The stray pets of the Philippines are fortunate that an intrepid group of volunteers have their backs: CARA Welfare Philippines — Compassion and Responsibility for Animal Welfare in the Philippines. A nongovernmental nonprofit operating solely on private donations, the Manila-based group has made possible many astonishing success stories. But we think one of CARA’s most compelling cases is the extreme makeover of a mini-mutt called Matt.
Matt is certainly an offbeat name for a girlydog; she earned her handle because of the tangled mats of knotted hair that covered her entire body. But mats were the least of little Matt’s problems.
“Matt belonged to a squatter whose house is pasted against a wall along Araneta Avenue,” says CARA’s Rebecca Tieng, who discovered the dog in October. She was kept above the ground on an elevated piece of plyboard, tethered by a short metal wire just a foot long. The wire was so tight around Matt’s neck that it dug into her flesh. Two years prior, her owners had acquired Matt as a puppy, then promptly robbed her of every pup’s birthright: To romp and play and sleep where it’s safe. She never knew the comfort of living indoors.
“She lived in a very neglected state,” Tieng says — and that’s putting it mildly. Had Matt tripped or fallen or taken one wrong step off her plyboard perch, she would’ve died by hanging. With no roof or canopy over her head, she was fully exposed to the elements.
Meanwhile, the wire around her neck gave her an inflamed wound. She was rarely fed, and never got water — unless, that is, you count the raindrops that pelted her from a stormy sky, cruelly stinging her wounded neck.
Tieng boldly offered the owners money for their dog. “I convinced them to give her up, paid them 1,000 pesos, and they surrendered her to me,” she recalls. So hands-off were these people that they thought their dog was male; now, Tieng says, “Matt is short for Mathilde!”
Upon arrival at the CARA veterinary clinic, Matt was shaved from nose to tail, with extra care taken around the neck, to expose the injured flesh for treatment and healing. Not surprisingly, Tieng says, “the wound had become badly infected, so the vets cleaned and stitched it up.” Despite the pain she endured thanks to mistreatment, Matt enjoyed interacting with the people who tended to her.
That pesky name has understandably caused confusion, leading people to believe Matt is a boy. On the CARA blog, prior to desexing surgery, Matt’s prognosis was: “He will be a beautiful dog once his fur has grown back.”
Along with the matted, filthy fur and the ability to reproduce, Matt also shed her fear of moving an inch. Her inner puppy came out to play, for keeps. “She would bark incessantly until she was let out of the clinic cage and played with,” Tieng says. “She loved attention, hugging, and nipping!”
Today, Matt is doing well. “She is housetrained, instinctively very clean, and smells like a baby,” Tieng reports. Matt loves interacting with dogs and people of all sizes, but CARA is seeking a home without children because of her irrepressible, puppylike tendency to jump, hug, and — yep — nip.
Considering all she’s been through, it seems only fair to grant this dog a permanent puppy pass. CARA’s truth-in-advertising approach is commendable: “She must have someone in the home 24/7 who can give her all the love and care she missed for the first two years of her life,” Tieng insists. “She is very sweet but naughty in her own cute ways.”
Long may Matt’s too-long-repressed inner puppy play. CARA hopes you’ll help spread the word about Matt, so she’ll find her forever home — and please consider donating so the group may continue doing dog’s work for the Philippines’ furry citizens.
Do you know of a rescue hero — dog, human, or group — we should profile on Dogster? Write us at firstname.lastname@example.org.