2012-06-27 / Columnists
Pets Pets Pets
The significance of a brief stroll at the Last Hope first anniversary party in Wantagh earlier this month may not have been apparent to most folks present. During the dog bathing suit competition, an older Dachshund, wearing swim goggles and blue trunks, sauntered part of the way around the wading pool. Then he got back into his pink stroller and faded into the crowd.
The sausage-shaped swim suit model was Rosco Bosco, belonging to wonderful Last Hope volunteer Donna. He is a companion to her 92-year-old mom. The fact that Rosco was able to strut proudly for a short time is a minor miracle. Several weeks before the contest, Rosco became very ill overnight, near death, necessitating major surgery. He had a mass on his spleen and a badly diseased gall bladder. Both were removed, and thankfully the mass was benign. Rosco has gradually regained his strength with Donna nursing him back to health.
The following is not a critique but a harsh reality: Rosco’s new owner is also paying his whopper veterinary bill. According to Murphy’s Law, pets rarely crash due to strange, new illnesses during regular clinic hours; instead, only on weekends, holidays or in the middle of the night forcing owners to rack up Plaza Hotel caliber charges at animal ERs that stabilize the pets, before diagnostics and operations can be done. That is the nature of the sick beast- well, at least in New York. Poor timing costs thousands extra.
Contrast this love, devotion and commitment to Rosco’s life before coming to Last Hope. In August 2011, his former family turned Rosco into Babylon Shelter to be put to sleep because he had toileting issues and drank too much. We are talking about water, not Tequila. Granted, some say male Dachshunds are difficult to housebreak. The owners wrote that he was eight (nah, more likely 10-12). Since they only had him a year, there were no clues to his true age or past history.
The shelter refused to put Rosco down partly because of those endearing dimples. The people surrendered him anyway. At the shelter, Rosco would make everyone laugh when the tiny dogs played together outdoors. Mr. Dimpled Doxie would stand by the fence with that silly grin, barking at the big dogs in the divided shelter yard, as if to say, “We’re having a pup party and you’re not!”
In September, Rosco found his way to Last Hope since we too were captivated by his comical charm. He stayed in a Meet n’ Greet room and became a favorite of the volunteers. We noticed puddles but attributed accidents to a period of adjustment. Donna would sometimes bring her mom who’d sit with Rosco and rock him. Last Hope had a dental done; Rosco had eight teeth pulled, so the rocking was probably a comfort, and helped cement a bond between the two of them.
The Doxie Dimple photo caught the eye of a young Australian couple who had recently come to NYC as professors at Columbia University. They wanted an older dog to cuddle to ease their homesickness. Rosco appealed to them. They came by to train and visit him at the Wantagh Adoption Center several times, and then rented a car on adoption day.
The professors doted on Rosco. He had special baths, visits to the dog park, plus a bean bag bed. The husband would carry Rosco in a messenger bag while he bicycled with him around Riverside Park. They loved him, but he wasn’t the right fit for a city apartment. Rosco cried with separation anxiety when left alone, and being on the 14th floor made housebreaking an old dog an impossible task. After about two months, they regretfully returned him with Last Hope’s blessing.
Donna took it upon herself to have Rosco completely tested. Although he inhaled water until the “Enough” command, he wasn’t diabetic. Her vet confirmed that he was older, partially blind, partially deaf, with a broken leg and tail that were never treated. She took him home, thinking her set-up was more “old dog” friendly than a city apartment. After recently losing two senior pups, her family adopted a 14-year-old mix with bladder stones, as well as a Beagle. Rosco was a happy fellow, comfortable with his new pack.
Donna and her family embraced Rosco-quirks and all; they reveled in his antics like the periscope game he plays when tunneling under blankets. Only that silly head peeks out and twists around like Linda Blair in The Exorcist. Less than a year later, when the symptoms from the mass surfaced, and she was faced suddenly with the terrible decision of whether or not to put him through extensive and expensive surgery or peacefully end his life, Donna asked her same vet who she’s trusted for many years if there was a chance that Rosco could once more be the happy, silly boy that his family knows and loves, even if for just a short time. Her skilled vet assured Donna that this was possible.
Hence, Rosco’s short waddle around the wading pool was living proof and a cherished triumph. A dog once discarded as inconvenient or bothersome got incredible chances at a better life because he was fortunate enough to twice find caring people who treasured him.
Matches like this are the driving force behind rescues like Last Hope, and municipal facilities like Babylon Shelter that provide the first safe haven. By working together, these minor miracles can happen for shelter dogs- old ones, young ones, sickly ones, perfect ones and even quirky ones, like Rosco Bosco.
For Adoption at Babylon Town Shelter (631-643-9270) Lamar St. W. Babylon: Nowadays homeless pets at LI Town shelters like Babylon tend to fall into three categories. One: tons of cats, with kittens upstaging adult cats this time of year. Two: abandoned tiny dogs, old and young, whether the influx is the bad economy or the results of impulse purchases at the many pet stores, shelters overflow with tiny dogs now. Three: the poor Pits, so plentiful that it is hard to distinguish individual dogs within the crowd. This week lovely “Tabitha” #2-130, a longhaired tabby represents the cats while “Sissy” #12-362 a young Maltese mix representing the small dogs.
Also among those waiting: “Minnie,” Husky mix pup; “Ike,” tan Chihuahua; “Blondie,” patient Pit mix; “Pinky,” older Shih-tzu and a stray French Bulldog