Well, the vet check was informative.
Monty weighs just 2.5 pounds, and he should weigh about six. I came in with him a “senior” and left with “about 15 years old.” She confirmed that he's fully blind in one eye and partially blind in the other. His “good” eye has a small cataract and probably some glaucoma (which can create tumors that push the eye forward). The vet said I’d know better than her if he’s deaf, and he is. Pretty much completely.
He does NOT have mange, which is a big YAY. Just major skin irritation, which I’ll work on at home. His teeth are grody and his breath is bad. They trimmed his toenails (we had to untwist two of his toes first), and the clippings were quite impressive. His gimpy leg shows signs of an old injury and luxating patella (uber-loose kneecap), and his hips are arthritic. He’s too frail to go under anesthesia, so his eye and teeth will stay as is. He’s probably in some discomfort sometimes, but does not seem to be suffering.
Blood work looks good, except for barely declining kidney function, and the numbers may have been thrown off a bit due to his dehydration. They gave him a bunch of subcutaneous fluids and he started to look comically like a water balloon. It was quite impressive. Monty’s got a LOT of skin. He was less than thrilled with the procedure, but can’t bite hard enough to hurt anyone.
He’s got some time left and I think he wants to live it. I agree with the vet’s pronouncement that what he needs most is a warm home with a soft bed, soft food, and lots of love. She also admitted that even if he'd escaped from a home, it's not a home he should go back to. This was timely, as some of the vet clinic staff recognized him. (This specific veterinarian is new to the valley and the clinic.) Apparently I was not the first concerned animal lover to pick him up and bring him in. (None had done blood work, fluids, or nails before, though, so it wasn’t totally redundant.)
Monty has been brought as a stray either to this vet or the shelter (right behind it, where I volunteer) seven to nine times in recent months, by either animal control or animal-people like me. Once he stayed at the shelter for two weeks. And to my surprise, I learned that he was always returned to the owners, often with doorstep delivery. His owners always came looking for him eventually, and swore he was only skinny because he was old. My gut rebelled as images of his frantic feasting, long toenails, and blind self in the street flashed in my head. If he wasn’t being neglected, why would he be getting out so often? That in itself is neglect, when we’re talking about a 2.5-pound deaf and blind Chihuahua crossing one of the town’s main roads, or wandering loose at all. Repeatedly. Am I right?
(This town needs an animal cop. I don’t think our one animal control guy can conduct investigations or make arrests. I’ll be finding out more.)
When the regular Monty transporter was called to deliver Monty back to his owner, I offered to do it instead, and was thanked. I simply had to talk to the owner myself. Nobody had his past paperwork handy, but gave me a ballpark area and the wrong house color, and combined with the memory of where I found him, I was on my way.
I admit, though, I stalled a bit. As we hung out in the Sonic parking spot, I chewed on my cheap grilled cheese sandwich and chewed on my thoughts. I felt cranky and out of sort and stressed out and a bit anxious, wondering how this would turn out and fearing the worst. I did a drive-by of the house that had the potential Penny-sighting late last week, and then headed over to Monty’s neighborhood.
I talked to some neighbors as I tracked his home down. A family near where I found him said they regularly saw Monty out and about and pointed me in the right direction, about half a block away. Another neighbor pointed out his home across the street, but I stayed and talked with her a bit about the feral cats she feeds (that’s another post on another blog) and her own Chihuahuas who were yapping at the door.
Somehow, while talking to the neighbors, I succeeded in letting my stress and anxiety go and knew what to do. I would approach Monty’s owner with kindness and compassion and an offer to help. I crossed the street and knocked on Monty’s owner’s door, leaving Monty in the arms of my daughter in the car.
When three robust pugs swept the sixty-something short round-faced woman out into her figurine-festooned yard, I confirmed she was missing her dog, then locked eyes with her and asked if we could talk.
I firmly and gently told her what the vet had said regarding his weight, dehydration, and need for pampering, and shared my concern about him not being safely contained. I loved on her three healthy and well-loved pugs, admired her wind chimes, and listened to her talk. She talked about Monty's current life with her, asked my advice, and listened to my careful words. We ended our lengthy discussion with her tears on my shoulder, my arms around her, and an old little dog who will live the rest of his days in the love and warmth and safety of my home.
the inner sanctum of the snuggly sling dog
And the vet bill was only $66.