Charlie's Happy Tail....
The Little Survivor
Some of the little ones move from one excellent home to another - with caring owners who love, teach, and protect them. This is certainly not the case though for all of them - and the perfect example is "Charlie" - formerly Marley (as in Bob).
In January 2010, Miniature Schnauzer Rescue was contacted by an animal advocate in southern California asking if they helped arrange to get a "death row" schnauzer to us, would we take him. Well of course we would! This was during the time of the fires; all shelters and rescue groups were overrun with animals and Charlie's time was quickly coming to a close as he had been in the shelter since Christmas time. Charlie had been picked up by animal control as a stray. He wore a red knit sweater but his coat had grown through it and it was hardly still visible. He stunk and was matted to the skin. No wonder nobody gave this guy a second look! Oregon Friends of Shelter Animals arranged the transport of Charlie and several other dogs to Portland. On a warm January Sunday, foster mom Kim and I drove to Hillsboro to pick-up our latest rescue.
San Bernadino Charlie
After 28 hours in a van, Charlie marched out as if saying "hey Oregon, I'm here, let's have fun!" Although still in his shelter condition, it was clear to us rescuers, Charlie was a diamond in the rough...very rough.
Physically he was a mess; super skinny...you could see his ribcage, and matted to the skin from head to toe, including a huge mat on his forehead and on closer inspection, what we came to believe was a small stick embedded in his skin and coat. Charlie's skin was so bad from a poor diet that you could hear and feel his skin almost crackle in a few spots. Our veterinarian believed Charlie was about three years old by the looks of his teeth, and said the bicuspids were probably out of alignment from street fighting. So, all in all, what landed in rescue was a little "fixer upper" boy - who desperately needed medical attention at the very least.
Charlie in the red collar, snoozing. Big brother, Barkley, protects him!
His first night in foster care Charlie showed what a charismatic boy he was, even playing with toys. Sensing that she was his salvation, he lay gently while Kim worked to get some of the horrible matts out of his coat. After a couple of days to recover from the trip, Charlie was neutered, dentaled, heart worm tested, vaccinated, and had his ears deep cleaned - sore from end to end. And once he recovered from all of that, he was groomed...and he was absolutely perfect for the matt cutting or rather shaving. His foster Mom said he loved being with people, and was a very quick learner. And he would happily eat whatever she put in front of him. Aside from a little marking, Charlie soon made himself at home with his foster parents and Schnauzer, Rocket.
Soon Charlie was ready for placement. An application from a couple of months prior had stuck in my mind and I called Laurie to see if she'd like to know a bit about Charlie. A meeting was arranged and once again, Marley walked in like he owned the place. Laurie and her Schnauzer, Barkley, both seemed to immediately fall in love with Charlie. Another meeting, a premise check and in February 2010 the next chapter of his story begins.
Adjusting to a real home and a real family instead of the streets proved to be quite a challenge. Charlie is fast, a little stingy, and a bit of thief when it came to toys, food, petting, attention, treats and just about everything. In other words, the boy who loves people was a total thug when it came to good house manners. He would pack his toys around and stack them on the bench in front of the window - and then proceed to chew holes in the upholstery on the bench. Charlie also resisted house training and made a nuisance of himself with marking and general leg-hiking. Laurie said "I swear, he'll just have been outdoors, comes in, and looks me straight in the eye and hikes - yikes!!
Charlie, babysitting big brother, Barkley
March, 2010 proved to be a train wreck for Charlie ...Laurie and Barkley felt that they could not continue to live with the little thug. Laurie said he initially played very well, but then became possessive and demanding. They tried everything they could to help him integrate to their home - he was clearly in Laurie's heart. But they had hit a crossroad, and could not continue.
With a heavy heart, Laurie brought Charlie back to Rescue. With a heavy heart, we accepted him as we will always will for one of our own. When talking with Laurie about returning Charlie to Rescue, I really wanted to encourage her to try for a bit longer and enlist the help of our professional trainer, Doug Duncan. Laurie was so broken hearted and seemed so clear on her decision, that I didn't want to hurt her more or give the perception of trying to change her mind when she so clearly had made her decision.
We transferred Charlie back to Rescue and within 48 hours, the new foster mom, Sandy, received a phone call from Laurie saying she changed her mind and wanted him back; she had made a mistake and would we give her another chance. OK so this time, there was no hesitation. We discussed at length that we felt Laurie, Barkley and Charlie could be helped by some professional guidance.
Charlie The Thief, stockpiles the toys and takes a demure pose
Laurie committed to working with Doug Duncan one-on-one with Charlie and Barkley. Although not easy and there continued to be rough patches, Charlie and Barkley soon learned their places in this new blended family. Most importantly, both had a place in Laurie's heart.
The final chapter in the life of Charlie (formerly Gnarly Marley) is the ultimate in "good good story time"!! Laurie provided an update on June 18th on the little thug: "Charlie is doing fantastic! He weighs just over eighteen pounds and is constantly at play. He got a "Big Boy" grooming last week, and looks like a real Schnauzer now - he and Barkley look like big and little brothers. They are non-stop - about the only thing they squabble over is a lap and who gets what position closest to me on the bed. Charlie likes everyone, including children but will still cower at quick, unexpected movements or loud noises. Both boys ride in their car seats, without harnesses, and both have their own heated beds. Toys typically are strewn throughout the house and the only thing I need to guard is shoes - preferable left ones, which is a real puzzle.
Bringing Charlie back into my home also brought him into my heart and has proven to be one of the best decisions I've made. We will see you next month at the Schnauzer Walk!" Laurie
Charlie and Barkley with Laurie's niece