The vet said that he must have been on his own for at least 6 weeks. He was found by a worker, wandering somewhere in a field in Florida. He was covered with mats, fleas, ticks and was starving and dying of thirst. They took him in, they shaved him, they gave him food and water, they called him “Shaggy” and posted his photo on their website. They are Lee County Domestic Animal Services, http://www.leelostpets.com. A lovely woman named Lin spotted his photo, contacted the Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier Club of Greater Tampa Bay and the rest of the story belongs to us….
Tim and I have owned pets our entire married life, we have had the pleasure of owning our beautiful Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier, Maisie, for 6 years. We were less informed about the origin of some “pet store pets” when we bought Maisie from a pet store but we have learned so much since that time about her probable history and, while we wouldn’t do the same thing today, we have never regretted for a single second that Maisie was sitting in that pet store that day. I have heard people talk about their “heart dog”. If there is such a thing, Maisie is my husband’s “Heart Dog”. The two of them connect on some level that even I cannot reach; she knows before he asks when they are going to go for their ride around our block in the two seater convertible (affectionately known by our neighborhood friends as “Driving Miss Maisie”) she knows when he needs a place to place his hand and feel a sympathetic long sigh at the end of a long and stressful day. She is my husband’s idea of “perfection” (after yours truly, of course).
Tim and I had discussed fostering or adopting a Wheaten Terrier in need for a number of months and the right situation never seemed to present itself; we knew it that would one day. Thus begins our journey toward Lee County Domestic Animal Services and the dog they were calling “Shaggy”.
I don’t know what inspired me on December 17th to again visit http://flwheatenclub.org/rescue but I was spending time online, thinking again about our life, Maisie, our gratitude and the holidays. On their website I read again about the need for Wheaten Foster and Wheaten Adoption and contacted our friend Melissa Nelson about becoming a Wheaten foster home. She graciously replied that day and invited us to fill out a foster application as well as a new adoption application for updating purposes. We had been approved previously as an adoptive home though the right situation had never come along.
Two days later, December 19, a Saturday, I received an urgent voicemail from Melissa; “Would we be able to journey up to Fort Myers, Florida? It appeared that there might be a Soft Coated Wheaten at the Lee County Domestic Animal Services; he was a stray, had been available to adopt for a period of days and needed a home right away.” I immediately called Melissa and she said that a wonderful Wheaten Rescue lady and good friend, Susie, was going to head over to the shelter while on her way back from a California “red-eye” and see if “Shaggy” was still there. I told Melissa that Tim and I would be very happy to help in whatever capacity was needed and waited on pins and needles for the report back from Susie.
Susie arrived too early for dog viewing, she was exhausted and bleary eyed from her journey but determined to see if “Shaggy” was still there and what kind of condition he might be in. While she waited she witnessed the heartbreaking scene of lost and unwanted pets being dropped off by people who had found them wandering on their property or whose lives had taken a turn and they were no longer able to care for their pets. She also witnessed the empathy, understanding and devotion of the Lee Domestic Animal Services staff as they performed their heartbreaking work. Finally at 11:00 Susie was allowed to tour the cages and see if indeed Shaggy was still there and was in need of a home. Susie scrambled through the cages blindly searching for the familiar Wheaten eyes while trying desperately to block out the cacaphony of barks and whines and the desperate pairs of eyes searching hers. Finally she spotted him. Yes, he was a Wheaten she knew as soon as she saw him. Susie immediately found a shelter worker and asked if she could visit with “Shaggy”. He was completely emmaciated yet immediately came to her with trust and hugs and kisses. Because Shaggy was not able to go home immediately, he needed to have his bloodwork performed and be completely checked by the on-site Veterinary Staff before his release, Susie placed a monetary hold on him, called Melissa and reported that he was available if Pati and Tim could help him.
Two days later we met with Susie in Fort Myers at Lee DomesticAnimal Services, filled out the necessary application work, interviewed with an animal intake worker and waited to meet our boy. While visiting with Susie we heard about how absolutely sweet he was, how he had come immediately to her and how sad she was that she couldn’t adopt Shaggy because her Wheaten “Finnegan” had given the idea a big four non-opposable thumbs down. She did tell us, however, that if he did come home with her she thought that a perfect name for him would be “Mulligan” , a golfing term for “do-over”. Perfect!
Once all the i’s were dotted and t’s crossed Tim and Susie and I waited for “Mulligan” to come out with a shelter worker. Out he came, literally running, so happy to be sprung from what must have been such a scary, noisy and surreal place. Immediately he ran to Tim, “There you are Dad!” he seemed to say. For a brief moment he acknowledged Susie, I believe he remembered her and knew she would be back.
It’s been 3 weeks now and Mulligan is doing beautifully. He is house trained, knows basic commands and he has gained an unbelieveable 10 pounds with more to go as indicated from his appetite. I am happy to report that Tim and I have officially joined the rank of “Foster Failures” and have become Mulligan’s forever family. It is the first time in my life I have ever been proud to “fail”.
I don’t know how Mulligan happened into that situation, alone in a field to fend for himself for six weeks or longer. I have imagined so many scenarios and can only attempt to read the story in his eyes. I thank whomever attempted to give him a home in the beginning, the guardian angels who watched over him and especially Mulligan’s angels here on Earth; “Lin” who first spotted him online, Melissa Nelson and Susie Pruyne of The Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier Club of Greater Tampa Bay, all of the workers at Lee County Domestic Animal Services and our wonderful Veterinarian Dr. Stacy Huber.