A year ago, Artie’s family came to the realization that they wanted to be rid of him. They had brought him home as a puppy almost two years ago but that adorable stage was long gone and now he was nothing but trouble with his allergies and constant skin problems, his scratching and chronic ear infections. He was nice enough but they did not want to continue dealing with his skin issues that just wouldn’t go away.
Artie was dumped at a Kentucky shelter where his fate was sealed as a dog in need of expensive veterinary treatment not available to the animals relinquished there. These dogs needed to be adopted fast or there was no other way out for them. The staff must have recognized in Artie a special dog trapped in a horrific body, one that was underweight, inflamed, itchy, infected and on its way to being hairless. They reached out to the JRTRO.
We had lost our 16-year-old Jack Russell in January and were still grieving his loss. Our other female Jacks were dog-friendly and my only request to JRTRO was that Artie be able to coexist with them and that his skin condition not be contagious. This “Artie project” would be the perfect way for me to honour the dog we had just lost.
That his new family would be us did not occur to me. I was not looking to adopt another dog and when I picked Artie up at the transport I was relieved to find him aloof and uninterested in me or my offered treats. Good, I thought, let’s both stay in our lanes here and there will be no inconvenient falling in love.
Some kind soul had dressed him in a t-shirt, probably to keep his balding body warm but I suspect also to keep people from recoiling when they saw his condition. He smelled terrible and his skin was flaky, crusty and red and he could not go five minutes without tearing at his body. He had bones sticking out everywhere and was suffering from a bladder infection. A visit to my veterinarian got that problem under control quickly but his allergic condition was shocking, to say the least.
That the first weekend Artie spent with me, I realized I was falling for him. I like to imagine he woke up the day after arriving, looked around and thought okay, this looks pretty good, time to turn on my charm. That aloof, uninterested dog from the night before suddenly wouldn’t let me out of sight and began looking at me adoringly. His transparent expressions of love reminded me of the dog we had just lost for he too had decided early on that I was his person. Artie is an amazing dog, full of energy and fun and so much love. Perhaps he knows he has been given a second chance. Perhaps he appreciates that these humans will go to the ends of the earth to figure out what plagues him and fix it for him. What I’m sure he doesn’t know, is that while I thought I was saving him, he has been saving me. Isn’t that what the best dogs do?
UPDATE: Today, eight months into this journey with Artie, we are 95% there with solutions to his allergic issues. We continue to search for the triggers that send Artie’s immune system into overdrive but what I do know for certain is that we have uncovered a wonderful, joyful spirit who is now free to be a normal dog.