Duke showed up in the night deposit box at the Sacramento City Pound with a note giving many details about him, including that he had been fighting with their other male Bouvier (probably also not neutered) and that the owner had been bitten twice trying to break up the fights. This was enough to get Duke irrevocably condemned as a "dangerous" dog, who could not be released to Rescue. I went to see him and what I saw was a very frightened dog. I begged for his life, for him to be released to my Rescue. All I was able to obtain was a week reprieve in which to try to locate the owner, who had signed him/herself as "J. Johnson", and pursuade the owner to come and re-claim the dog and turn it over to me. I made over a hundred unsuccessful phone calls to every number listed to any J***** Johnson in the Sacramento area.(There were over a hundred of them.) Meanwhile the membership of Len Gaska's
list deluged the Pound, the Mayor, and the media with e-mail, phone calls, etcdemanding that Duke be properly evaluated and/or released to me. Ultimately we were sucessful. I had to sign a prodigious waiver that basically said that I'd been told he was dangerous , but the pound and city and county would have zero liability if he harmed or killed me. I did a little obedience testing in front of some of the staff, showing that he was calm, trusting, and quite compliant. They let me take him.
Truely "it took a village" to save Duke's life !
Arriving home , since he was a mature reproductively intact male dog and had a history of fighting with another male and thus might do the same with my Bonesy, I installed him in my kennel run rather than bringing him straight into the house. Unfortuneately, probably due to fatigue, I neglected to put a snap through the flip-flop latch that closed the kennel run. Duke soon escaped.. I discovered him missing but couldn't find him in the dark night. Later a phone call came from a vet in Woodland (about a dozen miles north of Davis). Animal Control had brought Duke in and the vet saw my phone number on his collar. Duke had traveled 7 miles into Davis and got hit by a car (years later I learned it had been a Police car) and had a broken leg. The vet offered to do the needed orthopedic surgery the next day, and he said he would have done that even if the dog's owner was unknown because Duke was just too nice to be killed. I thanked him profusely but said I wanted my own vet to do it. (The vet had already stabilized the leg, ie put a temporary splint on it.) Next day I collected Duke and then my own vet called in a renown orthopedic surgeon to do the surgical repair, which proved to be more complicated than the Woodland vet had imagined. He also got neutered at the same time.
Duke did his recovery weeks living in my back room, apart from the other dogs. I slept with him on alternate nights and spent a lot of time with him during the days. Then we began slowly starting his walks and his introduction to my own dogs. He got along just fine with all my dogs.
Duke proved to be a very normal dog who gets along well with dogs and people and is no more dangerous than the average dog, indeed probably much less so than the average dog. I found a wonderful adopter for him , who unfortunately died unexpectedly about a year later. He went to a second adopter, but there were a few problems, so he came back to me. Thus Duke wound up with me permanently, and we were totally happy together. The photo was taken by Ellen Haro, my Obedience coach and Rescue mentor, and it shows our relationship beautifully.
One Saturday night Duke's breathing started to sound a little strange. Over the next hour it got worse and I could see something was really wrong. Time for one of those late night runs to the UC Davis VMTH for an Emergency admission. The chief ER vet on duty was Dr Joan Teitler, who used to be my primary care vet before she went back to the VMTH. She kept Duke alive and oxygenated until morning when a bronchoscopy revealed and removed a large wad of vegetation from his airway. (They saved it to show to me. Horrible !) Thank you, Joan, for keeping him "Saturday Night Live" instead of dead. !
UPDATE : Duke lived to be 14 and a half and was able to enjoy his life until very near the end. Five years after his original rescue, at 13 years old, he was getting a bit creaky, but he was always a sweet gentle dog and is still enjoying life. During his last year , his rear legs became weaker and weaker and he needed more and more help from me, but he was still very happy otherwise. Finally his elbows gave out and became very painful, painful enough that he was finally willing to show his pain. X-ray showed that there was no cartilage left in his elbow joints, and there was no way (at that era) to relieve the pain of bone-on-bone grinding. That's when I let him go in peace.
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