(Early edit: Job's name may eventually change. I came up with it this morning, considering all he's been through, but considering it's only 5:55am and everyone else is asleep, I haven't had a chance to discuss it with the rest of the household. We'll see.)
We weren't looking for a puppy for Christmas, but sometimes everything falls into place in just the right way. It was December 20th: The stockings were hung (well, they were hung until Caleb pulled them down), the presents tucked away in the corner of the bedroom, shopping was (mostly) finished with a few last-minute items still on their way via Amazon (Caleb's blue rocks, for example).
My husband has been working long hours, and Bella - our lovely house pet - has been nothing short of depressed for the last few weeks. Somehow, fate and luck were on my side when I told my husband, "We have to get a second dog, babe. Bella is falling apart." To my wondering ears, he said yes, and the thought of having a second dog home for Christmas overtook me.
I started my search where I last left off, looking for AKC-registered puppies that Aidan could use for junior showmanship, should he ever have the inkling again to give it a try. I started again with the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel breeders, particularly one I'd been talking with in Texas. His pups boasted a championship lineage, and were almost nauseously good-looking, with their wavy puppy fur, black noses, and big brown eyes. I started looking at some local breeders, particularly a kennel here in North Port that raises Siberian Huskies. Beautiful, pointy-eared puppies - little bundles of fur. A perfect sized breed that would probably suit the family just fine. Two little bundles of love from which to choose, and the sibes were less than half the price of the Cavaliers, plus they came with full AKC rights.
I perused her webpage for a long time.
And all the while, there lay Bella behind me on the couch, her chin resting comfortably on the arm, raising her eyebrow (rather than her head) every time I'd turn and look at her. There's the perfect dog, I thought to myself. Why would I consider anything but another pitbull?
And so I looked at pitbulls. Beautiful, stocky puppies from purple ribbon parents. Litter after litter of pot-bellied cuties, ready for a new home. I turned again to look at Bella and thought about her past, where she'd come from and how she'd gotten to us. The horrible events she must have endured to make it here, to our couch, to her family.
I remembered two little roly poly pups I'd seen on a rescue site a week or two ago - every demodex (aka - "mange") puppy I see, I can't help but think of Bella - and the pair I'd seen had been no exception. They'd been picked up by a rescue: I visited their Facebook page again, my eyes searching the bullies until I found him.
And there he was. Three months old, covered in scabs. Nearly bald. Swollen feet. Yet despite that, he was still wiggling his butt - the pitbull trait.
I messaged the rescue and told our story. We still had ivermectin left over from Bella. I called my husband. I loaded up the boys. The rest, so they say, will be history.
After getting the kids to bed, I took a shower with Job and gave him a bath using Duodo Calming Shampoo - not my choice, but I didn't have any Chlorhexiderm. (It is now on it's way via Amazon and will be here tomorrow.) I stayed in the shower with him and kept it on for about ten, maybe twelve minutes. The chunks of scabs falling off him were horrible.
Before bed, I gave him his first oral dose of ivermectin. I wanted to give him the medication in the morning, as mornings are typically easier to remember, but I couldn't stand the thought of those nasty mites having their way with him for even another seven hours. At 21.2 pounds, we are working our way up to 0.578ml/day, so I started him off at 0.4ml. From what the dogs tell me with their lemon-face, it tastes horrible, but he didn't have the energy to complain. He laid down and went right to sleep in his crate.
This morning, I woke him up early - since it was too late to have a nice meal last night when we got home, I figured the poor guy would be starving. He gobbled up about a half-cup of grain-free chow and had a bit of water. He's very slow on his feet: because of the constant licking and chewing, puppies suffering from demodex typically have swollen paws and pads. It must hurt to walk.
With a full belly and my warm sweater, Job tucked down and is now sleeping peacefully on the kitchen floor.
Before I go, in "open letter" format, I had something I wanted to say to Job's previous owners. It goes something like this:
Dear Job's previous owners in north Orlando, where he was found walking the streets before being brought to rescue and transported to Fort Myers:
Maybe you had the best intentions, but more than likely you did not. Let me guess - you owned the sire and the dam and decided they'd make some cute puppies. Maybe you didn't realize the dam carried an immune failure for demodex. Now that you've figured it out, you probably still haven't gotten her fixed, have you? No, you probably think that mange was just something the puppies must have "picked up," which is why it was probably pretty easy for you to dump this little guy on the side of the road somewhere. Did you at least pick a parking lot, where maybe he'd be found by a nice family? Did you leave him a cheeseburger or something to distract him while you drove away?
Don't worry. Your puppy is safe now with us. In another 8 weeks, you won't even recognize him. He's going to have a wonderful life, and we'll always know that when we could have chosen any puppy we wanted, we chose him. Or maybe, somehow, he chose us.
I'm sure you learned nothing from your ordeal, except maybe how easy it is to throw things away that don't suit you. How many others turned a blind eye to a stray, mangy puppy? Yet he survived - which means that there were some kind souls who tossed him some food along the way, too. Maybe some passers-by, knowledgeable enough to know that mange isn't contagious, even gave him a few pats on the head before they had to get back in their cars. How many complete strangers wished your puppy good luck?
He's found his way home. Today is only day one, but it's day one of the rest of his life. He's sleeping peacefully and soon the rest of the family will wake up and come out to tell him good morning. He's got a family now, and life is going to be great.
Wishing you all a Merry Christmas. If you want to talk puppies, demodex, rescue, etc., drop me a line. I'm more than happy to talk puppies all day long. I'll be updating again soon, so stay tuned. :-)