Today I’d like to tell you the story of a dog named Scrappy Doo. Scrappy was purchased from a breeder as a puppy twelve years ago. He went home with his new family with his whole life ahead of him. They taught him how to play fetch, how to jump on the couch, and to be housebroken. A few years later, his family decided Scrappy barked too much and they put him outside. The garage and yard became his home. Scrappy still loved them very much and would be thrilled anytime they would come out to feed him or play with him. He still barked, maybe sometimes just so he could hear them yell at him to stop so he’d know they were still there and he wasn’t as alone as he felt.
His family fed him food that was inexpensive and easy to find, like many families do every day. He was fed Beneful dry food with Alpo wet food. He never saw the vet, and he started to feel pain in his legs, but as long as he had his ball to play with he was happy. One day his family tried to give him a bath, and when they picked him up, his aching joints hurt and he growled and snapped to ask them to stop. They never tried to bathe him again so he became dirtier and dirtier. A few years ago, Scrappy developed a wound on his face under his eye. The family put store-bought ointment on it for a while, but it never healed so they stopped using the ointment and the wound never healed.
The years went by and Scrappy continued to entertain himself with his tennis balls. Then the day came he couldn’t get up to go after the ball anymore. He tried and tried but eventually he gave up and he stayed down. His family brought him his food, but he didn’t want to eat anymore. He was tired, he was in pain, and the family realized Scrappy was at the end of his life. We offered to take him in to give him hospice care and a few comfortable days indoors with pain medication to keep him comfortable before humanely euthanizing him.
When Scrappy came to us he had almost no use of his back legs. He still had the same wound in his face from years prior that never healed. He was depressed and leaned into us as we pet his chin, enjoying a kind touch. We set him up in a crate for the night with big comfortable bedding, anti-inflammatory medication, and some cbd oil. He broke all of our hearts and we were determined to keep him comfortable.
The next day when we came to check on Scrappy, we found a new dog. He was standing, he was walking, he weakly but with determination chased after a tennis ball. Could it be that he just needed pain medication? Not wanting to get our hopes up, we kept his appointment the next day with our veterinarian to determine his status, but now he had hope.
When our vet examined him, she found that years of that inexpensive and poor quality dog food had rotted his teeth and caused kidney disease. He had a terrible gum infection, with tooth decay so bad, it was what had caused the wound under his eye. The infection had created a hole in his face, and after years of that hole being left open and infected, there is now almost no chance it will close up. She also found that while Scrappy does appear to have some hip, leg, and maybe back pain, possibly caused by arthritis, it all seems very manageable with daily medication to keep him comfortable. This was not a dog who needed to be euthanized, he was just a dog who needed help. We opted to do a dental surgery where 22 teeth were removed; we started him on a prescription diet to keep his kidneys in good shape; we created a medication protocol to help manage his daily leg pain. Weeks later, Scrappy is now thriving, happy, and playful!
Why am I writing Scrappy’s story for you to read? Well, this week he is our featured rancher, but also Scrappy Doo is a dog who almost lost his life prematurely because of very treatable and manageable conditions. There are many dogs across our country who are kept outside, fed the cheapest food, and not given medical care. His family never meant for him to get into the state he was in. They cared about him, but thought that giving him a place to sleep, toys to play with, and food to eat was enough.
Our dogs give us so much. They love us, cheer us on even on our worse days, provide us with companionship, get us off the couch to go play outside, and more. All they ask in return is that we care for them; that we don’t turn our backs on them as they get older and need us more than ever. A quality diet and yearly vet visits would have been enough for Scrappy to be a happy and healthy 12 year old dog, rather than a 12 year old dog on death’s door. Inexpensive dog foods can seem like the more cost efficient option, but they often cause far more expensive medical conditions down the line, like kidney disease, dental disease, obesity, heart disease, and more.
Scrappy has a wonderful future ahead of him. He is fostered with our rescue for now and very loved, but we hold out hope that some day soon the perfect forever family will come along and take him home. They will bring him into their house, into their bed, and onto their couch. They will throw the ball for him every time he asks. They will listen when he barks, and instead of yelling at him to stop they will comfort him so he knows he is not alone anymore. They will medicate him, bathe him, and feed him a quality diet. They will take him to the vet whenever he seems like he is in pain. We dream this life for him, and hope that soon this dream will become reality.
We also hope Scrappy’s story will inspire other dog owners to think about the care their dogs are getting, or the care their family member and friends’ dogs are getting. Scrappy came to us because a relative of his family decided to step in when she saw how badly he needed help. She is his hero, and if you know someone who has been putting off vet care or providing a low quality diet to their pet, you can be their hero too. If someone had taken Scrappy to the vet a few years ago, he would not have a permanent wound in his face, he would not have needed to lose 22 teeth, he would be able to run and play to his heart’s content without having to take breaks to rest his sore legs. Some things should not be put off, and veterinary care is one of them.
Finally, winter is just around the corner. Especially in the Northeast where we are, no dogs should be kept outside through the winter. Please bring your dogs inside and encourage those you know to do the same. Housebreaking and teaching house manners takes time and consistency and can be frustrating, but if you want to be a dog owner, putting in that work so your dog can live indoors in your home is the least you can do for them.
If you would be interested in adopting Scrappy you can apply to adopt him at https://www.waywardranch.org/adoption-applications
Executive Director and Founding Board Member
Wayward Ranch Animal Sanctuary, Inc.