This is the success story of Oscar, our rambunctious, mischievous, smart, and utterly charming beagle boy, whom I found as a very sad, sick, and malnourished adult beagle after Christmas, 2004. As I write this, June 2005, he's snoozing happily on a pile of blankets on the sofa after an adventuresome morning of visiting friends (both human and canine) in the neighborhood. I can hardly believe his transformation.
Back in December, not knowing how sick he might be, I took him to Austin's Town Lake Animal Shelter, where no one claimed him. I visited him there, though, and learned that Hound Rescue was hoping to rescue him, but didn't have enough foster parents to make it happen. So, my husband, Randy, and I offered to take care of him until Hound Rescue could find him a permanent home.
Then we learned he was heartworm positive, and "high positive" at that. This was growing into a much more involved deal than we had imagined, but I had found him, after all, and I felt responsible. We agreed to treat him. When we sprung him from the Town Lake pokey, on the same day he was neutered, he was so skinny you could see his hip bones. His coat was dry, his tail was permanently tucked between his legs, and he wouldn't make eye contact, much less respond to our voices. He coughed a lot, and barely ate anything. He had no concept of house training, or play. I think both of us worried that this pitiful dog was beyond saving, though neither of us would admit it.
Soon, though, he began to thrive on nourishing food, positive reinforcement, reasonable boundaries, and love. He learned how to play with our other dog, a rescued basset mix named Gidget. He quit dashing out the door and peeing in the house. The tail began to wag, he began to fatten up a bit, and we could swear he smiled when he was excited. And then we received another blow--his liver enzymes were so elevated (perhaps due to malnutrition or toxins he had ingested on the street) that treating him for heartworms would likely kill him. Our local low-cost clinic, Animal Trustees of Austin, recommended a course of the herb milk thistle, and amazingly, within a few weeks, his levels had normalized.
And so we began the treatment--two shots of Immiticide, on consecutive days. The first day, he seemed fine. The second day, when I picked him up from the clinic, he was extremely lethargic and sore. The next week, he barely moved except to tremble and shake. It was pretty scary. The second week, he seemed better, and by the third week, he was feeling so fine that we wondered how in the heck we were going to keep him calm for three more weeks.
At some point in there, we decided to adopt him formally, though my husband says he knew all along we'd end up keeping him. He's truly a great little boy--friendly to other dogs, children, and adults. He's stubborn and smart, inquisitive and so cute we can hardly stand it sometimes. He shows virtually no signs that he was ever abused. We honestly can't believe he's the same sad little dog we found six months ago.Today, he had his follow-up heartworm test, and he's negative. It's time to celebrate with a peanut-butter Kong! Thanks to everyone at Hound Rescue for helping this happen. --Love, Lori, Randy, Oscar, and Gidget