By Deborah Schildkraut, Ph.D. Welcome to Adobe GoLive 6
It was a fateful day for one little elderly Chihuahua when Sue Stephens of Albuquerque found him. Sue was walking her dog Millie early in the morning on March 5th when she noticed a little ball of fur curled up in a tangle of ivy next to a wall across her street. She whistled to get the dog’s attention but there was no response. She crossed the street and approached the dog, a Chihuahua. It was immediately apparent by his behavior that he was elderly, blind and partially deaf. Sue called to her husband Gary for help. He brought food and water. The starving little dog devoured the food and drank some water. Sue tried to pick him up, but he bit her out of fear.
Not sure what to do, but not wanting to leave the vulnerable dog alone, Sue called Albuquerque Animal Control and sat on the curb to wait for their arrival. A neighbor, Michelle Nurnberg, had watched the events unfold, and offered her help. Michelle brought out a kennel carrier and some pepperoni. The scent of the enticing sausage lured the dog into the kennel. Safe in the carrier, Sue took the little guy home and cancelled her request for assistance from Animal Control. She decided to call the little fellow Lucky because he was lucky to have been found by Sue, who thoroughly loves and spoils her canines.
In the days following, Sue worked diligently to find the dog’s owner. She called all of the shelters and made “found dog” reports. She put an ad in the newspaper. Gary made posters and put them up all over town. Sue sent his picture out over her neighborhood association e-mail network. She even sent his photo to Steve Stucker, who featured the lost dog on his KOB-TV morning news program.
While she waited to hear from Lucky’s family, the little Chihuahua was making slow but steady progress. As Sue describes the events: “I couldn’t touch him for three days. I hand-fed him food and I realized he didn’t have any teeth except a few molars. I had to lure him out into the yard with canned dog food. On the fourth day I could rub his ears. He began to explore the house and the yard and quickly learned that if he stayed on the grass he wouldn’t run into anything (smart dog). If he stepped onto the stone he knew he was in wild country and would run into bushes or walls. “
On the fifth day, Lucky woke up at 2 a.m. and barked to go out. Sue picked him up for the first time and carried him out to the yard. While Lucky was taking care of business, Sue went to the bathroom herself. In the bathroom, the electric heater burst into flames. Sue was able to unplug it, and the fire went out. “We might have had a house fire. So Lucky was lucky for us, too!”
Two weeks after the posters, ads and reports went out, no one had claimed Lucky. Kindred Spirits Animal Sanctuary in Santa Fe called to offer help. But by this time, Sue had decided to keep the plucky little fellow. She took him to Dr. Hanna Port of VCA for medical care, and to Dr. Kennard at Eye Care for Animals for help with Lucky’s eyes. According to Dr. Port, Lucky is between 10-13 years old, and in good shape for his age. Sadly, Dr. Kennard said that Lucky’s blindness could have been prevented with proper treatment.
Sue is learning how to deal with Lucky’s hearing and sight deficits. She reports, “In the weeks we have had him he has gone from a timid, shaking wretch to a confident little fellow. We try not to move things in the house and I got one of those training clickers. He can hear it and comes running with his tail wagging because I use it when I have food for him. Otherwise I click my fingers and when he gets within a certain range he can home in on the sound.” Even Millie the dog is learning how to cope with her housemate’s blindness, though she seems perplexed at times by his snapping in the air when he is unsure if Millie is near.
Sue has bonded with Lucky and says, “I hope things continue to improve and that I can give him a great life.” In just a few short weeks, Sue has given Lucky a new home, and Lucky has saved Sue and her family from a fire. Lucky Lucky, lucky Sue!
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