2012-05-30 / Columnists
Pets Pets Pets
Two wonderful dogs- a Beagle from Kentucky and a German Shorthaired Pointer (GSP) from Long Islandshare common denominators. Both are discarded hunting dogs, who remain trusting, although mistreated; both will need loving homes and both have their current caretakers WAITING for good news. The Beagle is expecting, whereas the Pointer had a biopsy.
“Sweet Pea”, a pregnant Beagle, came to Last Hope Animal Rescue in Wantagh from an overcrowded Southern shelter. In rural states, Beagles and other hunting hounds are often abandoned, shot, starved or left to die when they are no longer useful as hunting dogs. Sweet Pea is the second pregnant Beagle Last Hope has taken from Kentucky.
The first one’s pregnancy came as a surprise. Last Hope paid to have Alexis spayed before transport. The KY shelter forgot to mention their clinic was too busy and hadn’t examined her, or done so. No one here could figure out why she was putting on so much weight until suspicions were confirmed days before she whelped. Soon after our epiphany, Alexis delivered eight pups, in a foster home. Her baby Beagles were distinguished by their colored ribbons, and eventually the family went to loving homes.
Six months later: delivery deja vu. Sue Butz, veteran Beagle foster Mom offered to care for another pregnant Beagle. Sweet Pea is so content to have someone finally pay attention to her. She whimpers softly when pet as if she is telling her tale of woe.
When Sweet Pea arrived, no one knew how far along she was, or whether the pups were full Beagles. Their paternity remains a mystery. An exam could not predict a due date so Sweet Pea was scheduled for an x-ray which can be more informative than a sonogram.
On May 21, Sweet Pea had prenatal x-rays to estimate how many pups she’s carrying and when she will deliver. The gestation period for all dogs is nine weeks. Dr. Paul LaPorta, unofficial Beagle godfather, explained that x-rays don’t reveal a head count until mineralization takes place. Veterinarians used to believe this occurred by the 49th day but the thinking now is by the 53rd. Before that point, it is too soon to see individual pup skeletons.
Sweet Pea was a cooperative patient for her films. The first x-ray uncovered a shocker. It seems that Sweet Pea has two BBs or some buckshot lodged near her hip which show up as transparent, white circles. This means she was used for target practice, or that her former owner tried to do away with her.
The x-rays look like tea leaves to me, yet Dr. LaPorta traced five or six pups and estimated that she would deliver no earlier than ten days from the x-ray, with a leeway of several more days. He joked that the fetuses were baying like real Beagles, and reminded Sue to watch for nesting behavior and to check for a drop in body temperature. Milk will not be evident until Puppy Eve.
Then the films were sent to a radiologist who differed a bit. He saw six to eight puppies and said Sweet Pea would whelp in two weeks. For the time being, we are waiting to be midwives, though to paraphrase Butterfly McQueen: “I don’t know nothin’ about birthin’ B eagles.”
“Trump” a stray GSP, about 8 years old, eluded capture while he meandered around N. Babylon. The Pointer seemed to linger on the former Guggenheim property, described in last week’s “Pets” as the majestic estate where Col. M. Robert Guggenheim bred dogs, including Pointers, and hosted field trials from the 1920s to 1940s. It was as if this Pointer were a champion from the past revisiting old stomping grounds. Thus, we christened him “Trump” after “Trumpeter of Firenze”, a Guggenheim field trial and bench show Pointer he resembles. Trump is a GSP with a characteristic docked tail but his coloring is typical of an English Pointer. The timing of his appearance, one week after my Guggenheim column, is a coincidence.
On May 22, Kristin Siarkowicz, ACO at Babylon Town Shelter, grabbed Trump after he trapped himself in a yard further north. She discovered that this dignified, gentle soul had a huge, ulcerated testicular mass, terribly calloused elbows, a lick granuloma and a limp. The calluses and leg wounds suggest he lived on cement, never knowing a comfy bed or blanket. The painful mass had been there for some time. He had no collar or microchip. So far no one is looking for a missing GSP.
Usually shelter dogs wait for their stray hold to be over before being neutered, but this was an emergency. Trump went right to Aldrich Hospital for surgery to remove the mass. His blood and heartworm tests were absolutely fine. We did a photo session at the vet and learned that he is camera shy, but completely housebroken. Knee and hip x-rays gave no evidence of being hit by a car, so on Friday, Trump had a testicular ablation which removes the scrotum too, in case the mass is malignant.
He spent the holiday weekend in a private room at the hospital. Kristin visited post-surgery. I brought him a rotisserie chicken on Saturday. What do you think? Do we adore this dog? “Trump” is a gem. Yes, I am partial to Pointers after spending years chasing after the 1887 Southards Pond burial site of Sensation, Westminster Kennel Club’s Pointer mascot. You should see their profiles side by side.
While we wait for the results of Trump’s biopsy, I am in a quandary whether to reach out to GSP Rescues or wait until we know more about the mass. By the time you read this, we may have the needed Pointer information, and we just might be passing out cigars that say: “It’s a Beagle!”
Other Babylon Shelter (631-643-9270) Adoptables at 51 Lamar St. W. Babylon include: Cats- “Snowbelle”-Siamese mix; “Cody” Morris clone; kittens. Dogs: f. Border Collie mix pup found on Fire Island Ave.; m. Cocker Spaniel; m. Jack Russell mix; “Thumper” Hound mix; “Blondie”- lovely Pit trapped in St. Charles Cemetery.