Thursday, September 01, 2005
Stones and Sunlight
A couple of months ago another CA and I were temperament testing dogs at the Stockton shelter. We had made our choices about which dogs we were taking and had started to pack up our temperament testing supplies when a Stockton Animal Control Officer popped her head into the small room we'd been using.
"Hey," she said, "I don't know if you guys would be interested, but we just got a standard poodle that was surrendered by her owners for euthanasia. She seems really sweet, would you want to take a look at her?"
"What was she surrendered for?" I asked.
"They said she had a urinary tract infection and they couldn't afford to treat it."
I was surprised. Medication for urinary tract infections isn't very expensive. It seemed an odd reason to give up a dog. Still, the other CA and I agreed to take a look at her and so were introduced to Amelia. She was a big black standard poodle with some distinguished grey creeping in around her muzzle. Her owners had placed her around six years, but we thought she might even be older. She was missing patches of hair along the back of her hind legs and despite a weakly wagging tail, seemed to be in poor spirits. Internal infections will do that to a body.
Because she was feeling ill, we didn't really know what her personality was like. However, despite the discomfort she was in, Amelia was tolerant of our handling and showed no signs of fear or aggression. If we left her behind, she would be euthanized that day. Bringing her to the EBSPCA wouldn't guarantee her survival but it would give her a chance that she simply didn't have in Stockton.
We loaded Amelia into our van and headed back.
Medical tests revealed that Amelia didn't just have a urinary tract infection but also a profuse amount of bladder stones. Stones are expensive to treat and remove, so it suddenly made more sense why this poodle's previous owners weren't up to the task. Our veterinarians operated to remove over a dozen stones of various sizes from Amelia's bladder. We put her on medication to get rid of her infection and gave her a dental cleaning and tooth extraction. Now, all we could do was wait, give Amelia time to heal, and discover the dog she would become.
Amelia blossomed into a sweet gentle lady who would sit quietly for attention, play with other dogs, and always enjoyed a good ear scritching. She won the hearts of shelter and clinic staff alike and everyone was excited for her the day Amelia moved up into adoptions.
It only took a couple weeks before she was adopted. A woman from out of town had heard we had a standard poodle and had driven from hours away to meet Amelia. She was looking for a dog who would enjoy greeting clients as they came into her store and who would make a calm, mellow companion for her when they headed home in the evenings. Amelia's combination of gentle and genteel made her a perfect match. I was Amelia's trainer while she was at the shelter and I also did her adoption talk. The only thing I regretted about the adoption was how far away her new owner lived. She wouldn't be able to attend classes at the OSPCA and chances were I wouldn't get to see Amelia again.
Last weekend, a friend and I took a little road trip up north to see some massive Redwood trees and enjoy a change of scenery. On the way back home, we began seeing signs for the town of Fort Bragg.
"Now why does that town's name seem so familiar?" I asked.
"That's where Amelia's owner lives," my friend replied.
We decided to stop in Fort Bragg for lunch and also to walk through the town. I didn't know what the chances were of seeing Amelia, but the business district of Fort Bragg was relatively small. Could she really be relaxing in a store somewhere on the street I was currently walking down? Then suddenly, there she was. A big black poodle with a silver muzzle lying in a pool of sunlight just inside one of the local shops.
She looked wonderful. The hair on the back of Amelia's legs had fully grown back. She had a big cushy dog bed, a fancy new collar, and had taken to her days at the store as well as we had hoped. Her new owner adored her and as we chatted, several people walked into the store to comment on how sweet and well-mannered Amelia was. Amelia had gone from being on the Euthanasia list in a municipal shelter to sleeping in a puddle of sunlight as people admired her.
It was the very best part of the trip.