Okay, here goes our story. I have not had a dog in many years, but my last was a rescued tree-climbing, lovable pit bull that our family can’t imagine life without, even my (then small) kids.
After much soul searching, I decided a Havanese was my next dog, no question, and met with some breeders, but decided to wait it out and rescue a dog instead. Some years later, I have found my girl.
Lita was found on the streets of New York City, filthy, starving, and virtually unable to walk. She was taken to the city pound and scheduled for euthanasia. A rescue group scooped her up. She was spayed, micro-chipped (in the wrong place), vaccinated, and turned over, all in about a day. Her foster mom gave her a haircut and cleaned her club-like feet of gravel, taking her from 11.5 lbs to 7, just removing the filth. I got her a week later.
I knew she had “issues” but I also had rose-colored glasses! My vet was stunned that she had been offered for adoption, she was in such poor condition. She could barely walk. Her vision is not good. She had gross neurological problems, her spine was not right, her tail didn’t move. She had a massive ear infection and ruptured ear drum. She developed vestibular disorder within a day of the vet visit, causing her to fall to one side in complete dizziness, eyes rolling, flipping around like a fish out of water. The vet did much lab work and put her on antibiotics. The next day he phoned and said he didn’t understand why she was even alive. She was in liver failure, kidney failure, massive infection of unknown origin… it goes on. I decided to stick by her. She was the most amazing little package I have ever met! I wish you could all meet her. She smiles a lot.
Now we are almost at the two month mark. The vet is blown away. The dizziness resolved, though I have to be really careful to keep her ears dry. She has gained 2.5 lbs and is so much stronger I can’t begin to tell. She will scramble up a flight of carpeted stairs, nearly falling, but determined to do it. Going down is not really an option as her rear legs don’t work right, but she is improving. First question is about when to challenge her and when to accept her (undefined) limitation(s). She has learned the words wait, bed, leave it, and sit (in an awkward fashion). And maybe "Mr. Squeeky".
The vet thinks she is a 3 year old Havanese, and likely was in some kind of home puppy mill situation because of her remarkable vibe. As she gained strength, she walks to my heel, no training. She is afraid of most people, animals, appliances, but can snuggle up to a young child like a second skin. The shaking is gradually subsiding. She eats well, but I can’t figure out any kind of treat she likes, and she is hesitant to take any offering, yet she has trouble seeing it if you put it on the floor. She had no idea about toys, but in spite of her poor vision she is learning about squeaky toys and a ball even though she can’t seem to track it well.
She is velcroed to me at this point, as I work from home and am around all the time. She loves rides in the car, even 4 hr. trips (almost have to pry her out). The attached photo is her sleeping in the car. She has constant anxiety accidents, even if she just peed outside. I have her in an expen most of the time in my kitchen where I am in and out a lot, and she uses "wee wee pads". She has just started jumping up on me (this non-walking dog!) to beg to be picked up and held. Previously she would not sit with me, but curl up nearby. She is starting to bark, seemingly from fear. If someone comes to the door she hides in her expen and barks. I have made some progress with this with my “calm assertive” approach, but wish I could communicate with some folks that know this breed and also the ins and outs of rescues.
I am very committed to this little girl, but don’t know what to do next! Realistically, I have spent so much money on her medical care that hiring a trainer would be a real stretch. Every one that I interview has a different approach, and I don’t know what would be best. I am almost leaning toward blowing my funds on more medical care/investigations, like maybe acupuncture for her spinal issues, or a CAT scan…
Anyone that can offer some suggestions, and maybe even let me bounce some of my millions of questions off them, is welcome to reply. Sometimes I feel at such a loss, like I am not doing the right thing for her, but I keep believing it has to be better than what she had, or what she was heading for.
Thanks for letting me vent!