In February 2012, I wrote about a geriatric, un-spayed Brittany Spaniel who needed a home. Her family brought her to me to be euthanized because she was going blind, and they no longer wanted her.
After explaining to the family that I believed this active but vision-impaired dog could have a second chance in life, they surrendered her to me and I went to work on finding her some new guardian angels.
A Brittany rescue organization managed to place Jessie within a few weeks. This was great news.
On November 13, 2014, I received this Facebook message:
“Just a note to tell you that Jessa Jean went to the Rainbow Bridge yesterday afternoon very peacefully in her bed at home. She was 14 years, 9 months. I can’t thank you enough for contacting Brittany Rescue almost 3 years ago and bringing her into our lives! She was loved so much and will be missed by many.”
The news that Jessa Jean had lived out her golden years on her own Golden Pond made my week as far as feel-good rescue stories go. Actually, it made my year.
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Whit the Nitwit
Within a week or two of receiving the beautiful note of Jessa’s passing, our dog officer walked into my hospital with a wild, saliva-spewing, jumping, panting, smiling wacky sack of a dog found running free in the woods.
“Whit” was a young, un-neutered, untrained, un-inhibited Brittany Spaniel. A spaniac maniac! Whit was a nitwit.
Our dog officer cuts a pretty wild character herself, with cowboy hat and badge and gun and huge Western belt buckle. She stood in my waiting room calmly, talking to me a mile a minute, completely ignoring the leg-lifting, slobbering, jumping Brittany she had tethered to the end of a 2-inch-thick rope.
“I’ve had this dog too long, Deb, and time is running out. I’m not gonna get anyone to adopt this nut who’s not even house trained. He needs to be neutered. I hear you just started to get in that low cost spay and neuter program. He’d better qualify, or he’s gonna be nullified.”
Massachusetts had just begun a new, no-cost spay/neuter program. There was an application process and, like most government-run programs, lots of paperwork to complete before a veterinarian was “approved.” I had just completed the process, and my dog officer found out we were the only hospital in a wide range willing to participate.
“Yes, Ma’am,” I said. “Nit-Whit” definitely qualifies, and we can fix him tomorrow. That would be after he christened every piece of standing furniture within reach of his rope line with ripe, stud-smelling urine.
The end of this story? Whit sent me an autographed photograph recently. He had found himself a home and had officially dropped the “nit” from his name. Whit wrote me a note:
“To Dr. Deb,
Thanks for fixing me up. I have been adopted!! And have a wonderful home with a retired state trooper.
a.k.a. Bird Dog”
From the looks of the picture, Bird Dog has a new four-legged friend, too.
I see 2 morals to this story:
- Good deeds are never in vain. Jessa and Bird Dog would not have been given a second chance without a lot of people donating their time and expertise.
- Neuter your pets before they become impossible to live with or to place.
Breeds such as Brittanys are fun and loving but can be challenges because of their exuberant nature and penchant to roam and run. I doubt Bird’s original family was looking for him. His whereabouts were posted far and wide. But as an intact male hunting breed, he might have roamed very far from home and his family gave up trying to find him.
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Finding a Low-Cost Program
If you are having a hard time coming up with the money to spay or neuter your pet, try the following:
- Search your area for low-cost spay/neuter programs. Shelters are a good place to start.
- If you don’t find help there, call every veterinary hospital within driving distance and ask if they offer any spay/neuter assistance programs.
- Ask about any other costs associated with the surgery so you know your financial responsibility. You may be responsible for an exam and the minimum amount of core vaccinations.
These programs are a labor of love for your veterinary staff. Please be appreciative of the people administrating the programs and the vets who participate. Fixing up feral barn cats and untrained homeless dogs can be a bit of a pain in the neck to your veterinary staff, but it’s the right thing to do.
And it goes without saying — they’re worth it.
This pet health content was written by a veterinarian, Dr. Debora Lichtenberg, VMD. It was last reviewed March 4, 2015.