Saving Scruffy

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Memoir  |  House: Booksie Classic
A naked puppy gets a second chance at life.

Submitted: February 19, 2008

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Submitted: February 19, 2008



Before my husband Tom and I had children, we lived on a former dairy farm in Kilmichael, Mississippi.  The old house was surrounded by forest and cotton fields.  It was a beautiful location and there was plenty of room for our pet dogs to run.  Oftentimes when it was hot, our dogs would return to the house soaking wet, as though they had been swimming in a nearby creek.  The dogs helped guard the property, and provided us with constant companionship.  They were an important part of our family.  I didn't need another dog, but one day, as it turned out, another dog needed US.

In those days, there were dumpsters on the outskirts of Greenwood, Mississippi, where people could drop their household garbage.  My husband and I used to dump trash every so often at these public dumpsters.  Greenwood is about an hour's drive from Kilmichael.

One day, my husband was headed back toward the house after running a few errands in Greenwood.  He found himself behind an eighteen-wheeler that was slowly driving past two of the public dumpsters.  The truck driver slowed down long enough to open his door and toss something black toward the dumpsters.  Although Tom could see that it WASN'T a garbage sack, he STILL couldn't discern what the object had been.  His curiosity was getting the best of him, so when the eighteen-wheeler sped off down Highway 82, Tom pulled in next to the dumpsters to get a quick look at the discarded item.  It wasn't long before he found out.

Crouched down in a corner near one of the dumpsters was a frightened black puppy.  He wasn't a tiny breed.  The abandoned pup was about the size of a baby labrador retriever.  Cautious of Tom, the puppy was wary to let him get very close, but with some gentle coaxing, Tom managed to get near enough to get a good look at him.

The pup was skinny and had an acute case of mange.  He had lost all of his black hair, except for one streak of fuzz down the center of his back, like a pitifully thin mohawk.  Had the truck driver abandoned him because in his mangy condition he was nearly as naked as a piglet?  Tom didn't know, but the puppy didn't seem to be PHYSICALLY hurt.  Miraculously, he wasn't limping.  He was sniffing near the dumpsters, probably looking for food scraps.  He looked like he could be nursed back to health, so after Tom built up his trust by petting him awhile, he scooped the little puppy up in his arms and put him gently in the back of the pickup.

When Tom got back to the house in Kilmichael, he said, "I've got something for you in the back of the truck."

I couldn't imagine what it was.  Tom was always bringing home old furniture that I could restore.  Maybe it was a power tool with a broken cord that someone had discarded?  We were always recycling SOMETHING, but my heart nearly broke when I saw the little naked canine in the back of the truck.

"Oh, my God," I said.  "Where did you find this puppy?"

Tom explained how he had saved the puppy from a slow, agonizing death by exposure.  There was no doubt.  This puppy needed hair.

I lowered him to the ground and let the other dogs sniff him.  Instead of showing aggression, the pup rolled over onto his back in a submissive gesture while the other dogs investigated him.  Before long, he had taken a liking to one of the pretty little female dogs that I had.  (Her name was ""Buttons".)

"Well, he seems nice enough," I said after watching him awhile.  He trotted over and licked my hand with his purple tongue as I assessed whether improvements could be made in his physical condition.

Feeding the puppy wouldn't be a problem, and he'd have more energy if he wasn't emaciated.  The baldness was another matter.  He looked so bad that I decided to name him "Scruffy".

I tried to bathe him,treating him with a medicine that was specially designed for puppies with mange, but Scruffy had a definite aversion to water, and the process was very difficult.

Finally, I had an idea.  I put a capful of the medicine into a spray bottle.  Then I added some Listerine to kill germs, baby oil to soften his skin, witch hazel to relieve the itching, and the liquid from several "Vitamin E" softgels that I had.  I filled the rest of the bottle with water.

Every morning and every night, I sprayed the mixture onto Scruffy's naked body.  Even though he had hated being bathed, he stood still when he was being sprayed.

Over the course of the next week, his skin began to look more smooth.  About eight days into the treatment, I noticed what looked like black peach fuzz sprouting all over Scruffy's body.  He was beginning to grow new hair!

Elated with this small improvement in Scruffy's hideous appearance, I continued the treatments.  Two weeks later, he puppy had a brand new brushable coat of fur!  Now Tom and I could see what breed he was.  He looked like a little chow!

Tom and I placed an ad in a local paper, and before long, a sweet young lady came to the house to look at him.  Scruffy took an instant liking to her.

"What a luxurious fur coat!" she commented.  "My kids would spend hours just brushing him!"

I smiled to myself.  If only she knew . . .

Scruffy was adopted that night and taken to his new home in Winona, Mississippi.  Thrown out like trash, that abandoned puppy was now a new family's furry little treasure!








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