Dante found his forever home in the Spring of 2005.
His new mom writes:
the "Alpha" human of 3 adorable, well-behaved (mostly)
doggy children in 2/05, I had absolutely no intentions of adopting
another dog when my 16 year old daughter and I went to the Elmsford
Animal Shelter to find out about volunteer opportunities for her
(none). While waiting for assistance, I began to peruse their book
of dogs available for adoption. Since we had already rescued a gorgeous,
blue-eyed peach/white Husky-Shepherd mix beauty from there in 1999
(Rose, Queen of the Universe), I asked whether they had any Huskies
at that time, with the sole intention of informing our local Tails
of the Tundra Rescue Coordinator, Brenda, and seeing if I could
help in any way. That is how we met the newest member of our family,
I was told about an older, "special needs" honey by the name of "Marco Polo". He was reportedly brought in to the shelter as a stray by a resident of Yonkers who told them that the dog had been "hanging around" his backyard for a week in 12/04. I went to see the 10 year old lovey that the shelter workers warned me was a sweet, affectionate boy despite his disheveled appearance. "Marco" had come in to the shelter with infected peri-anal adenomas that had made him so sore he couldn't even sit down. He appeared emaciated and was missing all of his fur from mid-back to the top of his tail, which the vets had warned would probably not grow back. He was being treated with medication for hypothyroidism. In spite of all this, the staff was amazed at his terrific temperament.
The shelter staff was very encouraging of our interest since he woud be an extremely hard to place dog. He was such an affectionate sweetheart that we immediately fell in love with him, problems and all. My children and I made numerous visits with our other dogs and went through the adoption process and took Dante home around Valentine's Day 2005.
The poor thing had explosive diarrhea, excessive thirst and constantly went
potty, up to 20 times per day. He was obviously minimally trained, but responsive and wanted to please. He seemed to never have been in a car before and had to learn his place in our hierarchy. We changed Marco's name to Dante because it was too confusing with Marshall, our 6 year old male Siberian's name. Marshall was the most upset with his arrival and there were some unpleasant moments as Marshall needed to assert his dominance and assure himself of his place as #2 dog. (Dog #3 is a Cocker Spaniel named Charlie who is an "honorary Husky", clearly a top dog in certain areas and pals with everyone, especially Dante.)
It often seemed as if Dante was not as intelligent as the others and slow to catch on, although I attributed it to his not feeling well. We went through hundreds of pounds of chicken and rice until ultimately, he was eating A&P rotisserie chicken and plain canned pumpkin on the advice of our local chapter TOTT coordinator, Brenda, which eventually stopped his diarrhea, the subsequent dehydration and constant elimination. Per her advice, we started Dante on a holistic fish/oatmeal based food, that has completely regulated his system.
8 year old son also discovered that Dante was actually quite a bright
dog when he encouraged us to try and speak to him in Spanish (i.e.
he knew "vaminos", "este lado", "venga
aqui", and "bebe la agua" etc., much to our surprise
After 7 months, Dante has settled in quite well. Thanks to Brenda, his system is completely regulated. He has filled out and now presents as the "viejo senor" that he is. All of his fur has grown back and his dry skin around his nose has been re-hydrated. He no longer needs any medication. He and Marshall do have some territorial issues, but Dante is fed separately. When he first came, he did growl around the food bowl and virtually inhaled the food he was given, as if he thought he would never eat again. The growling stopped after two days when Dante realized he would be fed twice a day, every day.
He no longer scrounges for food while on our walks and has learned our daily walking on leash routine very well. He continues to be very vocal and give the sloppiest, wettest kisses around. He goes out into the yard, does his business and doesn't challenge the fence at all. Apparently, he had little prior contact with other dogs, but has learned how to join into the "Husky play" with Rose and Marshall. He and Charlie, the Cocker have become great friends and Dante has learned to be repectful of our two cats, Cleopatra and Theodore, who also call this home. (He clearly had no experience with this other species of furry creature.) When he came, he did not like anyone touching his feet but this week has finally learned to "shake hands". He has been back to the shelter several times for follow-up blood tests and the staff has been amazed at his progress.
Initially, we had wanted to give a poor, sick, old Husky a comfortable place in which to live out his last years. Now it seems that we have gained a great older dog who will be around for many years to come.