A Second Chance for Melissa

Janet McAfee

It was a sad day for the small, black senior Chihuahua when her elderly human entered hospice. It’s an all too familiar, heart breaking story. Her owner did not make a plan for his dog, and no family member wanted to give Melissa a home. Thankfully, private animal welfare organizations are prepared to assist homeless and relinquished pets. Melissa’s owner’s family members called Loving All Animals’ shelter in Coachella, and fortunately there was space for another pup. Melissa arrived at the shelter with no medical records, just a suspicion from the family that she had a urinary tract infection.

Adorable, sweet, and friendly though she was, Melissa’s odds of finding a second-chance home soon were not good. She had numerous strikes against her, just coming in the door. Did you know that Chihuahuas are the second largest group of dogs in animal shelters, exceeded only by pit bulls? Did you know that Chihuahuas are the second largest group to be euthanized in California’s public shelter system? Did you know that black-coated dogs and cats are less likely to be adopted? Meanwhile, calls come in regularly from potential adopters seeking “fluffy, white, young dogs.” Most adopters are reluctant to take in a pet with known medical issues, which often includes senior dogs and cats. Like people, pets often develop conditions that require a bit more medical attention than they did when they were young.

Unfortunately, Melissa’s medical issues were much more extensive than anyone realized. A visit to Desert Dunes Animal Hospital revealed she had dental disease, a heart murmur graded 3 to 4 on a scale from 1 to 5, and large bladder stones that required surgical removal (a cystotomy). The huge stones, possibly the result of an untreated urinary tract infection, were causing Melissa great pain and would be life threatening if untreated. Not only that, Melissa would need to be on a special diet and medication for the remainder of her life.

Committed to being a “No Kill” organization, Loving All Animals believes all homeless domestic dogs and cats deserve a second chance home. That often means providing the extensive medical care, training, and socialization that was neglected in the first home. A surgical appointment was quickly scheduled for Melissa. Everyone, including her veterinarian, was shocked when 12 large bladder stones were removed from this tiny 12-pound pup. Foster mom extraordinaire, Marie Marcinko, provided much of Melissa’s post-operative care in her home.

Melissa’s smiling photo on social media soon caught the attention of Kelly Rose-Groves. Kelly recalls, “I took note of her immediately. Melissa looked exactly like my parents’ dog, Gooby! My folks and Gooby were all rather lonely, missing their beloved Gidget, an adoptee from Loving All Animals who had passed away. Everything just fell into place for them to adopt Melissa, and now she’s an extension of our family. There’s a place for every creature, and a home for every dog.” Kelly is pictured here between her parents, Paula and Bob Rose. During the meet and greet, the almost identical “twin sister” dogs recognized a kindred spirit in each other and that sealed the deal.

Paula Rose happily reports on their new addition to the family, “Our family instantly fell in love with Melissa’s picture. I found out about the medication and the special diet, and decided we would give this a try. You would never know this dog has a heart murmur. She zooms around the house and dashes underneath Gooby like a torpedo. Melissa has more energy, but the two dogs bonded quickly and love to play together.”

Paula, like many people, was surprised to learn that black dogs have a harder time getting adopted. She tells us, “We’ve always had black dogs. I never considered the color. Rescue dogs are wonderful, and we love them for their beautiful personalities, not their color. I wish more people weren’t so afraid of getting an older dog. If you can afford the possible vet work, take a chance and adopt one. We absolutely love Melissa. She’s a keeper!”PHOTO COURTESY LOVING ALL ANIMALSPHOTO COURTESY LOVING ALL ANIMALS»

A small dog runs through her home with grateful joy, healing a family’s grief and replacing their tears with smiles. Another happy ending!

Contact Loving All Animals at lovingallanimals.org or (760) 834-7000 for more information about adopting, fostering, or donating.