"Bark 'n' Scratch"

Volume I - Issue 12:  December 19, 2003
Published by:
Christopher Aust, Master Trainer

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In Today's Issue ...

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=>  Christopher's Drool
=>  The Story of Bear
=>  Today's Quote
=>  Recommended Stuff
=>  The Handsome Prince

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Christopher's Drool

Hi Gang!

I am doing something a little different for the first "Christmas Issue" of Bark and Scratch. I didn't plan it. It just came to me through a series of circumstances that I feel were constructed for some reason or another. It has made me think so deeply, I feel it needs to be shared. Stick with me people, I'm not wasting your time.

As you all know, I have started including a picture in the Breed of the Week article each issue. I've been asking the person who requested the breed, to submit a photo of his or her own dog to showcase. For this week's issue, the Sheltie was the next breed in line.

Marla Harris, a lady I've developed a great deal of respect for recently, requested the breed. When I asked for a photo of her dog, she suggested I feature a Sheltie that was currently with a rescue organization looking for a home.

I thought, "hot damn" this is a great idea, so I contacted the organization she suggested and made a request for a photo and a little information on the dog.

What I received has been published below exactly as I received it.

(Christopher's Drool continued at end of article.)

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The Story of Bear

On Friday, Sept. 5, 2003 we received an email from a woman who was trying to find a rescue to take in an injured, homeless Sheltie. We soon learned that Bear's elderly owner had recently passed away and the family did not want him. When the writer of the email had gone to the funeral, she stopped by the family farm. While visiting the family, she noticed Bear. Although she only saw him for a few seconds, the vision of this crippled dog hobbling around would not go away. As soon as she returned to Michigan, she began her search.


The second Pam (rescue organizer) read that email, and set the wheels in motion to get Bear. Almost immediately we had two volunteers (Megan Benjamin and Sharon Witt) committed to transporting Bear across the state of Ohio. Bear arrived into our care on Sunday, Sept. 7th. When Sharon opened the crate door, and he hobbled out of her van, Pam immediately dropped to her knees and cried at the sight of this pitiful dog. Besides his coat being in absolutely deplorable condition, Bear has a badly broken right front leg. He literally walks on his shoulder and elbow instead of that leg. His rear legs, trying to compensate for the lack of the front leg, forced him to walk on his hocks. You almost have to see it to believe it.

This poor Sheltie, who obviously is a picture of cruelty and neglect, had been forced to live outside his entire life. After the death of his owner, his only friends at the farm were a few cats that were also left behind, and a farmer who stopped by daily to feed them. The second he saw our cats, his tail started spinning like an airplane propeller. We swear he smiled, because he was so happy. Although he can only walk short distances, before he has to stop and rest, he managed to get himself into our backyard. After looking and smelling around, we think he finally realized he was at the "Sheltie Spa."

Our groomer was called and told about Bear. Although it was Sunday, she met Pam at the salon. Approximately three hours later, Bear was a real handsome dude. Most groomers would have shaved him down, but Dena understands how important it is to save their coats. For once, Bear looked...and felt...like a million bucks.

When Bear got home, we called the woman who initiated Bear's rescue from the farm. We were hoping she could give us some insight as to what happened to his leg and face. It was then we were told that he had been this way when the family adopted him ... 6 years earlier! Yes, he has lived like this for at least 6 years! How in the world did he survive all the pain and suffering?

Our veterinarian checked him over this morning and took many x-rays. It was determined that his right elbow has been shattered, as well as the pastern joint and the ulna. Due to bearing all his weight on his left side, his left elbow may not be able to support his weight if the right leg must be amputated (which is a high probability). If his right leg has to be amputated he will first need his left leg stabilized by a fusion. His muzzle has also been broken although an x-ray of that could not be obtained without sedation and he had been through enough for one day. Our vet is personally taking his x-rays to our orthopedic surgeon this afternoon so we should know more tomorrow or the next day. In the meantime we will make him as comfortable as possible.

On top of all of his orthopedic problems he also needs to be neutered as soon as possible. One of his testicles is larger than the other and the vet is concerned about possible prostrate complications. The only good health news about him is the fact that he is heartworm negative. We were dumbfounded when his test came up negative … but then again, no mosquito could have bitten through that horribly matted coat of his!

What amazes us the most about Bear is his spirit.

Although it was the human race who let him down, and allowed him to suffer for so long, he has a heart of gold. He loves everyone and everything. Please keep this marvelously strong and determined Sheltie in your prayers. Bear is truly the "poster dog" for rescue!

This Saturday is our "2nd Annual Alumni Picnic." We have decided that all funds collected will go toward Bear's surgery and rehabilitation. If you cannot attend, and want to donate to his cause, please send your donation to PSSR. Be sure to mark it "For Bear." Please keep an eye on our website for Bear's updates. For now we are looking for that special home who is willing to foster Bear through his upcoming surgery(s). If you are willing to foster Bear and live in the northern Cincinnati area, please let us know. He is 100% pure love.


Many of you have emailed and asked about Bear. Since we did not want to put this email out until we had the facts, here they are. Bear went to see Dr. Steven Schrader on September 11th. He concurs with our Vet that this injury happened when Bear was probably less than a year old. He says it has been a long time since he has seen such a horrible case, but he "thinks" he can save Bear's leg. As of now, the surgery is scheduled for October 15th.

The three of us talked for a hour and we all agree that Bear can not continue to live with this leg being in his way of trying to walk. It is obvious that his left leg has carried the majority of his weight over the past six years and is wearing out. If he can save his right leg, Bear can use it to help even out his weight and take some stress off his left leg.

Once Bear is knocked out, Dr. Schrader has many options. First, he will check his right wrist area (the bad leg). If he thinks it is okay, and able to hold his weight, then he will remove Bear's elbow and then attach the two leg bones with two plates. Right now Bear's leg is shaped like an L. Therefore, the hardest part of the surgery will be to twist the bones in a straight line. When the surgery is over, his leg may always be a little crooked, but that is okay. This handsome man cannot continue to live like this.

If Dr. Schrader does not think the wrist is strong enough, Bear may need a plate placed in his wrist; as well as his elbow. Depending upon how bad it is, Dr. Schrader may only do the wrist that day and quit. If it is not bad, he may do both the wrist and leg in one surgery.

As we all know, x-rays can only show so much. Sadly, it is obvious that Bear's elbow is gone. Cathy described his elbow as "mashed potatoes" and Dr. Schrader said, "That is putting it nicely." If Dr. Schrader gets in there and sees that it is a lot worse than he ever expected, then…and only then, will Bear's leg be amputated. We are praying that this does not happen, but if Dr. Schrader says this has to happen, we have complete confidence in his judgment.

Since Bear has only been in our care for a short time, Dr. Schrader suggested that he be neutered before having his leg surgery. Since our Vet was concerned that his one testicle was bigger than the other, we agreed. This way we would have more time to make sure there are not any other medical issues, such as seizures, possible cancer due to his testicle problems, etc.

Therefore, Bear was neutered on September 15th. When he was neutered, Dr. Collins found that he had a hernia inside which made his one testicle smaller. Needless to say, his simple neutering ended up being a major surgery. After spending the night in the hospital, Bear is now back with us recuperating nicely.

Dr. Schrader also wanted us wait a month so that we had time enough to try to come up with the funds to pay for his surgery. The written estimate we received is for $1700 to $2200. Since all the proceeds from the picnic were dedicated to Bear, we are over half way there. Pending no health issues, we will have Bear's surgery done on October 15th ... no matter what!


As you know, Bear's surgery was scheduled for October 15th. Sadly we had to cancel his appointment because he came down with congestion...possibly kennel cough. He has been living with his foster family (Bill & Erin) since the first part of October and doing wonderfully. If all goes as expected, his surgery will be this Thursday, October 30th. Keep him in your prayers, too. He is a wonderful dog who will soon be looking for a "forever home."


Bear had his surgery late yesterday afternoon and has survived the ordeal, although sadly he did loose his leg. Dr. Schrader called us with the news. After more x-rays of the good leg (wrist area) he determined that although that wrist was not in the best of shape and very arthritic, he felt that Bear could reasonably support himself. When he began working on the bad leg he discovered more extensive damage than he originally thought. The elbow was very bad, the tibia was broken and the wrist was horrible. He had hoped that he could fuse the elbow and the wrist would be good enough to use, but that was not the case. He explained that he could not fuse the elbow and the wrist; if he did, Bear would have a totally straight leg and foot causing him to walk on his toes. The leg would then really be useless. He had no choice but to amputate the leg.


This great doctor kept apologizing to us. He kept saying how sorry he was that he couldn't save Bear's leg. He made us feel that he was suffering this loss as much as we were. We assured him that we always had the utmost confidence in him, and we knew that he did his best. We have taken several of our rescues to him for orthopedic surgery, and he has amazed us with his skills. Although the outcome was not what we had all hoped for, Bear is alive and able to enjoy another day in the sun.

Rehab will be lengthy and painful for us to watch but, knowing Bear's spirit and determination, he will do fine. Our good friend Erin has been fostering Bear and will continue to foster him. She has fostered several "special needs" for us in the past. She now has the most wonderful dog to love and care for until his forever home is found.

Thank you for all your donations to Bear's Fund. We now have enough to pay for his surgery in full.

UPDATE: We called to check on Bear this morning, and they told us he has already been up and walking!


It has been a month since Bear's surgery and he has been a delight to foster. When he came home on October 31 he was quite tired and sore from surgery, but hearing the voices of children coming and going pushed him to get up and join us at the front door for Halloween festivities. I slept next to him on the floor each night that weekend in the hopes of giving him comfort and reassurance. It paid off! Within two days, he began to wag his tail again and give kisses. I had purchased a special harness to assist him in standing and moving (I had even used it pre-surgery to prepare him) but by the end of the weekend, he was getting up and moving without it. When the weather was warm and sunny, he was taken outside to enjoy the sun and savor the autumn smells. Although he was still sore, he never missed barking at a passing motorcycle or searching the direction of a scent of barbecue. He was amazing to watch and his relentless efforts were inspiring to me and others.

Before surgery, he was given a morning and evening walk around the house but after surgery, I didn't push him to go any further than he wanted to go. I saw small improvements as the days went by but it wasn't until the next weekend (November 8 and 9th) that he took a huge "leap" in recovery. He heard the boy next door playing and laughing in his backyard and Bear walked the full length of the house to greet him. As the boy began to pet him, Bear sat down! This may not seem outstanding unless you knew that Bear had never been able to sit before with his broken leg. Bear was on his feet, walking longer distances and sitting down; I was so happy, I was crying. From that moment on, I knew Bear's enduring spirit would keep him on the path to recovery, and I felt all of our prayers had been answered.

Two weeks after the amputation, the stitches were removed and Bear was moving up and down steps (not stairs!) pretty well. I purchased a ramp for him to use even before the surgery but he does well without it as long as the steps are wide. He is now back to eating his dry food formulated for joint maintenance and the "Missing Link" seems to be helping him. He has been wanting to play again even though the extent of it is mostly hand play, gentle wrestling and some light tug of war. I have begun taking him on 10-minute walks on the sidewalk because he leads me there and seems bored with the walks around the house on the grass. I occasionally take him to the park to enjoy new scents (he loves to sniff the air and search for interesting smells) and this is helping ease his car anxiety.

As each week goes by, I enjoy the quiet moments I spend with him on the floor; his big smile and wagging tail are my welcome in the morning and in the evening when I return from work. I love his game of "steal the sock" every time I do the laundry and now always leave a sock for him to find. He makes me laugh when he comes over to me for a butt rub and falls into my lap afterwards. There are more things but it is too much to list. Let's just say; he is one of the most wonderful, courageous dogs I have had the pleasure of knowing.

If you have thought about fostering, even just for a few minutes thought about it, take a few more minutes to think about it. Every time I foster, I always receive so much more in return beyond knowing that the dog is healthy and adoptable. Bear is a good example of this.


Bear went back to the orthopedist today for a check up. It was discovered that Bear appears to have a ruptured disk in his lower back. All this time we were so focused with his front, we never considered that he might also have been injured in the rear.

He has been placed on steroids to try to relieve the pain of a pinched nerve at the disk site. We will have him reevaluated in another month and hopefully this wonderful dog will finally be free of pain without having to undergo another possible surgery.


Several people have asked us when he would be available for adoption. At this point we are not certain, but we would hope he could go into a "Forever Home" after the New Year. We would like to place Bear into a ranch style home where he would not have to contend with stairs. If you would like to be considered as Bear's new family, please send us an application for adoption from this website and be sure to mark it "For Bear."

Cathy and Pam
Precious Secrets Sheltie Rescue
6690 Hamilton Road
Middletown, OH 45044-9310

Christopher's Drool, cont.'

You've all heard me talk about our commitment to our dogs. I believe we owe them nearly as much as our children. Lets face it, they give us as much if not more than we give them. When was the last time you donated even $1 to a rescue organization? It's been a while for me. I assure you it won't be that long EVER again. If for no other reason than Bear deserves it.

It's Christmas time. Now I know some of our readers don't celebrate Christmas, but we all know the spirit behind the holiday. I don't think our dogs' really give a crap about monogrammed dog bowls and sweaters. They only want our love and devotion. Quite honestly, they don't even care if we give as much as they do. They just want our love.

I'm asking all of my readers to give whatever they can to rescue organizations like PSSR. Cut your hair - sell your watch. Give the gift. As I always say - It's the least we can do for all they do for us.



If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous, he will not bite you; that is the principal difference between a dog and a man.

~ Mark Twain ~

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The Handsome Prince

An old lady is rocking away the last of her days on her front porch, reflecting on her long life, when -- all of a sudden -- a fairy godmother appears in front of her and informs her that she will be granted three wishes.

"Well, now," says the old lady, "I guess I would like to be really rich."

*** POOF *** Her rocking chair turns to solid gold.

"And, gee, I guess I wouldn't mind being a young, beautiful princess."

*** POOF *** She turns into a beautiful young woman.

"Your third wish?" asked the fairy godmother.  Just then the old woman's dog wanders across the porch in front of them.

"Ooh -- can you change him into a handsome prince?" she asks.

*** POOF *** There before her stands a young man more handsome than anyone could possibly imagine.

She stares at him, smitten.  With a smile that makes her knees weak, he saunters across the porch and whispers in her ear:

"Bet you're sorry you had me neutered."

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Thank You For Reading!  Have a Terrific Week!

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The BARK 'n' SCRATCH Newsletter is published by Christopher Aust Copyright © 2003 All rights reserved. No portion of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted without the express written consent of the publisher or contributors.

We accept no responsibility for your use of any contributed information contained herein. All of the information presented in BARK 'n' SCRATCH is published in good faith. Any comments stated in this newsletter are strictly the opinion of the writer or publisher.

We reserve the right to edit and make suitable for publication, if necessary, any articles published in this newsletter. We reserve the right to publish all reader comments, including the name of the writer.

Christopher Aust, Master Dog Trainer & Creator:
The Natural Cooperative Training System (NCTS) for Dogs
The Instinctual Development System (IDS) for Puppies


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