Sunday, July 18, 2010
A dog named Lacie
Lacie was tied outside of a local dog pound when the dog wardens came into work one morning. Three 1 week old puppies were left in a box nearby. The dog warden picked up 2 of the puppies to bring them inside and when he turned around, she was walking behind him, carrying the third puppy in her mouth.
The first day I went to see her, she had some sort of infected wound on her shoulder. By the next day, that had broken open and was seeping. We couldn't tell how it occurred but it looked like a large scrape so we wondered if perhaps she'd been hit by a car. Fulton County has a pretty nice pound compared to some I've been to and they had her in the quieter "vicious dog" room, but the pound is still no place for tiny puppies, and so I brought her home. She was uneasy the first few days. Who wouldn't be? All those protective mom hormones, whatever discomfort she was in from her injuries, being one place, then at the pound, then finally here. Who knows what she thought would come next. In a short time she settled in and was a good mama to her babies and bonded with us as well. I named her Lacie.
It's clear Lacie's life before she ended up at the pound wasn't easy. She's around 6-8 years old, and undoubtedly lived as an outside dog, perhaps tied up somewhere, having litter after litter of puppies. Who knows why someone finally "got rid of" her but at least then she was able to get the love and care she deserves.
Lacie and her puppies stayed here for almost 2 months. Her puppies (Leon, Lavender and Lilac, all adopted) were very friendly and good-natured. She is good with the other dogs but prefers her own space. She mostly ignores the cats although sometimes can't resist a chase across the room when one of them runs. (Don't worry, my cats are very dog savvy and she isn't interested in hurting them, just wants to play.) Her wound healed up quickly and her coat's gotten shiny and thick. She loves all of us and seems happy to be here.
When her puppies were 8 weeks old, everyone went to Humane Ohio to be fixed and vetted. I hadn't even gotten all the puppies in the door when the vet came out to talk to me about Lacie. When they did the initial exam they found a mammary tumor. While they recommended that be removed when she was spayed, it was beyond their capabilities at the clinic to do so. And so Lacie came back home again. Later she was seen by another one of our vets who found the tumor was malignant and had already spread throughout her mammary chain, and her heart was enlarged as well. The decision was made to keep her comfortable for however much time she has. It's been a couple of weeks now and she seems to be doing fine. She's not an active dog and she doesn't like being handled much, so I assume she does have some discomfort, but she still loves attention, loves a romp through the yard and seems happy, so we're hoping she has a lot of time left to be loved.
Unfortunately Lacie's story isn't uncommon. Dogs everywhere are kept outside with no medical care, not spayed so they have multiple litters of puppies, who end up perpetuating the cycle with more puppies as well. Canine mammary cancer rarely occurs in dogs who are spayed before their first heat and even if she'd been spayed as a young adult, her risks would have been substantially lower. By its very nature, rescue deals with the consequences of irresponsible pet ownership, and Planned Pethood always has dogs and cats who are being treated for preventable injuries and illnesses. If you adopt a puppy or dog from us, they will of course be spayed first, thus reducing their risk for mammary cancer. If you know of an unspayed dog, please talk to their owners about getting her fixed. We of course care about proactively solving the pet overpopulation by preventing litters but they will also be greatly reducing the chances of their dog ending up like Lacie.