In the quiet of an extremely cold Saturday, three Mosby volunteers, Carole Adams, Carol Jackson and Pat Grizzel, stood at the front door of a run down house. It was a rural area of Virginia that had its own code. Outsiders were not welcome, especially if they were asking all the right questions.
There were several cars parked at the house, yet no one answered the polite knock of the volunteers. The only response was from a blob that did its best to walk toward them, mustering up short barks in a show of defense for such meager surroundings. The women simply stared.
Instead of a small dog, they saw years and years of neglect. His name was Beau and the three volunteers had come to ask the man that owned him to release the dog to the foundation’s care.
Frigid breaths blew smoke rings of air as all four stood shivering in the winter cold. Beau was buried under massive dreadlocks of sawdust, excrement, urine, grass, and seedpods. As Carole later said, “I almost got sick to my stomach.”
Beau’s eyes and nose had long since disappeared under the prison of filth. The furry mess that wove itself around his hind legs had frozen them together, making the act of walking extremely difficult.
One of the volunteers placed a treat on the ground but Beau was unable to find it. Sickened and even more determined, the volunteers resolved to rescue this dog from such passive cruelty in spite of the community’s resistance to outsiders.
They left Beau and began asking questions at a local restaurant. As expected, no one volunteered any information. Finally, they called animal control. The ACO (animal control officer) recommended going back to the house and leaving a note. He promised he would drop by the residence later that weekend.
The three women followed his instructions and left a note that said The Mosby Foundation wanted to buy Beau for $150. The trio left but no phone call came. Fortunately, the ACO kept his word and went to visit the owner.
He took one look at Beau and knew the dog had to be removed. When the officer questioned the man, the owner admitted that Beau had no license and no shots. “Look,” the officer told him, “this is the best offer you’re going to get. And if you don’t take it, I will have to fine you.”
Shortly thereafter, The Mosby Foundation received a phone call from the man asking to meet with the volunteers after church on that Sunday, which we did. He told us that his daughter had purchased Beau and a little black dog as Peekapoo puppies about nine years ago from a local pet store for $300 each. The daughter got a job outside of the area and could not take the two dogs with her. So they stayed with him.
Although he had a fenced in yard, the little black dog got out. When he returned to the yard, the dog died suddenly. Beau’s only source of companionship and love was gone. Now, instead of taking shelter indoors, Beau began to spend an increasing amount of time outside. Finally, his living quarters became the outdoors with a doghouse. Winter and summer, Beau battled the extremes in temperatures and called it home.
After some discussion, the man agreed to sell Beau for $100. “A $100 is better than nothing,” he said. “And he needs a lot of help.”
We took Beau into our care and boarded him at Happy Tails in Verona, VA. Then we prepared Dr. Dobyns with Middle River Veterinary Hospital, Verona, VA for the worst. We assured her that despite what she saw this was a dog!
Beau, the blob, weighed 13 pounds when he arrived at her office. Once sedated, buried under 2 pounds of filth and neglect, Dr. Dobyns found a precious little dog with soulful eyes. Later, when he was wormed, Beau would lose another pound then weighing in at 10 pounds!
Dr. Dobyns also discovered that Beau had three suspicious lumps on his back and a salivary mucocele, which is a collection of saliva that has leaked from a damaged salivary gland or duct. The saliva then accumulates in the tissues.
Beau had only a few teeth and had never been neutered. That meant his anus was also enlarged. Fortunately, he was not heartworm positive. How could he be? No mosquito would ever work that hard to get through all the ratted mess! Dr. Dobyns also determined that Beau was blind due to untreated dry eye.
When Beau returned to Happy Tails to recover, he made a remarkable adjustment. It was as if shedding that nasty fur released the lovable little dog within. Beau wasted no time embracing his good fortune!
His head held high and his tail wagging fiercely every time Angela Brown, owner of Happy Tails, came into the room, Beau told everybody, “Let’s get this party started!”
And that’s exactly what we wanted for Beau. The Mosby Foundation saw to it that he got his shots and had the growths removed, at Commonwealth Veterinary Clinic, Fishersville, VA by Dr. Sheridan, which fortunately turned out to be epitheliomas; not cancer. He was also neutered and had a dental on what was left of his teeth.
Board member and volunteer, Beverly Faulkenberry, stepped up as Beau’s long term foster. With three other rescues of her own, she carefully integrated Beau into the pack. Under Beverly’s gentle care, Beau’s transition to a loving home was a surprisingly easy one.
She discovered right away that Beau’s back leg muscles were weak. All of the heavy matting had restricted his movement causing his rear gate to be tentative. It took him awhile to figure it out. But as the weeks progressed, Beau’s body remembered what it was born to do. For Beau, freedom came in the simplest parts of living.
Beau was also sensitive to touch. At first, he did not understand the concept of having a person stroke or touch him. He’s still timid with touch but he wants it, too. “When you walk into the room, he smiles,” Beverly said. “His tail is wagging because he’s so happy to see you. He’s just as cute as he can be.”
Beau would also growl and snap whenever Beverly applied drops for the dry eye. Now he patiently allows her to treat the condition to keep it from getting worse. As it is, Beverly believes he can see shadows because he does not bump into any furniture. She wants to make sure to preserve the eyesight he does have.
The lovable dog trapped beneath years of neglect was eager to share with Beverly and her family. In just three weeks, Beau’s personality blossomed. The world was such a curious place to him. He loved exploring every room in Beverly’s house.
And then Beverly added an additional surprise. You see, there’s this thing called a back yard. All your buddies and you can romp and play. Heaven! Who knew that being a dog could be so much fun?
Then there was his first trip to the beach. Walking on a leash with his other buddies on the beach and in a nearby field, Beau’s nose and ears were working overtime, listening to all of the ocean sounds and sniffing every rock, blade of grass and seashell he could find.
As Beau settled into the comfort of a real home, this brave little dog still had to face one last obstacle, the mucocele surgery. It was obvious that the swelling was bothering him because Beau kept rubbing his jaw on furniture and had difficulty eating and drinking.
And now we know why. When the veterinarian at Virginia Veterinary Specialists, Charlottesville, VA finally removed the mucocele, it was the size of a lemon and had grown underneath Beau’s tongue. He described it as “a nasty looking thing filled with necrotic material that had been there for a long time.”
In all, the vet took out three salivary glands. Thankfully, Beau is recovering nicely. With as much of the neglect repaired as possible, Beau can finally begin a new journey, one of love. He doesn’t have to huddle freezing in zero degree cold. Nor does he have to bear the scorching summer sun as his filthy coat holds in the heat.
It just goes to show that dogs purchased for exorbitant amounts of money are not guaranteed a good life. They are just as susceptible to abuse as those found wandering the street.
If you look into Beau’s deep brown eyes, he will tell you that you simply cannot put a price tag on love. The shadows that he sees are proof of that. But Beau doesn’t dwell on that. The minute that nasty fur was gone he was ready to embrace a new life. And he has.
Beau is surrounded by love. Now the party can really begin!
Update: The foster family has adopted Beau! He’s now one of the family in his forever home.