by Wendy Hunter
Wendy Hunter is a volunteer with the Animal Rescue of Fresno. ARF shares with KRL their animal rescue adventures every month.
“When I saw you I fell in love, and you smiled because you knew.”—William Shakespeare
They say when you least expect it, love finds you. You’re strolling down the street, minding your own business, when Cupid appears and stops you in your tracks. Before you know it, his arrow hits you square in the chest. You’re feeling warm and fuzzy, a bit lightheaded. It’s love at first sight, and the world stops turning while you catch your breath and adjust your eyes. Who is this stunning creature before me? Where have they been all my life? Ladies and gentlemen, this has happened to me. I am smitten. I am over the moon. I am walking on air. I am head over heels, jumping-up-and-down-on-Oprah’s-couch-like-a-besotted-Tom-Cruise, in love. I have found my soulmate, the missing piece to my puzzle, the key to my cold, padlocked heart. I can’t stop thinking about a certain someone’s cute little nose, their brown button eyes, and that adorable face. I dig their dance moves, their appetite for life, and the flecks of grey in their spiky hair. I’m even nuts about their toothless grin and excessive drooling…wait, what? You do know I’m talking about a dog, don’t you? I hope you didn’t think I was swooning over Charlie Sheen…ewww…My latest obsession may meet all the general criteria that befits a dog, but she looks more like a tiny wind-up toy that spins like a top when she’s excited. Her name is Pico, but I call her Pico de Gallo, because that’s the way I roll. And just like her namesake, she’s a big kick of spicy feistiness mixed in with a little pop of saltiness. Pico is a ridiculously charming charcoal Pomeranian that Animal Rescue of Fresno acquired from a local shelter about a month ago. She had been hit by a car, and because of her age (10-14), the shelter assumed she had internal injuries and wasn’t worth saving. But after seeing that teddy bear face, the ARF volunteers thought otherwise, and whisked her away from certain euthanasia. After a trip to the veterinarian, it was discovered there was nothing wrong with Pico at all, no trauma whatsoever. She has now happily taken up residence in the ARF office, where she greets volunteers and visitors alike, hopping with delight in her crate. She enjoys long naps, random chicken snacks, and being held by anyone who has a few minutes to spare. Make that a couple hours…
Unfortunately, Pico did come in with a fairly nasty flea infestation, and a good size section of her back was in very bad shape. Fleas can really wreak havoc on a dog, as they jump from one hound to another, feeding on their blood like minuscule vampires. One of the most common problems is flea bite hypersensitivity or flea allergic dermatitis, which is a specific allergy to flea saliva. Dogs begin to itch, scratch, and bite the area like crazy, causing the skin to break open and form scabs. Then the peeling ensues, and it looks like a horrendous case of dandruff, with a terrible sunburn. Yeah, it’s yucky and gross. But, Pico is being treated for her flea frenzy, and is coming along quite well. Her back is healing up nicely, her hair is growing in, and it’s looking much better. If I were a gambling girl, I’d bet it feels a whole heck of a lot better too.
Like most Pomeranians, Pico is a playful pooch, friendly and outgoing. She loves a good lap lounge, but after a few minutes, she’s ready to hit the ground running to explore both the great in and outdoors. With nose to the ground, Pico searches for loose morsels on the kitchen floor, then scampers off to the patio for a quick potty break. Then it’s time for tormenting the dogs in the adjoining yard, lingering casually at their gate, while they claw at the screen, barking in frustration. Why does Pico do it? Because she can, my friends, because she can…
Now let’s talk about the elephant in the room. I know you see it. I know you’re curious. And I know what you’re thinking; what is up with that tongue? Ah yes, Pico’s ever-present tongue. The smooth plump pink of squishiness that is continuously lolling from her mouth, like an endless roll of Hubba Bubba Bubble Tape. It is, without a doubt, the first thing people notice about her. Her condition is the aptly named hanging tongue syndrome, and can be caused by a myriad of things such as injury, damage to the jaw, deformity, and dental diseases resulting in loss of teeth. These issues prevent the dog from pulling his or her tongue back into the mouth, which can lead to exaggerated salivation, especially after eating or drinking. Which explains why the fur on Pico’s chest is always, well, a bit grungy. Her saliva mixes with the hair, and no matter how much you brush or comb in an effort to detangle the furry mess, it’s a losing battle. Sometimes, you just have to wave the white flag. Because Pico has no teeth, she’s on a soft food only diet, and is an official member of the Clean Plate Club. She may be just a little peanut, but she can throw down chow faster than a squirrel at a Planters convention. Seconds, anyone?
Even though Pico is an older dog, she has the spirit and energy of a puppy. She can’t get enough of the ARF office, as she runs from room to room, zig-zagging around chairs and bird cages. Her curiosity and pint-size personality seem to be boundless, along with her distaste for the occasional flea bath. Nope, not a big fan. Despite her unabashed zest for life and her antics of a much younger dog, Pico still has to deal with senior issues. We have all been working very hard to potty train her, but it’s possible she may be incontinent. Pico responds when you instruct her to go outside, and she’ll do her business, but it’s a fairly small amount. Sometimes she’ll dribble while wandering around, and when she strolls back inside, she will inevitably find another spot and dribble a bit more. In any event, we shall keep trying and see what happens.
Yup, growing old sucks, for dogs and humans alike. Pico probably doesn’t have the best eyesight in the world, and either she’s losing her hearing, or she’s just ignoring us when we catch her mid-squat on the doormat. But hey, my eyeballs are pretty much shot, and I don’t hear as well as I used to. Not sure if that’s just me getting older, or the fact that my parents have our TV volume up so freaking loud, my eardrums are permanently shattered. Can you people HEAR that okay?
It’s true, adopting a dog takes commitment, patience, and understanding, especially a senior dog. You have the ability to see what a difference you can make in that dog’s life, whether they have five years or five months left. In Pico’s case, she would be an amazing companion to someone who’s home most of the day because she adores attention and human contact. Despite her abundant appetite, Pico barely weighs anything, so she’s perfectly portable around the house while you’re dusting or cleaning out the fridge. Drop a piece of cheese on the linoleum? She’ll be your very own Roomba. And if you’ve got the blues, the mean reds, or just having a lousy day, a smile from Pico will set you right. It’s impossible not to grin when you see her bouncing in circles, twirling like a mini ballerina, because she’s just so ding dang delighted to see you. Or maybe she just spied the Egg McMuffin behind your back.
Last weekend, Pico was officially released back into the wild, where she’s joyfully sprinting around the yard with her buddies. The sun shines on her face, the breeze blows her tufted tail, and she unfurls that crazy pink tongue like a roll of Fuji film. They say a picture’s worth a thousand words, but in her wildest dreams, I’m sure Pico never imagined herself in this one.
Check out more animal rescue stories in our Pet Perspective section and check back every month for another animal rescue adventure from ARF. Sometimes their column appears on our sister blog, KRL News & Reviews, and sometimes here so be sure to check out both! Advertise in KRL and 10% of your advertising fees can go to a local animal rescue.