The rewards of adopting an older Scottie

Jazzy came to live with us in November of last year, after I contacted our regional STECS representative for an informal chat! She was nine years old at the time, sadly her owner was having family problems, planning to move and unable to give her as much time and attention as she needed. As you can see from the “before” picture, Jazzy was very obese and subdued, had been living in a pen in the garden and was not house-trained. In addition she had not had a walk for many months and was barely able to move more than a few yards without becoming exhausted. She was so heavy too, that climbing up even a single step or stair was a terrific effort and she rapidly became very breathless. A previous attempt at re-homing had failed as apparently the potential adoptees felt unable to manage her with their other dog.

I had trained as a veterinary nurse many years ago and spent several years working for the Blue Cross at one of their animal hospitals. Jazzy’s lethargy, excessive weight and constant thirst and hunger, together with her sparse coat and bony skull, rang a lot of warning bells and we went straight to the vet’s on our way home from picking her up. Even though she was obviously unwell, Jazzy tried very hard to oblige, right from the start. The “weight clinic” nurse put her on the scales twice during our visit, and after that Jazzy headed straight for the scales and clambered onto them herself. During each of the subsequent visits, when she had to have blood tests and various examinations, she never complained and was always very gentle and co-operative.

At her first weigh-in Jazzy registered 14.6kg, the vet suggested a goal weight of 10kg and we started her on a strict diet immediately, using a prescribed reducing diet.

Over the weeks that followed she also underwent tests for diabetes, which were negative, and then Cushing’s disease, which was confirmed. She was started on Vetoryl tablets and this, together with her weight-loss diet and a gradual increase in exercise, began to turn things around.

Over the months that followed we became regular visitors to the vets for fortnightly weight checks and also worked on house-training. Initially Jasmine slept at night indoors in a dog-crate, this helped to prevent accidents and our elderly Airedale, who we have had since he was a puppy, also set her a good example.

As her health has improved Jazzy’s true character has also emerged. She is very sweet natured and loves company, but is also quite strong-willed and determined and still enjoys her food a great deal. She was discovered in the local curry restaurant one day, having squeezed under the gate in search of a spot of lunch. There have also been a few embarrassing raids on unattended picnic baskets and rucksacks in our local park and she makes a bee-line for building sites, in the hope of joining in with elevenses. As her fitness has increased she has begun to enjoy longer and longer walks, and managed a seven mile walk across the fields this week-end, with no problems. She also enjoys coming with me to our local stables each day. There are always several other dogs there and even though she is hardly a typical “yard” dog, she is more than capable of holding her own and putting anyone in their place if need be! She has become great friends with my two children and really feels like part of the family now. I hope you can see from the “before and after” pictures, she is full of life and has been at her goal weight for several months, so our veterinary practice want to enter her for “Pet Slimmer of the Year”! It is coming up to a year since Jazzy arrived and looking after her has not always been straight-forward, but the rewards of bonding with her and watching her regain her health and interest in life have been well worth it.

by Melanie Bill