Last month, I laughed out loud when I saw this “Bust the Myth” promotional campaign for shelter pets. “Shelter pets are not broken. Shelter pets are not damaged goods,” declared Adopt-a-Pet.com on Facebook, next to a cartoon of an adorably disintegrating cat-and-dog pair.
It’s true that, if you’re sensible, you can pick out perfectly healthy animals at a shelter. It’s also true that, if you’re someone like me, you will lose your mind the minute you walk into the shelter and pick out animals that are almost exactly like the damaged goods in the illustration. I have a perfect record: all three of my rescue dogs have been cute messes. (My vet once introduced me to another patient’s human by saying, “This is the lady who takes all the broken dogs!”) The late Mr. Chubbs had epilepsy and knee problems. Gigi has spinal-cord damage. And that wide-eyed cartoon dog with the serious foot problem? He IS my dog Henry. I got Henry from the ASPCA in 2006 despite his tremors and a deformed front paw — though, unlike cartoon dog here, it was Henry’s left paw, not the right, that was a problem. In 2008, the paw was operated upon, improving though not curing its deformities.
See how the cute cartoon dog has an irritated eye? Pekingese dogs like Henry — and other flat-faced animals — are indeed prone to eye problems. Today I noticed that Henry’s eye looked a lot like cartoon dog’s eye, with the addition of unpleasant discharge. Our regular vet didn’t have an opening till Wednesday. I decided Henry couldn’t wait and took him to the Animal Medical Center, the 24/7 animal hospital in Manhattan. Luckily, I got there before the eye specialists went home because it turned out poor Henry has a deep corneal ulcer. An emergency operation has been scheduled for tomorrow afternoon, lest he wind up looking like that cartoon cat with the empty eye socket. I left him there overnight and the AMC vets let me visit with him for a while before I departed.
Wish Henry luck!
By the way, my history with canines is why I got both my cats from breeders. I can’t be trusted in animal shelters!