by Kris Carroll
Maddie was in a country shelter, returned from adoption as a problem barker. A notice
was posted about her on Neil's old Vlist a year ago April. I knew we were closest to this
shelter so I called, had my husband call. Then the whole family including Lenny and my
daughter, decided to drive 3 hrs north, "just to see." This was the day before
Lenny's 1st birthday.
Maddie had been in the shelter for 2.5 weeks because they were determined to find a
home for this sweet girl. They first picked her up as an older puppy the summer before, as
a stray. The shelter staff told us the family returned her because she barked nonstop. It
seems Maddie had been chained outdoors all winter near Mt Baker with coyotes on the prowl.
I explained a little about the breed lacking an undercoat and being people not kennel dogs
and suggested that was possibly a most unsuitable home for a V.
At first sight, I wasn't sure she *was* a vizsla. Guessing she was about 16mos, she
weighed 43lbs, had totally filthy, long straw-like coat, falling out by the handfulls, The
only positive note was that beautiful pink nose and perfect color eyes. She and Lenny
seemed to get along fine and when I asked how she was with cats, they turned her lose in
the office with the shelter mascot. She was very gentle with kitty. I still wasn't sure we
were the best home for her, but I knew we had to get her out of the shelter!
On the way home, I sat in the back seat between the two dogs and had a chance to
examine her better. One ear seemed infected. She kept tucking it, rubbing and shaking it.
I found deep welts in the flap from her scratching. There are still faint scars visible
today. The end of her undocked tail was also a mess - scaly/raw. We stopped at a pet shop
for a mild shampoo and new collar. The shop owner suggested mange. When we stopped again
to let the dogs stretch, her poop was 50% tapeworms. I hated to do it, but when we got
home, she and I immediately got into the bathtub for a good scrub and many rises. When the
water drained there was a thick layer of silt left in the bottom of the tub. I've never
seen a dog that dirty. She and I camped out in the living room to sleep. Never heard a
sound out of her all night. <G> Next morning, vet visit. She got her shots, meds for
yeast infection, wormed. With 1yo birthday boy Lenny bouncing off the walls, my vet
suggested I was nuts.
Maddie and Lenny hit it off like long lost best friends. She was terribly out of shape
and even though I was careful, she went dead lame. Xrays showed her right elbow was
shattered long ago and had become inflammed, no surgical option but amputation was offered
as a possible solution. We put her on antibiotics which helped, rimdyl which didn't.
Luckily joint supplements put her right. Good feed put proper weight on her and in time
her coat returned to normal Vsilk. We had our moments of wondering who was in charge but
sorted that out. Obedience training solved the few social problems like pulling on leashes
and attacking every other strange dog.
Maddie blossomed during the two obedience courses this past winter. Though I had
training and competition experience with Lenny and years of horse skills, starting over at
the beginning with Watch Me and progressing step by step together, our rescued Vgirl
finally learned to smile, relax and really enjoy the world beyond the fields and forests.
Her difficult early experiences were evident in her survival skills, but she never lost
her gentle nature and vizsla values. In class we shaped a common vocabulary based on trust
and finally learned to communicate.
Just yesterday Lenny, Maddie and I did a grand tour of the barns at a hunter/jumper
show and she paid no attention to all the silly barking dogs. Her conformation may be
dreadful but she has a most wonderful heart and beautiful face. Raising an adolescent
Vmale with a slightly older, spayed Vgirl was an unexpected godsend. We're the lucky ones
to have found her. Even my vet thinks so. There's a photo of her top left of the page at http://www.horse-country.com/vizsla/index.html.