When you compare a toy breed dog to a giant breed, instinctively you note that the larger dog is stronger and possesses more power in the punch. Physically this is true, for size does affect a Newfoundland’s ability to pull a boat or a Great Pyrenees to handle a predator. When it comes to inner strength, however, can you make the same assumption? Does size really matter? I’ll tell you that it most certainly does not. As an owner and rescuer of giant breeds I see the abilities of enormous dogs with their barks and their bodies. As a rescuer of special needs dogs I watch dogs climb mountains with their hearts. Both true loves of mine, I enjoy all aspects of getting to know them and witnessing their growth. One of my favorite stories of perseverance, however, is about a 12lb Maltipoo who has conquered not just one brush with death, but two.
Now, let’s talk about strength. Tippy is an apricot, curly headed ball of fluff that found herself the victim of an unkind individual. This individual arrived at a county shelter after normal business hours, picked her up, tossed her over the six foot chain link fence and caused her to land on solid concrete. Since this person refused to wait until the next morning’s opening hour, Tippy laid alone and helpless until a staff member arrived the following day and found her. When I received word of Tippy’s special needs I promptly went to visit her to see if our rescue could help. As the shelter’s employee pulled her out of her kennel I expected a weak, frightened, uncoordinated mess of potty accidents and more. So, I prepared myself for the worst. What I was not prepared for, however, was for her to immediately take off across the room in full force, bound and determined to play. While she consistently fell over, she also got right back up. I found myself with little Tippy in my vet’s office, ready to hear her diagnosis. Radiographs showed that her left hip was completely out, and the neurological exam determined that she most definitely had nerve damage in her legs. She couldn’t walk well, she fell to and fro as if she’d been on an all night drinking binge, but she never stopped “walking” over to people with wags and kisses in abundance. This little girl was happy, vivacious, and bright! After multiple exams, treatments, and some physical therapy, the decision was made not to surgically repair the hip because it might cause further damage. On the final vet visit Tippy was doing so incredibly well that she glided over the tile floor as easily as a Swiffer mop. She still walked like the town drunk, but she also ran across the yard, played hard with 100lb plus dogs, jumped, stood on all fours as any dog would and climbed stairs. Tippy wasn’t deterred by the fact that her back legs didn’t function normally. So, daily Tippy lived in harmony with her funny little rear bopping to and fro, falling here and there but never hesitating to get back up and move on. One day, however, I noticed that she was having difficulty and scheduled a doctor’s visit. A few hours later we were at the emergency clinic with a heart rate of 36, a subnormal temperature, and Tippy was almost unconscious. She had “crashed” and was knocking on death’s door. Tippy was hospitalized for almost three days receiving fluids, medication, and repeated bloodwork. Her diagnosis was Addison’s Disease, an adrenal disease that affects the body’s potassium and sodium levels. In turn, other organs and functions are affected, as well. The treatment is lifetime medication and medical monitoring. Remember the strength we talked about in big dogs? Well, while this little girl may only be the size of a roll of paper towels, she is equally as strong in her heart and spirit. Tippy fought that crash and won her second battle. Tippy now receives daily medication both in the morning and evening. She sits by the counter waiting, and if I’m running behind she barks, telling me to get the ball rolling because it’s time for her “treat.” She continues to run, play with the big dogs, climb those stairs, wrestle with her buddies and wear cute clothes. She protects her Nylabones from the other canines and tells them off if they get on her nerves. She also cleans their faces, snuggles close to their bellies and kisses them daily. If one is sick, she provides the dog with comfort. Tippy’s not concerned about the two brushes with death. She’s not afraid of falling, nor of a challenge that comes her way. Instead, she’s full of spunk, loving every day of her life and all who are a part of it. It’s because of this that we all find ourselves wishing we were more like our little weeble wobble dog. After all…it has to feel pretty amazing to be a 12lb powerhouse.
Learn more about Tippy by visiting her webpage