by Wendy Hunter
Wendy Hunter is a volunteer with the Animal Rescue of Fresno. ARF shares with KRL their animal rescue adventures every month.
A good dog never dies. He always stays. He walks besides you on crisp autumn days when frost is on the fields and winter’s drawing near. His head is within our hand in his old way.
-Mary Carolyn Davies
At Animal Rescue of Fresno, we have all kinds of dogs. Big ones, small ones, and everything in between. Dogs who bark, dogs who never bark, and dogs who bark just because they can. We have critters with long hair, short hair, curly hair, floppy ears, pointy ears, tiny tails, and tails of mass destruction. But for the most part, we have mutts. We don’t get a lot of purebreds at our facility, but when we do, it’s usually a Boxer. And that’s because Boxers are the favorite breed of Linda, our fearless ARF leader. She’s absolutely mad for them. If there is a Boxer in need, Linda’s on the case. She is, to put it mildly, a Boxer freak. It seems like we’ve housed a lot of these squishy-faced pooches lately, and they’ve all became fan favorites.You may recall Missy, the emaciated Boxer I wrote about, who was rescued by a Good Samaritan. After recovering at ARF, she made the journey to SoHumane in Oregon, where she was adopted into a loving home. Another Boxer making the trip to Portland was “Joey,” our seven-year-old sweetie with gigantic paws and wistful eyes. He also found his forever home, and we all cheered when we heard this fantastic news. Just last weekend, we took some dogs to the Daly City PetSmart. Included in this pack was Boxer Nate, who was adopted by a delightful couple. Extremely photogenic, he was quite the selfie crowd pleaser. Another happy tale was the recent adoption of “Sterling,” a creamy white Boxer who just happens to be a tripod. Having once owned a three-legged rescue dog myself, trust me when I say that animals bounce back faster and stronger than people give them credit for. Missing a leg? What leg? Just throw me the darn ball! Our current guest Boxer is an enchanting eight-year-old girl named Bebe. This especially affectionate dog has won over every ARF volunteer, with her pleasing demeanor, and extra wiggly tooshie. She adores personal attention so much, that when you close her kennel door and move on to a neighboring dog, she becomes quite vocal, as if to say, “Hey, we’re not done here!” Bebe came to our facility back in May as a euthanasia rescue, and just like Missy, she was truly a sad sight. Weighing in at just 32 pounds, she was approximately 20 pounds underweight for her delicate frame. And because she is a relatively small Boxer, Bebe’s drastic appearance was shocking. To give you an idea of just how malnourished this poor creature was, she rated a 1+ on the Purina body condition scale, which is truly the bottom of the barrel.
Extremely weak, with overgrown toenails, and dehydrated skin, Bebe was basically a skeleton on four legs. And though this might be an imaginative idea for a glow-in-the-dark Halloween pet costume, it’s a pretty pathetic sight in the real world. Bebe definitely needed a lot of TLC, including a pedicure, and getting some meat back on her bony frame. Unfortunately, these were not the only issues for this charming dog. She was also suffering from many skin tumors, including one located on a mammary gland, and three oral tumors the size of peas. Ultimately, these 15 tumors were surgically removed. Because the masses were determined to be benign, and due to their large number, there was no biopsy performed beforehand.
However, after the procedure was completed, the vet informed us that Bebe’s tumors had been misdiagnosed, and were cancerous after all. Amazingly, even after this discovery, all tissue samples were destroyed. Yes, that sound you hear is my eyes rolling back into my head. In any event, this means the type of Bebe’s cancer remains, regrettably, a mystery. The tragedy of this situation is that had we known about the diagnosis in advance, there would have been no surgery at all. At her age, Bebe’s illness would have just been carefully managed, and she would have gone on living out her remaining years without unnecessary surgery. In the meantime, we’re crossing our fingers and keeping a close eye on her, hoping the cancer doesn’t return. Her quality of life is the most important thing right now, and we intend to make it the best. Having said that, I am happy to report that Bebe has gained substantial weight and is looking and acting like, well, a real dog.
It’s hard to imagine purebred Boxers and/or Boxer mixes ending up surrendered or on the streets. But according to barkpost.com, they come in at number seven on the 10 most common breeds in shelters. Perhaps because of their constant craving for companionship, their exuberance and exercise needs, people often find they don’t have time for such an active dog. Or perhaps it’s the abundance of these loyal animals, thanks to over-breeding. As reported by PETA, Boxers are listed at number six on the list of 10 most overbred dogs. In addition, Boxers are predisposed to health issues such as allergies, hip dysplasia, and, especially, cancer. In a comprehensive 20-year study by the University of Georgia, 44.3% of Boxers died from some form of cancer. Even with pet insurance, treatment costs can be staggering, whether it be surgery, chemotherapy, or a combination of both. Many people just don’t have the money, and may see shelters as their only option. So before adopting any dog, whether it’s a purebred or a pound pup, please take the time to do a little research. The internet is a powerful tool my friends; just Google it.
As for Bebe, you would never guess her pitiful beginnings at ARF, by the way she relishes participating in our daily Big Dog playgroups. Just before bedtime, the enclosure gates are swung open, and the larger dogs are let loose for some quality interaction. Kicking up dirt and dust like a crazy herd of cattle, this silly bunch scampers around the yard, tails and ears flapping, plowing into each other like giant furry pinballs. As the sun begins to set, the dogs are bathed in an Creamsicle glow; they can only be described as unabashed happiness. And when there’s a break in the activity, you’ll find Miss Bebe’s posterior planted in an overflowing water tub, enthusiastically lapping up a mouthful of bubbles. Ah yes, the pause that refreshes for dog-tired paws.
Bebe is currently available for adoption, so come out to Animal Rescue of Fresno and meet this cutie! Learn more on ARF’s website.
Check out more animal rescue stories in our Pet Perspective section and check back every month for another animal rescue adventure from ARF. Advertise in KRL and 10% of your advertising fees can go to a local animal rescue.