Bandit (nicknamed Bismarck Bandit) was found along with his elderly owner on the ﬂoor of his apartment in Bismarck North Dakota. He was nearly dead. His owner was taken to the hospital and Bandit to the shelter to be euthanized. When asked why, the daughter replied, “Well look at him. He is old and sick.” The shelter called MN Sheltie Rescue who contacted Top Dog Foundation.
Upon Bandit’s arrival it was clear he had lived a lifetime of neglect and with a little research, his age was verified to be 15 years. His long fur coat was matted right to the skin and was full of debris and dead skin. He had to be completely shaved. He was obese, weighing 54 pounds, and had a lobe of fat that hung so low over his backside that he could not lift his tail to defecate. I took Bandit to live with me and my Sheltie pack so that I could carefully assess his viability for recovery and manage his rehabilitation. Upon observation I suspected that he was hypothyroid and probably suffering from Cushing’s. An appointment with my vet confirmed those suspicions and we started a regimen of medicine. Bandit reacted violently to the Vetoryl (used to treat Cushing’s) and he began profuse vomiting and diarrhea. He stopped eating and appeared to be slipping away.
Many observers suggested I just “let him go.” My experience and my intuition told me different. We discontinued the medicine which can be very hard on the system and resorted to an older and less used treatment that is better tolerated but typically less effective for most dogs. Bandit started to rebound and in a very short time he was “back in action.” This 15 year old would make the short commute from my house over to Top Dog Country Club where he spent 5+ hours every single day—spring, summer, fall and winter—walking the play yards and mingling with the other dogs. He was the most amiable and sweet little dog I have met. He loved every dog and person he met and when they knocked into him and rolled him while playing chase, he just got right back up and kept on going. Bandit lost 20 lbs, nearly half his body weight. The large mass on his backside disappeared. He grew his coat back to a beautiful merle color, and he lived 2 1/2 more years, passing away at the ripe-old-age of 17 1/2…in my arms…the arms of someone who loved him very much. It is clear that those last years were the very best of his life and a reminder that his little life was worth saving!