by Linda Barrette
(McKinney, TX, USA)
During the summer of 2009, I was driving to one of our foster homes with my groomer. Our plan was to spend the day there to bathe and groom the dogs. Suddenly, I saw a black mass come out of the woods. I yelled to my friend to stop the car and we got out. I walked toward the animal and I saw it was a dog. I was stunned. I have never seen a dog so matted in my life. The dog came closer but ran back whenever I tried to make a step forward. She ran toward a house and we got back in the car to drive to where the dog was going.
A man came out and I asked him if the dog was his and he said: "No, she has been living under my porch for 2 1/2 years. Nobody can catch her”. At first, I thought she was a male so I named her Sparky and the name remained.
I asked if I could try to catch her and I would take her to the vet and take care of her. He said: "If you think you can catch her, be my guest."
From then on, I made a promise to make her trust me enough to be able to get close and put a collar around her neck and take her to a vet. I went to a nearby grocery store and bought cheese and slices of turkey and beef. I came back, sat down and let her come to me to get the food. It took a little while but the smell of the meat won her over.
During the following days, I drove for 2 hours to East Texas every morning, bought meat and went to sit close to where Sparky was. Everyday, she would get closer until one morning, I made up my mind to take her out of her hideout. I brought food, something to drink and a book, Capstar for fleas and medication to deworm her.
I rolled the medication in a piece of meat and Sparky came close enough to eat it. For the next 2 1/2 hours, I sat there, reading, and letting Sparky walk around me and smell my hair, my skin, my clothes. I didn't pay attention to her and let her go around without being disturbed. After some time, she turned around and went back under the porch where she had dug a huge hole to lay in. I tried my approach and got up, slowly walked to the porch, and finally started to crawl under. Sparky let me get close to her and she even let me pet her. I felt a few of her mats and some were a few pounds in weight. She let me slip a collar around her neck and I started to slowly pull her from under there... She jumped up and fought me, but I didn't let go. Suddenly, the collar slips off and I thought I had lost her and she would run away. To my surprise, she came back to me and sat back in her hole. I put the collar around her neck again and made sure it was snug and pulled. She fought again and was very strong but I was so determined to get her out of there that I didn't let go and I eventually dragged her out of there.
When I got out from under the porch with Sparky, the man came out and asked if I needed help. He came and helped me put her in a big crate I had in the back of my car. I closed the door and Sparky's new life started.
I took her to the vet and she was tested for heartworms, had blood work, and the vet techs spent almost 3 hours shaving the mats and pulling ticks out of her skin. She weighed 52 pounds when she came in and after being shaved of all her mats, she weighed 40 pounds!!!
The results came back and Sparky tested positive for heartworms and Rocky Mountain tick fever. She was put on antibiotics for 21 days. After the fever was treated, she had her shots and was treated for heartworms. From day to day, she made giant steps from being skiddish to being loving, happy, playful, trusting and wonderful with the smaller dogs and children. After having uncovered her from under all these mats, we found out she is a Bergamasco Sheepdog, which are not common in this area.
Sparky found her forever home with my friend, the groomer who found her with me; a beautiful, smart, affectionate girl... and her name is now FAITH.