Tuesday, February 17, 2009


The dog was plastered against the passenger door but showed no signs of aggressiveness. Carefully , I cracked the door, threw in a piece of meat , and quickly slipped into the truck slamming the door behind me. Warily, she eyed me and pressed closer to the door. Realizing she was not a threat to anything but my olfactory nerve, ( my God, did she stink) I laid the rest of the meat on the seat for her to eat.

The most amazing thing happened. She slapped her jaws together on the meat like they were two flat wooden paddles. There was no chewing, it was as if she had forgotten how. She just kept slapping her jaws together and meat flew everywhere. It went on the dash, on the seat, on the windshield and in my hair. I was dumbfounded. Her odd manner proved somewhat effective for she quickly polished off most of the meat. She then proceeded to go after the wayward wads, steering clear of those in my hair.

I canvassed the neighborhood and discovered that she was actually owned and had a name, Dutchess. I was told by a neighbor boy though that the owner was planning to shoot her if she didn't get run over first. That is when she became mine.

"Well," said John my veterinarian, " in all my years of practice have never seen a dog in such poor shape and still be alive. Lets see just what her problems are."

Her fixable problems were starvation, worms, and Sarcoptic mange. The horrid smell came from her sebaceous glands and the smell would disappear when the mange was cured. The bad news came with the discovery of heart worms.

"We can cure her other problems easily enough but the heart worms need treatment and she is too old to tolerate it. We can buy her time and certainly improve her quality of life." John offered.

With a sack full of medicine, smelly Dutchess and I headed home to start rehabilitation. My other dogs ran to greet my truck but backed off in disgust when she emerged. They gave her a wide berth, evidently not approving of her odor either. I was grateful for this shunning by the others for this type of mange, though highly curable, was also very contagious. Fortunately , none of us caught it.

I wish I had a "first day of rescue" picture of her but I only had this one which was taken weeks after treatment and hair was returning. It looks much thicker than it really was. I was able to capture her demeanor when I rescued her though in this picture. She grew frightened when I pointed a camera at her and she reverted to her former fear and distrust. Those were pre-digital days so I apologize for the quality.

Eventually as her health improved, so did her demeanor. She went from timid and cautious to proud and playful. In all that mess lurked a German Shepherd. Her ears now stood erect and her hair was coming in silver with a black saddle on her back. Her standing in the dog community improved and she became Miss Congeniality with a touch of good natured bossiness. She eventually became a kindly leader of the pack.

She really didn't just kill my cat in that picture, they were best friends and playing.

If I hadn't watched the transformation my self, I would never have believed she was the same animal.

What came next was both fair and unfair.........


  1. You are indeed an angel for taking that dog in and rehabbing her. I once got a dog from the SPCA who had mange. My mom treated her (and the vet) and never told my dad how much it cost, which was a bundle.

  2. Oh yea. Those vets aren't cheap. But then can you put a price on the finished product? Bless your Mom, Judy. Most people want "no problem" dogs. Wish there were more people like her. I fear with the recession, there will be a large number of abandoned pets.

  3. The transformation between the two photos is truly remarkable. What a beauty she turned out to be. Her story breaks my heart. How can people be so cruel to animals? I swear, as long as I live, I will never understand. I hope your kindness is repaid a thousand times.

  4. Robin, The physical transformation was amazing but her mental attitude change was even greater. My repayment has always been in the results. Wall Street should offer such returns on an investment.

  5. Wow. Truly you can see the healing inside and out in the comparison pictures. It's amazing how much abuse and neglect we see everyday in people and pets. You have a gift. It was brave and compassionate to take her on. She's beautiful. I'm afraid to read the next installment.

    You're right about MS taking the good folks. My guy was my hero. He had a sense of humor that never failed. Never complained. He called himself Mr. Lucky! We have a daughter who now has her own children. My oldest Grandson is so much like him. That is my reward.

    Thank you for your visit and kind words.