When someone loses a sock in Cheryl Grant’s house, she always knows where to look. Chances are her Yorkshire Terrier, Chewie, has decided to claim it for himself.
“He’ll steal things from the house and take them to the backyard,” Grant tells Dogster. “He’s got this one little section, and that’s where he takes all of his treasures.”
To Chewie, a single sock or an abandoned pencil is something worth saving, but 10 months ago, someone didn’t think he was. He was just 5 months old when someone dumped him at a park in Santa Ana, California. When a passerby noticed Chewie in the grass, they tried to get him to stand up — but he couldn’t.
“Immediately the guy realized that his front legs either had a genetic defect or were broken, so he called our officers right away,” says, Katie Ingram, the assistant director of OC Animal Care.
Officers were quick to pluck Chewie from the park, and they could tell that while his tiny legs were broken, his spirit wasn’t. The pup was happy to be with people and likely wouldn’t have survived on his own in the park for very long.
“He was clean, he was well cared for, so we do assume he probably had an owner,” says Ingram. “We splinted his legs, we X-rayed him, got him immediately on some pain meds and anti-inflammatories.”
The X-rays revealed the fractures in both of Chewie’s front legs had already begun healing and were up to a week old at that point. According to Ingram, Chewie may have been hurt by jumping off of something, or he might have been hit by a car. For some reason — most likely financial — she believes Chewie’s family didn’t seek medical attention right away. According to Ingram, if they had tried, the whole situation could have been a lot less tragic. She says there are several vets in Orange County who offer low-cost surgeries, payment plans, and sometimes even fully sponsored surgeries.
“In Chewie’s case, it’s highly likely that they may have even found a vet who could take care of this with like a $10-a-month payment, and they could have treated him and kept him,” she explains.
Instead, it seems Chewie’s person decided to abandon him. Luckily, he was saved and put into the Medical Pets Program at OC Animal Care, where his surgery was paid for by its nonprofit, the Noble Friends Foundation. The Medical Pets Program gives injured or sick animals who might otherwise be euthanized a second chance by fixing them up and getting them back on the adoption list. Chewie was a perfect candidate for this program because if it wasn’t for the broken legs, the cute, friendly little guy was as adoptable as a dog can be. Ingram says local veterinarians offer discounted surgeries for animals in the Medical Pets Program, so Chewie got the surgery he needed right away.
For three and a half months, he stayed in the care of the organization. Both his legs were in casts, as he needed to be splinted and have pins surgically inserted and then removed. He had physical therapy while living in foster care, and when he was finally able to walk normally, Chewie was taken to an adoption event. Looking super adorable and without so much as a limp, Chewie was scooped up by a young family within two hours of being put up for adoption. His rescue story might have ended there, but instead it ended across the street, at Cheryl Grant’s house. Grant stepped in when her neighbors realized their busy home just wasn’t the right environment for a little dog like Chewie.
“My daughter babysits for them,” Grant explains. “My dog would go play with him over at their house, so it was kind of a natural thing for us to take him because he already knew us.”
Grant’s other dog, an 11-year-old Boxer named Maggie, was thrilled when her neighborhood playmate became her little brother, even sharing her bed with him. Chewie has helped Maggie feel young again, and entertains the whole family by racing into the house though the doggie door and leaping onto the nearest lap.
“He comes in hot,” Grant jokes, noting that you would never know the speedy little dog’s legs had ever been broken.
Grant is thankful that her home is Chewie’s forever home, and hopes his story won’t be repeated. She says she would encourage people to plan for the financial aspects of pet ownership before bringing home a dog — a sentiment echoed by Ingram.
“Always kind of consider, is insurance an option? Is a small savings plan an option?” Ingram suggests, adding that pet guardians can also call around to vets in advance of an injury to find out who offers what services at what costs.
If Chewie’s original human had had a backup plan — or even asked a shelter or rescue for help right after the injury — the little dog wouldn’t have had to suffer as much. His story is a cautionary tale, but his future is a bright one full of laundry theft and family members with one cold foot.
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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+.