Artie, my little Papillon, and his Tale of Survival

Rescuing my Papillon

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Artie at his cutest. Photo By: The Photon Wrangler.

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Artie finally learned to behave on the leash, mostly. Photo By: The Photon Wrangler.

I took care of a Papillon in 2003 and knew that when I got a small dog it would be a Papillon.  In 2008, I was ready to adopt.  Artie was the fourth dog I applied to adopt.  The rescue lets foster parents match their charge with potential parents and I finally measured up with Artie.  In retrospect, I’m not sure what that says about me.  I drove to Minneapolis to meet his foster parents who came down form Northern Wisconsin.  Out he came into a Taco Bell parking lot on a leash two kids were fighting over.  He was bouncing, spinning, yapping, jumping and circling at the end of the leash.  I thought he was adorable.

In my five page application I had indicated that I wanted a young and healthy dog but that I did not require that it be trained or house broken.  I can do those things, I thought.  He proved to be a bit of a  challenge.  He had separation anxiety and barrier frustration.  I gave up on crate training when I came home to his little nails bloodied because he was trying to dig out of the crate.  I adjusted to him as much as he adjusted to the house and me.  It took a good six months to house train him and that was with him tethered to my side 24/7.

Two German Shepherds and a Papillon meet

By February 2010 everyone was getting along just fine.  Artie went out one day into the yard which had and invisible fence.  I don’t know if he escaped the fence or if the neighbors two dog aggressive German Shepherds escaped theirs but either way, they met up and it almost killed Artie.  There were dozens of wounds and it was described to me as a “curtain of blood.”  He was rushed to a vet in town that happened to be open despite it being Sunday afternoon. I was working and I got to the vet’s office just in time to get him,  his medication, and pay the bill.  He was sent home with dog arthritis medication, a tube in his chest and a vague prognosis that he might make it.  On the 15 minute drive home I knew he was dying.  I took him to Airport Animal Emergi-Center emergency vet.  The emergency vetrinarian told me that Artie would have died if I had not brought him in.  There were wounds that were not sewn shut, including one that allowed air to escape his chest cavity.  The vet showed a video he took showing air moving in and out of the wound by holding a piece of cotton in front of it.  Other wounds had hair sewn into them.   He also said that he rarely needs to place chest tubes and that injuries as severe as Artie’s come in about once a month and this came from a veterinarian who specializes in emergency medicine and sees the most extreme injuries.  The good news was that there was every reason to think his chances of recovery were good.  They kept him overnight.  When I picked him up the next morning he was shaved from neck to tail and the stitches and wounds were so numerous that I never tried to count them.  He also had a narcotic patch and was heavily sedated to manage the pain.  A long way removed from the dog aspirin he was given initially.

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Artie would not wear a coat or sweater or sit near anyone. Here he's curled up in a chair across the room from me.

He spent the next week at our regular vet, St. Francis’ Pet Hospital, (Artie and I can’t say enough good things about St. Francis’s Pet Hospital and the staff there) during the day for monitoring and at home being hovered over by me at night.  After the narcotic pain patch wore off he seemed to be in a lot of pain despite strong pain medication and sedatives.  One morning when he went out to go to the bathroom he ran straight under the front porch and would not come out.  It was 6:00am and about 20 degrees.  No amount of enticing, pleading or bribing would coax him out.  He growled and bit at me when I tried to get to him and moved away if I tried to go under the porch after him.  He was under the porch in the freezing cold, virtually bald, his wounds were dirty, he was obviously terrified and I was at a loss.  This went on for nearly two hours.  My brother, Matt, came over to save the day, and Artie.  After Artie bit him and drew blood, Matt got a long 1×1 board for himself and one for me.  He then crawled under the porch, which runs the length of the house, and used his board to block Artie from doubling back behind him and force him towards me at the other end.  We both used our boards to close off his retreat and slowly shrink his avenue of escape to an opening right in front of me on the outside of the porch.  When he came out I grabbed his collar and I’ll never forget how he bit, growled and cried.  It was awful.  His disposition did not begin to improve for about a week and he was very leery of anyone touching him for months afterwards.  The best explanation I heard for his behavior from the time he went under the porch to his return to normal (Artie’s version of normal at least) was that the poor little guy was trying to hide from the pain.

When Artie lept from the floor to the back of the couch for the first time month’s later I knew he was fully recovered.

Papillon Power

Papillon picture in black and white

Artie, my Papillon, surveying his kingdom from the back of the couch. Photo By: The Photon Wrangler.

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Artie earning his keep guarding The Critter Mobile.

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Hanging out in the hammock. Photo By: The Photon Wrangler.

 

 

 

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Taking a well deserved rest after a hard day at work.

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Artie showing of the coat he happily wears these days.

Molly the Super Collie 1998-2010

Molly - My Girl

Long May You Run by Neil Young – Long My You Run Molly

I did not intend to start this introduction to our family with a sad story of loss, but I can’t speak in Molly’s voice any more, she left us today.  She died peacefully in my arms, in the car, (her second favorite activity was riding in the car) after playing her last round of frisbee, (her first favorite activity) modified for a dog who can’t quite get around.  We had a small burial and wake tonight and I am grateful for my pet loving friends and family who could come on short notice to help ease our sadness.

I wrote this essay for a dog essay contest about a year ago.  If you knew her you won’t be surprised by her antics and you probably know most of these stories but if you didn’t know her maybe you’ll see just a bit why she was so special to me and I hope it will give you a happy remembrance of a special pet who is gone.

The Adventures of Molly the Super Collie

When my mom gave me Molly the Border Collie twelve and a half years ago I had no idea how much trouble she would be.  Luckily, she has been even more fun.

I made the mistake of getting her while I lived in an efficiency apartment.  Border Collie’s are smart and very active.  Her first big adventure came on one of the first times out of the crate while I worked in the evening.  She leapt through a screen and played with the kids who lived in the complex until the pads of her feet were raw and bleeding from running alongside their bikes.  When I returned home she was waiting at the front door thoroughly exhausted for the first time in her short life.  We added rollerblading to her regular Frisbee work outs after that.

Molly's natural state for about 8 years.

As quickly as I could manage we moved to a house in a quiet neighborhood with a small yard.  I thought this would be just what she needed.  She soon learned to jump the fence.  Most of the time she only went over it into the adjoining yards to steal the neighbor kids’ and dogs’ toys and bring them home to add to her collection.  She did disappear once and was found within the hour, one street over, playing with a neighbor kid.  I installed a tie out system for her after this foray.

My mom has a cabin in Southern Illinois adjoining a national forest where we horseback ride.  Many people take their dogs along on these rides.  Molly with her energy was a perfect fit for joining us.  She loved it as much as my mom’s dogs did, and followed right along with little expeditions into the woods to follow enticing scents.  Half way through our ride, about as far as we were going to get from home, we realized Molly was missing.  We asked every passing group of riders and finally learned a dog who looked like her was following a group from a nearby campground.  After returning home I drove to the campground and found a little girl who was throwing her flip flop for Molly to fetch.  Molly has not been invited on a ride since, much to her disappointment.

I moved to a house in downtown that had a yard that could contain Molly.  The house was a double so we shared a yard with the other tenant.  The gate was left open one day.  Our other two dogs and the neighbor dog seemed not to care but Molly was long gone by the time the open gate was discovered.  She had recently pulled her tags off and I had neglected to replace them.  We searched everywhere with growing concern.  After a week of putting out flyers, combing shelters and rescue groups and running newspaper ads I had given up hope.  I got a couple of calls that I could tell weren’t Molly over the phone.  Then I got a call from a lady who lived over 20 miles from us.  It sounded like Molly but I didn’t think she could be so far away.  I wanted to meet this dog anyway.  When I arrived she was there with a ball in her mouth, as happy as could be, as if nothing had happened.  It turned out that she had been drawn to a construction site that was just a few blocks from our house by all of the noise.  After she spent the day at the site a worker took her to his mother’s house where she happily fit right in.  He was as sad to see her go as I was happy to have her back.

Two and a half years ago my husband, the dogs and I moved to five partially wooded acres near the end of a long dead end street.  Our house sits back off of the road at the top of a ravine with a flood plain below it.  Many people on the street do not have fenced yards and most dogs stay close to home with very few exceptions.  We spent a couple of weeks supervising and training the dogs in the yard.  For two years they all three stayed on our property for the most part.  One day last May, I let the dogs out about 6am as usual.  When I left the house about 9am Molly did not run to meet the car, this was unusual but not unheard of.  I phoned my husband an hour or so later to see if she’d returned.  She had not.  The worry and panic I felt was familiar to me.  I got home and went through the same routine of flyers, shelters and newspapers.  We had neighbors and family helping us search the woods, paying special attention to kids and construction sites.  At least she had tags with our address on them this time, they also had my husband’s cell phone, my cell phone and my mother’s cell phone since the dogs often stay with my mom when we travel.  There was no sign of her for two days.  Then my mom called me quite excited and said she had received a message from a man who said he had rescued our dog from White River while boating.  She had stayed on the boat all day as there was no cell phone reception to call.  She had apparently been perfectly happy to boat until they approached a small beach about 7 miles from where they had picked her up.  As the beach drew closer she became frantic to get off of the boat so they turned her loose where she wanted and called when they had reception to tell us where she was.  I headed out of the house to hike down to the beach and look for her.  I found her on the porch wet, dirty and exhausted.  There’s no way to know, but I suspect she was chasing a floating ball or stick and got swept away.  It’s possible that she spent a day and a night in the river before the boat picked her up.  Shortly after this adventure we installed an underground fence.

Molly has slowed down a bit with her advancing age.  I think that we have solved the problem of her adventures but with her, you never know.  If there’s excitement to be found she will likely find a way to join it.  I can only hope that if she does, she will once again find her way home.

9 October 2010

She is now at home in the yard she loved and in the hearts of those who loved her.

Molly plays her last round of frisbee.

 

Goodbye to my best friend.