Thursday, April 12, 2012

The Story of Miles: A Tragedy with a Happy Ending ~ by Beth Coviello-Davis, Belco Boxers

The conversation started innocently enough – discussing the upcoming dog show with a friend who was traveling here from another state. My friend casually mentioned that she’d have an “extra passenger” for the ride home and me, being nosey, asked who that could be.

 It seems there was a puppy in a bad situation down here in southern Massachusetts whose breeder put out a plea for help on the SBL. I admit I don’t really pay attention to a lot of the “stuff” on there, so I missed the original post, but my friend from NY did not. She offered to bring the puppy part of the way home from the show. His breeder would meet her on the NY/PA border. I offered to pick the little guy up on Saturday morning and transport him the 2 ½ hours to the dog show on Sunday. Next step put the breeder in touch with me…puppy rescue coming up!!

I received an urgent email the next morning, Wednesday, from the concerned breeder:  could I take the puppy ASAP??  She was worried he’d be dumped at a shelter, in a rescue or even on the side of the road!! Whoa!! This situation has now gone from bad to desperate!!  What happened that made it impossible for the new owner to keep the puppy a few more days???  The outrageous answer: the puppy, 15 weeks old, is not housebroken yet…L

I immediately agree to take him. The owner is given my work number (this is closer to his home) and he calls before I get there. Luckily my boss is also a Boxer breeder and she happily gives directions to the owner. It’s about an hour and a half drive to the grooming shop from the Cape Cod town where the puppy lives.

The puppy owner arrives at the shop. We are four Boxer breeders working there, all show people, all with twenty years experience in the breed, all rescuers of many boxers in bad situations. This man walked in with an emaciated, lame, but happy puppy. He looked me in the eye and told me the pup was playing with a dog that morning and hurt his leg. He told me the puppy’s name was Rocky. He handed me a bag of food (crappy food), his vet records and a slip lead with a puppy attached. I couldn’t get him out of there fast enough.  We all had tears in our eyes. Rocky hobbled happily into the grooming shop. 

After a quick evaluation we all agreed – the injury was NOT new, Rocky was in serious condition and he needed veterinary attention immediately. I called his breeder and told her he was going. The leg was hot, swollen and atrophied and Rocky was a walking skeleton. Hip bones, spine, ribs all showing but tail wagging – a true Boxer.

 My vet is a saint and said, “Bring him right down.” Rocky had a very high fever, was dehydrated and had a serious infection of his joint…bad stuff. It hit me hard, I lost my beautiful BISS girl to the same thing. I was scared to death for this puppy I barely knew. Some digging on his breeder’s part revealed the owner had brought him to the vet five days earlier, lame, and had declined treatment!! What?? How could this happen???

Rocky stayed with my vet until 7:00 that night, when I picked him up he was hydrated, happy and bouncing! A new dog. His joint had been flushed and injected with antibiotics, he’d had fluids and he’d had pain pills. His prognosis was guarded but good, very important to continue the antibiotics and a promise to return in the morning if he wasn’t remarkably better.

 I brought him home to my zoo, 8 dogs of many shapes and sizes, horses, chickens, a teenage daughter and an extremely loud husband. Rocky walked in, peed on my floor and introduced himself to all, just your average, happy Boxer puppy!! He ate a HUGE dinner and fell asleep in his crate.

Through this all, I stayed in touch with his breeder. She was very concerned about the puppy, his vet bill and the fact that his owner had lied. I seriously contemplated filing charges against the man.

 Rocky, now called Miles, improved by the hour. He never missed a meal or a treat. He played with all my dogs and ran around the grooming shop and greeted customers. We told his story to all! His friendliness and cheerful personality endeared him to everyone. He had two collar changes as he gained weight, his bones disappeared, and he barely limped anymore. He started to play with toys and bark!! This “not housebroken” puppy had one accident in my house.

I think Miles’ story needs to be told, because there are lessons to be learned from his sad experience. In the end, Miles had a soft landing and a place to go, thank God!! But how did such a nice puppy end up five states away from his breeder with such an uncaring owner?? 

Please breeders, there are Boxer people everywhere. Give your puppies a cushion, contact the local Boxer club and let them know one of yours is coming their way. Give the new owners the contacts. People will say what you want to hear over the phone, they’ll write what you want to see online. Boxer people help their own, take advantage of that!! Thank goodness for the SBL and Miles’ breeder’s plea for help, but how many more Miles’s are there?? How many slip through the cracks and wind up dead or in shelters? Please, please, breeders, take advantage of us, your fellow breeders, and contact us so puppies like Miles have a safe place to land and their new owners have people to contact in case of need.  Remember, this could have happened to any of us.  Miles is a well-bred puppy with a champion dam and a major pointed sire. Miles’ breeder did right by the puppy after he got into trouble, but the trouble might have been avoided in the first place if Miles’ new home had been checked out beforehand.

 We will all wonder about Miles until he completes his journey back to his breeder. The four of us were just one step, one leg on the journey of an incredibly tough and resilient puppy.  A journey that could have ended very differently…

Editor’s note:  Miles’ story is to be continued, because unfortunately, his breeder was in an auto accident on her way to pick Miles up. She was not injured, but her van was not drivable. We’ll keep you posted, but  in the meantime please keep both Miles and his breeder in your thoughts and prayers.