We received a call some while back about a chained dog. New to the neighborhood, this male caller knew that something had to be done about the large dog chained across the street, to a make-shift supporting wall: Empty bucket, chained wrapped around him, dirt-as-bedding, no affection – in fact the opposite. I went to check it out that day, and met the tethered creature they were using as a guard dog.
The big kid – somewhere between a Pittie/Lab/? – was indeed chained when I approached. For added ire, there were kids throwing rocks at him.
After scaring the kids off I went in to meet what was forced to live on the end of a chain, and found….a lamb.
I was stupefied, and livid, and even more so when inquiring as to whose dog this was. The ‘human’ responsible said in fact he was going to ‘get rid of the dog’ and probably sell or give him to his friend who had “working’ dogs.
“You know: fight dogs.”
I would like to apologize as there is a break in our story.
Evidently there is a missing page in this pup’s book, as the next thing I knew, this big soulful dog, had “escaped” life on the chain, at some point, that very night after meeting him.
Good for him.
Now back to the story: After his stay ‘out of the area’ for a few weeks, the kid came back to my house, while we discovered who he was. Or more so: who he was not.
One thing was instantly clear: We could not adopt him out with his hind legs in the condition they were in. Only two/two and a half years old, and he walked like an old cowboy.
After visits to the vet, we discovered that both his ACLs were shot (“blunt force trauma?” asked one vet). Additionally, a torn Meniscus was thrown in for measure.
And yet the big dude was happy. My God how happy. And kind. As in, I began wishing some of my own dogs were as kind.
He loved all: dogs, cats, birds. children, treats, and attention.
This kid literally waves back if you wave at him.
He had been picked on, and beat up, and all he wanted was affection.
And that broke my heart.
That willingness, and trust…despite.
Clyde S. Dale or Clydes has lived here, in and amongst, and never asked for more than he was offered. He was a breeze to train. He had a growing fan base.
I never told him he was not mine, as I include my fosters under the umbrella of family.
Rimadyl and Soloxine has been a constant, but he has maintained fairly well.
Until a little over two months ago.
He pulled up his right foot and it has not touched earth since.
I took him back to the vet, having previously been to many who mentioned TPLOs and the like. But who has a spare 3-5k per leg sitting around?
He had never shown any pain, so we continued on.
At near four years old, Clydes walks were now at a minimum.
He would hop to pee, and then lays his large self down.
I carried him where I could, as I did one night when he cried out in pain, despite the recommended upping of meds to counter that.
Immediately back to the vet.
His fifth vet said she had never seen legs this maligned.
The right rear leg, she felt, was done.
There was no hope in taking it off, due to his size – she felt – and that the other is on its way to being as bad.
This set me off.
I was driving back from that vet visit, recalling other vets who told me I might consider euthanizing, and others in rescue who said it was selfish to spend 6-8k on one dog.
My head was spinning as I was driving us back home.
Do I? Don’t I? I cannot allow him to suffer….
I swear to you this:
In the midst of this thought negotiation, I approached a red light, which had a truck stopped in front of me.
“Do I?” “Don’t I?” said everything in my head.
When I laid eyes on the truck’s bumper, in front of me, I zoomed in on the license plate…and my jaw fell.
Like most I know, I am open to on-the-spot-guidance…and here we go.
I grabbed my phone, as I knew no one would believe me.
Are you kidding me?
Are you – - – - – - – kidding me?
Forward to meeting up with a compassionate Dr. that I was working with this last year. Dr. Cisneros – owner of VIP Veterinary Hospital in Santa Clarita – is widely know to be a leg expert…His kindness is just a bonus.
He said Clydes needed both a TPLO AND a ‘Wedge,” in both legs, but we would start with just one. This was – in layman’s terms – four cuts through the bone, plates, and eight screws.
He also said his legs were in such poor shape, and not helped by the previous Pelvic Shatter that had occurred, that he read in the X-Ray.
What??? A Pelvic Shatter? This news was a hammer to my heart.
Some time before I met this chained dog his pelvis was shattered (do not get me started on the ‘hows’), not treated, not medicated…and somehow the temperament of this big kid is – Happy?
Part of my deal in rescue is that it is up to me/you/us to make up to these dogs, cats, etc, for the atrocities that befell them prior to our meeting.
I want them to know that there are others of us that they can trust, love…and count on.
That is why Nikki and I work so well together, with The Mutt Scouts.
And like she had many times before, upon the recent depressing discovery, I claimed this kid in my pack.
With so much turmoil, and uncertainty in his life, I did not want him going through these next weeks/months, not having a permanent family of his own.
And what was aching me was that I felt like I was limited in what I could do to help this charming kid.
Until I was given ‘license’ to think beyond limit.
Surgery happened. I sold my Galaxie 500 to see that through.
Dr. C. had Clydes stay with him for quite some time, before he returned home.
Through it all, only smiles, wags, and affection.
While his surgery healed – Dr. did such a beauty job on it – the top of the leg, untouched by the operation, began swelling.
Instead of using the leg, which was growing daily, he began knuckling over.
Further biopsy, and another emergency surgery for the other leg, for stabilization. At this point, Clydes would walk when he had to, but would allow me to carry him, once fatigued.
Already a difficulty, walking, became that much more brutal with the right leg’s rapid growth.
And he never complained once.
The Lateral Imbrication would enable him to use the other battered, compromised leg, as he could not use this one.
Now I am a giant fan of three legged dogs. I love-love-loved my girl Clara, and she was cooler on three, than most on four.
But here, the sensitivity is this kid’s size…and that the other leg is already straining to support his frame.
I received a call the next day.
Bone Cancer, Fuck You.
I raced up to Santa Clarita to see my boy.
I laid on the floor next to him and reminded him that this office was not his home, and that he needs to return to his house – for however long.
I held his diseased leg and thanked it, and told it we did not need it any longer.
It was Election Day.
America was deciding our fate, while I was forced into the same with my buddy.
We needed a clear chest X-Ray in the morning and we would go.
And on the next day – we went.
The day after the poisoned leg left, Clydes was up.
In an almost “look at me” maneuver, and with his other leg just operated on, he stood on three (or two and a half) and came over to me, and laid himself on me.
Their spirit and trust is higher than many humans ever attain.
I wish that kind of humility and grace was something we could slip into the water of those around us.
This is not the story I expected….but the one he chose to tell.
Clydes has been with Dr. C. for weeks now.
He has two more surgeries than expected, and as I research his best options
with those I respect,
he was just fitted for a future leg brace, thanks to another inspiring Doctor: Cathy Klein.
Sort of an ACL bionic support.
I will continue to show-n-tell his story as he continues to reveal it.
I love these survivors, all.
Some are scarred, missing limbs, or emotionally ravaged at the hands of humans that SHOULD know better.
That they retain any trust at all is beyond humbling.
I hang my head in both shame and sorrow when I meet these special animals.
I apologize for what came before, who came before,
and I promise them they have advocates by the plenty, now.
Advocates that will stand by their side, and defend their honor.
Thank you for all well-wishes you send the boy. He greets each one as they arrive, and are shared, with his trademark smile and wag.