I recently had the pleasure of fostering a very special little tri-colored boy named Prince. Prince was just under 2 years old when he came to rescue. I was told he had trouble with his back legs and was going to need knee surgery.
When I picked him up, he was handed to me and I put him right into the crate in my car. I was also handed a dog stroller. It wasn’t until we arrived home and brought him to our yard that night for a potty stop that we actually saw him walk. I was stunned. Prince’s back legs were so deformed (the vet says it was a birth defect) that he could barely walk. He sort of walked/dragged his hind legs as his front legs did all of the work. Both of his back legs folded underneath him the way a frog’s leg would look. My heart immediately split in two thinking that this poor boy had spent almost 2 years like this.
We had him booked 2 days later for surgery and I took video of him walking in order to start fundraising for him. He was an instant hit. Donations began to come in and he was developing quite a fan club rooting for his recovery. He received donations from as far as the Czech Republic and Australia! He also received a very special donation from a young boy who chose to have donations made for Prince in lieu of birthday gifts at his party. He raised $420 for Prince!
We were so grateful for all of the donations because, as it turned out, his legs required far more than just knee surgery. Both of his femurs had a 26 degree curvature which had to be straightened in order for the patella surgery to work. This required breaking the bone and using steel plates to straighten them. During the surgery on the right leg, the surgeon also discovered that some of the muscles and tendons were improperly attached. That also needed to be fixed in order for his legs to move properly.
Prince was a trooper. He came through the surgery on his right leg with flying colors. It was a six week recovery process. We had him confined to a small x-pen in our family room and we used a towel under his abdomen as a sling to assist him in walking every time he needed to go out to the bathroom. The vet showed us how to do physical therapy on his leg to maintain his range of motion and ice pack treatments 4 times a day during the first week.
During this recovery process we got to know Prince and his loving personality. He was the most endearing boy who loved to cuddle, yearned to play, and was truly a special little soul. As he began to heal, we had the pleasure of seeing him blossom with joy at his newfound freedom. He was absolutely thrilled to be able to play with our other dogs. In the first two days we had him, prior to surgery, he tried so hard to play, but constantly fell over and ultimately had to just lie down and watch the fun go on around him. Now for the first time in his young life, he was playing. Even having just the one leg fixed at first gave him enough stability and we had the pleasure of watching his pure unbridled joy as he frolicked in the yard.
It was then time for his second surgery. Once again, Prince was a trooper and a model patient. He developed a loyal fan base by now and there were many people following his progress online. We posted video of him after his first surgery and his recovery from that and thankfully donations continued to come in. About 2 weeks into his recovery, our normally compliant and happy patient began to periodically yelp in pain. Something wasn’t right. We took him back to the surgeon and it was found that the pin in his knee had slipped and was hitting on something (perhaps a nerve) and causing pain. So, once again, sweet Prince went in for surgery. The doctor adjusted the pin and successfully relieved the pain.
While we continued with his rehabilitation and recovery, we knew it was time to start the search for his forever home. As Prince gained even more strength in his newly repaired legs, he played with our 2 year old black and tan constantly. He radiated joy and it warmed my heart to watch this young dog truly enjoying his playtime. Something he had been missing out on for the first year and a half of his life. One thing was for sure, he deserved to have a playmate in his new home.
This was definitely a special boy. So far he has been the most loving, playful, cuddly Cavalier I had ever met. He had the most balanced temperament I have encountered so far. In true Cavalier fashion, he loved everyone he met…human, canine and feline alike! He was an “equal opportunity snuggler”, too. If ANYONE was sitting down near him, he was in their lap, but he didn’t play favorites. As soon as another person sat down, he switched laps. Eventually, if at the end of the evening, our family all sat down on the couch to watch TV, Prince played musical laps! We absolutely fell in love with this boy and were determined to find the best home ever for him.
Ultimately, that perfect family did come along. Prince now lives in Scituate, Massachusetts in a wonderful harbor town. He lives 8 houses away from the beach and takes nightly walks in the sand (which is fabulous for building strength in his legs). His owners are an absolutely devoted, loving couple who take impeccable care of their pets. They have a 10 yr old girl and a 13 yr old boy who are thrilled to have him in the family as well. Most importantly, Prince has a 4 yr old Havanese sister to play with! This is a very kind, giving family. Prince’s new mom volunteers at the local shelter every Friday and until this past year (before they knew and fell in love with Cavaliers) used to be a foster home with Havanese rescue. The family also has a quiet, 15 year old beagle mix, Ramie, who spends her senior years leisurely napping. She has immediately taken to Prince and accepted him, which apparently is quite the endorsement. The family tells us that when they were fostering dogs, although Ramie never showed aggression to any dogs, she was aloof to the newcomers and didn’t engage with them. After Prince’s second day in his new home, we were sent photos, two of which were of him and Ramie together! One of them was even a photo of them together on Ramie’s bed!
We couldn’t be happier that this very special little boy has found such a perfect home. Handing him over was bittersweet. I shed a few tears as I knew how much I would miss him, but shed equally as many tears of joy knowing what a wonderful life was ahead of him. Prince reinforced for me what an honor it is to foster dogs. I am blessed to be able to be a part of watching these wonderful dogs get a new lease on life and to be a part in hand picking the perfect place for them to spend the rest of their lives. With every dog I foster, I learn more about life, love, courage and joy, and I look forward to many more years of doing this.