The morning began like any other. I placed a collar on Susie and headed out for a walk. As I locked the front door, Susie began to growl. There on the driveway, a coyote stood staring at us. Scratches covered his scrawny body. The three of us stood looking at each other for a minute before I realized the pathetic creature was a dog, not a coyote. Susie and I retreated into the house. I grabbed a cup of dog food and raced back to the driveway. To my relief, the stray was still there. He stood at the end of the driveway, not knowing if he should trust me or not. I poured the food onto the concrete. When I backed away, he cautiously approached. He gulped down the food while keeping a wary eye on me. Clearly, he had not had a good meal in a long time. His ribs are visible on the photo below as is a look of fear.
“How am I going to catch him?” I thought to myself. He stayed more than ten feet away from me at all times. I got another cup of food and walked towards the back yard, dropping a kibble here and there. The German shepherd mix followed behind me. At the back gate, he paused. His instinct told him to stay out of the confined area but hunger drove him forward. Reluctantly, he followed me in. I closed the gate while he gulped down another cup of food!
For the next three days, I fed him small amounts of food several times a day. It is vital not to overfeed malnourished animals. This prevents re-feeding syndrome. The skittish dog ate well but refused to let me or my husband touch him. He spent most of the day sleeping on a quilt I left by the back door. The poor guy was exhausted.
On the fourth day, I decided to try bribery in the form of a cookie. I sat on a lawn chair and offered the dog a biscuit. While he munched, I ran my hand down his back. A silly grin spread over his face. He stood like a statue while I gave him a back scratch. Cactus spines protruded from his fur. The pads of his feet looked like hamburger. Obviously, he had been on his own awhile. I searched all the dog rescue organizations for one who fit his description but alas, no match was found. He didn’t even have a microchip. It seemed no one wanted this dog.
As is typical, my heart broke for the German shepherd mix. So, I decided we would keep him. The problem was, my husband had not yet attained a like mind. Granted, he had logical reasons why the stray had to go – but you know how this story ended! So, he joined our family. Buddy was obviously abused by a man. It took many months for him to warm up to my husband Steve particularly when Steve was dressed in a suit and carrying a briefcase. We have now had him over a year and he has become a wonderful pet. The picture below shows his dramatic improvement. Happiness has replaced wariness. As always happens, when we open our hearts and homes to the animals, we receive so much more than we give. I grew up with German shepherds and it is part of the reason I became a veterinarian. It is great to have a shepherd mix back in my life again.