The tiny Maltese dog was a tangled mat of fur, terrified and trembling at the Riverside County shelter on Van Buren in Riverside when Loving All Animals rescued him. He was previously adopted from the shelter and returned by someone who reported the dog was afraid of his wheelchair. Sadly, this new owner neglected to get the dog groomed which is necessary for certain breeds.  The overgrown fur with mats was almost imbedded in his skin, and you could barely see what he looked like underneath.  This happens all too often with abandoned Poodles, Maltese, and other breeds whose coat requires professional grooming and owners don’t realize the extra effort and cost they require.  
Kobe’s body had a frozen demeanor, and his wide black eyes told the story of a dog who had experienced abuse. And there were more issues.  I took him to The Grooming Shop in Rancho Mirage for a badly needed grooming, and Ray Johnson noticed something was wrong with one of his back legs. The matting on his legs had thus far concealed any problem.  We wondered if he’d been hit by a car.  I took Kobe to the dog park, and the little guy struggled to keep up with the other dogs, stumbling as he ran.  Concern was mounting that something was seriously wrong with Kobe’s leg. 
Next was a trip to the Save a Pet Vet clinic where X-rays revealed grade 3 luxated patellas in not one, but both back legs.  This is a serious condition, probably genetic in origin, and progressive in nature.  Corrective surgery would be expensive with a long recovery period, even with the discount Save A Pet offered.  There was no guarantee the surgery would be successful, but without it arthritic lameness would result.  Situations like this pose an ethical dilemma for a rescue organization….whether to spend large sums of money on one animal, when they could use those resources to save many more.      
Amazingly, the Coachella Valley rescue community came to Kobe’s “rescue”.  Thom Daves, then director at Save A Pet, called to put us in touch with Jeanette Leonard, another local animal advocate. Jeanette, pictured holding Kobe, made arrangements with a veterinary clinic to do the surgery at no cost. Sometimes there are “funds” available to help homeless rescue dogs with surgery, and some rescue groups focus entirely on this mission.  Now came another challenge….the vet clinic was located in Orange County.  Multiple appointments and additional follow up x-rays would be needed.  It was a 90 minute trip one way.  Kobe and I decided to make an adventure out of it all, cruising down by the beach after appointments for an outdoor lunch, enjoying the cool ocean breeze and a welcome respite from the desert heat.  One day we enjoyed lunch with Jeanette and her friend at a Newport Beach mall. 
Meanwhile, the small dog was healing in other ways. The void stare was soon replaced with a relaxed happiness.  Kobe’s personality started to emerge, calm, sweet and independent.  Kobe proved to be a remarkably strong minded dog, determined to run as he trailed behind the other dogs.  Dogs don’t necessarily forget, but Kobe demonstrated a dog’s resilience to focus on the present and look to the future with an innocent trust that life would get better.
It was a long haul for Kobe’s medical procedures.  He stayed in a playpen to restrict his movements so his legs could heal properly after surgery.  Potty walks were limited to 5 minutes, and we couldn’t let his cast get wet.  Each leg was done separately with an 8 week period in between.  Kobe was a little trooper, never complaining or whining as he sat in his playpen watching the activity outside.   Karen Speeros helped foster Kobe.  Karen was amazed at his spirit and intelligence, and amused at his attempted “escape” across her golf course one morning.         
Loving All Animals needed to find a special home for Kobe, one where he would be treated gently. Rocky Randall introduced Kobe to her friends Norm and Mary Feuer. When I returned him for a second home visit, Norm met us outside Cactus Jack’s restaurant.  Kobe spotted him in the distance and became ecstatic, jumping up and down with incredible joy.  I’ve never seen a rescue dog getting adopted who shared such an immediate and overwhelming connection. His adoration for Norm is beyond amazing, and Norm reports Kobe is a devoted animal always by his side.  Norm added, “Kobe is a great dog.  While I was away on a fishing trip, he sat in front of my office chair and just stared at it waiting for me to return”.
Kobe now runs with the wind, with the joyful ecstasy of a healthy, happy dog.  The pain of the past is a distant memory, and Kobe lives with the love and happiness so many made possible.  For information about rescue dogs, contact Loving All Animals at (760) 776-9397.

Previous articleGrill on Main

Comments are closed.