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Sadie, pictured at right, needs a new home. She lives with Doug and Michelle, two caring, experienced dog owners who brought her home from a shelter as a puppy about eight months ago. 

They wanted their two young children to know the pleasures of a canine companion, and Doug hoped for a jogging partner. The shelter told them Sadie is a labrador retriever/blue heeler mix. Doug and Michelle used to have a lab and know people with blue heelers. They thought they knew what to expect.

Sadie, however, has an energy level that is off the charts and the attention span of a gnat. A five-mile jog doesn’t even wind her. After a 12-mile jaunt, she did lie down for a bit afterwards, but seemed fully recharged again all too soon. Their route takes them past a construction site, where Sadie enjoys choosing a chunk of concrete almost as big as her head to hold in her mouth while she runs. The extra weight doesn’t slow her down.

At home, she is a nonstop whirlwind, chewing on every item and surface and nipping at anyone who moves. She didn’t make it through puppy class; the instructor had to banish her for uncontrollable barking at her fellow puppies. She played happily with them during free time, but could not sit still or be quiet long enough for instruction.

Doug and Michelle are exhausted, their kids are wary of the dog and Sadie no doubt is frustrated. They’ve started putting the word out with friends, family and vet that Sadie needs a different home, probably one with fenced acreage, other dogs and people who have the time, knowledge and patience to cope with her high-energy challenges.

Sadie lives in Northwest Indiana near Lake Michigan. She’s a good swimmer and loves the beach. If you know of a good home for Sadie, please email me at lgibson150@gmail.com. I’ll pass your info to Doug and Michelle.

 

A neighbor who owns a minature pinscher, like that pictured at right, is so lazy she’d rather risk the dog’s life instead of take him for a walk.

In the post “Chained chihuahua barks, owner snarls” (in which I mistakenly labeled a min-pin as a chihuahua), I described how this owner ties the dog each day by a short rope to a tree in her front yard and leaves him there for hours. Yesterday about 6:30 p.m., a coyote came into her front yard and for two minutes sniffed avidly around the tree and rope where the min-pin is tied before going back into the woods bordering her back yard.

Fortunately, the dog had not been out there.  A neighbor alerted the owner about the coyote. I rejoiced, believing that in the face of such clear and present danger, the owner certainly would stop tying the dog up outside, then ignoring the dog, his racket and the disturbance his barking caused her neighbors. But this afternoon, less than 24 hours after the coyote thoroughly investigated exactly where to find his prey, she tied him out there again.

Earlier this week, she came out of the house with a newspaper and hit the dog with it, even chasing it behind the tree it was tied to while yelling at it to stop barking. She correctly deduced, after a visit the next day from an Animal Control officer, that I was the person who had called them. She yelled insults at me from her front porch about the “lies” I had told.

I”m guessing she’s not bothered by the possibility of having to tell her children that a coyote ate their dog. Given how little attention any of them give the dog, it’s unlikely she or her kids would witness the gruesome event. It’s far more likely that I will, since my office window looks directly into her front yard.

This is the fourth week of Brownie’s three-times-a-week laser therapy treatments for arthritis and a torn ligament. Just last week, unable to see improvement, I began to wonder if the expense and inconvenience were worth it.

This week, she started to put weight on her injured back leg, which had been dangling uselessly since she tore the ligaments in her back-right knee. We’ve started going for short walks, and she’s felt good enough to repeatedly initiate play sessions with a 90-pound doberman who was boarding with us for a few days. I hated to have to put a stop to that, but couldn’t risk letting her chase or be chased on a bum leg.

The picture above, taken off the Internet, shows what a session is like with a dog about Brownie’s size. The vet tech puts a comforter on the floor for Brownie, who gets very anxious and antsy if lifted onto a table. Brownie can stand, sit or lie down, as she likes, while the vet tech gets down on the floor with her and maneuvers herself around to reach whatever spot is being treated. My mother and I sit right there in a couple of chairs, petting Brownie and gently holding her in place if she gets restless. The vet tech simply moves the head of the laser back and forth and around whatever area is being targeted for five minutes, close enough to ruffle Brownie’s fur but without any pressure. In Brownie’s case, the tech treats her back knees, hips, one shoulder and part of her spine.

It’s likely that a combination of laser treatments, bi-weekly pain shots and special joint-boosting treats have led to this improvement as their effects accumulated over the past month. The techs say most dogs grow to enjoy and look forward to their laser treatments, but Brownie isn’t one of them. She cooperates, but remains very anxious about car travel and vet visits. We’ve added a Busy Bone treat to her car trips, in addition to a tranquilizer and a personal transportation aide (Mom) to hold her steady and pet her while I drive.

Laser treatments aren’t easy to find around here, as not many vets want to invest $40,000 in one machine. We go to Vale Park Animal Hospital in Valparaiso, Indiana, and patients come from all over Northwest Indiana for laser treatments there. At our next session, we’ll meet with the vet to map out what’s next for Brownie.

You might remember reading about Louie, the sickly Doberman who boarded with me all of last November (“With a little help from his friends,” Dec. 1, 2011).

He started his stay then as a 59-pound weakling who couldn’t have kicked sand in his own face. He left a month later about 20 pounds heavier and without the diarrhea that had plagued him.

Louie, pictured here, was back recently for a brief stay, and he has blossomed. He probably weighs about 90 pounds – sleek, not skinny. His coat gleams. The hair has grown back on his ears, which previously were leathery and dotted with scabs from scratching.

As before, Louie still has devoted owners, good vet care and high-quality food. So what has changed?

We’ll never know for sure, but it might be that his household has settled into a less stressful, more predictable routine. His family had been coping with a loved one who had a fatal illness. Louie thrives on attention and affection, and now that circumstances allow his family to relax, he’s probably getting more. He’s happy, handsome and healthy.

Three times a week, my 83-year-old mother drives from a north Chicago neighborhood to Gary, Indiana so she can help me get my dog, Brownie, to the vet.

Brownie (with Mom, on the right) must go to a vet in Valparaiso for laser treatments on the torn ligaments of her back right knee. She’s an extremely nervous car passenger, insisting on standing the whole way no matter how long the trip. This is accompanied by panting and drooling on my shoulder.

With a bum leg, that’s a hazardous arrangement. The Thunder Shirt, touted for its calming ability, had no effect. She foiled attempts to secure her with a leash and halter, getting so twisted up in them I feared she’d lose a limb to constricted blood flow.

So Mom sits in the back seat with Brownie and holds her steady if she wants to stand, or soothes her with petting when Brownie deigns to sit or lie down. That she sits or lies at all is because of the tranquilizer she must take well before the trip.

It was Mom’s idea to lodge an enormous velvet-covered pillow back there, behind the gap between the two front seats, which gives Brownie a little more support when she insists on standing to drool on me.

All the way to Valpo and back I hear her alternating between cooing words of comfort at the dog and little exclamations of “Ouch” whenever Brownie manages to step on Mom’s leg or lap. At the end of each trip, Mom is covered in dog hair and wants immediately to wash her hands.

She doesn’t seem to want me to thank her, although I do. She likes being needed, and she certainly is. I couldn’t do this without such devoted, caring help – the kind often given by a mother, if you’re lucky.

A neighbor recently acquired a chihuahua after her previous dog, a tiny terrier, disappeared. The terrier never got walked, just let out the front door to wander around the cul-de-sac until his owner would step out on her front porch and holler at him to come back. He might have been stolen, or might have been carried off by a coyote from the national park nearby.

Unfortunately for her neighbors, the owner’s method for “protecting” her new dog from these possibilities is no improvement. She simply ties him up to a tree in her front yard and leaves him there for hours.

Naturally, he yips, yowls, barks and fusses, a daily annoyance for everyone but his owner. People who chain their dogs outside seem capable of ignoring them indefinitely, no matter how much noise they make, much like parents who’ve numbed themselves to the noisy outbursts of their children. It’s no coincidence that this person’s children also are the noisiest on the block.

One day after two hours of continuous canine commotion, I walked over and asked the neighbor if she’d mind bringing the dog back inside for a while.

Her response was a verbal assault of aggressive denial, obfuscation and inaccuracies. He’s only been out 10 minutes, I put him out now instead of at midnight when people are sleeping, he’s supposed to bark at people, I’m tired of snowblowers and lawn mowers waking me up at 7  a.m. but I don’t go into other people’s yards telling them what to do and I want you to tell all the neighbors that…etc.

Yesterday, when the temperature rose to 100, he was out there for three hours. Since he has a water bowl and shade, his situation meets the almost nonexistent standards that prevail in Gary, Indiana for outdoor dogs.  I know from experience how little good it would do to call the city’s animal control department.

What we really need is an owner control department, one that would issue licenses only to people who met the same standards for pet care that good shelters and rescue organizations use, with enforcement and fines that would make it too expensive for people like my neighbor to keep behaving irresponsibly.

When Brownie tore ligaments in her back left knee two years ago, the vet warned me that there was a 50 percent chance the same thing would happen in her back right knee.

It happened a month ago as she was going up the front steps after a walk.

At 13 (that’s 91 in people years), Brownie isn’t a good candidate for surgery, as we did the last time. She has arthritis and a heart murmur. Surgery, however, was the only option my vet offered, although he didn’t want to do it himself this time. He recommended I take her to Purdue University’s Small Animal Hospital – 98 miles away! The cost would be about $3,500, instead of the $1,000 it had cost at the local vet.

It looked like Brownie’s only options were a dangerous operation or being euthanized. She wouldn’t even touch her back right paw to the floor, much less put any weight on that leg. It simply dangled, probably causing her constant pain. Yet she gave no other sign of distress, remaining cheerful, eating well and even trying to continue chasing my two cats. (Don’t worry, it’s just a game; they pretend to be scared while they all enjoy the chase.)

An Internet search for alternatives turned up Vale Park Animal Hospital in Valparaiso, Ind. One of its vets specializes in nontraditional treatments. She recommended laser therapy, joint boosters, twice weekly pain shots and a session with a rehabilitation specialist who would show me how to massage and exercise Brownie’s bum knee. It would cost more than the first surgery, but possibly less than the second recommended one, depending on how well it worked and how fast.

So three times a week, we make the half-hour drive to Valpo for a laser treatment. In my next post, I’ll let you know how that’s going.

 

 

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