By Donna Bucek, Director of Animal Services
I cannot tell you the story of Monty’s life for his first 8 years, but I can tell you his story since his arrival at the Western PA Humane Society as a stray. I first met Monty after I was called in to the Triage Room. My staff called me because I have experience working with severely matted pets. With all my experience of thousands of pets coming through our shelter, I absolutely could not tell what the dirty white mass was in front of me. At first glance, I thought he was a horribly matted angora rabbit and I did not know which end was the front and which end was the back.
As we began our mission of freeing this poor creature from his tomb of matted hair, feces, and other debris, Monty sat there, frozen. Then again, what else could he do? His foot pads had not touched the earth in what we assume was months and the smell of infection was throughout the room. He was surely in pain. You can view the video of his “revealing” by going to www.wpahumane.org/monty.html.
As I had more time to observe Monty’s condition, I could see that rock solid hair mats surrounded his legs and feet. As we started to remove the layers of solid fur, I can only explain his condition this way: it was as if someone put a cast on your arms and legs and every few days poured liquid down each cast. This would obviously irritate your skin and lead to infection. Monty’s skin and paws were urine scalded and infected. No area was left unaffected; he even had impacted stool (blocked by his fur) which made his hind end very sore and painful. Upon further examination from one of our veterinarians, we determined that Monty has severe left tarsal laxity as well as osteoarthritis. He was put on a pain medication regimen to make him feel more comfortable.
With all of this scary stuff happening, and staff coming and going with supplies, one would think that Monty would have to be sedated. Luckily for him and the veterinary technicians, Monty remained a trooper. The next day, however, freed from the mats, Monty was not a happy camper. I guess his months (maybe years) of neglect were about all he could take. He wanted no part of us going in and touching him. We used cat gloves to get him out and moved him to a cage in the office. For the next few days, we just said hello and gave him pets on his head. He was not at all happy about getting medicine for his many ailments.
One morning my emotions hit rock bottom as I spoke to Monty as part of our morning ritual, wondering if we were doing the right thing for him. He looked so sad, he didn’t like moving because his skin was sore, and he seemed to hold a grudge against the staff. I thought “well, we may have given him the best week of his life.” I told Monty that I needed a sign to tell us we were moving in the right direction. He just stayed in his bed, unmoving. Fifteen minutes later, those of us sitting in the office were SHOCKED when Monty jumped up and out of his bed, jumped out of the crate and ran to the door as if to say, “Okay everyone- let’s get a move on.”
Monty kept up these kinds of positive interactions for a couple of days; however, he was still not sure of human touch. We had another minor setback when Monty chose to stay in his crate for several days in a row. He and I had a heart to heart again, making me wonder what in the world I was going to do with him. Was he comfortable, was he happy? The next day Monty came out of his bed again – and started PLAYING! He chased the toy balls and hoarded them back to his bed! He chased squeaky toys across the room! It was unbelievable to watch. We again sat in awe, but this time with tears in our eyes, as this dog that had such a hard beginning taught us not to give up.
We have established a morning routine; Monty waits in his crate when I arrive to work. I open the crate and Monty runs to the office door. Out the door we go, through the clinic offices, past the surgery wards, and then out to the fenced area (all without a leash). After he is finished being outside, Monty runs back into my office for his morning breakfast. Then we play ball before checking out different scenery, like visiting the Development and Education office.
We have also found that he has a favorite treat- Natural Balance. He tries to solicit attention by putting his front paws on your legs while balancing with his leg and a half in the back. Monty also enjoys being in his crate. Even if another dog is in the there, he just crawls on in and rests with them!
I will continue to update our readers on Monty’s progress. He has several medical tests coming up that will determine a course of action for his recovery. Please feel free to visit www.wpahumane.org/monty.html to receive updates on his story. You can also make a gift to the Western PA Humane Society to help us continue to care for pets like Monty.