Buster the paraplegic dachshund has a new home, a place where he can wheel himself around in his little doggy wheelchair to his little doggy heart’s content.
You remember Buster, don’t you? I wrote about him in May. Found by the side of the road in West Virginia last fall, Buster had apparently been hit by a car, one of his vertebrae crushed. A good Samaritan scooped him up and brought him to McLean Animal Hospital.
He lived there for a while, but a hospital is no place for an active dog, even one whose nerves stop working halfway down his back. The Washington Animal Rescue League took on the challenge of finding someone who would adopt the special needs pooch.
“It took awhile,” said Mary Jarvis, the league’s chief operating officer. “Initially, because of the media, we had a lot of response.”
People flocked to the shelter to see Buster, but after hearing of the challenges his owner would face — only his front legs work; he can’t control his poop or pee — most decided he’d be too much. Until last week, that is, when a family came down from Pennsylvania. They already have two dachshunds and are willing to give Buster the care he needs.
Buster had become a sort of mascot for WARL’s shelter. Last month, it entered him in “Best in Shelter,” a virtual dog show in which people watched brief videos online then cast votes for their favorites. It was sponsored and funded by Martha Grimes, the best-selling, animal-loving local mystery writer.
In the competition were four dogs each from four area shelters: WARL, the Washington Humane Society, the Lost Dog & Cat Rescue Foundation and the Animal Welfare League of Arlington. Buster came in third, earning $15,000 for his shelter.
The winner was Gaston from the Animal Welfare League of Arlington. His video featured the bulldog/pit bull mix sporting a pair of sunglasses and parading through Shirlington, a boisterous crowd of Gaston groupies gathering in his wake.
“The fact that we got him to keep those sunglasses on was amazing,” said Susan Sherman, the Arlington shelter’s deputy executive director.
Gaston’s win earned the shelter $50,000. The second-place, $25,000 winner was Cowboy, a Lab mix from Lost Dog & Cat Rescue Foundation who overcame canine distemper.
Three of the four “Best in Shelter” dogs from Arlington have been adopted: Rumor, Pooh Bear and Molly, a retriever mix who’s missing her front left leg. Alas, Gaston has yet to be adopted. He’s been at the shelter since August and is still looking for a permanent home.
While we’re on the subject of dogs, readers of my Monday column about my black Lab Charlie and his suspicious behavior said it’s not unusual to see cross-species cooperation. Purcellville’s Mark Pfoutz grew up in Cabin John, “when it was still just a sleepy little town on the way to Great Falls.” His grandfather lived nearby and kept chickens.
“One afternoon we were sitting under the crab apple tree looking into the back yard and noticed that my dog and his cat were working their way over to the chicken coop,” Mark wrote. “After a couple of minutes of walking about the outside of the pen the cat climbed up the wire and jumped into the pen. She started chasing the chickens all around and finally one made it over the top of the fence, into the yard. As soon as that happened, our dog started running after it and finally caught the chicken. Meanwhile, the cat had come back out to the yard as soon as she realized that a chicken was out. The two of them then went behind the garage with the now dead chicken and proceeded to divide up and eat everything but a few feathers.”
If dogs and cats ever evolve opposable thumbs, we’re doomed.
There are roughly two weeks left in this summer’s Send a Kid to Camp campaign, where we attempt to raise $500,000 for Moss Hollow, a summer camp for at-risk kids from the Washington area. So far, readers have donated $204,969.75.
Can we raise $295,030.75 by July 27? With your help, we can. To donate, go to washingtonpost.com/camp. Click where it says “Give Now,” and designate “Send a Kid to Camp” in the gift information. Or mail a check payable to “Send a Kid to Camp” to Send a Kid to Camp, P.O. Box 96237, Washington, D.C. 20090-6237.
To read previous columns, go to washingtonpost.com/johnkelly.