Meet Liwa the Labrador: the dog 'dumped' in the desert enjoying a new lease of life

Young dog found with hip fracture in Abu Dhabi desert

A young Labrador believed to have been abandoned deep in the desert near Liwa has found a new home after being rescued by dune bashers.

A group of three families found the dog, which they named Liwa, 45 kilometres into the Abu Dhabi desert over the National Day holiday.

He was tired, thirsty, overheated and limping from an old hip fracture which had not been treated. It was clear that he had at one time been a family pet because he was wearing a collar.

“He was very happy to see us,” said Birkit, a member of the group that found him, who asked for her full name to not be disclosed.

"He had obviously been running for a while because he was really overheated. So we took a bowl and [filled it with] a lot of water, which he drank."

At first they assumed Liwa had run off from his family camping in the desert, but after a search of the area they were unable to find anyone. So they picked him up and headed back to Dubai.

Birkit, who works at Al Barsha Veterinary Clinic in Dubai, brought the dog there for a check-up  and posted on social media in an effort to find his owner.

Her posts were quickly shared by dozens of people.

“I got a message via Facebook. They asked ‘is the dog limping?’” Birkit said.

"I purposefully didn't mention that on Facebook. They said they saw the dog when [they] were camping, and that was two days before we rescued him. They said people had given him food and water which had kept him alive," she said.

That fact, along with the discovery of Liwa's old hip fracture led them to suspect he had been dumped, possibly because of his injury.

“The vet noticed he was limping too, and they said: 'you know what, we are going to check him over'. The X-ray showed something wrong with his hip and that he was in pain," Birkit said.

“We thought the chances are he had been dumped because they [the owners] couldn’t afford the treatment.

"But you don’t want to think about that, so we checked the microchip and checked with vets in the UAE. But unfortunately there was no owner registered at any of the clinics."

DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES , Dec 15– 2019 :- Liwa wearing his cone after undergoing surgery to treat his broken hip last week recovering at the place of one of the resident in the Greens in Dubai. Liwa , a golden Labrador was abandoned in the Liwa desert by his owner and found by a group of three families who were dune bashing during the National Day holiday in Liwa. ( Pawan Singh / The National )  For News/Instagram. Story by Gillian

Dr Mehdi Mzabi, partner at Al Barsha Veterinary Clinic, said Liwa’s hip fracture was likely to be long-standing as he was able to bear weight on his leg, albeit with a limp.

Evidence points to the fact the fracture could have been a result of a traumatic injury. The clinic operated on Liwa to treat it.

“There was scar tissue. That could have been as a result of a road traffic accident or any other kind of trauma. But it has to be a severe trauma to break the bone of a big dog like this,” Dr Mzabi said.

“I don’t know what happened but it is a very sad story. He was a lucky guy.”

He said although they cannot know for certain if Liwa was abandoned, there was a very high possibility that this was the case.

“Having the fracture ... is an aggravating sign he could have been dumped. We have seen that a few times,” Dr Mzabi said.

Birkit said she would have liked to keep Liwa, but because both she and her husband work, he would have faced spending much of his day alone.

“Your heart melts. He’s such a sweetheart. And we know for sure now that he is a family dog. He is home trained. He knows his basic commands,” she said.

She said she could have found him 20 homes as a result of her Facebook post, but Liwa will be adopted by a family she knows who have with three children.

“The good thing is I can keep track of him and visit him once in a while,” Birkit said.