By Lois Halley
I never thought that I would have to rescue Candy. She was the sweet little dog tied to her owner’s porch that I would see when visiting a small town 155 miles from my home in Maryland. Candy welcomed attention from passers-by and always wagged her stump of a tail and flashed a little grin trying to make friends.
The tiny Rat Terrier was on my mind a lot, especially when I learned she was diagnosed with diabetes and had almost died. Would her elderly owner have the resources to provide care? In the past, I had two diabetic cats rescued from an abandoned litter, so I knew the cost and responsibility of caring for a special needs pet.
One day when visiting the area, I stopped to talk to Candy’s owner, who was sitting on her porch. “Where is your sweet dog?” I asked.
The woman burst into tears and showed me Candy’s empty collar; the buckle had come undone and Candy had disappeared. The twelve year-old terrier had spent her entire life in her owner’s small house or tied outside. Now she was lost and alone plus had a serious illness that required insulin injections twice a day.
“She has been gone for three days,” explained her owner. “I have called the police every day, but they haven’t seen her nor has anyone reported finding her. I searched for her myself, the manager at the convenience store said he saw a man and a boy put a dog like her in their car,” her owner tearfully said.
I offered to help find Candy, but the woman was too distraught to pursue the search any further. That was not going to stop me. There were no photos of Candy, so I couldn’t put up posters. I tried to place an ad in the local newspaper but found out since it was a Saturday, I would have to call back on Monday. It was the same with the animal shelters – no one could be reached on the weekend.
Back home in Maryland on Monday, I began the calls first thing in the morning. By then Candy had been missing and without her life-saving medication for five days. The third shelter I called had a spayed female Rat Terrier brought in on Friday. The timing was right; it had to be Candy.
Since Candy was a dog I saw at most a few times a year for brief moments, I could not remember her coat pattern and could only describe her as brown and white, slightly overweight, with smooth, almost hairless stand-up ears, and a stump of a tail. The kennel manager said it matched the description of the dog they had, but she wasn’t doing too well. She was listless, throwing up, and wouldn’t eat.
“This is a matter of life or death,” I told them. “Please, please take her to a veterinarian. She is diabetic and hasn’t received her insulin for five days!” It never occurred to me that not being her owner, just a concerned stranger, I might not have the right to request anything. It didn’t occur to them either, because soon Candy was on her way to the closest vet.
Meanwhile, I had to call to give credit card information and convince the veterinarian to treat Candy without her owner’s consent. Again, that did not seem to be an issue.
After examining Candy, the veterinarian called me and said he never saw blood glucose as high as hers, and she had only a 50/50 chance of surviving. We would talk again the next morning.
After another sleepless night, knowing I had done all that I could, I called the animal hospital. A happy sounding vet came on the line and said that Candy was bright, alert, and eating! She would need to stay hospitalized until her blood glucose was stable, and then she could be picked up.
Two days later, my husband and I drove the 155 miles to get Candy, still not knowing 100% that this was the right dog. She recognized us as soon as the vet tech brought her in the room. The tiny creature ran to me, jumped in my lap, and licked my face as if to say, “What are you doing here? I know you!”
When we had Candy safely in our home, I finally called her owner to tell her what had been going on. By the time we got off the phone, she had agreed to let me keep Candy. That was two and a half years ago. Now at age fourteen, Candy enjoys car rides, long walks, and camping. She has visited nine states so far, but she didn’t think much of the ocean after tasting it. She is a clever girl who learned some tricks just by watching our Sheltie do them. Candy makes friends everywhere she goes, and people frequently say, “Your dog is so sweet.”
She definitely lives up to her name!