Tuesday, July 10, 2012


His name is Drifter Moon, by all accounts he is a castaway, a dumper dog, an unwanted, except to us.  To us he is Moonie, or Bubba Bear.  He’s a large lovable black shorthaired dog with black and white spotted feet and tiny brown eyes.  He’s our boy.

Moonie is also a little different.  The boy is not a real fast study, he’s trainable, but it definitely takes longer to train him than it has ever taken us to train any of our dogs. 

What is also is, is fiercely loyal to me.  This canine fellow would put his life on the line for me at any given moment, as one installer who dared to raise his voice to me found out not long ago.  Lucky for him I had the Bear on a leash at the time or the fellow would have needed stitches.  You don’t mess with Drifter Moon’s Mama.

He showed up here one January over ten years ago, and would come and go on a regular basis for the next 2-3 months.  He was under a year old then the best we could tell.  I started calling him Drifter then because he drifted in and out of the homestead and I never knew where I might see him. 

Often all I saw of him was the white moon on his rump as he headed into the woods, thus the Moon part of his name.  I let him stay because he never bothered the birds or anything else.  But I was determined we were not taking on a third dog.

The one time he got into the bird pen I hollered at him and he, to this day,  has never set foot in the pen since then—that he learned quickly.  It crushes him when Mama scolds him—which isn’t often.  He’s a good boy.

By March it had became apparent he’d been dumped.  One day my husband asked me about the dog and what we were going to do about him.  I told him how he seemed to be watching all of us as if guarding the homestead and how good he was around the birds. I mentioned that when anyone came on the place he seemed to place himself between them and me.

I also expressed concerned about the bright red collar that he was wearing that was definitely way too tight. Telling my husband we needed to get it off of him because I feared it would choke him soon.

My husband being the gentle soul he is.  Pulled up a five gallon bucket and set down on the bottom of it.  Then patting his leg he called “Drifter, come here boy, come to Daddy.”

The dog responded hesitantly, tail tucked and let Gary pet him.  While petting him he gently used his pocket knife to cut the strangling collar off the dog. The collar was so tight he had to choke the dog some to get the thin knife blade under it to cut the thing lose. The dog never tried to back away.  He trusted Gary completely to not hurt him.

As soon as I heard my husband say, “come to Daddy” I knew we had a third dog and went to find a feed bowl for him.  That was over 10 years ago.

Today Moonie weighs in around 65 or so pounds and is built solid.  I definitely would never want him to turn on me, but his soul is gentle so we are safe.

He also has a large cyst on his rump near the moon he is named for.  We’ve had it looked at and it is benign.  It grows and shrinks with the seasons and with Moon’s seasonal weight changes.   Although we are told it is not hurting him it still concerns us, so any time he has a health issue our first thought is the cyst.  Some days it is quite large, others you can’t really see it at all.

So when he threw up lame a couple of weeks or so ago we all started checking him closely.  Moonie is a patient boy and lets us check the cyst, his paws and pull ticks (when he gets them) from his eye lids without hesitation. 

It was his front left leg he is limping on and the cyst is on the other end, but we are still cautious. We worry that the cyst could grow into his spine near the tail and cause him problems.  All three of us love this big old dog and want only the best for him.

Around here an animal’s health issues are judged in varying degrees from the “must make a FINAL trip to the vet” to “Boo-boo paw”.  What the first one obviously means is it would be a one way trip and we all do everything we can to prevent those trips, but we will not let our animals suffer. 

Boo-boo  Paw is generally Moon’s sister Misty Georgia, our middle child so to speak.  Whenever Georgie feels she is being neglected she will suddenly be limping and as soon as she gets her attention her limp is gone.

Only Moonie’s wasn’t going away, even with all three of us fondling over him and giving him special treats.  A week later the limp didn’t seem any better, but we could find no swelling, or thorn or anything.  We continued to try and keep him off the foot as much as possible.

Friday when we came home from our movie mystery shop after 10 pm Moon didn’t run out to greet us as he normally does.  He takes his guarding seriously and this concerned us. 

Twice I took the flashlight out looking for him and finally I asked Jolie Marie where Bubba Bear was, fearing the worst. I had called and called and there had been no response from my boy. He always comes when I call.  Jo-Jo immediately took me to the very healthy looking boy on the front porch.  Where he’d been I have no idea, but he didn’t offer to get off the porch and since I knew the steps would be hard on his lame leg I petted him and told him to stay there.  Then went in to go to bed, now that I knew he was safe.

When my son got home from work around three am he called my phone and woke me up.  Moon was laying in the driveway and wouldn’t even try to come to him. 

I told him to give the dog a treat and he’d probably move just fine, since he had been able to climb the steep steps to the porch I knew he had mobility three hours earlier.

 Fifteen minutes later my son called again and said Moon couldn’t get on his feet. 

Gary asked what was going on.  I told him and told him to go back to sleep since he had to get up for work in less than two hours.

I dressed quickly and went outside to check on both the man and the dog.

My son was sitting on the ground with dog’s head in his lap, tears rolling down his face. “Mom he managed to get up, but it was like his rear legs wouldn’t support him, he wobbled for a few steps and then collapsed here.”

The dog rolled his eyes in my son’s direction and whined softly.  That was when my son noticed his left eye was turned inward more than the right one.  “Mom did anyone come over today that might of hit him with their car?”

Moon is a car chaser, that is why his leash is always where we can grab it in an instant.  As long as the leash is on he makes no effort to chase, but if it’s not on he will drag you down the driveway with him if you try to stop him. 

In the past he has attacked bull dozers, tractors, UPS trucks, FEDEX trucks and any other vehicle that has came on the property, except our two trucks and the mower.  The bull dozer actually rolled him three different times when we were having the driveway work done and he still chased it when he could get lose from where we had him penned.  Like I said, not the brightest of our three dogs.

To my knowledge there had been no deliveries that day, but then we’d been gone most of the afternoon. 

I expressed my concern that maybe the cyst had grown into the spine, or was no longer benign. We were both major stressed.

The dog was panting hard and the temperature at 3 am was still in the 80’s so I sent my son to get some water for him.  Telling him what bowl to get while I stayed in the dark with our fellow.  We both feared Moonie was leaving us and we didn’t want him to be alone.

No sooner had Sean got to where he couldn’t see Moon than the rear leg that he “couldn’t use” game up  and started scratching his ear.  I looked at the dog and said “You old faker.”

The paw fell to the ground and the dog hung his head.  He then stood up quickly and walked to another place in the driveway without any problems and laid down saying “humrph!”.

I turned off the flashlight and waited in the dark for my son to return.  When he did I said “I figured out what’s wrong with Drifter.”

“What?” he asked with fear in his voice.

“Sean I don’t know how to tell you this, but it’s the worst case of Boo-boo Paw I’ve ever seen.”

Then I turned the flashlight on to show him the dog laying much further down the driveway.

Sean stammered “What do you mean?”  I told him quickly how Drifter had used his legs just fine as long as he knew Sean couldn’t see him.  He asked me “are you sure it’s Boo-boo Paw?”

I told him to set the water down and tell Drifter he was on to his game and to come get the water.  He did as he was instructed and the dog stood with no problems and came to drink the water dry.  Not a wobble one to his walk, just the mild limp from the front leg.

Sean then said “Well, fellow you nearly cried wolf too hard that time.  I was going to take you to ER for a final vet visit tonight because of the way you were acting.”

The dog hung his head, he really doesn’t like to be scolded.  Then he easily followed Sean to the sunroom for his late night supper Sean gives him every night.

I went back to bed.  As I quietly crawled into the bed my husband said “How’s Drifter?”

Again I responded “Worst case of Boo-boo Paw I’ve ever seen.”

“Drifter?” he questioned, making sure I didn’t mean Georgie.

“Yep” Then I told him what had happened. 

He laughed and said “Guess we’ve gone overboard about the limp and he likes the attention.”

Like I said that was Friday/Saturday, he still limps slightly on that leg, because he won’t stay off of it.  But there have been no more fake “I can’t move” attempts.

Jan who couldn’t believe her good boy pulled such a trick on all of us in OK

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