Friday, January 30, 2009

The Right Hand?

(Picture Left: Poochie....Careless attention to her grooming needs might be the least of her problems.)

In an old song from the 50's, entitled "16 Tons," Tennesee Ernie Ford sang:

"If the left hand don't get ya, then the right one will."

Likewise, in animal rescue, if you're not dealing with a behavioral problem in an animal, you are almost always dealing with a medical one.

It seemed almost too good to be true when I picked up "Poochie" from the shelter a couple of days ago.

A face so sweet it would melt your heart, the little Chow welcomed pets and cuddles. It was obvious from the minute I met Poochie, this was a dog who was going to present with absolutely NO behavioral issues. She was a total love!

So why did past owners give up such a lovely dog as Poochie?

Well, they claimed Poochie was a "gift" eight months ago and they "had no time" for her.

Normally, this is not too unusual with animals who are given away as presents. The recipients of the pets often never truly accept full responsibility for the animal that they did not choose to bring into their lives. "It's not really my animal. It was given to me!"

So I did not initially question too much the circumstances of Poochie or why she ended up in the pound.

But, after meeting this lovely, gentle and totally balanced dog and wondering how anyone could give her up (even if a "gift") a slight feeling of concern and apprehension stirred within me.

I paid no mind to it and took Poochie anyway.

Since I had no available and open foster, I brought Poochie to the dog boarding facility on Manhattan's Upper East Side. She sat on my lap in the taxi and gave me kisses.

Everyone at the "spa" loved Poochie. "Oh, what a sweet and pretty dog!" "Surely, you won't have her long. Who wouldn't want to adopt this sweetie?"

But, the following morning, I received a call from the facility advising me that Poochie had some blood in her urine.

I tried not to immediately panic with this news. Sometimes there can be a little bleeding following a spay and Poochie had just been spayed the day before and was already on antibiotics. If the bleeding was due a possible Unrinary Track Infection, then presumably it would respond to the medication.

Since Poochie was eating and didn't appear to be in any immediate distress, I decided to give the situation 48 hours. If we did not see improvement, Poochie would have to go to the vet.

Later that day, Sarah, one of our group's stellar volunteers, went to the facility to walk Poochie and Maxi (one of our other dogs in boarding).

As expected, Sarah (who is a Chow Chow lover) immediately was taken with Poochie.

She called me later to tell me what a sweetheart Poochie was. Sarah was very eager to foster Poochie -- if her roommate would agree to it.

Yesterday, Sarah informed me that her roommate had relented and agreed that Sarah could foster Poochie providing the dog had no behavioral issues.

"Behavioral issues" are a million miles away from Poochie. She is a canine version of Mother Teresa!

However, Sarah did mention Poochie still had some blood in her urine. It was one of the prime reasons Sarah wanted to take Poochie home -- in order the bestow some extra nurturing care to the smallish, golden dog.

This morning I called our vet to set up an exam appointment for later today for Poochie.

At best the bleeding is due to a routine Urinary Tract Infection. But, at worst it could be caused by bladder or kidney stones or even something worse -- like the "C" word.

I think about the former owners who seemingly abandoned a perfect dog.

Would they do that for an easily treatable illness? Would they do that simply because of never accepting responsibility for a dog they did not choose? Would they do that because they couldn't find the "time" to walk an easy, loving dog like Poochie a couple of times a day?

None of it makes much sense.

Then again, I've seen thousands of nearly perfect animals dumped over the years for reasons that made absolutely no sense.

We are obviously hoping for the best with Poochie, but will of course have to be prepared for the worst, as well.

Sarah's bubbly, cheerful words this morning ironically add to a somewhat uneasy feeling.

"She is such a good little girl, Patty! Some silly woman in the lobby this morning poked a big, rubber chicken in Poochie's face and the dog didn't even react! Some guy moving out furniture accidentally bumped Poochie and she just turned her head...."

I laughed.

"Well, its a good thing, Sarah, you're not fostering Chance, my Pomeranian. You'd be calling me about the dog BITING the lady with the chicken AND the moving guy!"

But, joke as I might, I am just a tad bit worried.

Why would people give up a "Mother Teresa"-like dog?

We might better know the answer to that question later today. --PCA


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