2009-12-23 / Columnists

Pets, Pets, Pets

by Joanne Anderson

The calamity behind this Christmas column started a month ago. Although the story has no Santas or reindeer, there are a host of Pug angels, none with visible wings, who sprang into action on behalf of 8 elderly dogs- 5 of them Pugs, 3 of them blind- all left behind after their owners died. When a family member showed up at an animal hospital demanding they all be “put to sleep”, the vet refused and instead took them in. He is Angel #1.

Days before Thanksgiving, Dr. Bob Corona got an unexpected visit. A relative arrived with 8 filthy carriers. Inside were the 5 Pugs, 2 “Pooshes” (aka Poodle/Shih Tzus that were matted beyond canine recognition) and a Tibetan Spaniel. The dogs ranging in age from 8 to 13 years must have been living (just barely) in these crates. She wanted the dogs euthanized because their caretakers were deceased and their house about to be foreclosed. It seems that the late owners had been clients at his All Pets Hospital long ago but Dr. Corona had not seen any of these dogs in years. He looked into their cloudy eyes and couldn’t fulfill the woman’s request, so he had her sign the smelly crew over to him.

Posing Pugs -Odie and Walter. Posing Pugs -Odie and Walter. First the oldsters needed to be housed, cleaned up and assessed. Vet clinics are busy with boarding pets over holidays. Space would be tight. If need be they could go to Babylon Shelter, but the small dog room there was full too. Plus the arrival of 8 needy seniors would be a real shelter burden, so the All Pets staff angels began shaving the messy dogs and determining which would be comfy together in big cages. They coaxed the frightened but sweet, sightless Pugs outside for walkies-possibly their first leash stroll ever while the “Pooshes” spent the holiday weekend at a groomer’s home for finishing touches.

My Plan A was to write a Pets plea for homes right afterThanksgiving. Thatwas before the call to the Boxer Angel- Gary Berg- a remarkable rescue person who is best friend to homeless Boxers, but also to other smooshedface breeds. He is the “man behind the scenes” at Pug- Peke-Tzu Rescue, an umbrella affiliate of Boxer Angels Rescue (www.boxerangelsrescue.com), both part of the Mayor’s Alliance for NYC Animals. As director of intake, finance and transports for Boxer Angels, Gary pulls over 50 Boxers a year from NYC shelters besides saving LI waifs. Saturday he has 2 stray, emaciated Boxers leaving from Babylon Shelter. Our Blitzen Blizzard delayed their deliverance by a week.

Since Gary and his rescue network have helped countless Boxers, Bostons, Pugs, and Bulldogs that wind up in shelters or harm’s way, the Corona Crowd would be in the best of hands. We called off any alert, but somehow word still reached Pug cyberspace and frantic calls started coming into All Pets. Once the chatter calmed, Gary arranged so Pug-Peke-Tzu Rescue and Curly Tail Pug Rescue could share care of the 5 Pugs. One of Dr. Corona’s clients adopted “Jake Henry” the 10-year-old Tibetan Spaniel even before that national breed club responded.

The fact that there were 3 blind dogs including the Pug, “Odie”, blind and deaf, didn’t deter Pug Rescue. I chuckled when Gary remarked that “Pug-Peke-Tzu was on a first name basis” with a well-known LI veterinary ophthalmologist. Pug-Peke-Tzu and other volunteer groups that handle breeds with protruding eyes are accustomed to dealing with (and paying for) dogs suffering from vision problems. Gary’s partner, Tina Fancher, had offered to take Manley, the blind Boston Terrier profiled in Pets10/ 29/09. Visually-handicapped dogs adapt easily when near experienced caretakers. Two bubbly Methuselah Pugs from the group-“Walter” and blind “Elliot” are fosters with the Bergs while “Odie” is happy in Hicksville. Tina will foster the “Pooshes” upstate, if necessary.

As Gary says: “Chances are the older the rescued dog, the worse shape he is in, the longer it will take to address health issues and to find the special person who will welcome such a senior”, yet these 2 Pug Rescues via an intense application process have success finding such caring souls. While waiting for forever placement, the Pugs are in doting foster homes. It’s a win/win situation for the once neglected dogs.

Taking on 8 seniors at once could empty the coffers of any rescue. However, Dr. Corona kindly provided initial medical care- vaccines, heartworm tests, spay/ neuters, a mammary tumor removal, and a costly hernia operation. Curly Tail Pug Rescue of NY/MA (www. curlytailpugrescue.org) took the two 8 year old “babies” once Dr. Corona altered them and extracted teeth. The group’s founder Drea Peters while detailing the litany of medical woes now under control writes: “Our 2 are doing well….they are relearning how to be regular Pugs.” Overweight “Betty’s” breathing difficulties are slowly starting to improve; skittish “Morgan” seems to be learning to accept human affection. All five pugs are becoming reacquainted with toilet training, good food and love.

Smooshed-face breeds have heavenly helpers. It costs a fortune to keep these networks running. All 3 rescues helping the Corona Crowd rely on donations, foster homes and adopters. Each has a website and Petfinder listing. Please Google them to become their secret Santa.

“Elliot”, “Walter” and his siblings will never know they have guardian angels, or that the best thing that could ever have happened to them was that the lady chose to ask Dr. Corona to “put them down”. He lovingly started them on the road to recovery. Now the Pug Rescues will take them the rest of the way. Merry Christmas!

For Adoption at Oyster Bay Shelter (677-5784) Miller Pl. Syosset: The dogs, especially the lingering Pits, and cats would love a memorable Christmas nestled in a home. “Simba” #685 a petite Pit came in several months ago covered in grease and ticks; her collar imbedded. She is doing well with daily training courtesy of the rescue- Mixed Breeds In Need. How about a little “Coal” in your stocking? “Coal” #763 is an 8 week kitten, bottle fed at the shelter. The shelter will be closed from noon Christmas Eve through Christmas Day, but will re-open on Sat. Dec. 26th.

Cats: cinnamon “Ernest” #777; black “Salem” #668. Dogs: “Venus” #826-small Lab mix; “Sheena” #756- small Shepherd.

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