Line up, line up. It’s everybody’s favourite gentleman and unfortunately for everybody; Milo is not available for re-homing. So, while your queue is pretty long and fairly organised, this exceptional piece of hairy beast isn’t going anywhere.
Way back in 2012, at the age of nine months, Milo found himself surrendered to GSRRR. He was typical for a male Shepherd of this age; overly-affectionate, bouncy, mouthy, loud, stubborn, bull-headed, excitable etc. etc.
Nine months of age or thereabouts, seems to be the age we get the majority of owner surrenders. Shepherds are pretty notorious for being hard to handle at this stage, as, much like human teenagers, their full blown adolescent brain makes living with them a bit like room-sharing with a house-trained chimpanzee.
Milo very quickly settled in with the rest of the pack and things continued as normal. Unfortunately for Milo however, sometimes up at GSRRR, normal involves a little bit of kennel cough.
Kennel cough is a highly contagious, upper respiratory infection found in dogs, which causes coughing, a runny nose and retching. We’ve always likened it to the common cold and while it can be vaccinated against, there always seems to be a few different strains of it flying around (and we mean flying. It’s an airborne contagion as well as bacterial – pretty nasty beastie all in all).
Kennel cough is one of the reasons why any dog that comes to us from a council pound is put into isolation for at least two weeks. Sometimes this isolation stops an outbreak in its tracks, but in most cases we just have to hunker down and pray that we can keep it well under control.
Generally when we do get an outbreak of Kennel Cough, we shut shop, get out the tissues and get ready to deal with a few miserable dogs. It’s rarely a disease that’s anything to get concerned about in the fit and healthy. It’s a disease that’s mostly a cause for concern in very young puppies, elderly dogs, pregnant bitches or dogs with underlying health conditions. It’s also a massive pain to try and get rid of if you have a constantly changing population (like in boarding kennels or council pounds). This is why boarding kennels always insist that a dog receives its kennel cough vaccine at least three weeks before they come in.
In Milo’s case, he was one of the unlucky ones who deviated from the usual course of the disease. His run of the mill kennel cough very quickly got worse. He became lethargic and his temperature soared. What started as a mild upper respiratory infection soon became pneumonia and his life was at very serious risk. So serious, that the advice given was to take him home and make him as comfortable as possible.
Thankfully, due to a lot of praying and non-stop nursing by Ray. Milo made it through the night. His temperature started to drop and he made it through the worst. He was soon on the mend and things slowly got back to normal.
However, normal Milo now was not the same normal Milo as before. Due to either his extremely high temperature or a couple of seconds of oxygen deprivation, Milo’s personality went through a change and he’s never really recovered from it.
Since the kennel cough, Milo has become very unpredictable and gets very easily stressed. For no known reason, he can go from loving someone to absolutely hating them within the space of five seconds. He seems to take a dislike to people for no fathomable reason, only to greet them like they’re his long lost friend the next time they visit the rescue.
Milo also went from being a dog who would lick you the second you looked at him, to a dog who never licks at all. We’re not too sure why this is but we can only put it down to a loss of motor function caused by his high temperature. He now gives you his paw as a sign of affection, instead of the licking he once did.
Understandably, due to his now unpredictable nature, the decision was made that Milo could never be re-homed. It was just too much of a risk to take, especially considering that now fully grown, Milo had hit a massive 45kg in weight.
Milo is now a full time meeter and greeter up at the rescue. He’s one of the first males that new males get to meet when they come in and when he’s having a good day he’s one of the dogs that visitors get to greet.
Milo is an example of the worst case scenario that can happen when taking in dogs from high risk environments. So far, we have been lucky in that kennel cough is the worst contagion that we’ve ever had to deal with. Even with all of the cross-infection protocols and safe guarding put in place, there is always risk of an outbreak amongst rescue dogs and contagious diseases are something that the pounds sadly have deal with on a daily basis.
We are all very lucky and very thankful that Milo survived his ordeal. He really is a big character and the rescue wouldn’t be the same without him. These days, Milo can usually be found lounging on one of the many sofa’s available to our dogs or outside in the yard playing with a ball. We don’t think he’ll truly ever lose the “oddness” that came to him after he was so unwell, but we find that that just makes him fit in all the better.