MoJo’s Backyard always has a couple permanent residents milling about the premises. Some come from shelters and some come from rescues but they all come from loving hands that want to save a life. This is the story of Oreo, one such foster dog.
Oreo came to us by way of Cathy, a true animal advocate, who is always giving her time and devotion to any animal that needs help but has nowhere to turn. She is a foster mom, a volunteer and a pack leader to several cats and dogs. Back in the day, she worked in our humble daycare but moved on to a “real job” (we call it this because can playing with dogs all day really be considered a “job”?) (and no comment on my punctuation here, I’m a dog lover, not an English professor…). She still kept in touch and helped out from time to time. This is how we came to know Oreo. Because she had such good ties in the animal community and such good intentions in the dog world, we always reserved a place for one of her special-needs dogs. Whether this was a death-row doggie, a temporary home to a transport, or just a dog who needed to get out of the cage-environment of the shelter, she got to choose who got this prestigious placement at MoJo’s Backyard.
One night she pulled into our parking lot and raised the back door of her SUV. Peeking inside, Dawn and I saw crates with shiny little eyes looking out at us. All these dogs and cats were on their way to somewhere better than where they were from. She said that we could chose but that Oreo was in the most need because he was heartworm positive (a death sentence for a doggie), not well-behaved behind shelter bars and large (the small dogs have more curb appeal at the shelters). Of course we took him! Although, why he was named Oreo when he was clearly orange in hue (not black and white like the cookie) we did not know. We were soon to find out.
Oreo was shy and did not want to be approached by the staff. He didn’t seem to understand that he was in a new home and a safe environment. Hidden in his crate, we didn’t get to see the real Oreo for a while, but while he had skepticism, we had patience. Gradually, he got used to us and opened up little by little.
Joanne nicknamed him Cookie-butt because we just could not call an orange dog Oreo. But as we slowly got to know him, we discovered that this was actually a perfect name. This monster may be a little hard and rough on the outside, but inside he is soft and sweet for his moms and dads at MoJo’s. (Actually, it is more likely that he was named Oreo because his snout is white with a teenie bit of black on the edges, but that doesn’t make as good a story…) He’s a ham in the best sense. He wants love and attention and gets it most of the time because he’s just so gosh-darn cute.
Though Cathy had told us he was heartworm positive, the vet records from the shelter told us otherwise. We lucked out on that one because heartworm treatment is long, costly, and hard. It involves two months of the infected dog remaining confined to a life of quiet isolation (a very difficult thing to do in a dog daycare) because there is a danger of a large piece of dead worm becoming dislodged and blocking a blood passageway. *Soapbox alert-Please keep your dog on monthly heartworm preventative. It’s easy, cheap (compared to the treatment), and the responsible thing to do as a dog mom or dad.*
So now we had a happier, healthy dog on our hands. Oreo came to love us and his MoJo’s family of dogs. He made best friends and girlfriends. He settled into a routine that he’s really grown to love (he hates any disturbance to this routine such as Tour-Saturdays when strange people come in and out of his home). All in all, he seemed to be living the good life. Then the cough came. Of course, the first answer we all turn to is dum-dum-DUM! Kennel cough. That’s a four-letter word in the dog’s world. Everyone hears “contagious” and immediately thinks “unclean.” But if you do your research, you will find that though clean, well-ventilated facilities are less likely to host kennel-cough epidemics, it can still happen. And though it sounds like your dog is going through something terrible, like coughing up internal organs, this virus is much like a cold or flu to humans (it often sounds worse than it is and runs its course naturally over 7-9 days). (But you still want to keep old and very young dogs from contact because they may be more likely to contract and have complications from other contagions taking advantage of a compromised immune system.)
So Oreo was shuffled away into the office, which is walled off from the rest of the dogs. We monitored his cough as it went away and came back and didn’t really fit the characteristics of a kennel cough. Then Michelle brought up the other bad word: heartworms. Often, when heartworms get into a dog’s system, pieces of worms will break off, enter the bloodstream and get lodged in the lungs, causing a cough. Oreo went to the vet that week and it was confirmed, he had the invaders living in the heart that we had all grown so attached to. Michelle cried, I felt guilty for not getting him tested when he arrived and everyone else showered concern and hugs on our orange dog. Once treatment started, Oreo seemed to miss playing with his dog friends (especially Ciri, his foster buddy) but didn’t seem to mind the extra attention, walks outside in the grass and the lots of treats he got from the staff.
Needless to say, Cookie-butt came out of treatment successfully and heartworm free. He went back to hamming it up and Ciri seemed awfully glad to see her roommate again.
Oreo is what I call a “lifer.” Though we all love him and know he’s a good dog, he doesn’t show well and it may be that he’ll live the rest of his orange life at MoJo’s Backyard. We’ve told several MoJo’s parents that their dog and Oreo are best friends. A couple of them have asked to meet this mystery playmate. And if Oreo doesn’t turn them off by snapping at their hands or peeing on the MoJo’s retail items, our long list of dos and don’ts will.
Though he’s got “quirks” (he’s slow to warm up to strangers, he’s scared of new things – and most things are new to him because he’s lived almost exclusively at MoJo’s, he doesn’t make best friends with male dogs, he’s a picky eater) he’s got many more lovable qualities (he’s extremely loyal, he’s crate trained and seldom goes potty inside, he’s playful with dogs he likes and with people he likes, he’ll curl up in your lap for chest rubs, he’s got the best sense of humor, he will “sit” and “wait,” he’s orange and fluffy!)
And I’m sure that when I say, “we all love him but can’t take him,” what potential parents hear is “he’s not worth it.” That’s not true! Like I mentioned, he doesn’t do so well with males (let’s call it “tail”-envy) and we all have males at home or more dogs than we can already handle: Me-4, Michelle-2, Stacey and Jean-5, Dylan-2, and Susan has just returned from Texas-1…hmmm…we’ll work on her 😉 And I would venture to say that if Michelle or Stacey found out that I was singing his praises trying to get him adopted, they would boycott MoJo’s and open their own daycare where Oreo could live forever. But, every dog deserves to sleep in bed with their mom or dad, live in a home with a little more stability, see squirrels everyday, eat the occasional table scrap, play with squeaky toys that aren’t drooled on or de-stuffed by another dog and take long walks and car rides.
So if you or anyone you know is looking for a GREAT dog and has a lot of love, time and patience to spare, call me at MoJo’s Backyard: 850.422.3063
P.S. Did I mention that he gets free training for life from Bark Busters?! Leigh Ann was so gracious to work with him and his male-aggression issues (and he’s much better now) and will work with you too.