When Julia Long and her mother pulled into the parking lot of a mattress warehouse, they intended to pick up a box spring, not a Black Lab — but the dog-loving duo ended up bringing home both. They’re keeping the box spring, but their foster dog, Mango, is now on the hunt for his forever family.
“It was just one of those very chance encounters in a very random place where you wouldn’t normally expect to see dogs,” says Long, an experienced animal rescuer in Houston, Texas, and founder of the Love, Molly Fund, a nonprofit created in memory of her late sister.
Long was backing her vehicle up to the warehouse to load the box spring when her mother noticed a sick, extremely underweight Lab, who didn’t yet know that it was his lucky day. The mange-covered dog was about to find himself counted among the some 200 strays Long has rescued in just the past three and a half years.
“He’s actually been probably the most gut-wrenching one I’ve found, for all the things he’s gone through,” says Long, who didn’t know the extent of Mango’s injuries when she met him. “We find a lot of skinny ones, we find a lot with parasites, but to be shot and hit by a car?!”
After parking her vehicle, Long followed the Lab over to an empty shipping container and introduced herself.
“I always ask dogs, ‘Do you wanna go with me?’” Long explains.
Mango, apparently, did want to go with her, because he followed Long back over to her car. He was hesitant at first, but eventually he was in the vehicle with Long and her mom.
“We could tell he was completely covered head to toe in sarcoptic mange, but that’s about all that we could tell,” Long recalls, adding that she figured she was dealing with an older dog. “I thought he was 7 or 8 by the way he looked.”
The next stop was the VERGI 24 hour Emergency and Critical Care Hospital, where Long and her mother finally got a good look at the dog they’d just saved.
“We both started crying. He couldn’t quit itching, and we realized there’s something wrong with his hip.”
It turned out the injury, which would require surgery, was an old one, and one of many Mango had that were consistent with having been hit by a car. His tongue was ripped apart, likely in the same collision that hurt his hip, and one of his teeth was broken and would need to be removed. In addition to his impact injuries, the poor dog was also suffering from a double eye infection, issues with his ears, and full-body sarcoptic mange with a secondary skin infection.
“He had also been shot. He had buck spray down his back and in his back legs,” says Long. “And of course he was heartworm positive as well.”
With such a long list of health problems, it was determined that Mango needed to stay at the VERGI hospital for a couple of days. The sick dog desperately needed to be rehydrated and treated with antibiotics and steroids.
While Mango was getting the care he needed, Long got some unexpected news from the medical team.
“They got to looking at him and realized he was probably a year to a year and a half old,” she says. “We were thankful that he hadn’t lived like that for years and years and years, but we were also sad that some little puppy went through all this by himself.”
Upon discharge from the hospital, Mango went to stay with Long’s mother, who had decided to foster the young Lab. The two women saw that Mango got care for his hip, and they got him ready for a new life with a new family.
“Now we’re just working on rebuilding that muscle. The skin infection cleared up, and his hair’s grown back in almost completely.”
Long says she’s amazed at how fast Mango’s recovered and how affectionate he is after all he’s been through.
“He’s let it all go. He’s friendly and sweet — he needs some training of course, being a Lab puppy — but he’s a really good dog. He’s a really sweet dog.”
Mango is currently still in foster care (where he likes to climb on the humans and sleep with his head on their shoulders), but Long’s mother’s place can’t be his permanent home.
“She has plenty of dogs — and he’s a puppy. He’s ready for a home that’s ready for a Lab puppy,” Long explains. “He would do great with an older dog who likes to play but will teach him the ropes of socialization.”
The experienced dog rescuer says Mango would do great with a family that has older kids, but he has maybe too much energy for little ones. According to Long, the outgoing pup is definitely ready to have some fun and make friends.
“He loves to go on walks, loves to play with other dogs. He hasn’t met a stranger yet.”
Potential adopters can check out Mango’s Facebook page for more information on this resilient rescue pup. As anyone who looks at his before-and-after pictures can see, Mango has been through more than any dog should. According to Long, Mango’s story is indicative of Houston’s pet overpopulation problem and the even more disturbing issue of violence against animals.
“What he’s been through is all too common in our city,” Long tells Dogster. “So many dogs come in that have pellets and BBs in them.”
Long says higher rates of spaying, neutering, and adoption would mean fewer dogs would have to suffer. Mango’s already got the neutered part covered — now he just needs to be adopted.
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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+.