Australian dog-loving newlyweds Nicole Marchment and Darren Budini embarked on their dream honeymoon to Thailand in October of 2015. One morning, instead of lounging on the beaches of gorgeous Koh Chang Island, the couple accompanied a local woman named Duen on her daily rounds to feed stray dogs. They had no idea that this fateful decision would completely change the course of their honeymoon and set them on a path to save one very special pup.
As Nicole and Darren were offering treats to the dogs under Duen’s care, they saw a small puppy limp out of the wilderness and head towards the food. Duen informed them that the pup had been hit by a scooter over a week before and had not had any veterinary care. The couple could see that the puppy was suffering from a broken leg, a distended abdomen and various other ailments. Duen wrapped the terrified pup in a towel, placed him in Nicole’s arms and said, “You take.”
At first, the pup was so fearful of human contact that he urinated, vomited and cried out when touched. Nicole and Darren carried the little dog, who they would later name Ozzie, back to their accommodations so they could try to locate a vet. In the meantime they gave Ozzie a good bath and removed an astonishing 26 ticks from his frail body. They even created a makeshift splint for his broken leg out of four Magnum ice cream bar sticks.
Although the couple managed to locate a vet on the island, she did not have an X-ray machine or the equipment she would need to help a dog with injuries and conditions as severe as Ozzie’s. The pup spent the next three days with Nicole and Darren – sleeping in their cozy bed, swimming with them, and even receiving his first collar and toy. The couple frantically researched and networked online for someone to help Ozzie.
They finally determined that if he were to have a chance, they would need to cancel the remainder of their honeymoon, make a 6-hour drive to Pattaya, and find a surgeon to operate on Ozzie.
The brave pup spent the next 2 months at Pattaya Animal Hospital on Thailand’s mainland. He underwent surgery to insert a metal rod into his broken leg in an effort to stabilize the bone and prevent further damage. Nicole and Darren hoped to find a home for Ozzie in Thailand, but as they learned more about the extent of his injuries and special needs, they decided that removing him from the country would give him the best chance for adoption.
Their home country of Australia has strict laws pertaining to animals being imported, so unfortunately, Ozzie could not come home with Nicole and Darren. US citizen Geoff Masanet had heard about Ozzie and the couple, and volunteered to escort the pup from Thailand to the States. Geoff became Ozzie’s third guardian angel when he rearranged his travel schedule, forfeited his frequent flyer points and spent his Christmas night bringing Ozzie home to Chicago.
The 40-hour journey brought Ozzie from the tropics of Thailand to the snow-filled Chicago winter, but the pup learned to adjust quickly.
Despite everyone’s best efforts, Ozzie’s problems just seemed to multiply. During his long hospitalization in Thailand, Ozzie had developed a bad case of mange as well as a dangerous MRSA infection. Geoff cared for Ozzie’s skin with medicated shampoos and creams, and he was put on a sulfa-based antibiotic to treat the MRSA. The rod implanted in his leg by the Thai veterinarian caused the leg to twist and become deformed. Loose screws from the plate are threatening to pierce through Ozzie’s skin, and cultures taken of an infection in the bone may lead to the limb being amputated.
Nicole and Darren struggled with their decision to ask for help with Ozzie’s bills. They had already delayed payments on their home in order to pay for his travel and veterinary care. Ongoing issues made it impossible for them to bear the burden on their own. As of February 26, their GoFundMe page had raised an incredible $12,400. They updated the status of the campaign on February 25 vowing their support to the other dogs of Koh Chang Island:
*** 25.02.16 DUE TO OVERWHELMING SUPPORT THE FIGURE HAS BEEN UPDATED TO TRY AND BUY AN X-RAY MACHINE AND AN AMBULANCE FOR THE ISLAND OZZIE CAME FROM!! ***
Since he cannot be with Nicole and Darren in Australia due to the mandatory 180-day quarantine period, a friend in Wisconsin has volunteered to foster Ozzie until he can be reunited with the couple who saved him. Thanks to the compassion of dog lovers around the globe, this sweet puppy has a second chance at the happy life all dogs deserve.
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