Happy Dog Day

http://blogging.la/archives/images/2006/09/bla-beckett-thumb.jpgI know that it’s a big day for Los Angeles, marking a remarkable birthday.

But Labor Day is always observed in our house as the anniversary of when we adopted our dog, Beckett. We’d lived in Silverlake for about a year and decided to take the plunge since our new place had a little enclosed yard and we were on a quiet street. The biggest thing I can say about having a dog for the last 12 years is that it’s made us better residents. We know our neighbors because we’re out in our neighborhood. They might only know us as the people who have that barky beagle mutt, but you can always say hi to someone walking their dog.

After the jump, the cutesy details of our pet (feel free to move along).

The adoption wasn’t the best experience. We went to Beagles and Buddies down in Long Beach where I was hoping to find the reincarnation of my childhood dog (who lived to the ripe old age of 21) who was a beagle mutt. Beagles have a lot to recommend them. They’re loyal and pleasant and a good size (not too big, not too small). But they’re known for barking and they like to chase other animals.

We browsed their kennel, looking at all the dogs and focusing on the larger ones. We came across a demure but affectionate pooch that was rather un-beagle-like. She was caramel colored and looked much like my childhood dog, but had long lanky legs and was probably twenty pounds underweight.

I was in love. One of the volunteers who had been hosting her when she wasn’t at the kennel told us her sad tale of woe. She was found at the Downey Pound where she was on her last days there before she would have been put down. She was picked up on the streets and was in even worse shape than we found her now, even skinnier and with terrible bald patches on her skin. She was with Beagles & Buddies for a little over two weeks.

We played with her for a while that even though we were told she was suffering from a touch of kennel cough, we would take her home. We named her Beckett.

She was such a dear puppy, perhaps 6 months old to a year, it was hard to tell because of how skinny she was. But she was a little odd. She didn’t bark, but did have a raspy cough. We took her to the vet a couple of days later, who diagnosed her with Distemper. What started out as a cough and lethargy was turning into high fevers and lack of appetite. For well over a month we nursed her – feeding her rice made with chicken stock and poached chicken meat. She had a terrible runny nose which must have affected her appetite and I’d have to clean her face and nose out with a warm washcloth several times a day. She was still so skinny and of course chilled from her fevers that she would curl up on my chest to keep warm.

Even though the vets told us that she had little chance of surviving (20%) we took good care of her and eventually she pulled through with very few long-lasting side effects (many who survive end up with epilepsy). Mostly she was never socialized properly because we didn’t let her near other dogs for almost a year because we were worried that she would give them Distemper (especially puppies who had to get several shots before they had full immunity). Plus, we indulged her a bit too much (letting her on the furniture) as we thought she was going to die. It also turned out that she can bark just fine once she got her voice back.

For a long time we were angry that the Beagles & Buddies allowed us to adopt a dog who was obviously very sick (and I’m sure that the fact that the shelter fixed her before allowing her to gain some weight didn’t help), but in the end we felt that she would have died if she hadn’t come home with us that day. She wouldn’t have been adopted during the week and the chaotic kennel was no place to recover from such a dreaded disease.

She’s a dear little creature who has adopted many of my neuroses as her own and I love her for it. No matter where I end up living the rest of my days, she will always be my Los Angeles Dog.

If you want to do something great for the city, get your dog spayed or neutered.

3 Replies to “Happy Dog Day”

  1. I forget that you adopted The Beck on Labor Day. It was 13 Labor Days ago today that Shadow and I found each other when she was six weeks old and abandoned near the shores of Balboa Lake in the Sepulveda Basin.

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