My Velcro Dog by Dwain Springer
Most everyone can tell you about their dog’s smile, their daily boisterous and sometimes loud greeting they receive after a day’s work, the obvious joy it is to have a dog under their care. With Mr. Chance and me, it’s way way beyond that norm.
You see, Chance is a senior Sheltie, with an unknown past. He was picked up as a stray somewhere up near Troy by a nice lady who called Sheltie Rescue. He didn’t try to run…he can’t! So it was easy to pick him up. When he came to Rescue, I’d already had Sugar and Charlie Brown for almost 18 months; I wasn’t looking for another dog, especially an older one, but something about him said “He needs you and you need him”, so I adopted him shortly after he came into Rescue.
He’s Mr. Chance to his peers — that’s because he deserves every bit of respect he can get. We don’t really know much about him; as with many dogs that end up in Rescue, he was abandoned, but it’s evident his past is beyond the usual.
The first thing that grabs your attention is his huge enormous paws; it would appear he spent his “formative” years standing in a wire crate, very likely in a puppy mill or similar environment (that he was intact when received by Rescue is also curious, considering his age). The nails are deformed and growing sideways rather than out in front — not because they’re too long but because the nail bed has formed that way. If you think you’ve got problems clipping nails on your dog, try it with Chance — I’d suggest a muzzle and extreme care — he kicks like a mule sometimes. He hates to have his feet or pads touched — just ask Charlie Brown or Cassidy — mud soaked paws sometimes get attention, but not on Chance! I have more success with a dremel tool when trimming his nails — slowly, easily, with lots of breaks and continuous low chatter with him to make him more comfortable.
The second thing that shouts out to you is the obvious pain he’s in with an advanced case of arthritis and what would appear to be deformed front legs. Have you ever seen show horses stepping or trotting with an unusual-looking gait — that’s my Chance, only his front legs don’t appear to have any joints in them! He’s got some serious mobility issues — not quite as bad as Charlie Brown with his severe displaysia, but he’s not very coordinated. Going down steps presents a big challenge to him — he can’t slow down controllably, so he frequently ends up by the back door, looking at the hinges to get out…silly guy, the door opens from the other end!
Most people can tell you a dog’s age by his teeth and eyes; we’re only estimating his age at around 12 — it could be more, but it’s not likely to be less. He’s got cataracts, has difficulty seeing sometimes, and he’s not real fond of extreme bright lights. He’s losing his hearing — it takes sharp noises to get his attention, although sometimes I know he hears me — it’s the rabbit scent that’s more important. He’s extremely sensitive to being brushed — I’ve been his poppa since late October 2003, and I’m still very cautious brushing him. He’s not exactly fond of a bath either, but quite honestly, unless he really rolls in something nasty, he’s not going to get one (it’s his fur and how awfully difficult it is to brush it thoroughly — you should have seen the disaster it was trying to get him dried and brushed — it took weeks to get the tangles out…and I mean that!). It stresses him so much, that usually you don’t get done with one third of him before he’s lying on the floor of the tub…which makes it very difficult to finish. We haven’t done it but twice in 8 months.
His coat, although much much improved with a proper diet, simply will not stand to be brushed — and it’s gone curly near the fringe…try to figure that one out! He’s now tolerant of it — not receptive, but tolerant. I hate doing it, but when I brush him, he’s muzzled. He nipped me once — his skin is very very sensitive to being pulled and with his dense undercoat, it can’t be helped every once in a while. He gets brushed every couple to three days… and it takes over an hour of slow easy brushing, with him lying on the floor and me sitting cross-legged over him, that one eye looking back over at me. For the longest time, it was like having a frightened animal — you saw lots of white in his eyes. Now, he lies there, but you know he’s saying “get on with it and get it over!” Compared to Sugar and Charlie Brown (who’s got a huge coat!), it’s almost double the combined effort for the two of them to do Chance. No way is he going to a professional groomer!
He’s got a bark akin to a beagle’s…not exactly long, just a lot deeper than it should be. First time I heard it, I was looking for a strange dog…and believe me, he’s strange! The day after Halloween, I came home to two barking dogs and one muffled barking dog — he stuck his head in a candy pumpkin bucket, the strap fell behind his head so he couldn’t get it out, and I was presented with two Shelties and a sheltie pumpkin-head when I came home! I couldn’t take a picture — it would have been too embarrasing (and he was still very very new to me; he needed to have that bucket removed!)!
And those are his good points. His biggest fault is giving me a heart attack every morning — he sleeps extremely hard and every morning I check to see if he’s still breathing. Sounds that normally wake Charlie Brown and Sugar up don’t even register with him — doors slamming, the toilet flushing, the floor creaking right when you walk by him….none of that disturbs him at all.
You’ve all seen doggy dreams? Sugar leaves scratches on my back sometimes, her dreams are so real to her — Chance, that I can tell, doesn’t have them. Occasionally I see his toes twitching, but not very often. And when he first wakes up, it’s obvious he’s not awake for a while. He runs into things, almost stumbles over himself and looks at me hoping I’d answer the question of “why?” he keeps asking me. And he sleeps with his eyes partly open…so you think you’ve woken him up, but you haven’t! And don’t touch him when he’s asleep unless you’re talking to him too…it’s not that he bites, but it startles him awake and then he’s grumpy. Until you feed him. After his first cup of coffee. Not really (the coffee part!).
One morning, about six weeks after I adopted him, he had an epileptic seizure. I pray none of you have to go through that — for those who have, you can understand the feeling of complete helplessness while your dog lays there, twitching and whining, and there’s nothing you can do about it. In most situations, I’m fairly collected and can deal with a lot of curves. That morning, I went to pieces. Why? I mean, I knew, logically speaking, that it wasn’t the end of the world and when the seizure was over, I had to get him to the vet. It wasn’t that I didn’t know what to do or couldn’t do it (I did have to get a ride to the emergency vet and then on to Heritage, but…). But I was not emotionally ready to handle that kind of trouble — to me, he was dying and I wasn’t going to let him go!
I spent the whole day agonizing about my furry friend — even the doc could see there was something wrong — he’s never been an active dog, but he’d always acknowledge your presence — it was like watching, waiting for the breathing to stop. He just laid there, a limp shell of a dog. I knew he was on the way out and I couldn’t let him. That night, I started a nightly routine of sleeping with my hand out, just resting against his head or back, so he would know someone was there who wouldn’t just throw him out or leave him alone
That furry old guy had most insidiously wormed his way into my heart. No warning, nothing. Sugar’s my baby girl (okay, not a baby girl, but my firstest dog, the alpha dog, and the only one who sleeps on the bed at night or on the couch in the day), and I love her dearly. But Chance is my heart dog, my velcro shadow. He never leaves my side, except when I’m up and he’s sound asleep or at work. I take an extra walk, just for him, because he can’t go far or fast for long (and can’t keep up with Sugar or Charlie Brown long enough to get them the exercise they need).
He’s got the greatest smile you’ve ever seen…I wish I could take a picture of it to show everyone, but I never can — that would take away from the moment. It literally runs from ear to ear! When I come home, Charlie Brown’s at the door, barking his little man bark, Sugar’s two steps away, sitting sometimes, spinning others, and giving her hello bark. Mr. Chance, on the other hand, is circling the living room in wide show-ring circles (well, maybe not, my living room isn’t that big), got that grin on his face, a little occasional bark and a prance. Yep, my oldster half-crippled dog is actually prancing! And after I get the quick head pat for CB and Sugar, he comes right up to me and crashes into my legs broadside, pretty much demanding I say hello. Believe me, there’s no way I couldn’t not say hello, fella!
When I’m watching the news, he slams his head into my knees, which, if I ignore, results in him trying to jump up onto the couch — the good thing is it’s on the other side of me from Sugar, and that he only gets his front paws up; she’d clean his clock but good if he actually succeeded in getting on the couch.
And that dog - for all his cataracts and vision troubles; he’s got the sparkliest eyes I’ve ever seen. It’s like watching miniature Fourth of July sparklers going off forever, when you look at him. I thought it was trick of the light, but it really isn’t — he’s just a very intense and personal dog. When he looks at you, with that big smile and those sparkler eyes, you know it’s right, that he’s The Dog You’re Supposed To Have.
So, as I sit here typing this, I see Sugar over in the corner giving me the evil eye and making that panting noise that means it’s time to pay attention to her Highness and go to bed (where she’ll spend the next five hours digging holes in my spine). Charlie Brown’s curled up three inches away from my feet, making sure I’m not giving away any *T*R*E*A*T*S* or anything. I can’t see Chance, but I know where he is. He’s laying right next to the night stand, with his head on his pillow (and ex-my-pillow), sound asleep.
by Beth Thompson
After the death of my cat, Hannah, I thought I could never bring home another pet. She was the first pet I owned as an adult; a true friend, and both my husband and I were devastated when she died. We still had another cat, big Louie, who we had adopted several years ago. He adored Hannah, but she only tolerated him because she was just too old and too ill to play. So my husband and I agreed -- no more pets, it was just too hard to say goodbye.
Two months later I was talking to my co-worker Theresa Corcoran -- a volunteer with Sheltie Rescue. She was telling me a story about the progress she had been making with a little unsocialized female named Dixie. Dixie was a puppy mill survivor found as a stray, so naturally she did not trust humans. But Theresa had managed to get Dixie to place her head on her arm. Something about that story made such an impression on me. Even though I am sure that Dixie suffered at the hands of humans she was slowly willing to trust again. Amazing.
Several days later, two of my sisters came over for dinner and I was relaying the story of Dixie. My sister, Chris, had been thinking of getting a dog and was interested to see what Dixie looked like. We got on-line and there she was-- pitiful and sweet. Chris instantly fell in love -- had to have her! I mentioned this to Theresa the following Monday at work. She was happy that Chris was interested, but cautioned me that Dixie would be a special needs dog. Because Chris had no recent experience with dogs, she might want to consider a more socialized dog. Although she really had her heart set on Dixie, Chris was happy to consider other dogs, so she filled out her adoption application, passed her phone interview, and brought home not one, but TWO dogs -- Thelma and Louise. They had been part of a group of five dogs rescued in Springfield, Missouri -- the “Springfield Five”. Lovable Thelma had a bad skin condition and beautiful Louise was skittish around humans. Chris did not mind. She rose to the challenge and has made great progress with both her “Girls”. But she still worried about the fate of Dixie -- it was so important that she find a good home!
Along with this group of five dogs from Springfield was a tiny female named Twinkle. I had seen her picture on-line and felt an instant connection. She had a mischievous look in her eye and I could not stop thinking about her. I mentioned this to my husband and we agreed that we would both think about it. Theresa suggested I fill out an adoption application just in case we decided to move forward. One major concern was that we did not have a fenced backyard, which we would need. Several weeks went by, and then one day Theresa brought Twinkle into the office. When I met her I almost cried. She was absolutely adorable! She was tiny, incredibly furry and a little scared. I was determined to win her over. I gave her some treats, and fussed over her. Theresa felt that it was a good meeting -- Twinkle was not too nervous around me. We continued our visits -- Theresa brought Twinkle to the house to meet my husband Mike and big Louie. All went well. Mike fell for her, and Louie did not seem to mind her. So we put up a fence, and on March 15th we adopted Twinkle! Within a week she had made herself at home. Suddenly she was in our bed flopping back on the pillows for a belly rub. She was chasing Louie around the house with her tail wagging. Her entire body would wiggle with excitement when I walked in the door from work. She claimed every pet toy in the house- even Louie’s favorite toy duck was in Twinkle’s crate. She had definitely settled in! Both Mike and I agreed that we could not imagine life without her. When I told Theresa about Twinkle’s progress she laughed and said she knew that Twinkle was going to be a pistol!
Three dogs had now found homes. But sweet Dixie, the dog whose story had prompted these adoptions still had not found her forever home.
One Friday night, Theresa brought Dixie to the house for a visit. This was good socialization for Dixie, and Twinkle needed to run and play with another dog. Chasing Louie just was not enough for this little ball of energy! Twinkle was thrilled to see both Theresa and Dixie. She showed off for them both as she wiggled and hopped from Theresa’s lap, to the couch, to Dixie’s back. Theresa admitted that she had definitely made herself at home! It was a very fun visit, Dixie did not seem to be too nervous and she was very patient with sassy Twinkle. I told Theresa that Dixie was welcome any time!
Several weeks later Theresa asked a favor. Would we be willing to foster Dixie for a couple weeks? More dogs had come in to rescue and they were running short on space. Of course I agreed. Twinkle would be thrilled, my sister Chris was ecstatic that she could get her Dixie “fix”, and my husband did not mind. Dixie was coming for a long visit!
Theresa brought her over on a Saturday afternoon. She seemed to remember us and Twinkle could barely contain her excitement. Theresa was a tremendous help, as she has been all along, coaching me on how to deal with a puppy mill survivor. She explained how to work with, and care for Dixie because of her special needs. Honestly, Theresa had done all the hard work. Dixie had made such tremendous progress from the first time I met her at Theresa’s house months earlier. She no longer wanted to hide and shiver under tables, but was curious about her new surroundings. She was more than happy to play with Twinkle, since Twinkle would not be ignored! And Dixie was so good for Twinkle. I did not realize how much Twinkle needed the companionship of another dog until I watched the two of them run and play. What a pair! Mike immediately took a shine to Dixie. She has the most beautiful, soulful, brown eyes, and when she looks up at me I just want to melt. He asked me how anyone could be cruel to an animal with such a sweet face. My response was that I couldn’t imagine why someone would knowingly neglect or hurt any animal. Louie also liked Dixie! She has a very gentle nature so she does not threaten him like little miss sassy.
Days and weeks passed and Dixie seemed to be thriving. Her tail would wag as she explored the backyard. She was taking treats from Mike’s hands without hesitation. She started to spin circles at mealtime, and prance around the house just like Twinkle (Oh my!) It made me so happy to see her happy. Mike declared that he would really miss her when she left and my thought was “ Does she really have to go?” In just a few short weeks she had become part of our little family. I loved her dearly and was not prepared to let her go. I would miss the way she follows me around the house, and puts her paws up on the bed when she hears me roll over to turn off the alarm. I would miss the way she cocks her head to one side when she hears a noise. The way she loves to watch the fish in our Koi pond -- especially when they splash. I would miss watching she and Twinkle play chase -- Dixie’s long legs allowing her to run incredibly fast while Twinkle desperately tries to catch up. Sometimes they are so funny when they play I find myself laughing out loud. They are such a great stress reliever! I would also miss watching the two of them sleep together, so peacefully, until the next game of chase! I want these dogs to know love and happiness. They have so much life and energy, and so much love of their own to give. They are so good for me. I mentioned all this to Mike and he agreed. We needed Dixie as much as she needed us. She had finally found her forever home. So, on May 16th the adoption was finalized! She is now an official member of the Thompson family and her “Aunt” Chris could not be happier. We have regular visits with Thelma and Louise -- “Girls Night Out” as we like to call it. All four dogs run and play and get along (surprisingly!). They are all so different and so special -- I truly cannot imagine life without them. If someone had told me last fall, that by Spring I would be the proud owner of two Shelties and an “Aunt” to two others I would have responded “No way”. But I am. And feel that I am so lucky. I have to believe that everything happens for a reason. Although I did not think it possible, Hannah’s passing actually allowed me to open my heart to the idea of adopting another pet. Although I will always miss her, I have found great joy in loving and caring for Twinkle and Dixie. Each day brings a new adventure! I think Hannah would be pleased.
Hi, I'm Buddy, the handsome guy pictured on the left of my two pretty sisters. Tasha on the far right is the Princess (and the boss) of the house. And Maggie is my favorite playmate. I came to live with my mom April Fool's Day 2005. My mom tells me that the moment she saw me come running to the gate at Foster Mom (Janice)'s house that she was smitten. It took a home visit to meet my potential sisters and check out my backyard and then another visit to my foster mom's house for mom to finally decide. They tell me it took so long because they wanted to make sure it was the right thing. I think, however, my older sister Tasha was complaining that she was getting a little brother. But was then convinced it would be great to boss someone else around. :>)
OH! I almost forgot to tell you that I have two cat sisters and a cat brother too. (Jasmine, Chelsey & Murphy). I get along great with them, although they did roll their eyes at mom & dad when another dog came to live with them. Murphy is cool, he snuggles up next to me and lets me tease him. Jasmine basically ignores me unless I try to snuggle up next to mom and she's already there. Chelsey on the other hand...well....she has swatted me a few times. That cat is in a BAD mood a lot! Thank goodness she has no claws otherwise, my face would hurI have a wonderful big backyard and all sorts of things to chase. My favorite is the squirrel that likes to hang out in our birch tree. I've almost caught him a couple of times. Last night Tasha had a turtle cornered in the yard. I couldn't believe it. I have never seen such a creature!
My favorite thing is to snuggle in bed with mom. It only took her about a week....and I was out of my kennel at night. I'm a good boy though - even though my sisters have tempted me with visiting the litter box and the cat food. I know...well I know not to get caught anyhow.
Maggie is the bestest sister....we play all the time. She lets me wrestle and bite and play chase. But she's getting pretty good at chasing me back. Mom doesn't like when we wrestle on the couch but if we don't get too rambunctious she looks the other way. Tasha scolds us all the time. I think she really wants to get in on the action...but plays MRS. BOSS for show.
I love my new home and my new family....thank you Sheltie Rescue for finding me a new home! And a special thanks to Foster Mom Janice - you are the best!