Monday, March 15, 2010

More on Heidi the wonder-dog

So, her story goes something like this:

Heidi is 5 years old. She has not been spayed. Her coloring is due to a color dilution gene(color dilution alopecia).

She was purchased for breeding. At some point, she became a strictly outdoor dog. Her home was a concrete floored doghouse. All winter, through temperatures in the single digits, Heidi lived outside. Her hair coat is very, very thin due to her genetic issue (color dilution). She was ignored. Her health deteriorated due to bad diet, lack of exercise, and no interactions with people. Her carpi (wrists) developed pressure sores and became very swollen and extremely arthritic (again, due to lack of exercise and malnourishment). She was eaten alive by fleas.

One of my big-hearted technicians was finally able to get her turned over to us. She has been at the clinic for the last 2 weeks. She is gaining weight on a puppy food, her fleas are gone, her open sores are healing, and she is limping less and less. Her manner is extremely eager to please, and she wags not just her tail but her whole body. In short, she is the sweetest thing I have ever seen.

I've wanted a dog on and off for the past many years, although I am a self-confessed cat (and bird) person. I didn't want to deal with the destructive puppy behavior and house soiling - although I have no qualms about obedience training. Heidi is already house-broken and knows some basic commands (sit, lie down, wait).

Now I know a good deal about Dobermans - personally I have always been a fan. Dobermans have their fair share of diseases - notably von Willebrand's disease (lack of a crucial clotting component) and dilated cardiomyopathy (a terrible, inevitably fatal heart disease that some researchers estimate 50% or more of Dobies will develop). On top of that - they develop hypothyroidism. She's also intact - so I have to fret about pyometra until she's recovered enough for me to spay her. She's a big, deep-chested dog, so I'll pexy her too - to hopefully prevent her from having a GDV. Likely, Heidi will be arthritic for the rest of her life and will require medications to keep her comfortable, as well as regular exercise.

All that said, I think she is worth the time and effort. I am already so in love with her that it's a little ridiculous.

I'm more than 3/4th of the way through How to be Your Dog's Best Friend written by the Monks of New Skete, and which I highly recommend to anyone interested in dog/pack psychology and training. My closest friend used it to train her dog, and it's amazing how effective their methods are. They take a holistic, "big-picture" approach to training - incorporating understanding of how your dog thinks and feels into the training.

I'll keep ya'll posted on her progress - yes, with pictures!


Elizabeth said...

The dog that needed you found you! Isn't it amazing how that happens. I predict Heidi will be your heart dog. My boy Raider came from a similiar situation but his ordeal only lasted 1 yr before I was able to get him from the owners. Although I dearly love all my pups, he is my heart dog.

Lots of pictures of Heidi please!!

Hermit Thrush said...

I'm glad it is going so well with her. She sounds like a gem.

Mara said...

She's lovely.

Mary said...

I am in love, too. She is so lucky to have found her way to you. Her history just makes me want to cry. How could anyone treat her like that?

belovedparrot said...

How wonderful you found each other. She looks wonderful and you are clearly going to be a great dog mom! Congratulations!

Lioness said...

Oh mazel tov, she's gorgeous! My own dog is a rescue as well and equally sweet. Highly neurotic though, which isn't helped by my being a rotten trainer (despite Cesar!) and her aunts/uncles spoiling her to bits. And I'm a vet!

If you're ever in the neighbourhood, you're very welcome to train mine to heel. And always come when called. And stop when told to. *hangs head in shame*