Sunday, December 21, 2008

Puppy Love

It occurred to me this morning, watching Bacchus struggle through snow as deep as he is tall, that many of our pets suffer consequences similar to our own. Health issues being one. And how some of us are more fortunate than others.

In today's USA Weekend magazine, there was a heartwarming article about Woodson, the lab who appeared as the five month old Marley in Marley and Me. Woodson, unknown to his breeder and trainers at the time, had been born with a severe case of hip dysplasia. It was discovered some time after his acting duties had ended and he had become the family pet of the author of the book on which the movie was based.

When he called the breeder to let him know, he was offered the same choice many of us in similar positions, have had. Return the pup for a healthy one. Everyone knows what that means. The pup would likely be euthanized. Needless to say Woodson had already become a family fixture and the option was no option at all.

We've been through that with two of our Saints. The first was a $50 cull. Had I not had a soft heart he would have been destroyed. The breeder was that blunt. He had even been isolated from his litter mates. There was nothing physically wrong with him. He just was not up to breed standards. His ears were more like a Bassets than a Saints. He had double dew claws which they hadn't bothered to remove and he'd had no shots. I took him anyway. He became our Ugly Mug to be a companion to our first Saint, Snifter. He was one lucky dog. He had a family who loved him and a vet who, if possible, loved him even more and he had a good life. He had a good life.

Bacchus is the second case. He was the expensive guy. His breeder had mated his mother with a Saint from the breeder from whom we got Oaf, our third Saint. Oaf had such a sweet disposition, we couldn't resist getting another from his line.

When we arrived to pick him up he was freshly shampooed and waiting in his crate. He was adorable. By the way, the breeder tells us, he has entropion in both eyes. You don't have to take him if you don't want to. Right. As we handed her our check.
that results in the lashes rubbing against the eye which, depending on where it hits, can cause blindness. Then the other whammy. Would we have him x-rayed for dysplasia before he was nine months old. Though neither parent had the malady, she wasn't sure it wasn't in the gene pool and she needed to know whether or not to breed either parent again.

Wow! After having driven from Rochester, NY to Virginia to pick him up! We took him anyway. He's had two surgeries on his eyes and they've been corrected as much as is prudent. And he is dysplastic in both hips.

He's been on a supplement regimen since day one. So far so good. The formulation is so good my chiropractor suggested I take it too. Unfortunately the flavor that makes it palatable for Bacchus is awful. I'll stick with a non-liver flavored human version, thanks.

Both dogs are pretty darn fortunate. Though born with unpreventable maladies, they both landed in families that love them to pieces and will do anything the budget will allow to give them full and happy lives. Both families are fortunate enough to have the means to do a lot. If Woodson should need a hip replacement, he will no doubt get one. He's just a kid.

Bacchus, knock wood, will remain comfortable for a good long time yet. He'll be nine soon. That's getting up there for a Saint, but I'm heartened that he's doing better than me!

Lucky dogs. I wish all the kids out there who have health problems from day one could receive the care these guys do. Oops. I'm not going to get into the politics of health insurance on this one.


Sylvia K said...

I wish kids in general could have as good a life as my Sam and Adam's Mojo! They couldn't be loved any more I don't think. However, we have been blessed with remarkably healthy dogs, although health issues wouldn't have stopped either of us from making the choice that we did. What would we do without them?? A very Merry Christmas to you and Hub and Bacchus and Oaf!!

Word Tosser said...

Our spoiled child is bowed legged in the rear... breeder said she might need surgery later in life.. but for now, she is fine...
Also they said she shouldn't get up on high places and jumped down.. right... no one told Misty, and if they did, she wouldn't listen anyway.

Merry Christmas to you and Hub...

Margie's Musings said...

Well, we have this 11 year old Shar Pei of our son's. He has become ours and is a lovable old dog. He gets grouchy if you disturb his sleep, or try to straighten his rug the one he sleeps on. He's bark at you and get out of sorts. But he has never bitten.

He barks and wakes me up at 5:00 AM wanting out to pee and he loves cinnamon toast! He won't eat his dog food until he's had his piece of cinnamon toast.

He must be in our kitchen all winter because he can't handle the cold. And, of course, he has that odor that is characteristic of Shar Pei. I don't suppose I'll ever get used to that.

PinkAcorn said...

Our Lexus, a short hair German pointer, was also born with entropion. We didn't know it until almost two months after she was born. We'd never seen it before and it wasn't present in her mothers line. One day I told my DH "she keeps blinking and her eyes are all blood hot,{{scream}}, as I took a closer look" So Lexus got the surgery to correct it that same week. (I was secretly jealous)She's now a healthy, very active lady...and runs like the wind...even in the snow...

Linda said...

Thanks for the analogy between pets and people. We have a rescue dog and he is so bonded to me I can't take a step without him. We love him dearly. He has a bad hip but he only weighs 10 pounds. Pets with health problems make great pets just like people with disabilities have enormous love to give.