Rescue One Until There are None

I am the Office Manager at a pet resort and we offer boarding, doggy daycare, grooming and training. We are one of the few facilities around that specialize in helping dogs with severe behavioral issues.  Well, let me correct that statement – we are one of the few facilities around that specialize in correcting severe behavioral issues using positive reinforcement based training methods. There are plenty of places out there that claim to be able to solve things like severe aggression in dogs, but they use punitive methods and actually end up making the problem worse. Doing it right is much more work and takes more time, but in the end you end up with a dog that has learned a different way to behave without being afraid of what might happen if they don’t. Wow, that kinda sounded like a sales pitch, didn’t it? Sorry. It wasn’t meant to be. I just felt that explanation of the differences were necessary.

Anyway, one of the biggest perks of my job is that I get to take my own dog to work with me every day. My 6-pound, scruffy lookin’, Chinese Crested/Yorkie mix hangs out with me in my office from the time I get there in the morning until we both go home for lunch. Then she lays down and takes a nap on the couch while I head back to the office for the rest of the day. Life hasn’t always been so cushy for her. She had a pretty rough start before I got her.

Tillie is my first dog. I waited 40 years to get a dog and when I started working for the Pet Resort, the Kennel Manager plopped this scruffy looking little creature in my lap and proceeded to tell me that she found the dog running through 4 lanes of traffic, at night, emaciated, with a frayed rope around her neck. From the looks of it, the poor little thing had been tied outside in someone’s yard and neglected. So, I decided to take her through a training class to help her get a better home. Just working with her once a week in class and for a few minutes a day on my lunch breaks wasn’t cutting it, so I decided to start taking her home with me in order to work with her more. 4 days after I started taking her home, she jumped off the couch in pursuit of a toy and broke her left, front leg. The screams that came out of her were some  of the most horrible, heart-wrenching sounds I have ever heard. It was 9:00 p.m. on a Tuesday, so naturally no vets were open. While my husband splinted her leg by wrapping it gently in paper towels a toilet paper tube, I hopped on the internet to find an emergency vet nearby. I managed to locate one about 2 miles away and off we went.

The vet took her in, anesthetized her, took x-rays, gave her a proper splint and pain meds and told me to call in the morning after he had a chance to consult with an orthopedic specialist.

When I got to work the next morning, puffy-eyed from crying so much the night before, I poured out the story to the Kennel Manager who had trusted me with the dog in the first place. She was obviously concerned but knew that it wasn’t my fault. She and another co-worker recommended that I call a local vet that the facility had been using for years. As luck would have it, the vet she recommended was an  orthopedic specialist, too.  I call the emergency vet who had taken care of her overnight and he told me that surgery to repair Tillie’s leg would be around $2500-$3500! Shocked at the cost, I told him to give me a few minutes to process the information and I’d call him back. I called the other vet and he told me that he would like me to bring her in so he could take a look. My boss told me to take however much time I needed and go get her right then. I picked up the dog and took her to the other vet and after reviewing the x-rays, he told me that surgery was necessary, but he quoted me $1500 plus after care expenses. I gave the OK and said goodbye to Tillie, leaving her in the care of the vet. Later that day, I got a call that she had come through the surgery well and I could pick her up in the morning.

Her recovery was slow because even sedated she refused to stay off her leg while it healed. As a result, she bent the steel pin and the bone healed around it, leaving her with a cockeyed leg. When she stands, she looks like a ballerina in first position (one foot straight, the other turned out).

After all the dust settled, there was no question who this stray dog now belonged to. She has been a loving, silly, quirky, smart, adorable member of our family ever since. I have gotten so much out of nurturing and loving her. It’s funny how a rescue works – when you rescue an animal, they always seem to rescue you right back.

March 2008

This is her now.

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