by Lee Juslin
Julie is an in-take coordinator for Col. Potter Cairn Terrier Rescue. As such, part of her responsibilities include maintaining contact with a number of area shelters for Cairns and Cairn mixes that need rescue. When Julie received an email from her contact at a New York City shelter, it had some heartbreaking photo attachments. The pictures showed a little dog that appeared to be a Cairn struggling to walk along a hall lined with trash cans and other items. “How about this little girl,” the shelter worker’s email said.
Josie could not keep back the tears looking at the photos. She called the vice president of in-takes for Col. Potter who expressed skepticism. The dog’s condition indicated that she might not be adoptable and, thus, would remain permanently in foster.
Rescue organizations have to be careful when taking in unadoptable dogs. To begin with these dogs generally require a lot of ongoing care which means money. When a rescue spends a lot of money on permanent fosters, it takes away financial resources that could be spent on dogs that they can rescue and then adopt into forever homes. Permanent fosters also tie up foster parents and take spots from other dogs that would spend a limited time in foster and then get adopted, thus using fewer of the rescue’s limited budget and human resources.
When Julie got the go ahead to take in the little Cairn and foster her in her own home, she went to pick up the little Cairn from the New York City shelter. In the busy city, she had a tough time finding a parking spot. Because the shelter’s limited parking lot was full with their vans and the cars of the employees, the only option was to find a spot on the street. Anyone familiar with New York City, knows finding a spot to park on the street is very difficult.
Unable to park, Julie pulled up to the front of the shelter and double parked. She didn’t have to get out of her car because, as soon as she arrived, workers and volunteers came running out the door. The first person held the little dog, the next person held her wheelchair/cart, and the next person brought paperwork to be signed. Others came out to say good-bye to one of their favorite little dogs. To Josie, it looked like a scene from a Keystone Kops movie.
Once Julie got home with the little dog, she took a good look at her. Although she had a cute Cairn face, her size (short and only weighed twelve pounds), as well as her silky coat said Cairn mix. In addition, her sweet, lovable personality was less terrier but more a non terrier, small breed. Julie, under Col. Potter’s rules, renamed the little dog. Given her cart, Julie named her Mustang Sally, and to further emphasize her name, Josie added fins like a classic Mustang and the Mustang logo to her cart.
It was obvious that the weakness in Mustang Sally’s rear legs most likely came from a spine problem. Josie took her to Hope Veterinary Clinic, to see a veterinary neurologist. Unfortunately, although Mustang Sally’s hind legs improved enough to allow her to move around the house without her cart, she has not improved as much as the veterinary neurologist hoped. She still needs the cart when she goes outside.
Mustang Sally’s happy, loving personality won over the neurology vet at Hope as well as all the staff that came into contact with her. In fact, she was used in an ad in the clinic’s newsletter. She also made a twenty-second cameo in a TV piece called “Story of Hope.” Happily, fame has not gone to Mustang Sally’s head, and Julie says she is still the same, sweet girl. Julie says that this is one loving and lovable dog. She doesn’t have a mean bone in her body. She loves to be with her people being held and hugged or sitting happily on a lap and giving kisses.
Mustang Sally has a voracious appetite and, despite her handicap, is always the first one into the kitchen when meals are being served. Despite her weak back legs, Mustang Sally gets so excited at meal times, she does her own version of whirling and twirling. “I have to serve her first or she pushes the other dogs aside to get to the food,” Julie said.
Mustang Sally likes being with other dogs as long as they are not aggressive or want to play too rough. Because of her weak back legs, Mustang Sally could be easily knocked over. Consequently, Julie makes sure to never leave her alone with the other dogs.
Although Mustang Sally loves to sit with Julie and her partner Judith, she can not get up on the sofa or bed by herself. She has to be lifted up and then someone has to sit with her. She can’t be left alone as she could injure herself by trying to jump down.
Mustang Sally is technically available for adoption through Col. Potter. However, she will need a special person who can deal with her needs. Despite her spine problem and weak back legs, she is not completely incontinent and will let people know when she needs to go out. However, her urine often needs to be expressed because of the weakness in her back end. If she is taken out in time, she can urinate on her own, but there is usually a small amount of urine left that needs to be expressed.
Mustang Sally sits when she poops which is not a problem unless she were to develop diarrhea. In that case, she would need to be taken out more often and have her little butt cleaned, but that would be the same situation for a healthy dog that developed diarrhea.
Julie says Mustang Sally is very smart and learns things very quickly. Julie and Judith sing “Ride, Sally, Ride” to her, and, if she isn’t in the room when the song starts, she comes running as she knows it is for her.
Her intelligence coupled with her very loving personality make her easy to love. However, although physically expressing her urine is not difficult and the technique is easily mastered, it is a turnoff for many potential adopters. Julie says it probably discourages ninety to ninety-five percent of adopters, and that is why adopting her out is challenging for Col. Potter.
Mustang Sally’s weakened back legs may improve, although they will never improve one hundred percent. However, like most handicapped animals, Mustang Sally doesn’t see herself as different. She is a happy soul, enjoying life.
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