By Cynthia Drake, Foster Mom
I first saw the foster request for Sandy and his friend Tee Taun on Brother Wolf’s Foster Facebook page. I have a soft spot for bonded pairs. It’s so sweet and touching when animals love one another like that, and I know that they can be ripped apart without having the power or voice to stop it if there is no foster home able to take both. They were also seniors — my other soft spot – so I agreed to take them.
Tee Taun, being 15-years old and blind, was the most vulnerable and weak of the two. Sandy, a friendly little guy, immediately made friends with my resident dogs and was trotting all around the house with them within the first 24 hours. He was sturdy and, at only nine years of age, relatively young.
I didn’t think I would have these guys for very long. They were small, cute, friendly, and good with other dogs and cats. Surely they would be adopted quickly. Surely they would.
A couple of days after I brought him home, Sandy began holding his rear leg crosswise under his body. He was putting weight on it as we walked, but as soon as he was still he’d lift it up off the ground and slant it under his belly.
I contacted Brother Wolf’s medical team right away. When I brought him in the next day, they probed his leg, extended it, and moved it around as he quietly laid in my arms. We were sent home with pain medication and a scheduled visit to Pinnacle Animal Hospital, one of Brother Wolf’s partnered veterinarians. The next day, I requested a stronger medication because he had been crying on and off since the exam.
At Pinnacle, Dr. Tim placed him on the floor and watched him walk up and down the hall. He then became very serious and called for x-rays. They took Sandy away and I waited for much longer than I had expected. When they returned, Dr. Tim told me gravely that poor little Sandy had two dislocated hips and two dislocated knees!
No wonder he was crying! He increased Sandy’s pain medication prescription and scheduled an appointment with Dr. Crouch at Western Carolina Veterinary Surgery.
Sandy’s profile remained on Brother Wolf’s website but he could no longer endure adoption events. I got an occasional inquiry, but interested potential adopters would inevitably decline upon learning about his issues and upcoming surgery.
Meanwhile, I grew more and more fond of little Sandy. He was sweet and calm, quiet and friendly. He liked to sit on my lap and to curl up with my other dogs. He liked Tee Taun well enough but I saw no evidence of the strong bond I had been told about. In fact, Sandy seemed to prefer being active with my two resident dogs rather than staying downstairs with the much calmer Tee Taun. And Tee Taun didn’t seem to miss him. He didn’t cry for him, and when Sandy entered the room, Tee Taun ignored him. I notified Brother Wolf of my opinion they did not need to be adopted together as a bonded pair.
At Sandy’s evaluation, Dr. Crouch felt that his hips were the result of two separate traumas. While he could not say that the traumas had definitely occurred as a result of abuse, the odds of these two injuries being inflicted at different times by accident were very low.
Her knee issues were the typical patella injuries small dogs often face. Dr. Crouch discussed the difficulties ahead, and informed me that Sandy would need two separate surgeries. I had expected a quick fix, but no. Dr. Crouch would first repair one side — both hip and knee so that Sandy would have one solid base to support himself while the other side healed. Then, after a 6-8 week recovery, he would receive the second surgery.
Clearly, I would have Sandy for much longer and he would be far more labor intensive than first expected. Well, okay then. We settled in for the long-haul.
When I picked Sandy up after his first surgery, he was pitiful. His side was shaved, a bandage covered his hip, and he was crying softly. With the post-operative instructions in hand, I brought him home.
He was on full crate rest, only to be carried outside to relieve himself. He could not get wet, he could not do stairs, run, or jump. It turned out that he didn’t want to do any of those things anyway. He preferred to lay around and stare at me.
Every few hours, I carried him outside, set him on his feet, and he peed. Then I carried him back in, tucked him into his crate with his medicine, and he cried. He cried actual tears – the staff at the vet noticed it too. Big tears would well up and drip down his cheeks. It was just heartbreaking, especially since he would lick my hand as I settled him back in.
Two weeks later, we went back to Dr. Crouch, who cleared him for very short walks. He also gave Sandy injections into his hip to lubricate the joint. Our walks grew longer over the next few weeks. Eventually, he was released from the crate (although still confined to a pen to keep him from trying to climb the stairs). He began moved with more ease, rolling about on his back and smiling at me. He clearly felt better. When I was finally able to release him from the pen, he trotted all over the house once again. He was happy.
He became very depressed after the second surgery. He was right back where he had been before — in constant pain, confined to the crate, being carried outside. When I brought him in for his check up, he screamed all the way there. I felt like he was begging “Please stop hurting me!” He had had all he could take and could not understand that the worst was over and that he would be fine.
Despite all the suffering and pain, he never once snapped or bit. He just took it, staring at us with those piteous eyes, whimpering and crying.
Once again, he recovered. And with both sides repaired, the recovery was faster! He ran. He rolled on the ground. He smiled. He wriggled with joy when stroked. He was practically a new dog. Dr. Crouch approved him for full activity, with the stipulation that he (or any small dog) should never jump off of any height, such as a sofa or a lap. Since Sandy never jumped up on furniture himself, this was easy to enforce.
I began taking him to adoption events shortly after. After a few inquiries that didn’t work out, his day finally came. Sandy had been with me for seven months when we went to an adoption event at Petco. I sat with him and chatted with other foster parents, and watched other dogs find their forever homes. Then, my dear Sandy was adopted! His new mom (pictured to the left) is a retired school teacher who spends a lot of time at home. She has a fenced in yard with a doggie door, and has another senior dog who recently lost his longtime companion. She immediately fell in love with Sandy, and he went home with her that day.
I miss Sandy, but I rejoice in his story, in his spirit, and in his happy ending.
And by the way, does anybody want to adopt a 15-year old blind miniature poodle? I still have sweet old Tee Taun. Just sayin’. Click here to view Tee Taun’s adoption profile.