Doggie Rescue

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

One of the things I did while the site was down was rescue a dog.

The other evening as I was sitting in the living room my oldest son looked out the window and said that there was a dog in the road. My husband and I got up to take a look, and there was this pitiful looking dog right in the road, not even reacting when cars were slowing and going around her.

I went right outside to try to call to her to get out of the road. Her stance was very sad--her head was hanging down and she was barely moving. I wondered if maybe she had already been hit by a car because she seemed so odd.

I called to her, whistled, clapped my hands, and knelt down in the yard near where she was in the road. She barely looked up, and stayed where she was.

At that point I started wondering if she was sick with rabies or something. I had never seen a dog act this way before.

My husband came out of the house to get involved. At this point quite a few cars had gone by, the dog was not really responding to us, and was walking right down the middle of the car lane.

My daughter brought out one of the little boy belts so that we could make a leash from it. My son used a piece of pizza from our dinner to lure the dog off the road. My husband finally got the dog off to the side of the road and got the lead on her and brought her back to the house.

He had asked me to call the dog warden, so I was in the house looking up the number in the phone book, but I couldn't find it. When I went out to ask him for ideas about who we could call that might know the number, we started looking at this dog more closely.

She was very thin. Not aggressive at all. But pitiful looking, like we wondered if she would live until morning. We started thinking that if we called the dog warden, she would probably be put down immediately since she wasn't looking too promising.

We got her into our fenced back yard and fed her some dog food that our neighbors donated to the cause. As we observed her we decided that we would keep her in our yard for the night and see what we could do to get her some medical care in the morning.

She lived through the night. However, we hadn't realized how chilly it would get. The poor thing is so skinny that she was shivering when my husband went out to see her this morning. She couldn't even stand up.

We got her wrapped up in some blankets and brought her into the house. Here's how she looked around 7am:
Such a sweet face!

Here's a full body shot of her this morning. The picture doesn't show it that well, but her hair is very coarse and full of burrs. When you pet her you realize that she has almost no body fat at all. She's very, very thin.
In this picture you can sort of see the back of her neck and the bad condition of her fur. She looked a lot worse in person.

We called our local vet and were able to get her in there bright and early today. Thankfully, what they learned is that although she is very underweight (only 24 pounds) and somewhat dehydrated, she doesn't seem to have any illnesses except for some worms. (yumm!) (No more bare feet in the backyard!!)

The vet said that he would guesstimate her age to be 5-7 years, so we were way off there. We had thought that she was maybe 6 months old.

And, the big twist is that she seems to be deaf. Which explains some of her behavior when we first found her in the road. Oh, she has cataracts too. So she probably couldn't even see me at first.

After we got her home my husband gave her a hair cut to get all the nasty crud off of her, and then it was bath time (using a Scrappy's Choice Dog Shampoo Bar, of course!):

She was mighty dirty. Here's what the tub looked like afterwards (and, yes, it was actually a clean tub before she got in there):

The big question at the vet's office was: What is going to happen to this dog now? Did we want to keep her?

What can I say. My compassion for the hungry, sick, and needy of the world extends to animals as well.

So now apparently we have a dog. At least until we get her back to health and see what's what.

The kids are so excited. They are saying things like "This is a dream come true!" and "God sent us the perfect dog!" Truly, the dog is rather ideal. Not even the slightest bit of aggression. Very submissive. She seems to have almost no expectations from people, either good or bad. We wonder if she has been around people very much at all. She is very calm. Of course, she doesn't have the strength to be anything but calm. So, things could change as her health improves. The vet thinks that she should gain around 12 pounds to be at a normal weight. (Can you imagine needing to gain 50% more body weight?! The poor thing!! She is so thin!)

I can see that it will be a challenge to figure out how to train a dog that can't hear. She doesn't react to any finger snapping, clapping, or vocalizations. How on earth do you correct and teach a dog like this? I googled "training deaf dogs" and found that there is quite a lot of helpful information about it. Hopefully we'll be able to have some measure of success, because she doesn't seem to understand even the most basic body language or signals from us. She doesn't seem to know the first thing about what to expect in life.

We brainstormed about possible names for her. We thought about having a Name That Doggie contest here on the blog. The kids were suggesting things like "cocoa puff" and "oatmeal chunk" and "jasmine." As I was watching the dog out the window and thinking about how cute she is, and about her being deaf, I thought of the talented deaf actress Marlee Matlin, and realized that Marlee would be a perfect name for her. Everybody agreed.

So, meet Marlee, my deaf, worm-ridden dog. My guess is that she's here to stay.

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