Rescuing my Papillon
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.
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.