Friday, July 10, 2009

Johann, Day One

Johann's a bit of a fixer-upper, as dogs go.

An animal control officer found him living underneath a bush, and he'd been there a while, apparently. Flies had destroyed a goodly bit of his ears, his teeth were ground down to almost nothing (his canines are literally flat; no exaggeration), and his coat was a matted thatch of tangles, unshot winter fur, fleas, ticks, and blood. All in all, he was a complete wreck of a dog.

Needless to say, I fell in love with him instantly.

The first priority for me (after the staff gave him his vaccinations and parasite-control tablets) was a bath. We strolled out to the play yard, and I pulled out the bathtub. Johann only took a little coaxing, and hopped up into it himself. Round one of reclaiming the dog underneath the wreckage went well, though it broke my heart to see how badly life in the rough had treated him. Drying him off and taking him back to his kennel, I set off to work with some of the other dogs for a while.

Johann: Filthy, bloody, infested with ticks...
and thrilled to be here.

Later, we went outside and got to goof around a bit. The two of us played fetch for a good while, and he seemed glad for the chance to stretch his legs. Rotating through all of the toys at hand, it was finally decided that Johann loves the classics; nothing beats a good, old-fashioned red rubber ball in his opinion. Though not the quickest dog I've played fetch with, nor the most enthusiastic, he was certainly one of the most polite. He would chase down the ball, and more often than not, walk back and place it directly in the palm of my hand. Petting him, I cringed again inwardly. His poor skin felt like a riverbed, pebbled with bloodthirsty ticks. That can not be comfortable, I thought quietly, and tossed the ball again.

After feeding time, I made a final pass through the shelter: it's sentimental, but I enjoy a chance to say good-night to all the dogs. Passing Johann's kennel, I noticed a couple of ticks had fallen off of him and were trying to crawl away, so I grabbed a paper towel and hopped inside to dispatch and dispose of them. I nudged the big, white dog out of the way, and Johann took a wobbly few steps aside; apparently, the combination of anti-parasite measures from earlier had finally kicked in, and he was understandably a bit woozy. Looking down, I froze; and was suddenly very glad for every disgusting, gut-twisting experience I'd ever had with a tick or flea.

The floor was covered in them. Dozens (if not a couple of hundred) of bloated arachnids futilely scrambled to get away from the now-toxic dog. Sweeping them into a pile, I noted at least three generations' worth of the parasites. And by the time I had cleaned them up, another few dozen had fallen off. Looks like it's going to be a very messy, but very worthwhile night.

I'm off to the shelter now, and am eager to see how well the recovery is coming along. Although we officially don't endorse any particular brand over another, I have to give both Capstar and Frontline props; they certainly earned an A+ with a gold foil star yesterday. Regardless of brand, if you own a dog you owe it to them, yourself, and your loved ones to find a good parasite control and use it regularly. Take Johann's word for it; it's well worth the effort.

No comments: