Monday, February 21, 2005

A year ago today, a wolf tried to turn Hobo into his dinner. Hobo wasn't even my dog at the time. I was caring for him and 13 of his teammates while their musher was hospitalized. The very first night they were in my yard a wolf came through and attacked two of them. Little brave Hobo, all 35 pounds of him, probably saved his entire team from the wolf's teeth. Hobo slipped his collar and ran and ran and ran. Despite a belly that was ripped wide open, a badly injured back leg, Hobo ran and kept running until he found a safe house. Hobo suffered many injured to his back end as the wolf chased him. The muscles supporting his tail were torn, his rectum and sphincter muscles were torn. My vet was sure he would never regain bowel control, if he survived at all and for the first week even that was in doubt.

This picture was taken several weeks after the attack. That back leg just wouldn't heal!

When his musher was able to take his team home, Hobo was left behind as payment for the vet bill. Hobo still needed intensive care. He suffered several setbacks in his recovery including a wound on his back leg that wouldn't close, an infection that got into the bone on his front leg. But by the end of July Hobo was fine and on July 31 he made his first training run in harness.

That's Hobo in lead on that first run, back when I had dreams of turning him into a lead dog. That was not to be!

Today, Hobo is fully recovered. The only sign of the attack are some scars visible on his back legs and semi-circle that was ripped out of his ear. The biggest scar is psychological. Hobo is afraid of the dark. He won't sleep outside anymore and has claimed a spot beside our bed. In the summer he will sometimes spend warm nights outdoors, but it never gets dark here that time of year.

Hobo's gait is a little off when he's tired now and occasionally he limps when he's done too much. But he's still a harness banging lunatic in the team. He wants to come every time we go for a run. He's full of energy and 35 pounds of solid muscle. He has to run alone as he is too nutty to put beside another dog--he scares them. So now I run a seven dog team on the days Hobo comes along.

Last night, we had the pleasure of hosting Hobo's old owner for dinner. Jim has recovered from his injures and is racing again. He broke his pelvis when his sled hit a tree last year. The other dog injured along with Hobo has also recovered. Diesel's gait has changed, but he is back sprint racing. Diesel was with Jim last night and it was nice to see the little guy again! Jim told us all sorts of stories about Hobo's younger days, all of which confirmed what we see in him now. Hobo clearly remembered Jim and was happy to see him. However, when Jim left, Hobo ran to the bedroom and snuggled into his bed. He was not taking any chances that he might have to go. Jim left still giggling about how Hobo had "lucked out".

Hobo is my happiest little dog. He greets every day with pure joy. Every meal is appreciated like he hasn't been fed in days. Whenever he gets a treat, he gives my hand a quick "thank you" lick before running off with his treasure. He does the Hobo Dance of Joy regularly all day long. Both his physical and mental strength amaze me.

The wolf attack was the start of a very bad month around here last year. We lost Hoodoo a week later, Preacher got sick and all the dogs got kennel cough. Through everything, there was always one happy face in the house. Despite the fact that he was in pain and I was popping pills down his throat three times a day & flushing wound drains twice a day, Hobo always greeted me with a grin and a tail wag. His fur soaked up many tears and there were days I would not have gotten out of bed if I hadn't had to take care of Hobo. I am forever grateful that he survived, that Jim gave him to me and for his addition to this pack. He's an amazing little dog who brings me great joy, occasionally frustration, but never a dull moment! I do love the little lunatic!

This last picture was taken just a few days ago as Hobo finished a little snack after a run.


Susan said...

Awww Little Hobo is so cute!

Meg said...

I chanced upon your site from urbanmuse's blog and am so glad I did. Stories like this warm my heart and make my tear up. Our beloved Heimdall, the white deaf dane, is the light of our lives and I wish I had the land to take ten more like him. Thanks!