By DIANA WALDHUBER
This week’s DogTown episode took Dog Care manager Michelle Besmehn and her team to West Virginia.
Whispering Oaks (the kind of name that makes you think of shady trees, luxurious kennels and dogs living the high life) is a puppy mill. If you don’t know yet, a puppy mill imprisons dogs in wire cages and continuously forces them to breed (the horror!). The puppies are then taken from their mothers before they’re weaned, and those deemed too weak are killed.
These dogs are bred in mass for profit and sold to unwitting pet shops and people who think they’re getting dogs from a reputable breeder.
From Whispering Oaks, 920 dogs were rescued. That kind of number really boggles the mind, doesn’t it?
Dogtown took the ones most in need of rescue. As Michelle said, the ones in the worst condition are almost always those used for breeding (it sounds like some horror/science fiction film, doesn’t it? Unfortunately, it’s not. It’s real and is happening all over the world). Of the rescues, this episode focused on two: Parker and Barney.
Parker the Dachshund had crooked teeth and foul-smelling breath (indicative of a massive infection), and Barney, a Shih Tzu, had nasty sores on his feet (he couldn’t walk) and fur so matted it pulled his skin.
Of course, this being Dogtown, there were other dogs in need. One of them being Buzz.
Buzz, a seven-year-old Rottweiller, was so aggressive that his family had given him up after he had attacked a number of people. Buzz’s aggressive tendencies were so severe that not many caregivers could get near him at the facility, except for Jeff Popowich, whom Buzz loves.
While Buzz will probably always be a long-term Dogtown resident (don’t you love that? It sound like those English hotels where all those eccentric old people live in luxury in films…), he needed to learn discipline, trust, and to be less aggressive if he was ever going to lead a happy and full life.
The problem was Jeff isn’t a trainer; he’s a vet tech who bonded with Buzz, and the only one who can give Buzz a chance. He and Buzz enrolled in the Canine Good Citizen class, but just before completing the exam, Buzz bit Whitney, his instructor!
Buzz doesn’t fail, but he’s forced to retake the exam with Jeff, who feels a little in over his head. Luckily, Whitney offers to help with the training, believing Buzz may respond better without being overwhelmed as he was in a class environment.
Meanwhile, poor Parker isn’t doing too well. Dr. Mike Dix had never seen such a severe mouth infection and calls in a dental surgeon. Preventing the infection from moving into Parker’s blood was essential, but the surgeon and Dr. Dix also wanted to save as many teeth as they could.
The bad news was that Parker’s teeth just fell out with a little pull. The infection had moved into his jawbone. In the end, Parker lost all his teeth and needed some of his jawbone shaved off to treat the infection. After his grueling operation, Dr. Mike worried about Parker’s ability to eat properly again.
Meanwhile, Barney the Shih Tzu was dragged in for a beauty treatment -- a shampoo and haircut. He needed it! Although hesitant at first, Barney soon learned to love it. He even fell asleep during his blow-dry. What a loving, trusting little guy. His feet still a major problem (he’d been walking on his own feces in the cage and it was trapped in his paws and he’d eaten the pads raw trying to clean them), Barney went from being all disgusting to an adorable dog.
To fix his feet Barney visited Dr. Patti Iampietro. She determined the best way to clean them was under anesthesia. They also neutered Barney. With his ear yeast infection and an eye irritation treated, Barney was ready for the real world.
So what about Buzz? He was nearly complete with his obedience training, but the hardest part of the exam was yet to come -- the approaching stranger. And you know what? Buzz let him pet him. He passed. With flying colors! You just know Buzz is going to keep on improving and find a home.
And Parker? After a few weeks his infection was completely gone, and he could eat properly again. Best of all, a woman with six rescue dogs had been following his story and wanted to adopt him. The last we saw of Parker, he was heading off in the arms of his new mama.
Barney got a clean bill of health, too, and was ready for adoption. Catherine from New York (I’m thinking Upper West Side and can she also adopt me?), a long term Best Friends supporter went to Dogtown just to meet him. Well, they fell instantly in love with each other. Barney went off to a life of luxury and much spoiling. And you know what? After everything the little guy has been through, he deserved it.
See you next week!