2011-10-26 / Columnists

Pets, Pets, Pets

Here’s a different type of ghost story for Halloween – one about a trio of albino, and presumed blind, puppies rescued by a group that lives up to its name. Above & Beyond English Setter Rescue (A&B) takes in dogs that few would give a second look; in doing so, this breed rescue saved the lives of these tiny white waifs. Without Above & Beyond, the pups would truly be “ghosts” by now. They never could have survived.

“Pets” readers may recall Above & Beyond (www.esrescue.org) from several columns about our beloved English Setter “Quinn,” rescued too late from a NYC shelter. Right after Christmas 2009, Quinn surfaced under a car in the Bronx in kidney failure from untreated Lyme disease. Quinn was cherished by many in the few weeks we cared for him, and died peacefully in PA with his wonderful hospice parents, Eileen and Tom from A& B. After his death, we traced a second microchip that had migrated to his chest to South Africa, but we were never able to verify how Quinn wound up in the Bronx. (See Beacon “Pets” online 3/18/10.)

“Angel” wearing her Doggles. “Angel” wearing her Doggles. Eileen Gibson is the treasurer and an A & B “foster failure” (which is an affectionate term to describe compassionate folks who fall in love with temporary placement pups and adopt them). This English Setter rescue takes dogs from all over the U.S. She and Tom already have the “twins”, sibling Setter pups found last year by the side of the road in Waco, Texas. Callie, the female, is deaf; her brother Wiley acts as her ears so both had to stay together. They are now obedience school grads.

One Tuesday last month, a Kentucky shelter posted an albino Setter trio on Petfinder, saying the three to four-week-old puppies were reported to be blind, but could hear. (Both senses were a concern. Albino English Setters are uncommon, but white dogs of certain breeds like Boxers can be congenitally deaf.) A&B committed to them the next day because they knew blind pups didn’t stand a chance in a rural shelter. By Saturday, Eileen, who had no intention of fostering, met the transport van in Harrisburg.

Albino English Setter pups. Albino English Setter pups. The kids- Amos, Andee and Angel- were in a cat carrier, and at that moment Eileen became their foster Mom. In two weeks they went from lapping Esbilac (formula) to munching kibble mush. Angel, developmentally behind, has developed a taste for salmon in her baby food.

The pups soon demonstrated they had vision, despite immature and sun-sensitive eyes. Angel, the runt and the prodigy, stacks her toys carefully, and spies birds in the sky like a true Setter. There is no doubt that they can all see, especially since Eileen has outfitted them with “Doggles” to protect their blue eyes and red pupils when outside. Chin and head straps keep these shades on, and Angel looks so Hollywood in her leopard skin frames.

However, during that first month, the albino gang, especially Angel, had to overcome a series of health obstacles before they could frolic in the sun. These ownersurrendered pups were in two KY shelters. They arrived in PA with roundworm and coccidia, a bacterial infection. Angel had blisters on her delicate pink tummy. Several days later, all three broke with kennel cough, so they were isolated at Peacock Bridge training facility in Reading, the twins’ alma mater, where Josey the kennel manager became their second Mom. Josey hasn’t decided whether she will be adopting Amos or Andee.

It soon became apparent that Angel was walking with her back legs splayed like outriggers. She couldn’t support her weight. X-rays revealed she was suffering from an elbow luxation which means her elbow was dislocated. Her bones were fine; she had no fractures or congenital defects. An orthopedic specialist at N.E. Veterinary Referral Hospital explained that she was too young for the usual fix of invasive pins and screws because these devices would destroy her growth plates. So instead, he suggested rigging Angel with a spica splint, a metal bar with a rounded part supported by bandages wrapped around her neck, shoulder and body. He had never done this procedure on a pup so young.

Angel got her splint on October 6 when she was about five-weeks-old, and since she would need anesthesia to manipulate her joint back in position, Eileen officially adopted her. She wanted Angel to “belong” to someone during this critical point in her young life. Afterwards Eileen had to cut the bandages twice to redo them because tiny Angel was growing. She was supposed to wear the splint for two weeks, but the specialist took it off a few days early and instead restricted her exercise for two more weeks. This means her siblings are staying with Josey for now. In the meantime, Angel (all seven pounds of her) continues to recover, entertaining herself by arranging her toys in her Great Dane size crate and wearing her leopard Doggles, while nibbling on her “Miss Porkie” snout in the sunshine. Soon the albino trio will be reunited for playtime.

Above & Beyond’s mission is to put English Setters’ welfare first and foremost. Quinn became the canine guardian angel, perhaps a friendly ghost, to those rescuers, fortunate enough to have met him. He inspires everything we do. A frame with Quinn’s photo, his plaster of Paris paw print, and a lock of his fur sits by my computer. It was a gift from Eileen. I am absolutely certain that our Quinn is smiling down from the Rainbow Bridge upon Amos, Andee, and, of course, little Angel.

For Adoption at Babylon Town Shelter (631-643-9270) Lamar St. W. Babylon: “Strega Nona”#20785 a pretty longhaired gray & white kitten is getting into the Halloween spirit. She’s grown up at the shelter. “Abby” is a Cane Corso puppy, rescued by kind feral cat caretakers. She and her sister (already adopted) were terrified and have made lots of socialization progress.

Female: “Mae” perfect Pit mix; lovely Foxhound; “Honey” the Husky; “Pristine” the white cat.

Male: “Cujie” stray Pomeranian- the vet put his pelvis back together.

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