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2008-08-20 / Columnists

Pets, Pets, Pets

by Joanne Anderson

Riddle: Where do you have a party for a Chihuahua? Answer: At a Mexican restaurant, of course. "Pesos for Paco" is a benefit dinner at Don Ricardo's in Babylon Village on Thursday Sept. 25, from 6 to 10 p.m., to help defray expenses for this Last Hope Chihuahua's extensive orthopedic surgery. One request: Please don't tell Paco about his fiesta. He's not invited, but you are.

About Paco: The perky pup is an adorable oversized Chihuahua, a 12-pound version of the Taco Bell dog, originally a stray at Babylon Town Shelter where it was discovered he had an old leg injury that had healed on its own. Sometimes Paco limped; sometimes he walked fine; other times he held his hind leg up or even did a handstand.

A shelter employee took him home for a weekend. The dog could jump up on a bed or furniture effortlessly. The damaged leg didn't seem to cramp his style. Still young, Paco had compensated for his disability.

Once at the Last Hope Dog Center, Paco's x-rays told a different story. What a mess! His smashed femur had mended like a derailed train; his kneecap, already congenitally luxated, had dislocated more because of the broken leg; his hip ball joint rubbed against bone in 2 places. His other knee cap moved out of place also.

Correcting orthopedic injuries in rescue dogs and cats is a gamble. Usually the animals come with no history. We don't know their age. We can't ask them how or when they got hurt. There's often a small window of opportunity for doctors to fix fractures correctly before Mother Nature knits bones together creatively. We usually get the injured pets too late. At times surgical intervention makes mobility worse.

Oh, carumba, what to do? We got five medical opinions. One doctor said to leave Paco alone because he managed fine, plus expensive surgery could not guarantee results. To argue the point, the pup might maneuver okay now, but years of favoring one side would take its toll. He could develop arthritic complications as he aged. The best time to fix things would be now, while Paco was young and flexible. (We had a parallel problem with a mature Last Hope dog last summer. An old hip injury that former owners had left unattended started to cause him great pain. I took him to the specialist but it was too late to operate so meds alleviate his distress.)

Meanwhile three vets all agreed that Paco's leg could be amputated, but that we should consult with a specialist to see what he'd say first. Amputation is a hard sell though I've seen many amazing pets minus a limb. Paco is small so he'd move fine on 3 legs. My vets amputated my cat's mangled rear leg 11 years ago when he was a kitten. You'd never know Veto was a tripod. I favored the drastic procedure but none of Paco's other caretakers did.

Last month Paco went to see an orthopedic surgeon who recommended that Paco have the femoral head (ball of his hip) removed; then his leg re-broken and set. He showed us poor Paco was in pain but good at hiding it. The amazing doctor worked on our little amigo for several hours. His leg was too damaged for a pin so Paco has a metal plate held in place with five screws securing his femur.

Senor Paco is a real trooper. He is recovering well and is supposed to be going soon to the home waiting for him in Massachusetts with a daughter of another Last Hope adopter where Paco will have a Chihuahua sibling. He's walking better already. Paco should be doing the Mexican Hat dance pronto.

About "Pesos for Paco": Paco's surgery at the specialist cost Last Hope Animal Rescue several thousand dollars. I suggested this fundraiser at Don Ricardo's, the perfecto venue because I feel responsible. (Well, not that responsible.) Paco hitched a ride on the " bus" when I moved another Last Hope foster from Babylon Shelter. Presently the organization has several dogs with surprise complicated and costly medical needs, in the typical when it rains, it pours scenario.

"Pesos for Paco" promises to be a fun dinner in the upstairs Garden Room at Don Ricardo's, 94 East Main St, Babylon on the evening of Thurs. Sept. 25. Tickets

are $50 in advance; ($55 at the door) for a dinner of appetizers, choice of entrée, soda, cake and coffee. Cash bar. Seats are limited. Call 631-661-6164 or www.lasthopeanimalrescue. org for more details. Right now the plan is to have a piñata, and several theme games and raffles- probably a "Cincuenta-cincuenta" (translation: 50/50). I'm watching some tempting Chihuahua items on EBay that may wind up as prizes. Sorry, Paco will not be entertaining guests with his flamenco dancing, but he sure wants to. Another Unique Rescue Fundraiser: "Party for the Animals" to benefit "Almost Home" ( the dedicated group that does pet outreach

and spay/neuter in Wyandanch) at the Ice Palace on Cherry Grove, Fire Island, featuring a performance by "Porsche" the queen of drag queens, Sat. Sept. 20, from 4 to 8 p.m.; $12 cover for show and hors d'oeurves. Cash bar. Stay over night at the Ice Palace for the special rate of $75. For info: 631-627-3665 or support@ almosthomeli.org.

Don't Forget: Mayor's Alliance Low Cost Microchip Clinic at the Last Hope Dog Walk- Sat. Sept. 13, 1:30 to 5:30 p.m. at Wantagh Park. (See last week's "Pets" at babylonbeacon.com.)

For Adoption at Babylon Town Shelter (643-9270) Lamar St. W. Babylon: Coincidentally a tan m. Chihuahua (shown here) who looks a lot like Paco is sitting in the Puppy Room in Paco's former cage-PP4. Presently the new "Paco Clone" is shy, like so many toy size dogs when they first enter a shelter. This handsome male Maine Coon type #19258 in the Cat Colony is one of the remaining felines from an eviction involving 18 cats. This fellow is handsome and friendly.

Males: a Fox Terrier; "Panda"

Event poster above and Paco with some of his stuffed animal look-alikes

Cage 7; "Scooby" the chubby Pit Cage 4 ; an older German Shepherd Cage 16 ; gray Mini Poodle Cage 36. Females: Beagle Cage 37; Doxie mix puppy Cage 27; purebred Boxer Cage 25.

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