2015-11-25 / Columnists

Pets, Pets, Pets

The Pilgrims would be proud of “Clementine’s” progress. There are many 2015 adoptions to be thankful for, but one dog rises above the rest because her physical and emotional transformation was made possible by the assistance, commitment and love of so many people. Clementine traveled a long way from that shivering, Rottweiler puppy with twisted legs who belly-crawled out of the shelter truck in mid-May to the frolicking dog racing around her upstate yard now.

It took over two months to put her surgical plan in motion. In May “Clementine,” then nine months old, was surrendered to Babylon Animal Shelter by her owner, a backyard breeder. Her front right leg was quite crooked so he wasn’t going to be able to sell her. His homemade pedigree papers had the name “South Paw,” which suggests her bone problem had surfaced earlier. The shelter renamed her “Clementine.” All four generations on this pedigree documented inbreeding and a limited gene pool. Later we learned inadequate nutrition added to her bone problem. As she waited for her operation, her left front leg weakened and became crooked too.

Clementine with her foster mom Mindy Clementine with her foster mom Mindy This poor, sweet pup had coexisted with many Rotties, yet had limited experience with the rest of the world before coming to the shelter. I happened to be there when she arrived. She was terrified in the truck, and had to be coaxed and lifted out. I was sitting on the grass waiting for her as she inched into my lap, buried her head and started licking me. It’s very hard to walk away from a canine introduction like that. We didn’t. Now to thank all who helped Clementine’s miracle materialize before our eyes:

*Aunt Kristin, Babylon Shelter animal control officer, secured her surrender and became Clementine’s first friend from the get-go. She chronicled the pup’s condition in photos and videos, advocated for her complex surgery, transported her back and forth to the specialists as well as set up and managed the online Giving Grid that raised thousands of dollars for Clementine’s care.

Clementine at the vet with Aunt Kelly Clementine at the vet with Aunt Kelly *Aunt Christina, kennel person at the shelter, spent so much time with Clementine, helping her to get over her fears of walking on new surfaces and encountering unfamiliar people. By the time Clementine left for her operation, she was the shelter’s dog-tester dog. This means she would meet new dogs to determine if they were dog-friendly like she is.

*Aunt Patricia read about Clementine’s plight online. She recently lost her own Rottie, but knew she couldn’t adopt Clementine because of steep stairs into her home. Pat drove from Queens several times each week to visit and socialize Clementine in the shelter yard. She made a generous donation to the Giving Grid. Pat would also meet us at the specialist to see Clementine when she came for rechecks or procedures.

*Uncle Chris, Babylon Shelter director, sent Clementine to the specialists for pre-exams and x-rays. He made special financial arrangements with the Town and her vets so we could raise the money for her surgery.

*The Giving Grid Donors contributed to the online plea for the funds to pay for Clementine’s complicated surgery and after care. Many of these kind people never met Clementine but were touched by her story. We surpassed our $5,000 goal because of the kind donors.

*Last Hope took Clementine after her surgery. She never spent a night at the Wantagh Adoption Center because Aunt Letty, Last Hope’s dog coordinator, had a foster family waiting for Clementine as soon as she left the hospital.

*Her orthopedic surgeons at NY Veterinary Specialists in Farmingdale-Dr. Arnold Lesser and Dr. Patrick Maguire- operated on Clementine for six hours, taking wedges of bone out of the straight side of each front leg, and adhering the pulverized bone to the crooked side with pins, a plate and two different external fixators so the bone matter would fuse and bend correctly. They saw her each week for bandage changes, x-rays, manipulation of her fixators or removal of hardware. Thank you also to the caring hospital staff.

*The Seltzbergs, Clementine’s wonderful foster family, took her into their home during her recuperation in early August. She stayed for over two months where foster Mom Mindy would administer her pain meds, and constantly change and cover her bandages with soccer socks. The whole family showed Clementine the joys of being part of a real family, plus luxuries like sleeping on the couch, and playing in the yard. Their Wheaten Terrier welcomed Clementine with open paws. She learned not to fear car rides and to go on leisurely walks as her legs grew stronger. The Seltzbergs grew quite fond of Clementine and were so sad to see her go.

*Aunt Kelly from NJ read Clementine’s post on Babylon Shelter’s Petfinder. We forgot to update it which turned out serendipitous. She called to find out more for her mother upstate NY who was grieving for her Rottie who had recently died. Kelly felt Clementine would be a perfect pet for her Mom. Kelly happened to be a former Army dog handler with incredible insight into the canine psyche. She is often impressed about how dogs learn from each other.

Kelly and her twin sons came to LI to meet Clementine. It was love at first sight. Weeks later, she took the pup home to NJ for several weeks, and gradually conditioned her to overcome her head shyness. Clementine became fast friends with her Border Collie and Terrier. When she brought her back to LI for the last cast removal, we finalized Clementine’s adoption. Clementine made a stop at Babylon Shelter to thank her friends and show off her “new” legs.

*Forever Mom Bonnie and extended family near Utica have embraced Clementine at their home upstate. She runs with her Rottie and Boxer sisters on acres of property surrounded by electric fence. She’s made friends with the cats. Even the horse plays with the dogs. Clementine will learn to ride in a hay wagon soon. Kelly, the boys and their pups spend summers and holidays there. This Thanksgiving, Clementine will be celebrating her first real holiday with normal legs and a loving family.

For Adoption at Babylon Shelter (631-643-9270) Lamar St, W. Babylon: It seems to be an appropriate time to adopt a handsome kitten named “Pumpkin” 5-486. “Lillian” 15-662 is a sweet Pit mix. She’s wondering if blondes have more fun, do they also get adopted faster?

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