, we would have let him go, but we saw a chance."

Treatment was started including a chemical drench, antibiotics, as well as a skin support diet which was provided free of charge by Royal Canin.


And a special shampoo Whoop Itch and Ouch, which has been developed by Carolyn, and will go on the market soon, was used on Tank.

The shampoo has an anti microbial system in it as well as natural ingredients.

"It draws out all the impurities, heals and promotes hair growth," she said.

"But it could only do its job if the mites were killed."

It has taken months to kill the mites off - not only were they on top of his skin, but underneath the skin were hundred and hundreds of blood blisters each containing 80 to 100 mites.

Now, after six months of treatment at Huha's Otaki shelter base, the mange has been nuked, lots of hair has grown back and Tank, who has a bit of male baldness, is tipping the scales at a very healthy 60kg.

When Kapiti News visited, it was clear that Tank is a loving, calm and playful dog with an air of pride about him.

Special mention has to go to shelter manager Claire Thornton who has played a big part in his recovery and had lots of day to day contact with him.

Tank's family, who have been in contact throughout his treatment, will drive down and collect him soon, and will be given lots of support from Huha.

"We will be there for him for the rest of his life," Carolyn said.