Dougie was special from the get go. He came to us fresh off of an amputation surgery. He had escaped from his owner and, in what I can only imagine was a horrific accident, a car hit him after he ran out into the road. Unfortunately his owner did not have the means to provide the necessary care and was forced to do the only responsible thing and release him to animal services.
His leg was mangled and there was never any question that he needed to have it amputated. The first night he came to us his scar was one of the gnarliest medical things I have ever seen. It was about a foot long and ran diagonally from the base of his neck to where the back of the leg used to be and was raised like a mountain range about a half an inch off his skin. The stitches and staples looked like they could barely contain what was inside from busting through the gash.
I remember the scar vividly. I was so paranoid that he was going to scratch or bite it open. I had a recurring picture flash in my brain of me going to his kennel in the morning only to find that the scar had busted and his insides were all over the cage. I know that is a gruesome thought, but it’s the only result that I could imagine resulting from THAT scar opening up accidentally.
That scar is probably the single factor that was the catalyst to a deep, soul level bond forming between myself and my Dougie boy. I relocated his mastiff sized crate to right next to my side of the bed. I moved my computer, modem, TV, and desk perpendicular to his kennel and I proceeded to spend almost every moment next to him for the next two weeks.
He was an amazing boy during that time, he always would find my side with his wet nose and goose me to get me to love him. Unfortunately the slits in the kennel were too thin for me to get my hands through so I would have to go all the way around that huge crate to get in there and snuggle him. I remember thinking that that was an unacceptable status quo and I needed to fix it. So I got a pair of heavy duty pliers and squeezed two bars together to form a hole that my whole arm could fit through. After that it was smooth sailing, anytime he wanted to be loved on I could happily oblige without having to move much, it was the perfect setup.
In the time he spent convalescing we had many good conversations.I would talk to him alot about how he was going to find a home again, how is owner’s still loved him and probably thought about him all the time. We talked about what was on netflix at the time, and mostly just shot the breeze about whatever topic struck his fancy at any particular time. When Dougie first got here we also had a group of puppies whose names, for the life of me, I can’t remember(I have this problem with most of our fosters) that Douglas would play with through the kennel. We talked alot about how amazing it was to me that he had gone through all that he had and still had such a sunny disposition.
If there was one drawback to Dougie boy, it was that he acted like a jackass at adoption events. It may have just been over his comfort threshold to have all those dogs and people congregated in one place. Personally I think it was because he just wanted to stay with us forever. Whatever the reason though, it wasn’t a good situation and we stopped taking him, relying on the web for his forever owners to connect with him. This led to Doug being with us for over 5 months.
Needless to say, he quickly became a part of our family after he healed. He was such an instigator! From barking at people walking outside(or just any random noise that he felt warranted a good tongue lashing) to starting wrestling matches with the other dogs, he was always getting into something. It was amazing to watch him go with his 3 legged jaunt.
I have never been around a 3 legged dog before, so watching him acclimate to his new existence was awe inspiring. He turned his handicap into a strength by using his weight while rough housing with the other dogs, and the way he learned to do things with 3 legs was just really neat to watch. I was especially impressed with his prowess in tug games. He made phenomenal use of the head shake and won more matches against myself and the other dogs than I care to admit.
He was asleep in this picture!
The one story that really sticks out to me about Dougie’s time here was from an adoption event, when he was still going to them. A veteran that had lost his leg in his service to our country happened upon Doug at the event and just sat with him for hours and hours. At one point he started crying and, to this day, I have no idea what he said, but he just sat there with Doug, like kindred spirits, until the event ended. That was the effect Dougie had on people. He instilled hope that, no matter what, there was always a way to be happy.
Alas, his, meant to be, owners eventually did find him, and when they did it was heartbreaking for me to let him go. It had been a running joke in the house that Dougie wanted to stay with us so bad that he made sure no one would want to adopt him! But the day did come, and I can honestly say, he has gone to a wonderful family and home. He has 3 other dogs to play with(and annoy). I see videos and pictures of him all the time and it is wonderful for me to share in his forever home with him.
None of that changes the fact that he is, and always will be, a part of our family though. Just because a foster leaves will never change that!