by Wendy Hunter
Wendy Hunter is a volunteer with the Animal Rescue of Fresno. ARF shares with KRL their animal rescue adventures every month.
There is something beautiful about all scars of whatever nature. A scar means the hurt is over, the wound is closed and healed, done with. ~Harry Crews
During my 15 years in the Bay Area, I adopted a rescue dog from a San Francisco shelter. Hap was a black and tan Terrier mix, who’d been abused by her previous owner. I was going through a rough patch at the time, and when I saw her curled up in the back of the kennel, I thought we needed each other. And so began a wonderful journey between myself and Hap, who enjoyed nothing more than herding me on long walks, cuddling on the couch, and trying to lick my face off.
One day, I noticed Hap was limping on her right back leg. After a vet visit, I was horrified to learn she had bone cancer. The prognosis was not promising, and after several emotional discussions with the vet, we decided to amputate the leg. Not knowing what to expect, I was delighted to see Hap scamper down the clinic’s hallway when I picked her up after her surgery. Amazingly, the loss of a limb didn’t seem to faze her at all. “Leg? What leg? Let’s get outta here!” In the parking lot, with Hap hobbling about, I tried not to be embarrassed. Not because I now owned a tripod, but because she went after another dog twice her size. She never did play well with others. Hap bounced back in no time, and soon we were the hit of the neighborhood. Walking past a group of kids, I would inevitably hear, “Hey, that dog only has three legs!” I always wanted to reply, “Wow! When did THAT happen?” Hap lived a good long life and never let that disability slow her down. I bet when she crossed The Rainbow Bridge, she chased after the biggest dog there.At Animal Rescue of Fresno, we have a soft spot for disabled dogs. Life hasn’t dealt them the best hand in the deck, but they still put on a happy face. Like Sig, a spunky Lhasa Apso who loves fetching toys and jumping up to greet volunteers. Sig came to ARF from a Selma shelter, and his coat was so severely matted, it had to be shaved off. He was also suffering from a completely unusable crushed front paw, meaning the whole leg had to be removed. Because he arrived shortly after his surgery, Sig endured two weeks of mandatory bed rest. He did not enjoy his recovery period one bit, and looked like a pathetic little prisoner in his kennel, calculating plans for a midnight jailbreak. Just like my dog, Hap, Sig doesn’t let a missing appendage hamper his daily activities. He covers ground like a racehorse covers track, with a crazy patch of sprouted hair on his nose flying in the breeze. You have to marvel at the resiliency of animals, and how an amputation doesn’t seem to affect their outlook. They have no vanity, and nothing that alters their self-worth. Sure, there are balance issues; you can’t help but giggle at a tripod dog wearing the cone of shame, trying to figure out the best way to pee on a tree. Yes, they’re going to stumble at first, trying to get accustomed to their new way of traveling on three legs. But in the end, they figure it out, make it work, and get on with life. Humans could learn a thing or two about doggedness from dog like Sig; maybe it just takes courage and a cone.
For a sweet dog named Brulee, veterinary visits have become commonplace. Resembling a lamb more than a poodle, this adorable ball of fluff has a white coat of soft curly silk. You’d never know what a painful ordeal he’s been through, because of his happy-go-lucky nature. When Brulee arrived at ARF, he was suffering from a very deep ulcer in his eye. It was so bad he almost lost the eye; the doctor wasn’t certain it could be saved. First, Brulee’s eye was sewn shut for a week, with the hope it would heal on its own, which it didn’t. Instead, we were faced with the challenge of applying alternating medicated drops, one every hour for 12 hours of daytime. This daunting task would be a last-ditch effort to save the injured eye, but could we manage it?
Luckily, ARF has the most dedicated volunteers around, and Steve and Janet eagerly stepped in to help. Taking Brulee into their home, they provided him with round-the-clock attention, which he desperately needed. After a week of TLC, I couldn’t believe it was the same poodle, as I watched him chasing puppies and rolling in the sunshine. Brulee still has a long road ahead, as he’s now developed “cherry eye” in both eyes. This is when a dog’s third eyelid becomes inflamed and pops out of place. I know, gross. The surgery is fairly easy, but it’s just another obstacle Brulee has to face. If we could, I wonder what we’d see through his little button eyes. I hope it’s hope.
At ARF, we never know what surprises are coming through the door. Willie and Benjamin arrived together; both were strays found roaming the streets of Corcoran. Willie is a copper and white spaniel mix, whose smiling face disguises the discomfort he’s in with every step. This lovely redhead has a “luxating patella,” which is a kneecap that moves out of its normal location. Willie has the most severe type of this condition, where the kneecap may be dislocated the majority of the time. Ouch. To help keep the kneecap in place and Willie out of pain, surgery will be required.
If all goes well, his prognosis is excellent, and Willie should regain full use of his leg. Fingers crossed.
If you looked in the dictionary for “scruffy,” you’d find a picture of Benjamin, a domino-colored bundle of energy. Having hip issues definitely hasn’t slowed him down, as he bounds about his kennel like a rubber ball. Benjamin will most likely have a procedure called Femoral Head Osteotomy (FHO) for Dogs. It’s the surgical removal of the head and neck of the femur, or simply put, the removal of the “ball” part of the ball and socket that makes up the hip joint. This will help realign Benjamin’s hips, so he can walk normally and without any pain. Both these boys are looking at about three-plus weeks of strict bed rest after surgery. Well, that’s one way to get extra treats.
If you’re wondering how ARF pays for these pricey procedures, we depend upon the kindness of strangers. I wish I could say we just grab a velvet bag full of gold coins from our marble safe in the garage, but that would be ridiculous. Who has a marble safe? As a volunteer-only, non-profit organization, Animal Rescue of Fresno receives absolutely no government funding. We rely strictly on donations from our generous supporters throughout the community. Fundraisers like yard sales, pancake breakfasts, and our upcoming Holiday Open House & Boutique are also great ways for us to bring in some much-needed cash. On December 2, we’re throwing an Open House, which will be a fun way to end the year. We’re having raffles, bake sales, vendors, food booths, and pictures with Santa. Presents to put under the tree for the ARF dogs are greatly appreciated. Every little contribution means that our lucky dogs get to sleep in cozy blankets at night, snack on kibble in the morning, and tear all the stuffing out of toys during the day. Hey, how else do you get to that darn squeaker?
Happy Holidays from ARF, and thanks for another great year. We’ll see you in 2018!
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.