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He is a six-inch-tall,
13-pound treadmill that can convince his new family to walk more frequently
than they ever imagined. His name is Oscar, a seven-year-old, black
and tan mini-smooth Dachshund, that went from nowhere to Main Street
in just three short months.
Oscar first came to my attention while at work at the animal shelter
on April 1st. He had been surrendered a couple of days earlier by
owners who did not want to take care of his needs. It was reported
that there was an aggressive Dachshund in the kennels, and that caught
Oscar had been pulled for euthanasia because his aggressive behavior
did not allow any of the kennel care staff to get near him. When I
laid eyes on him, I saw years of neglect: poor coat condition, hair
on only half of his tail, toenails that were at least two inches long
and curling under and crossing over each other, brittle ear leather
with no hair, and a choke-chain collar that was too snug. But what
really caught my attention was Oscar's movement --- his back was hunched,
then as he moved in the kennel run he used a rabbit-hop type of movement
and the tell-tale wobbly walk when he slowed down. Oscar sat very
stiffly and would poke his nose at the top of his spine near his rear
legs. My heart sank ... I had seen this behavior before in some of
my own Dachshunds who have had IVDD (Intervertebral Disc Disease)
episodes. It was clear to me, that Oscar was in pain and was exhibiting
the most basic of animal behaviors: flight or fight. He could not
flee, so he was fighting for his life and dealing with a back injury.
Oscar was coaxed into a crate with food and carried into my office.
He needed a foster home and someone who was familiar with the long
rehabilitation needed to heal a spinal injury with conservative treatment
. This little guy also needed to learn to trust people again, and
he needed a lot of basic care. A little digging into his background
revealed that Oscar had been dumped by his first family a couple of
years prior to being surrendered at the shelter. And the story given
at intake was that Oscar had possibly "fallen off the couch."
I also learned that Oscar's birthday was April 1st. But what was happening
to him was no April Fool's joke!
I sat in my office looking at Oscar in a wire crate, and thought:
"now what?" As a Dachshund breeder, I have always been prepared
to make room for any dog or puppy that I have bred and placed that
may no longer be able to stay with its family --- that is my responsibility
as an ethical breeder. Being a foster family to a dog and situation
with which I was not familiar, ... that was a new concept. It is one
thing to throw money at a problem --- make a donation and hope someone
else takes care of the problem; it is another to dig in and take a
hands-on approach to the solution. Support from my husband, employer
(the shelter) and Dodgerslist moderators provided the quick decision
to help Oscar with a medical need with which I had ex- perience and
could access the necessary resources. I also quickly filled out the
paperwork to become a volunteer foster family.
A veterinary consultation confirmed a back injury and luxating patellas,
and pro- vided the information on medications and dosages needed to
address the pain that Oscar was experiencing. The medications were
obtained from the shelter's supply, and I set up Oscar's crate as
a recovery suite for strict crate rest that would last eight weeks.
I also cut off the too-snug, metal choke collar, and I was rewarded
with light and grateful Dachshund kisses --- I knew this was not an
aggressive dog. His bright eyes quietly expressed wisdom and gratitude,
and a yearning to be loved.
The process to find a forever home for Oscar began. Networking amongst
Dachshund groups, local kennel clubs, and Dodgerslist produced a family
that wanted Oscar to be part of their lives and give him a chance
at a new, happy life.
He had to learn how to trust again, and he had to be crate trained.
He also had to overcome a spinal injury. When Oscar stepped out of
his crate at week three and proceeded to roll over for a belly rub,
I knew he was feeling better and was trusting us enough to let his
guard down. More gentle kisses followed, and I knew he would make
it --- recover from the injury and be a dog that could be loved and
would love in return.
By week four, Oscar's ear leather and
hair were returning, and his tail started to show promise. His toenails
had slowly been worked back, and his crate training was successful.
(YES --- you can teach an older dog a new behavior!).
A fellow Dachshund breeder in our local area referred a friend to
me that was looking for an adult Dachshund. I honestly explained Oscar's
situation, and when I noticed that they had joined Dodgerslist online,
I knew this might be a great match!
Oscar's new family is a husband and wife that own a shop on main street
in Omro, Wisconsin. Their house is located four blocks from the shop,
and their plan was to have Oscar go to work with them every day and
they would all walk to work.
The shelter for which I was fostering Oscar gave me the responsibility
of deciding on his placement. So, I treated Oscar like any other dog
or puppy from my pack. Everything was checked out, and I took Oscar
to meet his new family. It was a match from the beginning, as Oscar
very gently took Cheerio treats from his new people.
Oscar's new people are giving
him a chance at a happy and full life; but, they insist that he is
saving their lives. It turns out that they need to walk more, per
doctor's orders, for their own health. Oscar needs rehab walking on
a daily basis to continue his recovery.
The little Dachshund, who was going nowhere on April 1st, is now loved
dearly and spends his days greeting customers. Three months later,
Oscar can be seen walking proudly with his people on Main Street ---
they call him their little treadmill with a handsome smile and happy
tail! Oscar's lifestyle has changed, he has a new family that just
adores him, plenty of blankets and toys, and he is a survivor and
inspiration on so many levels.