On 25 February, Linda Savage writes:
With each call we received from Conan's owner, hints kept coming that this will not be a typical puppy coming into Cairn Rescue USA. The owner is a single mother who has come to the realization that she does not have the time or resources to give her dog the care he needs. He has some health problems that are getting pretty overwhelming; she wants to find a good home and owners who will care for him properly.
Luckily, she has discovered CRUSA, and surrenders Conan to our foster home. As this eight-month-old Cairn gingerly walks out of his crate for the first time into his foster home, it is easy to see what the surrendering owner was hinting about.
As he comes out of the crate, he bumps his big e-collar on the coffee table and shakes it off. It turns out he is an old pro at this, as he has been wearing the e-collar for four months - half his life. He swings his little head up, collar and all, to look at me, one of his new foster parents. These adorable & expressive eyes shine through, despite being surrounded by puffy, pink, scabbed skin and on a face that has horribly matted & knotted hair, filled with dried scabs. His stare just seems to ask, "Can you help me get better?"
I pick him up and say, "It's going to be all right, Boo Boo," which has been his name ever since.
Looking at the rest of him it is easy to see Boo Boo has more issues. He is neglectfully filthy with probably weeks worth of dried excrement around his back legs & tail. We have been told that he developed an infection after neutering that has not healed yet, but at first we can't see it through the large scabs & dirty hair.
An hour-long bath & brushing are not enough; scissors are needed to cut out the matted hair on his head & face, leaving so little hair that he looks bald. After being dried off, it is off to the vet to look into his irritated eyes and neutering incision infection.
The vet thinks I have brought in an old dog and is surprised to hear that Boo Boo is only eight months old. After her exam, she says, "This dog is a mess, but let's see how he responds to some TLC."
In the month we have had Boo Boo we find out he was born in a puppy mill and sold at a puppy store. His tail was apparently broken early on, which creates a slight reverse-of-normal-curving. He was fixed at four months old at a facility that most likely does not have the cleanest conditions, which is where he probably got this infection. He has been in an e-collar ever since, and prior to his surrender, spent many weeks in a crate as his owners tried to figure out why his incision was not healing.
One month later, after plenty of TLC along with some anti-inflammatory medicine, his eyes seem to have greatly improved - not cured yet - but much better from where they were. They do not seem to be irritating him as much, and do not puff up & bleed like before. The vets have never seen anything like it and we are discussing the possibility of doing a food allergy test, which will involve switching to an entirely new diet of something that he has probably never eaten before (like rabbit) to see if maybe his food is the cause (switching to a food that doesnąt contain corn products hasnąt done the trick).
Unfortunately, his belly has not improved. A culture showed that his infection is drug-resistant. His belly wounds are not where neutering incisions typically are; rather, they are infections that flare up & "burst" on either side of the incision site. He has three lesions that are on a cycle of: open wound - healed-over skin - bright pink skin that fills with puss & blood which then burst back to an open wound. As they fill & burst, you can tell they are painful to Boo Boo, and generally irritate him throughout the entire cycle. He must always wear his e-collar, since the moment it is taken off he will rub his eyes and lick at his wounds.
Despite daily hydrotherapy & various antibiotics, it looks like surgery is the only option at this point. The good news is that, at least at this point, the infection seems to be localized to this area, and does not affect him systemically. The doctors hope to cut out all the infected tissue to rid Boo Boo of this sickness before it has the chance to spread or get worse.
Boo Boo has had an extremely unfair start at life. It is so unfair because, despite his problems, he is just a sweet dog that loves to play, sleep, eat & love - all with equal enthusiasm. You rub his ears and he will close his eyes and tilt his head to rest in your palm.
When you are too tired to play with him, he keeps himself occupied with a toy - pouncing on it, tossing it up in the air and catching it all on his own. At least once a day he will run up & down the hallway just to show you how fast he can go. And when a lesion is starting to burst and his belly starts to hurt, he will come to you for comfort - where it seems like all he wants is to just be held and have you say, "It is going to be all right, Boo Boo."