Willow, newly named by her smitten new owners, was plucked off death row in California - which she wants everyone to know is a harrowing experience that no dog should endure. Fortunately though, the whole death row shelter experience made the plane ride to Calgary and all the border crossing exams and undignified testing seem awfully mundane. Then she ended up in foster care, which she foolishly thought was her real home until she found herself at a big adoption event where she was expected to woo prospective adopters into loving her…omg, reality television gone terribly wrong she thought. It was kind of depressing but Willow decided she would give it her best shot – she’d been practising smiling without showing all her broken teeth and she had the woeful, cute puppy look down pat. She hoped she could hide her age behind a cute face – because who would want to adopt an old dog with a mouthful of broken teeth? And unfortunately, death row did not avail itself to her regular fitness and spa program and she was ashamed of her pudgy tummy and lacklustre coat. And her nails…we won’t even speak of those…But she decided to work with what she had. And work it she did! She landed the best home ever!! The poor unsuspecting souls Willow giggled to herself as she trotted out of the adoption centre with her new best friends!!
Willow’s new owners, some of the most loving and capable pet parents I have ever met were rejected by another rescue to adopt ‘because they weren’t home enough’…really? They are very normal people with very normal jobs – thank God they’re both working because Willow, it turns out, is a pricey little number! I was, laughably, also rejected by a rescue to adopt because my dogs live on 60 acres on Invisible Fence rather than having a small permanently fenced yard. Well, Willow’s family does have an excellent fence which has contained many dogs over the years…but not Willow…the Beagle in her found the one tiny opportunity and she squeezed her squishy little Beagley body through that hole that really only water could get through and off she went on a grand adventure! She enjoyed the long summer night with an endless trail of scents to follow, garbages to ransack, stray dogs to mingle with and best of all, no humans telling her what to do. Until one of the busy body humans lured her in with a delicious treat the next morning and snagged her by the collar! Even a quick little nip did not deter the human … ugh. That darn new collar!! She looked so svelte in it she was enjoying catching her reflection as she strutted past shiny garbage cans and car doors – she especially liked the reflections that stretched out her short little Corgi legs into the long sleek legs of a Vizsla. She had met a stunning red Vizsla on the plane over from California – she was so beautiful and vane and looked at Willow with her short legs and broken teeth with disdain. But it was Willow, with her puppy face and expressive ears that got adopted first. Willow felt a bit sorry for Victoria the Viszla as she left the adoption centre with her new family. Victoria was crestfallen.
Willow was returned to her new owners the next morning who had launched an immediate and vast social media campaign to find her…Willow was stunned that anyone would care so much to find her…nobody had ever cared about her that much. Wow! They didn’t even seem that upset about the hefty “Dog At Large” ticket and the canine criminal record for biting…in hindsight, not her best decision….Although ouch, the picture they put on her poster…not really her best shot…she will need to remember next time to have a proper portrait done before her next adventure because it really didn’t do anything for her reputation to have that …well, quite frankly…entirely unflattering picture being circulated around of her. Good grief! California girls have a reputation to uphold don’t you know!
Willow had barely settled in for her morning nap, after a rather embarrassing episode of TERRIBLE gas from the night’s adventures when she was whisked away for a car ride….to the vet…oh boy…this wasn’t going to be good…At the vet’s office they delved into her sordid history, what was known of it, and then they just invented the rest of it based on “clinical findings” they said. What kind of hogwash was that?! The vet said “Willow has a lot of things going on here…”. And to Willow’s horror the veterinarian started listing off ALL of her short comings….big c-section incision, her large mammary glands that the vet was thrilled had no lumps detected, her terrible teeth – all broken from chewing kennels and fences, her upset tummy, the anxiety disorder she had developed on death row and then they started talking about testing her for a bunch of gross diseases spread by ticks….What kind of dog did they think she was?? Willow was panic stricken…her new owners were NEVER going to keep her after that stunt last night and now this litany of veterinary issues….She really wished she hadn’t let the naughty Beagle part of her get out of control last night…she was doomed she thought!
So Willow’s SECOND day with her new family was spent in the veterinary hospital having testing, iv fluids and iv medications to get her tummy feeling better. Much to Willow’s surprise her new mom stayed with her at the hospital!! Willow was so relieved and astonished that humans could actually be so considerate and loving. She was kind of liking these new kind of humans she met…but she was secretly DREADING the test for the tick disease because she knew very well that while she was on death row a gnarly old street dog was beside her and he was covered in ticks and every once in a while Willow would wake up from her nap and find one of those pesky ticks burrowed into her skin. This was NOT helping her anxiety – where on earth was that Prozac the vet was talking about?!
On Willow’s THIRD day with her new family the news came in…she indeed had a tick borne disease called Ehrlichia….called WHAT??!! Ear – lick- ya??!! It sounded disgusting and she thought for sure this was the final straw and she’d be back in California on doggie death row…but her new humans seemed rather unfazed by the whole affair. They were rather far more concerned that she wasn’t really drinking well because they thought her teeth were hurting….and they were concerned about her anxiety and how to treat that Ehrlichia disease for her…Willow was not at all expecting this kind of unconditional love from her new humans and so she quietly made a pact with herself to be the best dog she could be for her new family. She laid quietly in the hospital while she had her treatments and was the perfect patient and she decided she was going to go home and try really hard to eat and drink and do all the doggy things they needed her to do! And she PROMISED, no more naughty Beagle Behaviour!!
Dr. Karen Allen has a small veterinary practice on her farm in rural Alberta. She cares for companion animals and farm pets, plus two growing children and her own menagerie of misfits from Sully the bed pooper to Ruby the naughty red pony who was sent home from the trainer's with an "F" on her report card! Karen's passion for veterinary medicine only barely eclipses her passion for surfing...which she took up at age 39 when she probably should have been looking at one piece bathing suits and cruises! And yes, her husband is a saint :)