These days, seven-year-old Bob Marley, a Schnauzer/Poodle mix, is shorn, sheltered, and loved thanks to Pinky Paws ResQ in Fowler, California, but it wasn’t long ago that this handsome pup was so dirty and matted that he was unrecognizable and very uncomfortable. Back in March, Bob looked more like a mop than a dog, and was surviving by hunting rodents on the property of a raisin company. That all changed when Pinky Paws ResQ gave Bob the makeover of a lifetime. His transformation earned him the top spot in Wahl’s fourth annual Dirty Dog Contest and a chance at adoption — but it would never have happened without one phone call.
“A neighbor had called me and said there was a matted dog with a rope around his neck near the packing house where he works,” recalls Krystal Rivera, founder of Pinky Paws.
The call came in on a weekday, so Rivera — who works full-time in accounting for the City of Fowler — popped down to the raisin-packing plant during her first break of the day. She knew immediately that this tangled mess of a dog desperately needed a haircut, but she could also see he didn’t like humans and would be a challenge to catch. Later, during her lunch break, Rivera loaded up her van with supplies. When the work day ended at Fowler City Hall, she and a co-worker headed back to the plant to save the dog under all that dirty fur.
“I taped up my hands with towels and wore a big jacket because I knew he was going to bite,” Rivera explains, adding that Bob was very mean, likely because he’d been abused at the hands of humans before coming to live between the raisin bins in the packing yard.
Once Bob was in her arms, Rivera could not only see, but also smell, some of the problems Bob’s overgrown coat was causing him. The scent of infection and waste lingered on the angry dog. A rope was deeply matted in his fur. Judging by the condition he was in, Rivera estimated Bob had been on his own for at least six months, and his anti-social behavior pointed to a problematic past with whoever had put the rope around his neck.
“He was probably just thrown outside and tied up,” Rivera explains, who suspects Bob was abused before he was abandoned. “He’s been through so much.”
Whatever Bob experienced before meeting Rivera left him with the kind of aggression issues that would have made him a candidate for euthanasia if he’d been picked up by animal control instead of Pinky Paws. According to Rivera, all stray dogs in the city of Fowler were euthanized before she started Pinky Paws in 2006, and even if Bob had ended up in a shelter in nearby Fresno, his anger issues would have made him unadoptable and could have been his death sentence.
“We had to muzzle him just to get him to the vet, and then they had to sedate him to shave him down to find out his gender.”
Once the vet clinic had freed Bob from the matted mess that was causing him so much pain, Rivera got the call to pick him up. Bob wasn’t making friends at the clinic — in fact, he was biting at the staff. Thankfully, he bonded with Rivera when she came to pick him up.
“He knew that I took him into the vet to be shaved down, and that I came back,” she explains. “You can tell he’s very thankful.”
Once home with Rivera, Bob was placed on a behavior-modification program. He began working with a trainer, and he was treated to grooming products Pinky Paws had received from Wahl. The company sent 1,800 bottles of shampoo to rescues like Pinky Paws this year.
“I applied for a grant through Petfinder to get some products, so they sent me some oatmeal shampoo, which is good because so many of the foster dogs have skin issues, and some dry shampoo, which is great for adoption events.”
When Pinky Paws was invited to enter the fourth annual Dirty Dog Contest and show off how some of those products help prepare rescue dogs for adoption, Rivera jumped at the chance to compete for the top prize — a $5,000 grant to the rescue courtesy of Wahl and GreaterGood.org.
“I thought, Bob is perfect for this because he was such a matted mess.”
Bob’s story captured the hearts of the voting public, earning him the title of Dirtiest Dog, and earning Pinky Paws the much-deserved grant money.
“Now we’re able to pay for a lot of our vet bills,” explains Rivera, who currently pays 60 to 70 percent of the rescue’s medical bills from her own pocket. The money will also pay for Bob’s upcoming neutering, and for his ongoing behavior-modification training — which is going to take a while.”
She adds, “He will be up for adoption, but I know it will be at least a year before he’ll be ready.”
And when adoption day eventually comes, we know Bob will not only be on his best behavior, but he’ll be looking his best, too.
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About the Author: Heather Marcoux is a freelance writer in Alberta, Canada. Her beloved Ghost Cat was once her only animal, but the addition of a second cat, Specter, and the dog duo of GhostBuster and Marshmallow make her fur family complete. Sixteen paws is definitely enough. Heather is also a wife, a bad cook, and a former TV journalist. Some of her friends have hidden her feed because of an excess of cat pictures. If you don’t mind cat pictures, you can follow her on Twitter; she also posts pet GIFs on Google+.