Saturday, April 05, 2008

Sunsalve Secret Liason, part two

We left off Penny's story with me facing some hard decisions about her future. I was not prepared to care for a blind dog. She had other issues as well, including a mouth full of completely rotted teeth, she needed to be spayed, and she turned out to have fleas, resulting in tapeworm, and to top it all off, to no great surprise, was malnourished. I did consider taking her back to the kennel. As horrible as it was, the kennel was the only life she had known, and there, she knew the path from her box to outside, and had other dogs to guide her. I wanted to give her a chance, and not return her unless her problems were irreversible. I found a veterinary opthamologist, Gretchen Schmidt, DVM, who had a practice in my home town, and I consider to be one of the coolest people alive. During Penny's exam, her first veterinary exam ever, I told her what I was considering. "What do you want to do that for?," she asked, as she took two little bottles from the cabinet. The treatment for Penny's condition, called keratosis, was eye drops! So simple. Keratosis is a build up of pigment on the eye, that can happen with large, protruding eyes, and from being kept in a dirty environment. There were functional eyes under that tough leather. The drops were to help the pigment slough away. Her eye care for life was the drops, and using artificial tears to keep her eyes moist. Eventually enough pigment went away that she could see around what was left. In those first few days, I was able to coax her around the block walking on a leash. It was clear to me that Penny wanted to stay. And stay she did.
Penny never really fully adjusted to her new life. She was my pet, but didn't really want any one else. When the Man reappeared in my life, Penny did not do much to make him welcome, but eventually resigned herself to the fact that the Man was here to stay. I was furious with the kennel for the cruel treatment of Penny, and the other dogs who were left behind. Angry enough to call the Department of Agriculture to report them. The kennel people didn't get it--"we gave you that dog" is what they said to me. I'm not sure that I did the right thing--it's likely that they did not give another dog to rescue when the dog was no longer producing.
I think that when you adopt any pet, you take a risk, and the relationship that you get might not be the one you expect. I certainly didn't expect to adopt a blind dog that would have adjustment problems and other chronic health issues. I have no regrets about deciding to keep Penny, and wouldn't hesitate to adopt a special needs or older pet. I believe that the quality of the relationship is more important than the length.
It was important that the rescue message reached so many people yesterday--but we, as animal lovers, all have a responsibility to educate each other. If we no longer obtain our pets from a store that will sell a dog to anyone with the money, regardless of the living situation that pet may endure, this industry may go away. If we seek out our pets from shelters and breed rescues, we reduce the demand for mill puppies. If our pets are spayed and neutered, we reduce the staggering number of unwanted pets that are euthanized every day. It begins with us.
I think I need to kiss Piccolo, right now.


Laura said...

I haven't seen the billboard and I didn't watch the show, but I hope it was good.
I have adopted elderly/special needs dogs for the last decade and I don't regret it--but you have to know that's it's a special commitment.
Thanks for sharing Penny's story!

BertandFelix said...

You know, Bert and Felix were shelter pets....just gave them some tuna..and a hug.

Kim said...

I missed the show but will try to catch it tonight. My Bugg just last chance rescued a pup and he is a wonderful, huge, clomping furball. Much bigger than Darby and Lucy...we are all adjusting. My heart aches to see the animals that no one wants.

rita said...

I'm a member of the United Yorkie Rescue Organization. I had two Yorkies of my own, one an older, tiny Yorkie who died of cancer two years ago. She went through 5 or 6 cancer surgeries in her last couple of years but she bounced back each time, so I'm glad that my vet encouraged me to let her keep going as long as she could. I worried about her so much.

My dog Zippy is a rescue; I picked him up (in a relay!) to foster him for UYR, but by the time we got home, he was my own pup. He's so full of life and love. His first owner had gotten a new puppy and the puppy didn't "like" Zippy, so Zip was tied in the back yard then sent to a shelter.

It took Zip a while to warm up, but he's the best, sweetest, most loving, protective ("Hi! We don't have much of value, but I can show you where the yarn is hidden."), playful dog you can imagine. I can't imagine not having him!

Go, Oprah!!! And go everyone who rescues an animal, no matter how they do it!