A Munchkins Tale

The Senior Who Wasn't!

by Alice Meredith

Here's Munchkin's story which I'll try to keep brief...though it's difficult! And, by the way, I have before and after pictures of him which I can send to anyone who might be interested.

His posted age was shown as "about 10." The shelter he'd been with originally said he'd been an owner turn-in; that a 93-year old woman and her son brought him (not neutered) and a spayed female (who was adopted) because the 93-year old could no longer take care of them.

The owner couldn't remember his age--thought he was 12 years old. He had a severe skin infection, a heart murmur and a swollen prostate. The shelter's vet dropped his age to approximately 10 years because his teeth are so good. That age info, along with his medical problems, just about guaranteed he'd have a hard time being adopted.

The shelter was delighted at my interest. However, at some point they realized I was not affiliated with a rescue group. I'd never told them I was...just that I wanted to adopt him. Just as I thought everything was ready, I learned their policy was to adopt to Virginia residents or rescue groups only. I'm in Maryland, a couple of miles from the Virginia state line.

I've rescued pets all my life, including one I pulled from a wild dog pack. And I never had a worse time than trying to give Munchkin a home. When I was told they couldn't adopt to me because of my not being a Virginia resident, and were going to try to adopt him to someone in Virginia, I went ballistic. And also spent that entire weekend wandering around saying, "Wait for me Munchkin!" (Concentrating on that must have worked since he ended up being so unfriendly to the people who came by to see him. And the way he glommed on to me...first time we'd seen each other...prompted the volunteer to say it seemed as though we'd met before.)

Finally, I managed to get them to change their rules, explaining it shouldn't matter whether someone across the street or over 3,000 miles away wants to adopt...whole purpose is to find a home! Prior to the rules being changed, the shelter volunteers and I were trying to find a Virginia rescue group who would sign for him and then adopt him to me, but we didn't receive any responses. At the last minute, the volunteers contacted Janie Froelich of the Pet Assistance League of Virginia who runs the Woodbridge, Virginia Petsmart adoptions. Janie (bless her heart!) said she'd be happy to sign for him and adopt to me via Petsmart. Right after that, the shelter decided they could adopt to me themselves. The volunteers drove Munchkin up to the Woodbridge Petsmart along with some of their other prospective adoptees...and I finally had my little "senior" rescue.

I don't know how long he was at the shelter prior to his adoption. However, between the time Patty posted her message and the time I was able to adopt him on September 22, Munchkin had been kept in a sealed-off dog overflow area (no windows and no sound could get through) with a lot of big dogs who barked all day long and he was quite frantic. That was probably the reason he'd torn out so much more of his hair by the time I got him. (He looked terrible compared to the "before" picture I have here.) They'd taken him out of the overflow area over his final weekend there to see if anyone from Virginia would adopt him. He wasn't all that friendly to those who stopped by to check him out and, of course, the 10 years as well as all the ailments listed didn't help his cause. Additionally, his temperament test showed he was quite willful and not at all "cuddly."

I later learned that

  • He'd been a puppy mill breeder.
  • The man who turned him in came in alone and just gave the story about his mother being unable to care for him.
  • The "spayed" female Shih Tzu who accompanied Munchkin had NOT been spayed or adopted. She was in such bad shape from overbreeding, they had to put her to sleep.

    I was not at all surprised to learn he'd been with a puppy mill because, the minute I saw his splayed feet/bent legs, knew I was looking at a dog who'd spent his life in a wire cage.

    FUN PART: I'd thought I was adopting a little senior who I could give a few happy years. After having total blood work done which showed everything was perfect except for a low thyroid count from the formerly horrific skin infection--now totally cleared, I asked Mike (Vet) to do a really thorough check of him and give his best guess on his true age.
    After all, he takes three to four stairs at a time; does the ST 500 about three times a day, looks much younger now, and they can't find the heart murmur.

    After a very thorough check, Mike happily gave his age as TWO YEARS!

    He explained a lot of vets don't focus on how old a puppy mill dog can look. He also expects the only thing that saved Munchkin from his former life was the prostate problem...which was cured by neutering. Since we have no idea when he came into this world, we've given him my husband's September 5 birthdate.

    So much for my rescuing a little senior--will just have to let Yum-Yum (our 15-year old Tzu who arrived as a puppy) continue to carry that flag. Munchkin is an absolutely delightful little guy. As to being willful, he does have a mind of his own, as do all my dogs, but I like that. As to not being cuddly--no way. I took him from the volunteer as she was about to walk into Petsmart and he glommed on to me and refused to let anyone else hold him. Everyone thinks "Velcro" would have been a great name for him.

    One of the most fun changes since he's come to live with us is that he now knows how to play. I threw a ball to him when he first arrived and got a terrified look before he ran off. His sister, Sadie (our Poo-Pom) took care of teaching him how to fetch and throw the ball back, so he's all set now. It's nice to know we'll have many happy years with him.

    Many hugs to all of you...from Munchkin and me!!!

    ShihTzu




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