As a new contributor to our Happy Tails Blog, I thought it was only right that I start with my own most recent happy tale.
In January, I became the proud FOREVER FOSTER PARENT of a little dog that I named Mr. Christmas when he arrived as a stray just before the December 25th holiday at the Rogue Valley Humane Society. He had been robbed of his dignity through serious neglect and needed a name that was respectful, fun, and instantly made it known to the whole world that he had VALUE. I have named dogs for many years and I can say that I have never received a more positive reaction than I have gotten to this one name for one special dog.
When we first met him Mr. Christmas’s fur was matted from head to toe and flea-infested. My strongest initial memory was of the fleas crisscrossing the area around his nose and eyes. I shuddered at how uncomfortable that would be for a minute let alone the days, weeks, months, and (possibly) years that this had been his reality. And for a little dog his smell could have justified its own zip code. He had a mouthful of rotten teeth and a strong ammonia smell from urine-saturated fur. His rear end looked like it belonged to another species: the feces that matted his tail and made him unable to move it looked like a piece of armor—solid, crusty, and prehistoric-looking. Additionally, his rectum was prolapsed, his body was severely malnourished, he had never been neutered, and he had no muscle tone in his hind legs. In the days to come we would discover a urinary tract infection, an ulcer developed in his left eye, and his liver was not working as well as it should. But, these obstacles proved to be nothing but anthills because Mr. Christmas has SPIRIT!
Mr. Christmas’s road to good health did not happen overnight and he was helped by many hearts: the staff and volunteers at RVHS and Dr. Glenn Bowman and Dr. Margaret Forsberg and their staff at Valley Animal Hospital all made it possible.
Two dogs, both adopted from RVHS, immediately recognized his seniority and treated him with respect from the start. Each welcomed him in their own way—Huey offered to play and Blue Boy, sweetly (and without precedent), rolled his favorite ball to Mr. Christmas. Burdened by a cone to keep him from rubbing his eye Mr. Christmas was not in the mood to play. But, Huey and Blue Boy continue to make him welcome. They never bother him when he eats. They don’t run into him when they ricochet around the house. And Blue Boy, in particular, is very good about checking up on him and keeping him company.
I never got to see Mr. Christmas in his physical prime, but there are still things he can do better than ever—like making people happy and eliciting smiles. And he loves to be in the thick of things—at the office, in the kitchen, at an elementary school assembly, and mingling with young and old during the Home Show at the fairgounds as an RVHS ambassador.
Helping a senior dog was something I always wanted to do. I know my heart will break one day. I also know that my heart has never been so full. I will lose Mr. Christmas physically one day, but that will not be the end of our story. We will be together always.
At this time in his life it is rewarding just to enjoy Mr. Christmas and his tail. He wags it and, sometimes, while he sleeps it moves on its own—it’s a Happy Tail.