So Jack’s sad story begins with my husband, as always for the past 10 years, looking for a Westie for me to love. We lost our beloved “Gage” after 13 years and it took 10 years to find an ad on Craigslist to rehome a 4-5 year old male.
I was a little reluctant because it was a Philadelphia ad and I’m not a traveler and my husband isn’t always feeling well. After a few days of back and forth we were informed the breeder was actually in New Jersey. We spoke a few times. My husband asked many questions, I spoke with the breeder again a day or two later and I asked many questions. She even agreed to meet us halfway in Edison NJ.
So on July 20th we set out for the 100 mile trip. I brought a leash, a cage, water and a pillow. We met the breeder in a parking lot. I handed her the $350 and she handed over “Remses”. I put him on the ground. She informed me he never learned his name and this was probably his first time on pavement. He’d never been on a leash either. He was shaking.
The breeder scribbled a note on his “shot record” that was a receipt of sorts. I asked her a few more questions and we set off for the trip home. He stayed so quiet in the cage. I talked to him in a sing-song voice convincing him he was going to a place where he’d be loved and well taken care of and that I hoped he wouldn’t miss his old life too much. It was a quiet ride back home.
Over the following days as we waited for an appointment with our vet, we tried to decide what to call him since he never knew his name. A popular Scottish name was Jack, so that was it. I researched pet insurance also. Never knowing what laid in store. Pet insurance requires a visit to a vet in the prior 12 months with no pre-existing conditions.
At the vet’s office, I explained his story and he was given a thorough going over. I was informed his shot record wasn’t really accurate. Certain immunizations are accompanied by certificates and stickers. I had only check marks in a booklet attesting to his history. I told the vet, I wanted to call the breeder for an explanation about the check marks and if she had his rabies certificate or his Bordetella proof. He was given several tests and other shots and I was informed that he had several missing and broken teeth and that he only had one testicle. If I were to decide to neuter him, it would be a two-step procedure (for which there would be a two time charge). He would have to undergo a “spaying” as a female would to remove his testicle from his belly, and then a neuter as a male dog would to remove the other testicle. He would need dental attention too. Now we understood why he wasn’t much of an eater and turned his nose up at milk bone snacks.
A day or two later the Dr. called to inform us that Jack had heartworm. I was not only devastated for him as my mind went vividly wild as I googled what it meant. He could die. My terror turned to anger. The Dr. wants him back for another blood test to be certain. The poor dog, sticking tiny needles in his forearm to draw blood. He took it all so camly, except the yelp when he got stuck. I guess I was already attached to Jack because at 8 days in, I wanted to cry.
I called the breeder (yes, she’s a Westie breeder and has been for years). I asked her which vet the dog had seen (she had told my husband he was vet checked, bathed and groomed and ready to go). She stumbled over her answer and said the vet just checks his eyes and ears. I said really? My vet checked him inside and out and upside down! Why didn’t you tell us he had missing and broken teeth? Oh, yeah they get that from chewing wires was her answer. Why didn’t you tell us he had only 1 testicle, “Oh, yeah I knew he only had one testicle”. And did you know he has heartworm? How long had this poor guy been suffering? “Oh, I didn’t know he had heartworm.” I said, well you had him checked by a vet didn’t the vet test him? You told my husband he was “ready to go”!! Every picture you texted us he’s outdoors, wasn’t he protected? Obviously not! I need the vet’s name and I think you should not only give me back my rehoming fee, but pay for half his treatment costs. Her answer was that she was struggling and couldn’t possibly pay, but she’d “talk to the girls”, whoever they were and get back to me. She also informed me I could take him to Pennsylvania where they treat the heartworm for $450. On August 3rd she posted a new litter of 6 puppies for sale. Of course she never got back to me. I was willing to take her to small claims court but I didn’t know her address. I can’t read her scribbled last name, I only know she has a Breeders.net profile where she sells her puppies. After a week or so of no response I sent her a stinging text warning of the effects of Karma.
The next day the vet called and Jack tested negative. I had to bring him back in to be stuck for a third time to be certain before any treatment could begin. He also got his Leptospirosis and Bordetella shots just to be sure because obviously this breeder is a storyteller.
Jack was to begin his treatments after a month of antibiotics. I had to find a vet compound pharmacy to make him a liquid because I wasn’t sure he could chew a tablet.
He came to us very skittish. He jumps at loud noise and pushes himself to the very back of the cage to sleep. I leave the door open for him, but while trying to teach him and coax him out, he touches the floor like it’s made of lava, nails clenched like he’s gonna fall. He needs to be carried most of the time.
Over the past several weeks he’s starting to come around. He loves me to pet him, he gets so excited when I come from the upstairs or home from the store. He eagerly looks forward to dinnertime and he especially likes his outings in the backyard to do what he needs to do, then back inside.
The treatments will last months. He’ll have to lay quietly in the cage most of the time so as to not stir up the heartworm bacteria. Obviously all training is on hold for now. His 3rd heartworm test came back positive. I took him to the groomer to give him a summer cut and not have to worry about deep brushing and grooming while he’s convalescing. He has to stay very still for the 7 weeks or so of rounds of shots.
I was on Facebook one day and brought up some of the groups I had joined when Gage was here. I put a short story on Westie Nation about Jack. The response was just overwhelming! I don’t like to post things because people are so negative and nasty, but there’s a special kind of heaven in the Westie Lover. There were more than 300 people thanking and encouraging me for helping Jack. One person suggested I contact WestieMed. She said they may be able to help with the cost of his treatment. I carefully read everything on the website and decided to submit an application. There are so many stories of assistance! I am so grateful and happy that it was approved. I can’t describe my joy. This will help so much. Once he’s better I can then decide about his spay/neuter and dental issues.
I have always been a believer that everything happens for a reason. Although we’re never always sure why or how. Jack was placed in my path for a reason. I believe it. I’m 100% attached to him and we’re making progress every day.
Thank you WestieMed for the great assistance to get him on a healthy path. I hope my story isn’t too long, I could talk about Jack all day.