This article is based upon a true story which began for this author on November 25, 2013 and is ongoing with each passing day. I was working part-time for a local veterinarian named Anna Parker, D.V.M., in Midwest City, OK. A client of Dr. Parker's brought in two Brittany Rescue dogs who had been confiscated from a neglectful and abusive breeder. This client was the local representative for the National Brittany Rescue and Adoption Network and she asked me if I would be interested in fostering a Brittany Rescue dog. This task would mean taking care of the dog, feeding her a special diet, seeking veterinary care for the dog, if needed, and basically nursing her back to health. She told me that I would probably only have to provide a foster home for maybe two to four weeks. That sounded reasonable to me and the dog looked so pathetic (malnourished) that I agreed to do it.
The dog's name is Maddie. She was so neglected and abused that she was starving, malnourished, looked like skin and bones, and was at least 10 pounds underweight at just 22 pounds. She also had worms for which she was treated by Dr. Anna Parker. The best description I can think of on that first day was that she was an emotional and physical 'train wreck'. In addition to her physical condition, she was afraid of everything and everybody.
On November 25, 2013, I put Maddie in the back of my car to bring her home. She climbed between the seats and rode in my lap all the way home. When we got home, I tried to set her up in the kitchen using pet gates but she is a jumper and was too strong for the gates. She did not want to be left alone... not even for a moment. I put down a dog bed and blanket for her to lay down on but she was too focused on eating. The local Brittany Rescue representative had given me some white rice and frozen chicken breasts for Maddie but those would have taken too long to thaw out and cook, so I made Maddie some instant brown rice and canned chicken breast.
I gave her approximately 1-1/2 cups of the brown rice/chicken breast mixture along with some water. She gobbled it up immediately and came back wanting more. However, I had been told to limit her intake of both food and water, at least initially, so I didn't give her anymore. When I put the leftovers in the refrigerator, she tried to eat them out of the pan. Every time I opened the refrigerator door, she tried to stick her head in to see if she could get more to eat. Then, she started diving into the kitchen trash can looking for more food so I had to put it up on higher ground. In fact, I had to put almost everything up on higher ground, whether it was edible or not.
Next, I took Maddie and my two dogs outside which became somewhat of a chaotic circus. My dogs (a Shih Tzu and a Rhodesian Ridgeback Mix) were kind of freaked out by this newcomer and Maddie was totally freaked out by my two dogs. They got mixed up in each other's leashes and wrapped around my legs. It was dark outside, there were still icy leaves and grass on the ground and, even though I had my flashlight, it was difficult to see that everybody 'did their business'. But they all did, including Maddie, who had very dark and runny diarrhea which was somewhat of a challenge to scoop up into a doggie poop bag.
After we had been back inside for a while, I gave Maddie a bath. She was pretty dirty and I saw some fleas but not as many as I expected. At first, she was scared in the bathtub but she quickly became acclimated to the warm water. I shampooed her coat and rinsed it very well, and then dried her with a towel. I was going to use a blow dryer but that scared her too much.
Because Maddie had been given a dewormer and was not housebroken, I decided that all of us would spend the night on the sleeper sofa in my living room that first night. Maddie was restless at first but she soon fell asleep with my arm around her while my other two dogs slept nearby.
All of the above took place on day one of my bringing Maddie home with the intention of fostering her for approximately two to four weeks.
Little did I know about the difficult and challenging days ahead with this precious little Brittany Rescue dog. Stay tuned for part two in this series of articles about the miracle of Maddie.