Biscuit – or, rescuing isn’t always rainbows and unicorns

Last summer my husband and his coworkers were facing yet ANOTHER long-term (several months time) layoff and the week before the layoff one of his coworkers started telling him about a dog that he was going to have to take to the shelter. They live in Mt. Airy – and I think it goes without saying that my husband reacted to the idea of a dog going to the Surry County Shelter the same way any of us would have. He told his coworker he would take the dog, but only if the dog kennel and dog house were part of the package. After some initial hemming and hawing his coworker agreed.
Mind you, this was arranged without my knowledge or consent. Biscuit is what’s known as a personal foster: Because my husband went out on his own and took responsibility for this dog, without first getting approval from the group with which we work, Biscuit is not sponsored. Everything that I do with Biscuit is at my expense.
The day Biscuit’s former owner brought him to us I started to guess that there was more to the story than had been originally revealed. Here is the story, which I’ve cobbled together from what we were told, what we WEREN’T told, and what we’ve experienced since Biscuit has lived with us:
Biscuit showed up in Mt. Airy as a puppy, a few years ago – they couldn’t remember exactly when. They bought a dogloo and a 10×10 pen and that was the pup’s home for the next three or four years. They fed him when they thought about it; otherwise he was never handled. We were told he didn’t eat or drink very much; the truth of the matter is his appetite is great and he drinks as much water as any dog his size – they just didn’t care enough to give him food and fresh water regularly. The first night he was with us, he bit me when I brought him his food. I remained calm and went ahead and put his food down; I didn’t freak out until I got back in the house. My husband wanted to shoot the dog; I refused any notion of doing so. I rescue – I don’t give up on a dog the first night. Ever. No matter what… And I WON’T have a dog shot, period. Instead, I drew up vaccines and went back out to the pen, vaccinated him, and spent the next half-hour convincing him he could trust me. He was horrified by the entire situation. He’d never been in a car; he’d never been around strangers; and suddenly he took a car trip and had strangers thrust on him all on the same day. Of COURSE he bit me! I would have done the same!
That weekend we were having a rabies clinic in Sandy Ridge, and we brought Biscuit along for his very first ever rabies shot. The following week I had him neutered. He’s been on numerous car rides since, to the vet, to adoption events… He never bit me or anyone else again.
The only bad thing about Biscuit’s new life was my very own dog, Max, who is an Akita mix. Max, who is neutered, hated Biscuit from the moment Biscuit came to me. Max has never objected to adult females or to puppies of any sex, but he absolutely had a bloodlust-type hatred for poor Biscuit.
Biscuit was kennel-crazy when I first got him. As I write this he is laying quietly in a large crate in my living room – I hope that means he’s not kennel-crazy anymore. He only barks when my cat walks by.
I’ve learned a great deal about Biscuit in our time together. Biscuit loves to run – he loves it more than he loves anything else. He also loves to chase tennis balls. We haven’t quite achieved “fetch” yet, but he’s getting there. He loves to play with other dogs, and he enjoys meeting people. He’s rough, but that’s because he was never socialized. There’s not an alpha or aggressive bone in his body – his whole goal in life is to PLAY, and when he’s all played out, he wants someone to love him. He wants a job, and he wants to belong somewhere.
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We had done a fairly good job of keeping Max and Biscuit separated until two weekends ago. Sunday March 10th Biscuit somehow got the gate of his kennel open and got into the main yard. Max and his minions took advantage of the opportunity to beat the hell out of Biscuit. Biscuit did not fight back; from all appearances he broke away at the first opportunity and ran to hide in his dogloo, which is where I found him later that morning. We cleaned him up and determined that his injuries, though serious, were not life-threatening nor in imminent danger of becoming so; we gave him antibiotics and pain meds and my husband had him at my vet as soon as they opened the next morning.
That was almost two weeks ago. I brought Biscuit home from the clinic this past Friday morning. He’s had two surgeries to insert drains and looks pathetic with his neck shaved and the stitches from the drains – they didn’t stitch the wound from the fight. As I said before, he’s quietly laying in my largest crate on a nice soft pillow and hasn’t made a peep since he’s been home. I’ve walked him on the leash so he could potty and he’s done very well… He’s greeted my other dogs (of course I kept him away from my bad boys) and my mother’s dogs as well – there’s honestly not a mean bone in his body. He wants to be friends with everyone and doesn’t deserve Max’s ill will.
Besides having been kennel-crazy when I first got him, Biscuit also has some resource-guarding tendencies. I believe this stems from his having not been fed and handled regularly during the first three or four years of his life. I also believe that someone with the skills and time to work with him could work past those tendencies.
Biscuit has been neutered, vaccinated, and cared for at my expense; the last two weeks worth of medical treatments have also been at my expense; I will never recoup these expenses. I don’t say that because I regret the cost – I don’t. I say it because people don’t always understand that rescue is not always rainbows and unicorns – it is emotionally and physically draining, and it can be financially costly.
Biscuit deserves far better than I can provide… I was afraid of something like this happening when my husband agreed to take in a strange adult male, but I can’t bring myself to wish that we hadn’t taken him. I just want a better life for him than this. I think he would be ideal for a family with an older boy to play ball with him and take him fishing and exploring, or someone who likes jogging and long walks.
If you’re reading this blog and are interested in Biscuit, please email me: hcamp@stokescountyhumanesociety.com.
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