It has taken me a long time to be able to write this story, but I am ready now. I wanted to honor the memory of one of our very best friends. We have been involved in rescue for many years, and although we have loved all of our dogs and each one was so special in their own way, there was something about Mugsy.
We first heard about Mugsy when a friend from our local SPCA called us to ask if we would consider fostering a Doberman Pinscher that had just been given up at the facility. At the time, we had a pretty full house and the thought of taking on another big dog was a bit daunting. Little did I know that Mugsy would become my full-time job for the next few years.
Our friend explained that Mugsy was a 10-year old Doberman with a very severe case of Lick Granuloma, a devastating condition that is often caused by neglect. She went on to say that the Vet who had checked him out was in favor of amputating his leg, as he doubted that is would ever heal. Harvey and I discussed the situation and decided to see the dog.
We were told the horrific story of this older dog, who had once been a show dog. The story was that the owner married and his wife gave birth to triplets. With the arrival of the triplets the couple could not care for Mugsy, who was relegated to the basement and a life of crate imprisonment. Neglected and bored, Mugsy began to eat his paws. The man, eventually was convinced that he had to give up the dog.
We arrived that night at the SPCA expecting to find an old broken-down dog. We walked into the back room and there in a crate was a sad, frightened dog. But he was absolutely gorgeous! The open wounds on two of his paws were horrific, but all I can remember were his eyes. I fell into his two big, black pools and through them I saw a broken, but beautiful spirit.
Harvey and I did not discuss whether to take Mugsy home with us that night. It was understood. There was nothing to discuss, we were both in love with him. His paws were covered in white socks, but I would soon learn that 10 pairs of socks that they handed my at the shelter would not be sufficient. Not even close. I would try every solution I could think of during the next few months to keep Mugsy away from his paws, the white socks, just wouldn’t do it.
This photo shows one of Mugsy’s paws when we brought him home. His paws were permanently deformed and the wounds were so deep you could see bone. I know that it is difficult to look at, but I want people to understand how neglect can cause such a terrible condition. In addition to the obvious wounds, he was emotionally traumatized and had explosive diarrhea. I immediately started him on Canine Health and saw the miracle that so many had told me about. The diarrhea stopped completely in 2 days.
Because Lick Granuloma causes a dog to continuously chew on their own paws, my first challenge was to keep the wounds covered. I tried everything, from multiple pairs of socks covered with plastic bags to bandaging, to dog shoes called Muttluks (which were very, very helpful, I went through many pairs of them). We used several different types of E collars on and off, but Mugsy, like a drug addict, would always find a way to get to the wounds and reopen them. I would come downstairs to find blood all over my kitchen and his sweet loving face looking up at me saying “Please don’t be angry Mom, I can’t help it.”
That began the 24 hour watch.
The SPCA called to ask how Mugsy was doing and how long we could foster him. We told him that Mugsy had found his forever home.
We had to watch Mugsy ’round the clock, so he came to work with us every day. He became quite famous in our town. People loved him and looked out for the giant Doberman with the booties. Our local newspaper even wrote a story about him. People always said that we were his angels, but I always knew that he was ours. Dogs like Mugsy come into your life for a reason. He helped to teach me patience and challenged me emotionally on so many levels. He was a teacher.
There is very little written about curing Lick Granuloma. So we had to use every bit of knowledge that we had to help him to heal. Mugsy was on a very intense regimen. In addition to eating Canine Health exclusively, we were using homeopathy and a combination of herbs and supplements every day. We gave him essential fatty acids, Bee Pollen and used our Healing Cream. These wounds had to heal. Mugsy was constantly at risk of infection.
Little by little we began to see the wounds heal. It was wonderful to watch him get better in every way. But just as the wounds would begin to heal, he would find a way to reopen them and we would have to start all over. Amputation was never a consideration for me.
At about the same time as we received our gift of Mugsy, we received the gift of a wonderful friendship from a woman named Carol Allen. She told us she was a Reiki practitioner for animals and that she wanted to work on Mugsy. She fell in love with him too and we came to love and respect her work and her relationship with Mugsy. Carol came to see him almost every day and the Reiki helped him to be calmer and that allowed the healing.
Mugsy endured so much in his life. The pain of loss, the pain of neglect and the physical pain that was self-inflicted. But he knew that he was loved. He was so much work, but he gave us so much. Almost three years after that first night at the SPCA, Mugsy didn’t seem himself. He was with us at work as he was every day. I rushed him to the Vet, but he was gone by the time we arrived. We will always miss him. He was such a very brave boy and although his physical wounds never totally healed, his emotional and spiritual life was filled with love.