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I knew he was at the shelter. I so hoped his family would come for him, but no. They never came. Today was probably the last day. In his shelter photo on the website he looked young and cute, if a lot scruffy. We are totally full to the brim with wonderful foster dogs - where to put another one? Sigh. We are so grateful to CSRA for taking care of the West Texas cockers, but without foster homes or dedicated adopters, they stay here in Midland. So - what to do about the boy...did I mention we are full?
I snuck away from work - expecting a normal evaluation of a probably healthy if filthy four year old boy. He photographs well, but the pictures don't tell the story. In my years of volunteering in cocker rescue, I've seen only three others such bad shape, and only two of them survived. I waved at the shelter staff as I came in and went on to the kennel run - I already knew which one. He was standing, head hanging but he looked up as I came to his door. I opened the gate and his tail began to wag. I dropped the lead over his head and we went out to the side yard. He turned his face to the sun. And sighs. All was well. He happily trotted along beside me.
Then I looked into his eyes. Painfully infected and matted almost shut with green goo. Oh my. His tail was still wagging. I looked at his teeth - yep. Probably four years old. But so thin, with hairless patches along with huge, tight matted clumps of hair impeding his movement. Can't even see his feet through the mats. Then the ears. Oh, the ears. I've never seen anything like them. Swollen, and dripping with infection. But still, he can hear a little since he responds to my voice.
The tail is still wagging. He presses against my leg. He really smells awful. There is a live tick on his muzzle - I pull it off and he bleeds. (He was dipped, but ticks will run to the face of the dog - not the fault of the shelter!)
What to do? He will need extreme veterinary care and will most likely take weeks or months to recover. We are full of healthy nice dogs waiting for their turn to move to the Austin area but there are no open foster homes. Then it hits me. We are here for dogs like him and will figure it out. We will adapt. We have been very very lucky - the dogs we have recently taken (here in W. TX) have been relatively healthy - but this one is in serious trouble. No way will he be adopted in his current condition. I think we are his only hope.
He trots by my side as we go to the desk to check out. Microchip, paperwork, the girls at the desk hold their noses - he is seriously smelly. The shelter does what they can to help, but can't erase months of neglect in the time they have or with their limited resources. Off to the car - his tail is wagging. He presses to my leg. Good thing I wore dark pants since he has slimmed me. Apparently he loves car rides. He is very excited -
Off to the vets - and luckily, Dr. Brown saw us and had us come right in. Another "oh my" - this one needs some help. Still, the boy is wagging his tail. Dr. Brown checks him out. Yes - ears and eyes are a total mess. He has a type of mange common to cocker spaniels with compromised immune systems. He is so matted that he will have to be sedated to be cleaned up - the only humane and kind thing to do. Dr. Brown wants to keep him for a few days and calls me later in the afternoon to let me know that our new boy is heartworm negative and does not have tick borne diseases either. Some good news.
So - I'll visit him tomorrow and make plans to bring him home on Friday to begin his treatment and recovery. Most likely he will need ear surgery and that will be expensive, even with the help of our very wonderful veterinarian. The hair will grow back and his eyes will clear but will need drops - for weeks most likely. Still, I'll bet his tail will wag and he will press to my leg for hugs.
Oh, by the way - his name is McCoy. If you would like to help McCoy, or another dog, please consider donating a few dollars for his care - or even becoming a foster parent.
Seriously, there's nothing like it. You'll be glad you did...