Rudy's Incredible Journey
This is the story of Rudy who was missing for 7 days, what it took to find him, how he was discovered by luck, had almost died from his injuries, his recovery in rescue, and finding his new forever home! This picture of Rudy was taken when he was a young pup -- the owner did not have one of Rudy as an older adult dog. This made the search and identification much more difficult as we were to find out.
Rudy's owner brought him over to re-home him on 6/7/05. Rudy was not leashed trained, panicked, backed out of his buckle collar and bolted. The owner was left holding his leash with collar and his I.D. tags. She called for him, but he was in a blind panic mode and did not respond to her.
If anyone reading this now, and walks their Sheltie on a buckle collar -- please change your ways or one day we may be looking for your Sheltie! Shelties easily slip buckle collars if startled or frightened -- the thick neck fur keeps a buckle collar from fitting properly. The best walking collar for a Sheltie is half nylon and half chain (limited choke sold at PetsMart). It doesn't choke the dog, but slips quickly to keep the dog from backing out of it. You can see a picture of this collar on our website under Collar Recommendations. If you think your Sheltie will never bolt -- think again -- Rudy did and was gone in a heartbeat. You too, could be standing there holding your dog's lifeline to you, his I.D. tags, in your hands.
06/10/05 Friday: Maryland Heights/Bridgeton areas have been flooded with posters and color pictures of Rudy. We have interviewed many, many people in the area he was last seen when he bolted on 6/07. Properties have 3-5 acre lots, no fences, horses, stables, sheds, out buildings along with thick brush, tall grass, and woods -- literally hundreds of places a small, black dog can hide out. He is an area where people let their dogs run loose -- he has access to food and water in that area. It is actually the best and safest place for a Sheltie to hide -- not a high traffic area. Many signs were destroyed in recent storm, more put up. Many signs deliberately torn down -- more put up. visited Animal Control, Humane Society at Maryland Heights and Macklind Branch, mailmen covering Bridgeton/Maryland Heights area, construction/public workers in the area, vets, animal emergency, Bridgeton/Maryland Heights police posting Rudy's picture and passing out flyers. Even churches posted on their bulletin boards. In short -- just about everyone! WE WILL NOT GIVE UP ON RUDY!!!!
06/11/05 Saturday: My sister and I went out this morning re-checking signs and talking to people when we spotted any. It was disheartening to find many of our signs had been torn down deliberately again -- especially off the the telephone poles on Smiley going South which was the last place he was spotted. We even put some around church entrances to catch the morning church people in the area. I did find out who the property owner was in the area we hope Rudy has gone for safety. He has no problem letting us search any time we are out there, and is OK with us putting out a live trap if Rudy is spotted again. When we ran out of signs, we came back to my house and started making more. My sister ran to Office Depot to buy page protectors for the next batch of signs to protect them from the rain. It has been raining too hard for us to go back out until later today to replace damaged/missing signs. ~Janice
06/12/05 Sunday: More signs posted at Phillips 66 on Dorsett, around Hardees and Taco Bell. Also the Quick Trip at Dorseet and Fee Fee Roads. Two leads investigated: one in morning was a cat, one in afternoon was a Border Collie. All signs missing were replaced.
06/13/05 Monday: So far still no sightings of Rudy. Another sign posted at the Schnucks at Dorsett and McKelvey Roads. Lost ads will appear in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and all Surburman Journals starting Tuesday. ~ Janice
Rudy Possibly Found!
06/14/05 Tuesday: I think this has been just about the worst day of my life in the 9 years I've been volunteering with Sheltie Rescue. I thought puppymill dogs were the worst cases of neglect I'd seen, but seeing this little tri today definitely was heartbreaking. The only way it could have been worse was if the little tri Sheltie found at Animal Control was dead.
I received a call at 8:50am from a woman who happened to be at Seven Hills Animal Control looking for her cat, and saw them unloading a truck of strays. There was a tiny tri Sheltie in the group. Trish followed to see where they put the dog, then called me -- he was in sick and injured dogs -- not a good sign. Bless her heart for caring and stopping to call when she saw our flyer posted at Animal Control! And for even know what a Sheltie looked like! Had she not been there at the right time and place, Rudy would have died. Even though I was exhausted from literally working hours for the past 7 days on the Rudy search, I went to check it out.
The Sheltie may or may not be Rudy -- Only his owner will be able to tell us and she won't be back in town until Wednesday night. Normally, Animal Control does not release strays until 7 days after they are picked up -- longer if they know the owner through a microchip or tags -- 2 letters of notification are sent which can take up to a month. The I found tri didn't have that long to live. With a lot of tap dancing and them knowing Sheltie Rescue and trusting us, the little tri male was released to me. I raced him to our vet in critical condition. He is very ill -- diarrhea and infested with maggots. It is a smell I will never forget.
He was found in the Overland area on Woodson Road -- 5 miles from where he had originally escaped his owner. Our vet said I barely got him in time -- if he had to wait the required 7 more days in animal control he would have been dead for sure -- eaten alive by maggots and suffering from life threatening infections. They bathed him in flea/tick shampoo which helps kill maggots, and pulled out maggots one-by-one -- gross, but it had to be done. I sat on the floor in the hall and cried for this little Sheltie. He was given an antibiotic shot and put in one of my crates at the vet's office for quarantine and care. The little dog will need to stay there for several days for medical care and to check for any eggs that have hatched. I ran to Petco and bought him canned dog food for the vet to feed while he is there. They drew blood for a full panel to see if there are any infections or problems with kidneys, pancreas, etc., and heartworms. He was snuggled in a towel the vet had wrapped him in for warmth and snoozing. I'm now waiting for the former owner to go to our vet's office to identify him. I need closure at this point -- I need to know if it is Rudy or not. If not we will keep searching. If it is, I will be the happiest person in St. Louis and so will the rest of the Sheltie Rescue volunteers! If it is not Rudy, then another Sheltie has been saved because someone who cared called us!
The pictures below are graphic -- if you have a weak tummy, DON'T LOOK!
Maggots and gone in and under his skin
Feeling a little better after maggots taken out and given a bath.
We also received two more calls today. One woman saw our flyer at Branneky Hardware at Fee Fee Road and St. Charles Rock Road, and called to say she saw a tri Sheltie running down the side of Lindbergh heading South towards Page on Thursday. A man called who had rescued a tri and called animal control for pickup -- animal control told him he was released to Sheltie Rescue and they gave him my phone number. He wanted to know how the little dog was doing. Aren't dog lovers just about the best people in the world!
We received donations toward the Rudy Rescue Fund and greatly appreciate it! The donations will help pay for his extensive medical care along with a live trap for Sheltie Rescue (which we desperately needed). A s soon as I know if this is Rudy or not, I will post it immediately on our Home Page. The former owner won't be back in town until Wednesday evening and will probably not get to our vet until Thursday. I'm taking another foster Sheltie for a vet appointment Wednesday morning, and will check to see how Rudy is doing and take pictures to post on this page. Please say a little prayer for the little tri tonight that he gets well soon! ~Janice
Have you hugged your Sheltie today?
06/15/05 Wednesday: I headed up to the vet to see the little tri dog and get pictures. The little guy is one sick boy right now. He has an extremely high white cell count, teeth/gum infections, no thyroid production to speak of, and kidney counts for bun and creatin where way off. This could signal kidney disease, but the vet won't know until he is hooked up to an IV to flush his kidneys out and get the mouth infection under control -- all his health problems may or may not be causing the kidney problems. He will be on fluids for a couple of days and his blood rechecked. One bit of good news -- he was heartworm negative! He had tried to eat, but threw it all back up. We are all on pins and needles waiting for the former owner's confirmation if this is Rudy or not. I noticed some signs were missing today when I was out checking -- I will replace them tomorrow. Until we know there isn't another little tri boy lost out there, we continue search. The little tri will be at the vet for the next 5 days -- his vet bill will be high. If anyone would like to contribute to the Rudy Rescue Fund you can send a donation made out to Sheltie Rescue and send to our P.O. Box 1791, Maryland Heights MO 63043. Even if this isn't Rudy, the poor little guy deserves a chance after all he has been through.
6/16/05 Thursday: The news we all have been waiting for ---- It is Rudy at our vet!!!! The former owner made a positive identification today! Now everyone keep those prayers going for little Rudy that he recovers and doesn't have kidney damage. I will be going in on Monday to see him and will report any progress. Rudy had traveled 6.6 miles from my house in 7 days. Totally beyond the area where signs were posted. If Rudy had not become sick and exhausted, and eventually so weak he could no longer run, he would have remained unapproachable by the stranger who found him. He was so frightened of people, he would never had allowed anyone to approach him had he not become so ill.
06/17/05 Friday: Some good news on him today -- his kidneys suffered NO permanent damage!!!! woooohooooo!!!!! He still is not eating though. The vet feels he is very depressed, and, of course, in pain from the maggot damage and his badly infected teeth. She is going to take an x-ray later today just to make sure nothing else is going on internally. Then she wants me to pick him up tomorrow and take him home with me -- maybe he will eat once he gets to my house. I'll boil hamburger for him -- I know his mouth must hurt something awful the way his teeth and gums looked. Keep sending prayers for this little boy!
06/18/05 Saturday: I picked up Rudy and took him home this morning from the vet! Now that he is in a home, he is eating boiled hamburger with a little canned food and a dab of yogurt (to replace the right bacteria in his tummy)! Rudy is getting 2 kinds of antibiotics, thyroid pills, and pain meds. I roll them up into little braunschweiger balls and he scarfs them right up. He is making lots of eye contact now which is a good sign. He is fearful of people, but seems OK with me -- maybe he understands I am trying to help him. He doesn't hide in a corner of the pen like most frightened dogs, but sat so he could watch me and the other Shelties. Lucy Blue decided to keep him company. He is in the pen outside only long enough to potty. I have a huge box fan blowing air across him when he is in the pen to keep the flies off of him. Inside he has a wire crate. Most of the time he sits at the front to observe what is going on. He won't willingly walk out of his crate yet -- I have to physically pull him out, but I think in a few days he will figure out that if he walks out of his crate he won't get pulled out! Since he is not leash trained, I have to carry him in and out of the house and up and down 5 steps -- and boy is he a little chunk butt!!! I'll put a "drag leash" on him Sunday so he can get used to the feel of a leash. He will discover when he steps on it, the pressure is not constant and learn to accept it. Hopefully, that will be soon because I have a bad hip!. He goes back to the vet on Monday to flush out the maggot hole on his back which has become infected and to check is other wounds.
Lucy keeps Rudy company in his outside playpen.
06/20/05 Monday: Rudy had his vet visit today. The dead area on his back has gotten bigger and is trapping infection under it. It's about a 5 x 3 area. Ready or not, Rudy will have to have surgery Tuesday to remove that area. The vet will attempt to suture it together if at all possible by pulling the skin together. His teeth will also have to be tended to at the same time or we will never get the infection under control. He will lose quite a few teeth. Rudy will be on fluids the entire lenth of the surgery which will help keep his kidneys flushed out. The surgery will be very hard on this little guy -- please continue to keep your paws crossed for Rudy and say a little prayer for him at 8:am Tuesday morning. I won't know until after surgery if he will need to stay at the vet's office for a few days or I will get to bring him back home. If he needs morphine, he will stay at the vet.
06/21/05 Tuesday: 11:45 am -- Good news from the vet! Rudy's back wound was all superficial and the dead chunk was easily removed. His other wounds were cleaned up while he was under. He did lose 19 teeth (dogs have 42). He is just beginning to come out of anethesia. The vet will keep him on IV all day and I can pick him up tonight.
7pm -- Rudy was awake when I picked him up from the vet. They gave me a surgical scrub to use once a day on his back and butt wounds (then rinse), and two kinds of ointment. One I put on for 2 days, then switch to the other ointment which is a drying agent until he goes back to the vet next Tuesday. He still will be taking his pain med, 2 kinds of antibiotics, and thyroid pills twice a day. My husband carried the little guy to our van and put Rudy in his crate. When we got home, he carried Rudy out to the backyard for to potty him. He peed a tiny bit and pooped (first poop in 4 days). At 9pm, I took him out again and this time he walked on-leash. He took a big pee, then walked back inside to his crate and snuggled down for a good night's sleep!
06/22/05 Wednesday: Rudy didn't eat much of his breakfast, but by noon his appetite was coming back and he finished off what he left this morning. I still walk him out on leash, and he has found his personal "potty spot" on the portion of my yard that is fenced off for new Shelties to be away from the rest of my dogs.
I discovered he did not know how to potty on the concrete in the quarantine dog pen -- he prefers grass! Now I'm the one who sits patiently in the dog pen (with the door open), and waits for him to potty. I sit down and sideways to be the least possible threat to him, and give him back the Calming Signals he gives me. (This is what we use with Shelties that are afraid or unsocialized, and the same method I used on my Lucy Blue. See book by Turid Rugaas "Calming Signals") Rudy would come into the pen and walk around, but not right up to me. I didn't look at him or call him -- being pushy with a Sheltie will always drive the dog away from you. Then it takes 3 times as long to earn a dog's trust. I have to wait until he decides to trust me enough to come to me -- lots of patience is the key.
At 9:30pm (last call), I walked him out and back in on-leash as usual. When we entered the house, I unclipped his leash. He had graduated from bolting into his crate when I walked him up to his crate, to walking nicely to his crate, to being let off leash just inside the door. Now he calmly strolls to his crate room knowing nothing bad is going to happen to him. He did something different in the middle of his walk to his crate. He decided to explore! My husband and I kept very quiet and did not stare at him or talk to him. My Shelties and visiting Shelties were all laying around the Great Room -- all tired from a busy day of playing. Perfect for Rudy to explore! He even went to the middle of the room and plopped down!! I got the Cheeze Whiz, and he followed me to the dining room and the kitchen! Tomorrow, I will begin Clicker Training with him! Rudy's basic training begins! Check out our Guidelines to Help Unsocialized Shelties -- this is the program I will begin with Rudy now that he is feeling much better. This little boy has made an amazing come-back in such a short time!!!
Rudy had his first clicker training session this morning -- 12 treats, a click before each treat. He doesn't realize yet the click means a treat, but the lightbulb will go on soon! Then I can click/treat for pottying, looking at me, walking on leash beside me, accepting a stranger, and all kids of confidence building exercises! I won't do all the exercises at once -- it's a slow learning process of one exercise at a time until he masters each. Below are pictures of Rudy in his playpen attached to his crate in my Great Room. And one of Rudy watching Katie and Willow play.
Watching Willow and Katie play.
Relaxing in his playpen.
06/28/05 Tuesday: Rudy had his check up this morning, and he is doing very well considering how sick and injured he was when he came into rescue. He has been coughing since his surgery, and I suspected he was developing kennel cough. Bummer -- the vet verified that he does have kennel cough -- not unexpected after being in Animal Control. He is still not well enough to receive his vaccinations. The vet refilled his antibiotic and put some ointment on his back. Rudy goes for another vet visit July 13th.
Rudy's character is starting to come out now, and he sure is a cutie. He wasn't fond of the ointment on his back, so when we got home, he trotted over to the hall wall (which is white), and proceeded to walk along the wall and rub the gunk off of his back. Then he turned to me with the cutest smile I have ever seen!
Rudy does like the clicker now and he is giving me lots of eye contact for those clicks. I know he understands it's the click that is the reason he is getting the treats and not just the treats. When I stopped, he touched the clicker then looked at me -- not at the treats in my other hand! He wanted that clicker to click again! He did this twice, so I know he knows what the click means!
I had carried him into the van, into the vet, then back to the van -- I knew he was not ready to walk on a leash in a scary situation yet. When I got him home, I let him walk from the van into the house -- he was nervous, but I talked to him all the way and he walked glued to my leg right into the house!!!! He also had a choke chain on just in case he decided to panic on me.
Last night, he decided he no longer wanted to be in the Great Room all by himself at night -- he wanted to be with the rest of the pack. He kept giving lonely little woofs after the lights were out. So I hauled a smaller crate up from the basement and put it by my bed -- he was happy as a clam. :) He won't be a happy camper tonight -- since I know for sure he has kennel cough, he will have to go back to his crate in the Great Room. I just hope my guys don't come down with it now.
07/03/05 Sunday: Rudy's back and butt are healing very nicely!! He has definitely learned his first trick with the use of a clicker -- he knows "tell me a secret"! Rudy is very proud of his new trick too! He even ran with the other Shelties today as they chased a bird!!! I sat him on the couch yesterday and today with me. He wasn't so sure about it yesterday, but as you can tell from today's pic, he is now pretty relaxed about it!
Likes to snuggle now.
07/07/05 Thursday: Rudy has graduated from a closed crate at night to leaving it open. He usually starts out on a bed in the hallway he claimed as his, but during the night he always moves back to his crate in my bedroom on his own. He likes the privilege of being able to choose! When we go outside, he will nudge me in the back of the leg. He doesn't hesitate anymore to come up to me when I am sitting outside on the ground to get his share of petting and butt skritches. He even does a little run in front of me now and smiles. No tail wag yet, but one day I will earn one from him! At meal times, he knows he eats in his crate in the Great Room and heads for it as soon as I start distributing bowls. Other Sheltie Rescue people have come to visit Rudy for his "meeting strangers" training. Right now they are the only ones I trust meeting him because they know proper canine etiquette when working/meeting a dog fearful of strangers. They know not to stare, hover or push him and to wait for him to decide on his own if he wants to interact with them. Next journal entry will be after his next vet visit on 7/13 when he gets his bloodwork redone to check for infection and thyroid level (unless something significant needs reporting beforehand). I plan to work more with him using the clicker, and teaching him to walk on leash on my left side instead of all over the place in the next week.
P.S. I walked Rudy on leash to my backyard at 7pm, and started working him with the clicker. He only received a click if he was on my left side. I was hoping for anywhere on my left -- low and behold after just a few clicks, he understood and was walking in heel position watching my face!!! We weren't walking fast, and there weren't any distractions, but he sure did good for a little dog who wasn't leash trained! When I ran out of treats, I let him off at the bottom of my yard so he could potty. He peed, then hurried to get right back by my left side all the way to the back door!
07/15/05 Friday: Rudy's back is healed!!! The vet said he will have a bald spot right in the middle, but I told Rudy he could always do a comb-over when his fur gets longer! The vet readjusted his thyroid meds -- they came back a little high in his bloodwork. He was well enough to receive his 3-year rabies shot, and will get his DHP on the 22nd. He is still a high flight risk -- but I'm working with him on that which will just take time. Any little noise/movement scares him when outside the security of the backyard/house. I took hot dogs with me to the vet to reward him for being good. While the vet tech was examining his wounds, Rudy kept bobbing his head at her. She asked what he was doing. I told her he is trying to make her "click" for a hot dog! He was stressed, but was fine once we got home.
07/20/05 Wednesday: Rudy and I have ventured out on my front porch for some clicker work. He is very afraid when out front, and I know this step in his training is going to take a long time. When a car would go by, and he looked at me, I would click and treat. He was very, very nervous. Any movement or noise frightened him. It will be awhile before we get beyond the front porch, but that's OK -- I've got plenty of time. When we went back inside and I took his leash off, he started bouncing around telling the other Shelties he survived front porch training and didn't die!! Rudy and Katie are playing inside with each other every day now!
07/27/05 Wednesday: Rudy and I slacked off on training due to the heat and two other Shelties who were staying with me while their Mom was out of town. I took him out front Wednesday around 6pm for a little front porch training. Again, he gets a click and treat when he looks to me. He did much better, so we tried the sidewalk leading from my front door to the driveway. He was frightened, but he also was starting to look to me for safety. He did fairly well, only getting frightened when a car stopped in front of my house. I redirected his attention to me and had him walk to the door (which was safety to him). Then, the child next door started shooting off a cap gun which sounded like fireworks to Rudy, so I took him back inside before he got totally spooked. Not once did he go into back-up, freak out mode, but I was careful to help him keep his attention on me. When I unclipped his leash in the living room, he did a couple of little circles and bounced -- he was very pleased with himself!
07/28/05 Thursday: Rudy had his first outing other than going to the vet! I had to pick up Holly from another foster home, so I took Rudy along because he knows Theresa and her dogs. Theresa carried him into her house because I knew it would be too much for Rudy to expect him to walk up and into a strange house. Once inside, he was nervous, but I had his trusty clicker and hot dogs. He did pretty good for a first time out! He didn't explore -- stuck pretty close to me which was expected. I want him to look to me for his safety, and not bolt. We all went into her backyard, and just being in a strange yard with strange sounds got him a little freaked out. Again, I would click when he looked at me. He didn't explore outside eithe, but stuck fairly close to either me or Theresa. Didn't stay long, he was doing very good and I wanted it to end with him being successful. I walked him from her house to my van (which he recognizes) using his clicker to let him know when he was doing good. He was so glad to get home, and he was happy he lived through his scary adventure! Next outing will be PetsMart! I will also take Andy along who is a very confident Sheltie. The automatic doors would totally scare Rudy to death, and I don't want his experience to be a bad one so my husband will carry Rudy through the doors. I will not let any people approach or touch him -- just a quick visit in and carry him back out to the van again.
08/14/05 Sunday: Rudy and I never made it to PetsMart. I decided it would be too much too soon for him -- he can barely walk out to my van on leash -- PetsMart would have been sensory overload for him. Cars driving by and kids playing still scare the little guy, but he is doing better. To help Rudy in his socialization training, I moved him to another foster home today. It broke my heart to leave him, but I know it is the best thing for him. His foster home knows clicker training, which is a familiar training tool to Rudy. I miss him already -- he took a piece of my heart with him today.
09/05/05 Monday: An email from Rudy's foster Mom.
Hi Janice- Our friend Rudy is really coming out of his shell! Now that he no longer has tummy trouble his appetite is back and he has so much energy! Of course he still loves to snuggle on the couch but when I ask him if he wants to go outside he immediately starts to spin in a circle and practically bounces to the door. Once outside he will prance around the yard, take care of business and come running (yes running!) up to me with a big Sheltie smile on his face as if he is so proud of himself. And he should be! He loves to lay in the grass and relax on the deck and when our dogs bark, he joins right in! He has a very sweet bark but I am certain he thinks he is a very tough guy as he barks at the kids walking to school. He seems to have found his place with our pack of mini Shelties and although he is the largest Sheltie in the house, he is always respectful of the others -- even when Cheerios are being handed out! Physically his waistline seems to be coming back ( he had lost a couple pounds at the last vet visit), and his tail and bare spot on his back are starting to fill in with fur! I have been trying to stick with Cheerios as treats since they are low fat and he seems perfectly happy to tell me "secrets" and give "kisses" for a click and a Cheerio. He definately understands the clicker and I am waiting to catch him when he sits so I can click and treat and train him to "sit". For now he is happy to perform the tricks he knows and has taken to licking me very gently every so often when he wants me to know he is near me. He is a sweet, sweet boy and seems to thrive on love and attention. I feel as though he is slowly gaining confidence, and that one day soon he will realize what a special boy he is! Beth
Rudy did find his forever home with a previous adopter of two of our rescued Shelties, and he is receiving lots of love and spoiling at his new home!
Handsome and healthy in his new home!