Marley came home with us on Dec. 9/2022. His surgery was scheduled for Dec. 21/2022, giving us only 12 days to get to know each other. Originally, we had planned to wait until mid May to get a dog as we had made travel arrangements but when you fall in love, all reason goes out the window.
Initially, Marley was highly anxious and reactive to new sounds. Nobody knows what happened to him. He was found wandering on reservation lands by D’s husband Scrooge (hence the name Marley) who was able to coax him into his truck to be transported to The Pet Connection to be cared for by the lovely, dedicated people at work there who advocate for the canines and felines needing care, kindness and help finding forever homes. When they took him to Lander Valley Animal Hospital for examination of his leg, they determined that the leg fracture was at least 4 months old, making him only 5 months old when the “accident” happened. Poor pup to have lived with the immense pain of that wound while fending for himself. He has every right to be anxious. The deep infection in the bone was not able to be healed and after time and antibiotic treatment proved ineffective, an appointment for amputation surgery was made.
The Pet Connection sent us home with everything we might need in caring for Marley….food, collar & leash, crate, bed, brush, puzzle food bowls and more. Because we have concrete floors in our house, we felt the need to get some carpet remnants so he’d be able to have better traction during his recovery. We found some great remnants at the Lander Flooring shop on Main Street and in retrospect, watching him struggle to learn how to walk on three legs, it was so worthwhile. We also bought some extra beds…one for beside the bed so he would feel safe and another for in his crate and the one from the Pet Connection went into the car.
The next purchases were toys, more food, chew bones, bags for cleaning up after him, a search and rescue vest with a handle on the back which we could use to help us lift him or even steady him if needed. After doing some research about tri-paws, (at first I heard ‘tripods”) we bought the recommended raised food dishes.
Purchases over and done, we spent a lot of time bonding with Marley, trying to make him feel safe. We took him out every 2 hours and discovered he was house trained, thank God! He’s had two mishaps but that was because we forgot to take him out or didn’t understand his communications with us. We took him to the City Park where he refused to cross the bridge – Mike, in an effort to be playful, stomped on the bridge and the sound frightened Marley. We didn’t force the issue but went back the next day. When he again refused to cross, I went across and walked away from Mike and Marley until I was out of sight. Then I called his name and walked back towards them. Marley slowly inched his way across. We returned several days in a row and now he’s quite comfortable with the bridge. On those same days, we took him to see the kids skating on the newly opened outdoor rink – he was terrified of the sounds of the kids laughing, the sounds of the skates on the ice, the music blaring but again, we didn’t force him, just sat on a bench and listened and watched.
During these early days, we weren’t sure how much pain he was in and what he was and wasn’t able to willing to do. We spent the twelve days providing as much exposure to new things and building up his stamina for the surgery. The night before his surgery, we were rewarded with the first real puppy-ish behaviour we’d seen….playing with a plush hedgehog we’d bought for him. He loved it, threw it around, tossed it, chased it, and chewed on it.
Also during these twelve days, seeing how well Marley was getting around with no obvious sign of discomfort, I began to wonder if the surgery was really necessary. I dropped in and spoke to Lander Valley Animal Hospital for additional information. The reason for the surgery was because of the deep infection which wouldn’t heal but also because of the severe arthritis and subsequent pain Marley would have just a few years down the road, as a still very young dog. They wanted to give him the best possible life for the longest possible time. And….we were still only foster-parents.