New Mexico's Pet Resource WINTER 2008


By Joplin J. Sell

“Keesha was just mauled by the neighbor’s dog!” My frantic roommate yelled as I came in the door. When I went into the back room, my heart sank. Our poor 10-year-old poodle-mix was lying on the cold, concrete floor in a pool of blood. I gasped when I bent down and saw her abdomen beginning to swell. “Leo, we need to call a vet!” I shouted as tears started to flow down my cheek, “She’s hurt bad!”

On the way to the vet, Leo told me what happened. He let our three dogs outside in our fenced back yard. Our neighbors kept two Chihuahuas in a kennel in their backyard, along with a huge, 80-pound Rottweiler. The Rottweiler was tied to a stake and often barked and lunged at our dogs when they went outside. I never imagined any of our dogs could get hurt because a fence separated our two yards.

Keesha loves small animals and wants to mother them. Every time Keesha went into the backyard and saw the Chihuahuas, she would whine at them and prance on her hind legs moving her front paws in a begging motion.

When Leo brought the dogs inside, he noticed Keesha wasn’t with them. He was shocked when he looked out the door and saw her in the neighbors’ yard. She’d managed to crawl underneath the fence and was sniffing the Chihuahuas through their kennel. Leo called for her to come to him but instead of walking in a straight line towards him, she walked at a diagonal. Leo watched in horror as Keesha came within the Rottweiler’s reach.

He attacked Keesha so quickly and with such force that Leo could only watch in horror as he shook her around in his mouth like a rag doll. Leo said he believed the Rottweiler would kill Keesha right before his eyes. Luckily, the Rottweiler loosened his grip and dropped Keesha into a hole. Before he could attack her again, Keesha managed to flee towards the fence. Leo reached down and saved her.

After the vet examined Keesha, he told us she had severe puncture wounds under her stomach and the muscles that held her intestines were ripped part.

“I’ll do what I can and call you later,” he said.

When I was in college I babysat for the children of a family I knew. The mother told me to let their collie outside later. As I went downstairs to let their collie outside, I heard a sad whimper. I was shocked to find this foul-smelling, skinny, ratty-haired mess of a dog tied to a cabinet on a 6-inch leash. She sat there looking at me with big sad eyes, unable to move or jump on such a short leash.

“Well, hello there little one,” I said reaching down to free her from her prison, “My do you need a bath!” I let both dogs inside. Keesha jumped up on the couch beside me. She rolled over on her side and waved her arms in a begging motion as if to ask me to pet her.

My heart sank when I began rubbing her belly. I could feel every bone in her body. Keesha just sat there wagging her tail, begging me to pet her more. It must have been a long time since anyone gave her attention. Then she did something that made my heart jump. She rolled over, took her paws and covered her eyes as if to play peek-a-boo with me.

I knew it was a sign that I needed to rescue this little, dirty mutt. The only dog I had seen play peek-a-boo like this was my old dog, Honey, who’d been killed by a hit and run car just four months earlier. I’d been grieving Honey’s death, not knowing if I would ever be able to get another dog. Now here I was, sitting next to Keesha, knowing I must save her.

When the family came home, I told then that I wanted to take Keesha. They agreed. They said they were sick of Keesha going through their garbage eating trash. When I asked them how they fed her, they said, “Oh we give both our dogs food in the same dish, but our collie usually eats most of the food before Keesha gets any.” She was being punished for being hungry.

The first thing I did was make an appointment for the groomer’s to give her a much needed bath and haircut. Then I took her to the vet's to get her spayed and up-to-date on her shots.

For the first four months, Keesha was scared. She often reverted back to going through the garbage, something I patiently worked with her on until she was eating normal dog food. She never barked and was afraid to play. With time and love, she came out of her shell and became a happy, active dog.

Eventually, I adopted another dog, Nellie, I met Leo, my life-partner, and we adopted our third dog, Buddy. Keesha seemed happier, as our family grew. She loved going for walks, getting treats and, most of all, being petted. When she was particularly happy, she would do her peek-a-boo paw game with me.

I wondered if my last image of Keesha would be one of her bleeding to death on the vet’s table. But to my relief, he called later that night and said everything would be fine. Keesha survived surgery and would be staying at the vet’s until the next day. She came home two days later, with her stomach wrapped up, and instructions to give her lots of love.

It must have been love that saved her because she was up and walking quickly. I remember she’d only been home for a week, when I lifted her up on the couch beside me. While I scratched her ears, Keesha looked at me wagging her tail. When I stopped scratching, she took her paws and played peek-a-boo with me. It was then I knew my Keesha was home to stay.

Keesha is now 16 years old, and lives with her owners, Joplin Sell, Leo Cuevas, and their new son, Jacob, along with her playmates; Buddy and Nellie Mae, and three cats; Blinky, Chi-chi's and Mewshes, in High Rolls, New Mexico. She is also almost completely deaf but still loves to go for walks and of course, when she is extra happy, she still plays peek-a-boo!

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