Tales of lives transformed
won the Dog Lottery!” is a favorite expression of my husband Tim’s. Our Sam is indeed among the winners.
rescue dogs from bad situations. Sam was
a black and white Border Collie with excellent herding instincts. Purchased at 10 weeks of age, upon arrival at
his new home Sam was chained to a garage and issued an army blanket.
man who purchased Sam had been encouraged to do so for companionship after
becoming widowed. Of course this only
works if the human and dog actually spend time together.
typically rambunctious puppy and left on his own, Sam had that army blanket —
his only source of entertainment — shredded in no time. Now living in the high desert and spending
his nights on a concrete slab, Sam soon collected as much of that shredded
blanket around him to sleep; the cold nights sometimes fell into subzero
to his discomfort was the nylon collar that unfortunately wasn’t growing with
Sam. Over time it became imbedded into
day while working his tractor, the man accidentally hit Sam, causing a large
scrape on his back and a fractured pelvis.
Left to heal on his own, fortunately Sam managed, but the fracture
healed imperfectly which would eventually lead to arthritis. Sam’s owner began having medical problems
himself — karma perhaps? — and had to have a total hip replacement.
that point Sam was fed whenever someone remembered to stop by the house and put
kibble in his bowl. After the man
returned home from the hospital a friend stopped by regularly to help with
basic chores and housekeeping while the man was recovering. After seeing Sam and his situation the friend
contacted me and asked if I would like to adopt Sam.
wasn’t looking for another dog, as I already had two. But I agreed to have a look with no
obligation. What was I thinking??! The chances of me not taking Sam out of his
situation were about as high as someone dieting for months and then turning
down a hot fudge sundae!
arrived accompanied by two friends to see Sam’s situation for myself. In short order I was assuring Sam’s owner
that I would give Sam a good home and not to worry. The man said he didn’t care what I did with
Sam, “just take him,” he said rather gruffly, handing me Sam’s papers. We loaded him into the backseat of my
friend’s convertible and Sam departed in style.
He was a mess. Nearly emaciated, his fur was filthy and
matted. The first thing I did was remove
his collar, sickened at the tender, hairless strip around his neck. I loaded him into the backseat of my pickup
and started our three-hour drive home.
My Border Collie,
Needa, sat up front with me, riding shotgun.
Sam popped his head and front paws over the back of the seat to say
hello, and was greeted with Needa’s radiant smile in full bloom. Sam slunk back, but a moment later popped up
to greet her again. The routine continued
all the way home. Sam was determined
that he and Needa would become friends.
I had rescued Needa seven years earlier, but how quickly they forget
when a new adoptee joins the family!
Needa’s full name is “Needa Home,” christened by the kind folks who’d
found her as a puppy, dumped on the side of the road.
I am blessed with a
talented and compassionate husband who is a veterinary surgeon. He always says if there is reincarnation he
wants to come back as one of my dogs.
Once home, Sam was
whisked off to my husband’s practice, where he was bathed, vaccinated and
radiographed to get a baseline on his physical condition. He had blood drawn to ensure he could safely
be anesthetized for surgery. The
radiographs revealed his previous pelvic fracture and how the compromised
healing would undoubtedly cause pain in his senior years.
Sam was two years
old at this time, for the most part seemingly healthy. Border Collies are very active dogs and will
find a job if not provided with one. In
anticipation of Sam’s energy level, my wise husband opted to perform a
prophylactic gastropexy to avoid a possible bloat and torsion, which can be
fatal. He came through the surgery —
which included neutering — beautifully.