Just four days after our wedding last October in North Carolina, my new husband and I planned on adopting a 6-year-old Great Pyrenees from a rescue organization in Atlanta, then driving her home with us to South Florida. As newlyweds looking to start a family soon, we had heard how GP’s were great family dogs. We were looking forward to having a loyal companion and a fierce protector of our “pack”.
The night before we were set to adopt her, we got the phone call that her foster parents decided to keep her. We were bummed, but the adoptions coordinator quickly told us about another female GP they had just gotten into the rescue. She was 6 months old, already house-trained and a complete teddy bear. There was just one issue: she had been hit by a car and would require surgery if we adopted her.
We met Dollie the next morning and immediately fell in love with her. She rolled over for a belly rub within thirty seconds of meeting us and we were hooked. She had a noticeable limp in her back legs, but not enough to keep her from running and playing with us. We knew she would never be able to walk normally, but that didn’t matter to us. Her big personality outweighed her physical limitations.
We learned more about her condition a few weeks later during her visit to the surgeon. Both of Dollie’s back hips were out of place, her left hind knee was floating, and her left hind femur was eight inches shorter than her right hind femur. We couldn’t believe how happy Dollie was for how much pain and suffering she had been through in the first months of her life.
Dollie had a successful patellar luxation surgery on her left hind leg in November 2018. It wasn’t easy keeping Dollie in a confined space during the recovery process (you know how they are), but it was worth the result. Just a couple weeks after surgery, she already had better function of her left hind leg and was able to put pressure on it for the first time. Our neighbors can’t believe how much better she is walking since her surgery.
To help strengthen her leg even more, we recently began taking Dollie to underwater treadmill therapy. She wasn’t thrilled about the treadmill at first (did I mention there was water?) but she has been getting better and better each time. Each session lasts about 20 minutes and the resistance gets a little stronger each time. The low-impact, high-resistance therapy is great for dogs who have orthopedic and arthritis issues, and best of all, there is plenty of peanut butter and treats involved.
My husband and I can’t even begin to describe the joy that Dollie has brought into our lives. What would life have been like if we had ended up with the dog we were originally supposed to adopt? We don’t even care to know. Dollie’s disability hasn’t stopped her from running around with us on the golf course each evening, going on long golf cart rides in the neighborhood (her favorite), sticking her head out of the car to feel the breeze, and cuddling with mommy and daddy at the end of a long day protecting us from the UPS man.
It’s not unusual to hear about a GP who has been hit by a car, maybe because of their tendency to roam. But don’t let that stop you from fostering or adopting one. It may require a few more trips to the vet and extra patience, but these dogs know the sacrifice you’ve made for them, and the loyalty and love you get in return makes it all worth it. We may not have gotten the dog we were originally supposed to get, but we couldn’t imagine our life without Dollie.
Kelsie, David and Dollie Weekes