The picture was stunning. This was the most gorgeous boxer I had ever seen. I found out later that this jail picture had won a contest at a local newspaper. His wonderful underbite is classic. My Planned Pethood foster mentality kicked into high gear. This dog will get adopted in about a minute. And our intake coordinator, Kyle, said he was a free dog because his fee had been sponsored by a business. OMG, things could not have been further from the truth! Freddie was destined to be with us for the better part of a year and cost PPI dearly.
We busted Fred out of the pound after literally months of prison time. And he was scary skinny weighing only 53 lbs. with every rib sticking out (he was a fit 67 lbs. upon adoption). His hipbones were so prominent that he looked like a walking skeleton. He had a nasty case of whip worms as well. But that was just the tip of the iceberg. He entered our home with his pound name but we left that behind along with the jacked up past he had endured. So why Freddie? Well, one of the first things he did was try to mate with one of Bob’s (my semi-significant other) legs. Ha! My nephew John surmised since he was so skinny and he liked men that Freddie Mercury should be his namesake and it stuck.
I became concerned because Fred kept holding his back leg. So it was off to the vet for my new foster dude. It did not take long to learn that he HATED the vet, any vet. God bless Dr. Dillon, he took it in his stride that Fred kept trying to nip him. That visit resulted in very, very bad news. Fred had a ruptured cruciate on one leg and a luxating patella on the other (a detached kneecap). He had overused his right leg due to the pain he experienced from the knee, rupturing the cruciate, and he probably had the injuries for four years! He had been in excruciating pain for all that time. Mystery solved about his attitude toward vets. Sometimes I hate people. Without extensive, expensive surgery, he would continue to deteriorate. Thankfully, Planned Pethood is in it for the long haul, regardless of cost.
Our next stop was the orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Thompson, who Fred tried to bite at each and every exam which turned out to be about a dozen in all. Freddie looked a bit like Frankenstein’s monster with each leg stapled up and down after his surgery on BOTH legs. He was fitted with an e-collar (lampshade) as well which he hated. He had to be crated 24/7 unless he was on a leash to go out to go potty. I don’t know if this was harder on Fred or on me. Talk about stress. Well, you know the expression, the best laid plans…
Nothing went according to plan. His recovery and rehab were supposed to take a total of 8 weeks which turned into months. His left leg would not heal, it kept busting open due to the deep, deep incision right over the knee. He went back over and over and over again to the vet. I would wake up in the middle of the night and cry. But my big sweet boy was a trooper and did not let any of this get him down.
The surgeries were only partially successful. His cruciate was repaired as good as new. But his patella became dislocated again after several weeks. Dr. T., who was prone to folksy expressions, called his leg a soup sandwich. It was the worst he had ever seen. Fred now faced amputation unless we could get him to use the leg. So it was off to hydrotherapy next. Here we had an amazing change of attitude. Though not a vet, Fred LOVED his hydrotherapist, Melissa, as she put him through his paces twice a week for the next six weeks. It is a fascinating process for those of you not familiar with it. And it worked, sort of. Fred regained the use of his leg but it will never work normally again. But amputation was averted.
Then came the most difficult part of this whole process. The big dude was ready for his forever home. By this time, Freddie was a big old mama’s boy. He is hilarious, charming, enthusiastic, and a terrible drinker. He loved the other dogs and snuggled with the cats. He rode with me wherever I went when on a road trip, short and long. He would bathe Bob’s whole face with his kisses and if he forgot to close his mouth all the way, a French kiss or two. We got a few well meaning applications but they were definitely not right.
Then I opened my email and could not believe my eyes. It was the best app I had ever seen. Cheryll and Curt had been adopting rescue and handicapped boxers for 20 years. The most recent had passed away after only 3 months because when they adopted him, he had cancer. I guess I don’t need to tell you the ending to this story. Fred is living in his forever home with some of the most incredible people I have ever met. I have to admit, I was sobbing as I drove home from delivering my compadre to his new family.
I want to leave you with part of a message I got from Curt and Cheryll. “I wanted to tell you how wonderful he is doing. Even though Freddie has some physical scars from his life, we can tell that emotionally he is A+. What a carefree soul and a perfect gentleman. We are so pleased to have him here…and Freddie sends you a sloppy kiss and hug!” I knew then he no longer needed me and I could let him go.
by Judy Szewczak