“Hi, Fred,” my daughter tries out our adopted dog’s new name as we are leaving the vet’s office. He was in such rough shape physically that we dropped in to have him checked out before heading home. Dr. B prodded and poked and opened his tiny mouth affirming what I already suspected. Even though Fred looked like an ancient dog with his wispy fur and spindly legs on a too-long body, he was a young dog with adolescent teeth. Probably a year or so old but seriously neglected. We wait on pins and needles for Dr. B to come back into the examination room, my daughter holding this quivering mass of puppy.
“Heartworm test negative!” he exclaims handing me a fresh bottle of antibiotics and a tube of ointment. “Two a day until they are gone and plenty of high-calorie dog food and freshwater and he should be good as new.” He then instructs me to hold pressure on the small cherry-like protrusion highly visible in the inside corner of Fred’s right eye. “Put ointment on it a couple of times a day and hold pressure on it when you can. This should keep it from getting worse, kind of pushing it back under the lid. We can surgically repair it if it gets bothersome.” Surgery will be the last resort option...which is good news.
We thank Dr. B profusely, proceeding to check out and then, once again, load up in the car—my daughter holding Fred tight, and drive the remaining mile home. We have high hopes that Dingo, always a little quirky, and Buddy, always rumpled, dusty, and lovable, will accept him as their new leader or at least a new friend.
Pushing the garage door opener starts a cacophony of joyous barking from inside the house. I walk ahead and crack the door that opens into the kitchen. “Who wants a new puppy?” I ask as we walk in with a now growling and shaking Fred. Blank stares emanate from Buddy and Dingo as we sit on the couch, Fred in my lap, for introductions. Dingo feigns disinterest after a quick sniff directed toward Fred but Buddy begins to get excited.
“Welcome, Fred!” he barks as he proceeds to show Fred all of the cool things a dog can do at our house. Buddy runs back and forth itching his sides on the leather sofa; all the while casting glances at Fred to be sure he is watching. He brings a toy over, laying it on the couch in front of the still growling Fred. “This is the water bowl!” as he, still looking sideways at Fred, runs over and begins to take largely exaggerated laps of water from the newly filled water dish. He prances back over to us, mouth still dripping and face in a wide smile. “Wanna play?” Fred’s growling ceases as he tentatively begins to chew on the gift in front of him, Buddy’s favorite toy. Dingo glances over, feigned disinterest disappearing as his tail starts to beat a slow rhythm on the hardwood floor. “I guess you’re okay, Fred,” he begrudgingly whines. Fred creeps off of the couch and curls up in the little makeshift blanket-bed my daughter has placed on the floor between Buddy and Dingo, the spot usually occupied by Neo until his recent passing. The stars are realigned and order is restored. Two 60-pound beasts have found a new 10-pound but fearless leader.
Now the hard part...placing that phone call to my husband, still out of town. He said he didn’t want that little sick dog when we first spotted him at the shelter. Not a fan of lapdogs. Little does he know how his life and this household is about to be transformed by taking a chance on this doomed little guy. Welcome home, Fred.
By Lisa H. Owens
Inspired by true events
(Click to read Part 5)