Tag Archives: Crane

Happy Ever After

14 Feb
Crane in his youth

Crane in his youth

Almost three years ago, I wrote about a frequent boarder at our hospital, a bulldog named Crane. To recap, he’s disgusting. I wrote about him being disgusting then, and his situation has only deteriorated. His owner is a wealthy, egotistical man who takes little responsibility for Crane. From puppyhood, Crane has boarded with us for a huge chunk of his life. His owner drops him off looking unkempt and uncared for and leaves in his Escalade to fly to some tropical location, forgetting Crane.

In many ways, I can’t stand Crane. He stinks. No matter how much we bathe him, this foul odor radiates from every orifice. Is it the rotting cancerous growth growing out his paw? Is it the noxious farts from a bowel that is likely diseased? Is it the breath from his rotting teeth? He’s too old and sickly to anesthetize, so we’ll likely never know. He has chronic dry eye which causes yellow goop to seep from his eyes. His face folds easily get filled with bacteria and become infected. He’s unpleasant.

But for all his faults, he’s a good dog and wants nothing more than to be petted and snuggled. We all had a love/hate relationship with him. I’d put on gloves to pet him so as not to acquire his rotting smell. We’d bring him cookies during the day. It’s hard to not love him when there is not a mean bone in his ever-decaying body.

Earlier this week, his owner called us, because he was tired of having to pay for boarding. He told us to euthanize him. Dr. L and I agreed that maybe it was the best thing for him. He’s old and disgusting, and a life living in a cage (for as much as we try to give him attention) is not a happy existence. Selfishly, perhaps we were tired of having to deal with him, to take care of him.

Much to our chagrin, another technician, Kristina convinced Dr. S to keep him at the hospital. She has an aunt who works with rescue animals, and Kristina felt confident that they could find him a home. I was skeptical. I thought Kristina was being too much of a soft heart, and I stood by Dr. L in asserting that he should be euthanized.

Within three days, eight families had come forward wanting to adopt Crane, and on Wednesday, a lovely family from Long Island came in to get him. We were stunned. What would they say when they smelled him? We went over all his medical problems, and they seemed unfazed. The whole family (parents and two teenage daughters) came to collect him and take him back to Long Island. Crane stood with them, looking confused as they all leaned down to pet him and tell him how handsome he is.

Yesterday we got pictures of Crane in his new home. His large luxurious bed, another Bulldog to be his friend, and a family that adores him. For all of his years of being ignored by an owner who left him in a cage at our clinic, he now has a family. They gushed about how much they love him. The email read, “We can’t wait to make his golden years absolutely golden.”

I kept thinking today how happy I am that Kristina exists and that I have the honor of being friends with her. I often think of her as too soft-hearted, too effusive with affection for every patient we have. But she never fails to remind me that there is never too much love to be given. It isn’t possible to be too soft-hearted. Being strong and being soft-hearted are not mutually exclusive.

Three years ago, I wrote

“Somebody has to love and take care of the messes of the world. Right?”

Yeah, somebody does, and with a little determination, somebody will.



5 Jul


I didn’t have any big plans for the fourth of July this year. I expected I’d get together with some amalgamation of friends, drink beer, sit in the sun, watch fireworks. It would be nice. But when my boss asked me to work the holiday shift, I sighed and said yes. This is life at the bottom of the totem pole.

So I worked 8am till 8pm on the fourth of July, and it was a relatively slow day. There was a rush between two and five where we had a slew of emergencies come in. We even performed a surgery, the name of which I can’t remember. In layman’s terms, we sewed a cut on a Vizzla’s nose under light sedation. Oh, we also saw a cat with ringworm. So we were all scrubbing ourselves like crazy and bleaching every inch of the hospital. I’m still itchy and constantly checking my skin for lesions. So far, so good!

Most of my day was taken up by the gentleman pictured above. Crane.

Crane is a bulldog. Crane is a hot mess. His owner is kind of a jerk, but he’s wealthy and travels constantly. So Crane boards with us often. So often that when Crane’s owner walks him into the clinic, all he has to do is unleash him and Crane marches straight to the back area of the hospital, through all the swinging doors and walks up to a cage and waits for us to let him in. He knows the drill. So on Tuesday when we heard a loud thump through the doors of treatment and heard labored, phlegmy breathing, we all just looked up and said, “Oh hey Crane.”

Where do I start with his issues? He’s not castrated, so he has prostrate issues and urinates everywhere. He has dermatitis in his face folds. His eyes give off this thick green discharge, as do his ears and nose. He overheats easily and makes creative breathing noises. He requires so much care. Most everyone at the hospital finds him amusing but chooses not to deal with him, because he is simply disgusting. The only one who really loves Crane is Christine who is out on maternity leave. So with her gone, I had to step up.

He requires treatments almost every hour of the day. He has different pills to take, different ointments, drops, cleaning routines. He’s nearly blind, so he doesn’t like to leave his cage. I often have to climb into his cage with him and scruff him by his folds to get his eye drops in. He hates having his face folds cleaned, but I must. Crane, I must!! So I have to wrassle his head still while he snorts and spews weird bodily fluids all over me, and I try my damnedest to get into those folds with some wipes which quickly turn brown and black from the debris that gets caught there. Crane is a full-time job.

After it slowed down on the fourth, I sat idly flipping through his chart, the catalog of issues, and I got to wondering how happy he can be. I thought I was alone in the hospital so I went over to his cage and squatted in front of it, just looking in at this disgusting, slobbering mess, thinking about his life.

But I wasn’t alone. Rob, a kennel staff member, was there. He was reading his book out of boredom when I asked him, “Do you think Crane’s happy?”
“Of course he is. It’s Crane. Why wouldn’t he be?”
“I don’t know. He’s gross and weird and has all these problems and no one pays attention to him. That’s gotta get him down.”
“He’s Crane, though. He is what he is, and he’s happy. He doesn’t know any better.”
I looked down at Crane, listening to the gurgling of his brachiocephalic trachea pushing air in and out with such effort. He thumped to the floor and started licking his paws, slobbering over them.
“He’s totally happy, Chrissy. C’mon, it’s obvious.”

So I let myself believe that, as I take the time to take care of Crane. Somebody has to love and take care of the messes of the world. Right?