When Rich and Teri began to think about bringing another Shetland Sheepdog into their home, they knew this had to be a very special puppy. This would be their sixth Sheltie, their original adopted from the San Francisco SPCA more than 35 years ago. Furthermore, they hoped to train their new addition as a service dog to help Rich who has Parkinson’s disease.
Shortly before Christmas last year, they found a breeder in Oklahoma and selected a tiny girl named Maddie. On the day she was to arrive in San Francisco, the flight she had been booked on was cancelled. Before the next flight took off, she passed away from unknown causes. Hearing the news, Rich and Teri were completely devastated. After a few heartbroken days they located another breeder, also from Oklahoma, who had a puppy that could arrive in a week. Together they called the original breeder to ask if they could name this puppy Maddie after the one they had longed for. Tears were shed as both parties became emotionally bonded over the honor bestowed from 1,500 miles away.
Maddie arrived at SFO on December 22nd and was greeted by her overjoyed owners; needless to say, it was absolute love at first sight. She soon settled into her new home in the Upper Haight, which also included an older German Shepherd. One day in early January Teri heard loud, painful yelps coming from her bedroom; Maddie had either jumped or fallen off the couple’s bed. They rushed her to their local veterinarian where x-rays revealed a badly fractured left rear leg. Given the complexity of the break, they were referred to an orthopedic specialist at the SF SPCA veterinary hospital. Unfortunately these surgeries are very expensive and the cost to repair her leg was significantly more than Teri and Rich could afford. It was then that they learned about the lifesaving work of San Francisco Aid for Animals when its Grant-in-Aid program reduced Maddie’s hospital bill to a manageable level.
After only two days of recuperation Maddie was on the road to recovery, chasing around her beloved tennis ball and dragging her stuffed mallard duck behind her. While the couple is currently researching certified service dog trainers in the area, they have already taught her to wait at street curbs and she excels at sitting and staying. When she needs a little rest and relaxation after training she enjoys playing with the children in her neighborhood and walking through the Panhandle. Teri is frequently stopped by strangers who ask about Maddie’s breed, as she is often mistaken for an Australian Shepherd. She is in fact a Blue Merle Sheltie, with silver and grey patches on her coat.
Rich and Teri are extremely grateful to SF Aid for Animals who’s financial assistance helped assure that Maddie has a long and promising future with her adoring owners. (CL)