I have always had pets in my life for as long as I can remember. I have fond memories of my granny fussing at me, because some dog or cat had followed me home from school. She would always warn" don't you bring another thing home from school with you!" I am an animal person, I always have been. I am the person who could be standing in a crowd of people and a stray dog or cat would come to me. That's why it is no great surprise that I am in the animal care profession.
Most people with the same love for animals usually want to be a vet. I was all for it, until I discovered that you have to put pets "down" that I couldn't handle! I get attached too easily. I am the person that gets weepy when I see an animal hit on the side of the road! It took me a long time to find this profession, but I would trade it for anything in the world! This way I get to love on them and send them back in the house, happy, fresh, fluffy and full of treats!
All of the pets that I have today were strays or pets that people had abandoned, Scruffy Dog was no different!
It was the summer of 2007, it was hot! My big dog and I had come back from our walk when he appeared. He was an unsightly mess! His coat was so matted it looked like dreadlocks. He had no distinguishing features, you couldn't tell what type of dog he was. All I know is that he was scared and looking for a place to escape the heat of the day. I placed a bowl of water outside of the gate and the big dog and I went into the house. I peered out the window to see what my little visitor was going to do. What I saw surprised me, he waited for a few minutes to make the coast was clear, then he eased past the water bowl squeezed into a small opening in the fence and hide under my car! I had no idea how long he had been doing that, but I knew I had to help him.
I waited for an hour or so before going back out, I walked to the gate picked the water bowl and took it to the back yard. in the shade. I added another bowl of food and walked back into the house and waited. Sure enough, he scrambled from underneath my car and quickly gobbled the food down. When I stepped on the porch with more food, he hesitated an waited for my next move. I filled the bowl several times and stood by him to watch him eat. All the time I was looking for a collar or something to indicate that he belonged to someone. There was nothing. Scruff was on the run or he had been dumped here, and I had to figure out what I was going to do with him.
I called my vet and told her what was going on, we set the appointment for a week. I wanted to see if someone in the neighborhood knew him or where he came from. Scruff would follow the Big Dog and and I on our walks. He always remained a safe distance away, but never too far from us. Occasionally, the Big Dog would stop and check behind us to see if the little fella was still there, he always was. He felt safe in the yard and he would sleep on the front yard underneath the tree. He wanted to be apart of our family and would follow us up there stairs trying to get in the house.
By the third day, I just couldn't take it. I was not getting any sleep up and down all night checking on Scruff to may sure he was safe. The next day called for a severe thunderstorm and since he hadn't be checked by the vet yet I could not expose him to my other animals, but I had to make sure that he was safe. I brought my equipment home from the shop and shaved him down. He had a tick logged in between his paw pad that was the size of a dime it was a wonder that he could walk at all! He had fleas, of course, his skin was a mess underneath all that matted hair, and the smell that came from his rump and his mouth almost made me lose my breakfast! What I discovered under all of those layers of neglected mess was a black miniature poodle! I shook my and and said my...my...you are a Scruffy Dog! That's how he got his name and it stuck!
After his flea bath, I showed Scruff how to use the pet door in the basement. I placed him inside and opened the flap from the outside several times. Scruff was smart as a whip! I stood at the top of the stairs and called him. He poked his head out of the flap, and it was all gravy from there! Over the next few days Scruff would let himself out, take himself for a walk and sit on the porch waiting for us to emerge. He had a great personality, well behaved and friendly if I told him it was okay, otherwise he was very cautious of strangers. He was the town cryer so to speak. If there was a noise or a person walking by Scruffy Dog was on duty protecting his new home!
Our visit to the vet was a bittersweet. His was administered shots, they drew blood and checked his heart and teeth. I pointed out the skin issues which I treated with a medicated shampoo but it was healing which was a good sign. To my relief, Scruff did NOT have heart worms, but he had a heart murmur and his teeth were in horrible shape and he was dehydrated! The best estimate that on his age was between 12-14 years old.
The plaque on his teeth was severe, his breath smelled like hot garbage and he would pant most of the time because the bacteria made his mouth hot. He would get that old man cough and a snot nose from the bacteria draining early in the morning and when he would wake from a nap. I was told that his teeth were more than likely the cause of his heart murmur, and that it was too risky to have him sedated to properly care for his mouth. We discussed over the counter solutions like oral cleaners that you put in the water and chews if he could tolerate them. I decided to go with Greenies(senior) so off to the pet store I went, looking for the miracle in a bottle that would reverse or at least halt the damage that had been done. He walked well on a leash and I let him pick out things in the store that he liked. He would look over his shoulder at me like "are you sure this is okay?" Even though he had bad teeth Scruff was a chewer! He would do some serious damage to a pig ear, and he favorite treat (next to McDonald's french fries) was his greenie!
Over the next 3-4 months Scruff's coat had begun to recover, revealing a lush soft black curly coat. I decided to enter him in a local grooming competition more or less to see how he could handle it. Scruff was amazing! I was so proud of him as he stood on the table and let the judges examine him without a peep! He struted his stuff around the arena like he had always been there! I really wish animals could talk, and tell you the tale of what they had been through, but for now Scruffy Dog was the King of the Hill!
He had a couple of bald spots that had not come back from the matting, so I had to work to enhance the texture of his coat to hide them. The next stop was California, and the Groom and Kennel Show. I knew Scruff could handle himself in the ring, but I wasn't sure about flying. Since he was a small dog I was able to take him on board the plane and store him under the seat. Once again, he handled it like a champ!
Our schedule was off, due to the time change so we had to work on his bathroom schedule. We were officially on vacation! So Scruff was allowed to sleep on the bed! I remember waking up and he was sprawled out at the foot of the bed snoring like a bull moose! The competition was awesome! Scruff did not place in the top 3, but I was very proud of him. He stood on the table like a true champion and the judges commented on his coat and mannerism. I cried, I was filled with so much pride knowing what he looked like 6 months earlier, and now he was standing with the creme of the crop. My little Scruffy Dog had gone from Rags to Riches, and he handled it gracefully!
The rest of the year was pretty much routine for Scruff. He would chase the cats every now and then, just to let them know who was boss. He was BFF's with my Big Dog! I still get tickled when I think of how Scruff would sound the alarm, and who ever was approaching would laugh at him until they saw his back-up, 115lb of muscular Rottweiler. Scruff seemed to get a kick out of that! He would stick his chest out, throw his head back and let out a deep bark with a little stomp at the end. I would get so tickled when I saw the two of them playing in the yard.
In the latter part of 2008 Scruff was starting to get sick off and on. It was not unusual for me to find his teeth around the house. I was taking back and forth to the vet and they would give him some antibiotics and he would be fine for a while. In February 2009, Scruff had is first seizure. It scared the daylights out of me! It happened so fast I didn't know what to do. I called the vet the next day, and Scruff was scheduled for more test. They discovered that the enzyme levels in his liver were high. We did more antibiotics, and 3 bottles of meds for him to take. Getting Scruff to take the pills were a job in itself! I tried everything, hot dogs, peanut butter, cheese you name it. He would find it and spit it out! I finally just had to force him to swallow it. I get concerned because the seizures kept coming, and they were happening more frequently. If he got excited, he would have a seizure. By the second week in February he was having at least two seizures a day that I knew of. I called the vet over the weekend and made an appointment to find out what we could do, but Scruff didn't make over the weekend. He must have had a seizure during the night and didn't come out of it. I found him at the foot of the sofa.
The vet said that the bacteria from his mouth had eventually just destroyed his liver, and started back washing through out his system which tiggered the seizures. He assured me that I had done all that I could have, but my heart felt like there was a hole in it. I packed all of his belongings in a tote, and put them away in the basement. The next day I found his favorite baby underneath bed and I cried all day. It was hard to believe that this little dog fit so perfectly into our family. It was like he had been with us all of his life. My Big Dog began chewing on his legs, when I took him to the vet, she told me that he was mourning for Scruff. The cats were mourning too. He made such a big impression on all of us. I keep his ribbon on my desk, and hope that his last few years on earth with us was good for him! He is sorely missed!
When I tell customers about the complete oral care package, my heart feels a pinch. In my mind I keep thinking if I had know about this product sooner, it may have saved Scruffy Dog's life. This experience has taught me that oral care for your pets is just as important as it is for us. If over looked the effects can be devastating! Have your pet's teeth check and cleaned at least twice a year, it could save their life!