Terry's dog Peter arrived at our surgery late one afternoon in the arms of small girl surrounded by her friends. He wore a small pink collar and was shaking with fear as the young girl explained that her parents wouldn't let them keep him. She had found him in a local park. Our nurses took him in and as we are required to surrender stray dogs to the local imponding authority they were contacted. The nurse that put him in the kennels returned to say he was vicious and attacked her as she tried to give him some food. I went downstairs and tried to feed him. Instead of being savage Peter as he was to be called was starved. He was physically emaciated and at the sight of food dived head first into the bowl in an attempt to eat before the food could be removed. As I made a playful gesture he started trying to play. However I could not convince the nurses he was only hungry.
The next day the Dog Catcher arrived but instead of taking Pete told me there was an outbreak of Parvo virus at the pound and all pups were being euthanised on arrival. He didn't mind if we found him a home.
I took him home. This was a dog that at least looked slightly like a Doberman. Since my marriage our dogs had been a labrador cross, a Griffin terrier, a poodle and a kelpie. None had been Black and Tan.
He mixed well with our current Kelpie "Polly" however she was a little older and ensured that Peter treated her respectfully.
Alas, Brenda and I were going overseas and Peter's early life was at home with our youngest son. He developed a habit of always needing to be touched and liked nothing more than wanting to sit on your knee. Not to be recommended as he grew and grew. This also meant that Pete was not given the opportunity to socialise with dogs other than Polly.
After our return we were busy having just taken over complete ownership of the surgery and the dogs were left to their own devices. Something that happens to many dogs in our society. Pete had missed out on early appropriate socialistion.
The effect on Pete was disconcerting. When Brenda took him to a training club Pete was so traumatised he attempted to attack both the instructor and other dogs. He was tagged and collared as a vicious dog and was to be kept away from dogs and people.
In all my years as a Vet I had never had to deal with one of my dogs behaving like this. It was obvious that as you looked at Pete he was scared and afraid. His aggression was due to fear. His aggression was extremely scarey because he was very serious when he responded.
Brenda spent much time working with a group of DELTA accredited trainers in attempting to socialise Pete. We also spent a lot of time training and giving Pete skills to enable him to cope with strange dogs and people. This took time but Pete continued to improve and eventually reached the stage that he was confident enough to take out and carefully introduce to people and other dogs.
Pete was always watched to ensure he was safe. He was never allowed near our grandchildren although he interacted with them through the closed back door.
He became a great family dog and because I liked Dobes he became "my" dog and went everywhere with me even swimming. Swimming together was a great joy.
Then alas, he was seen to be limping.
There was a slight swelling on his right carpus (wrist). I took him to surgery after radiographs and a diagnosis of Fibrosarcoma a malignant tumour was confirmed. Radical amputation was the only option and gave him a 90% chance of survival. Chemotherapy and radiation were unlikely to be successful. His leg and shoulder blade were removed and Pete really started to teach us how to live. His response to this adversity was the same happy bright personality he always showed us. Within the month he was able to swim with me again. He showed no adverse behaviours due to the surgery and if anything became friendlier with strangers and people.
Then 16 months after the amputation his lymph nodes under his jaw were enlarged and again I went to surgery to biopsy and work up what was happening. Lymphosarcoma. A life expectancy of approximately 3 months. I was devastated. I could not accept that he should go. So, chemotherapy this time with and expectancy of approximately 6 months in remisison. He showed his scared behaviour every time he went into the surgery for his treatment. This was in spite of coming to work with me more often than not. It was a difficult time when he needed to be injected and he was always traumatised as we gowned up to administer the chemo. He knew what was to come.
He showed no adverse effects on the chemo went into remission. He was again my normal devoted Pete.
Alas 8 months after being in remission his nodes again became enlarged and he was out of remission. Chemo was implemented and this time oral meds used becaus ethe treatment via injections had distressed him so much. He has gone back into remission. We don't know for how long BUT Pete has taught us that in spite of what happend to take each day as it comes. His approach to adversity is one that fills us with admiration and one which we should all learn from.