When the kids were little, Raggy Dolls was a TV show I particularly enjoyed. I’ve posted the You Tube intro for the show, and the intro song says it all.
It was this song that started running through my head recently, after a 15 year absence from my life. It came to me from nowhere as I looked with disbelief at the tiny imperfect puppy in my hand. Perfect in every way – except for the fact that one of her front legs was two thirds missing.
In seven years as a breeder I had never been confronted with such deformity. Perhaps I’ve been lucky in that respect; I don’t know. Whatever the case, luck surely wasn’t with this little mite at some stage during her development in utero.
I write this story here for two reasons. Firstly, to share with you how I handled this as a breeder; the scenarios, questions and answers I wrestled with in seeking the best outcome for puppy. Secondly – and most importantly – to find this little raggy doll a loving home.
What went wrong?
My disbelief and the Raggy Dolls TV theme were swiftly pushed aside by my feelings of guilt. ‘God…what did I do wrong?‘
I know two obvious things that can cause such limb deformity are inbreeding and chemical exposure of some kind.
In regard to inbreeding: impossible. There is zero inbreeding. To the extent that we had bred both her parents and that the grandparents have papers and there’s no inbreeding there either. In regard to chemical exposure during pregnancy, I could think of nothing. I then double checked the flea treatment label as well as the wormer – but both were fine for pregnant and lactating bitches, as I already knew.
Next I spoke to vets; our own vet and three vet friends. The consensus was ‘these things can happen‘. Nature can go wrong.
Live or die?
If I thought the guilt trip was bad while it lasted, the next phase I was entering would prove far worse.
At this stage puppy was four days old. She was occupying that blissful world of babe-in-nest, doted on by a besotted mum. A world devoid of sight and sound, demanding no more than snuffles and shuffles to secure a warm flow of sweet milk.
In this respect time was on my side and I was glad that I would have plenty of time to weigh up all factors. In fact in these early days the little puppy was quite possibly experiencing the most complete days of her life; that pre three week ‘slug’ phase, where she was no different to her siblings. My thoughts lay beyond this time though, wondering how she would cope with life as an adult tripod.
I would think about it by day and then think about it during my sleep. I would ask various people their views. I asked the vets. I asked fellow breeders.
In the one week it took me to make a decision, I woke probably once every two hours ruminating over this or that.
My decision was that I cannot possibly put her through this life. It was a painful and horrendous burden to bear, the making of such a decision.
My reasoning was that this is a short-legged, front-heavy and long-backed dog. Her physical shape as a dachshund is simply not on her side. The weight load is to the front, her nose is already close to the ground and how would that long back cope with a distorted gait?
I thought of the contrast with Wilbur (see video of disabled Wilbur in article ‘The demise and resurrection of Wilbur‘), our 9 year old Chihuahua who recently became spastic. A lightweight slip of a pooch, whose weight is evenly distributed across his matchstick long legs.
My thoughts then turned to the family who might have this puppy. Why, to let her live would of course be the easy decision for me. Yet how can I take the easy path, if in so doing I feel no pain at the cost of passing that pain downline and in a greatly magnified form as a dog struggles to live comfortably and a family daily witnesses the challenges facing their much adored family member?
And so it was I made a decision that I could not handball my pain onto a lifetime of difficulty for this puppy and her human family. Decision made, it was the first time in the week long struggle of conscience that I got unbroken sleep. As deeply sad as it all was, I would call the vet in the morning and make arrangements. Puppy was now 10 days old.
I asked the vet to make a house call to euthanase puppy. We are about an hour return trip, but I was determined this little creature would know no different of this world except the love and safety of the nest. Mum Wilma would be taken away and hopefully not notice the loss of the pup (time would tell: I would watch her closely, of course).
Our vet had the wisdom to bring a vet nurse with her. Together they checked puppy out and together they said, ‘She’ll be fine‘. The thumbs down inverted to a thumbs up.
I took their recommendation on board. I spoke more to breeder friends and colleagues. Two large breeders and a few small breeders too. They all agreed with my chain of thought, but also said at the end of the day the best thing to do is be guided by the vet whose opinion you value and trust.
The general consensus was puppy would never know any different, so to her life on three legs would be normal to her. Sure, she mightn’t have a vastly long life and she might get arthritis in later years, but that’s not to say she won’t be able to have a rewarding time on Earth for herself and her family.
One of my breeder friends who has been breeding for many, many years told me about a pup that only had one ear. She kept pup with her until one day someone rang asking if they had any discounted pups, as they could not afford a full price pup.
My friend talked to them about the pup that was not perfect with its little missing ear. Her reply? “Well, we’re not too perfect in this family either.”
For me that lovely comment and the Raggy Dolls song kinda sums it all up. Who of us, when all said and done, is that perfect anyway?
Can raggy doll live with you?
And so it is that the little raggy doll who came our way is now seeking her forever home. She will come desexed and with all the other bibs and bobs our pups come with.
She is $250 and this money I will donate to a dog charity.
If you are interested, can you please reply publicly by placing a comment to this article. It might provide a chance for others to comment too on the prospective homes for raggy doll.
She is a stunning little long haired mini girl red girl with black overlay, as can be seen from the video. Sweet as sweet.
The home which seems most suited can then have a chat with our vet (and their own vet too) so they can be comfortable that they are making an informed decision.
And last but not least, little girl will go with a lifetime guarantee…she can be returned to us at any stage, be that two weeks, two months or ten years from now.
If you think you can give her a happy home, I encourage you to write here. One thought is that is is easier for her to get about on carpet. So houses with mainly tiles and wood floors would be difficult for her. Apart from that, it’s over to the readers now.
Anyone reading the comments below will know that little girl is headed for a fabulous home, in NSW.
Now we can await her name!
Princess has settled in with her family. Here’s some footage of her at the airport before she was heading off, and a lovely pic of her with her new best friend: Melissa’s young son.
Definitely a story with a happy ending!
UPDATE PICS! 3/4/12