Most of us had that moment growing up when we wanted to be a veterinarian. Animals operate on the very edge of “fun” and “dangerous,” which makes a profession dealing with them seem seriously cool. But as anyone who truly works with animals knows, it’s not all cuddly cats and puppies.
Shelter employees especially understand the darker side of working with animals that many people don’t know about. Day in and day out, they see heartbreaking cases — and in 2018, Douglas County Animal Care & Services in Nevada saw one of the worst situations they’d ever seen.
It makes sense why people want to work in an animal shelter: you get to hang out with adorable animals all day and help future pets in need. But any shelter employee will tell you that the reality is often much darker.
Too often, people use shelters as a dumping ground for their neglected pets. Shelter supervisors like Liz Begovich understand better than most how every animal dropped onto their doorstep needs special treatment and a little TLC.
They’d dealt with malnourished animals and abandoned pets before, and they were used to receiving overnight drop-offs. Still, Liz and her employees were not prepared for what they would find when they arrived at the shelter for work…
When Liz and her team saw the pet carrier in front of the shelter, they knew they were in for a tough day. It’s never easy dealing with neglected pets, and this creature had seen the worst of the worst.
Liz peered into the pet carrier on the shelter’s doorstep and was greeted by a ball of gray fluff. It was shoved uncomfortably into the carrier, and they couldn’t see its face. Still, Liz could tell this animal was more than just fluffy.
“All we saw was a matted mess,” Liz said. But it soon became clear that what they were looking at wasn’t just a tangled mess of fur, it was alive. At first, they thought it was a long-haired dog.
But then the animal lifted its head and revealed the big, blue eyes of a cat. “I’ve never seen a cat in that sort of condition,” Liz said. Its gray fur resembled a rug, and it hung off the cat’s body in matted clumps.
A prisoner of his own hair, the cat could not move without being carried. His body was weighed down by layer upon layer of thick, matted fur. The shelter knew that simply cutting out the matted mess wouldn’t be enough.
Besides, doing so is more likely to pierce the cat’s already-damaged skin. No, they had to take drastic measures. Liz and her team knew immediately what they had to do, and it wouldn’t be pretty.
They quickly brought the cat to the vet, where he was shaved. But this wasn’t your average haircut. The vet shaved 4.5 pounds of tangled, matted fur off of the cat’s body. When they finished, the fur filled a full-size trash bag.
Without his confining, dread-locked hair weighing him down, the cat looked like an all new animal! Like how most people feel after a refreshing makeover, he had a new lease on life. Now he needed a name.
They decided to call him Bob Marley as a cheeky reference to the famously dread-locked musician. However, it wasn’t long after Bob was shaved that they realized he had an all-new set of problems a haircut couldn’t fix…
It became obvious how a cat, an animal known for its fastidious cleaning habits, ended up in such a horrible state: Bob was overweight. If a cat is too heavy, it can’t clean itself properly, which can lead to disease and, yes, matted fur.
The question wasn’t how Bob ended up that way, but why his owner hadn’t tried to help him sooner. It would have been obvious months, even years beforehand that Bob was suffering. They knew they had to find his previous owner.
“Normally, when someone leaves an animal after hours, there’s usually more to the story. It’s typically not a Good Samaritan,” Liz said. It’s alarming to think what is “more to the story” in Bob’s case. It’s possible he endured unknown years of abuse.
Luckily, the animal shelter reviewed their security footage and saw a video of Bob’s ex-owner. An older man wearing a baseball cap had dropped Bob off at the shelter at around 5:30 AM, hours before Liz arrived to open the shelter.
In a passionate Facebook plea, the shelter shared the security footage and asked anyone who recognized the man to inform the shelter. While this was happening, Bob was getting used to his new look…and taking some dangerous risks.
“Once the hair was off, he was walking around,” Liz said of the newly-energized Bob. “I saw him looking up at the counter thinking, ‘I can jump up there.’” Bob wanted to take advantage of his newfound freedom, but it wouldn’t be easy.
Bob still had many obstacles to overcome: His weight, for one, was more than a couple extra pounds. At 22.6 pounds, he’d need a significant lifestyle change so he could be as mobile and flexible as possible.
Happily, one of Bob’s main obstacles was easily surpassed when he was adopted by a loving family. Since he’s already 10 years old, Bob has a lot of catching up to do when it comes to scratching up furniture and frolicking through the backyard!
It’s heartbreaking to see animals suffer from such neglect that they can no longer even move around. Nevertheless, stories like Bob’s give other rescue workers hope because, believe it or not, Liz was not the only one to find an animal in this condition.
The Tennessee country is home to many beautiful sights, but there was one barn that exuded pure gloom. In it, you wouldn’t have found chickens, pigs, or sheep. You would have found Lazarus — and he was in trouble.
The sweet Pyrenean mountain dog lived a life of neglect and discomfort throughout his first seven years. We could only imagine the fear that plagued the poor pup, who sported a pretty gnarly hairdo.
Life With Dogs
The Tennessee pooch spent those years cooped up in the smelly, filth-coated barn, having no room to run and no sky to see. He was left alone to fend for himself, unintentionally fencing himself in with his own waste.
He must’ve been particularly uncomfortable: Pyrenean Mountain Dogs have double coats of fur, with a dense, fine undercoat. Without proper grooming, matting can lead to skin issues, and unfortunately, Lazarus endured extreme matting.
The matting was a surprisingly weighty mess. Lazarus’ fur overgrew to an incredible mass, weighing an astonishing 35 pounds. His life was at stake, and help needed to come sooner rather than later.
Grievously, the dog’s owner reportedly suffered from a mental illness, having called a relative for immediate assistance, so the owner was no help to Laz. Little did the helpless pooch know, he was about to encounter the best day of his heretofore sad life.
Soon enough, after the owner’s relative made an urgent phone call, a diligent rescue team of volunteers from the Big Fluffy Dog Rescue, which included two groomers (who must’ve anticipated the challenge of their career), came to liberate Lazarus.
To the horror of the rescue team, there was a tremendous amount of dirt and feces blocking the door to Lazarus’ barn stall; so much so that the team had to shovel a path to save the poor furry angel. Lazarus was so close to freedom.
When they could finally tend to the struggling pooch, the team immediately became aware of some health problems Lazarus had been facing, which hindered his ability to get around with ease.
The matted fur, like a swarming, restricting ivy plant covering the building, tragically made it impossible for him to walk. The mutt must’ve dreamed of running free in a sunny field, chasing cats and butterflies; but would he ever be able to?
Jean Harrison, the owner of the Big Fluffy Dog Rescue, said: “He had no muscle mass and was unable to move around, let alone walk.” Although the news was alarming, the team just had to start buzzing off some of that nasty, dead fur without hesitation.
It took hours to groom Lazarus, who initially cowered from the rescue team’s touch out of pure fear. Once his neck was free from the fur prison, however, he warmed up, realizing that the group of strange humans had good intentions.
“He calmed down and seemed to realize it [the grooming] was making him feel better,” Jessica Kincheloe, one of the dog groomers, said on behalf of Lazarus.
Rest assured, after cutting off all of Lazarus’ impeding fur, he was a new man, or rather, a new good boy. We think he looks rather dapper in his new ‘do.
Jean Harrison mentioned that he, unfortunately, didn’t have typical dog mannerisms down pat. “Lazarus doesn’t know how to be a dog,” she said. “He doesn’t exactly know how to behave like a dog.” He’d soon learn though.
Jean voiced that the still-shy Lazarus “approached a freshly grilled steak cautiously, which made us sad.” Dogs shouldn’t have to be grateful for food, she said, nor should the innocent creatures ever have to suffer. But Lazarus’ suffering was now over.
From there, Lazarus was taken into a foster home in Virginia, where he would embark on his arduous recovery journey, as well as receive heaps of “good boy” pets and kisses. He had a lot of pain to overcome, but more importantly, he had a lot of happiness to look forward to.
It would take weeks or even months for the pup to regain strength, muscle mass, and a little self-esteem prior to getting adopted by his forever family. But until then, Lazarus still had sights to see and steaks to devour…
As expected, Lazarus was adopted in no time. His family clearly gives him tons of TLC and takes proper care of his precious (high maintenance) coat, which is no easy feat. Even the best of dog owners can get a little unsure when it comes to grooming.
Nothing makes us happier than seeing a dog bounding across an open field, bursting through wild brush, rolling in mud, and just being a dog. When it’s time to come inside though, all that warm fuzzy puppy loving takes a turn.
Lucky Dawgs Salon Grooming
On the pamperer’s end of the dog grooming business, it’s not always so relaxing. Ensuring the comfort and safety of the dog and themselves can be a complex, physically exhausting challenge.
After years of fielding complaints from customers over the cost of keeping their fur pals primped and polished, Laura had had enough. Despite her customer’s obvious love for their dogs, they really didn’t understand the realities of the grooming business.
Too Cute To Bear
Most often, Laura heard the comparison of grooming to hairdressing. People wanted to know why their basic trim in a barber shop cost less than their dog’s fresh cut. So, she devised a clever way of training her customers to behave as well as their pups.
On the wall of the pet salon, she posted her manifesto: “Top Ten Reasons Why It Cost More To Get Your Pet Groomed Than Your Own Haircut!” Comical in nature, her list made her customers laugh and, more importantly, taught obedience.
“You don’t go eight weeks without washing or brushing your hair,” her list said. It’s become less popular to shampoo daily, but even still, most people keep it cleaner than doggies do. Groomers are tasked with providing the only regular bath many pets receive.
Allstar Grooming Way
When you make a hair appointment, you make sure to block out time for big transformations. Often times dogs show up at the groomers matted, muddy, and tangled beyond the help of brushing. Beauty takes time.
The list continued: “Your hairdresser doesn’t give you a sanitary trim.” Hate to break it to you, but if you’re taking your pants off during a haircut, that is out of the ordinary. Dogs require trims from eyebrows to ankles and every nook and cranny in between.
My San Antonio
“Your hairdresser doesn’t clean your ears.” Ear care is one of the most important jobs in grooming. Parasites and bacterial infections have a huge impact on your dog’s overall health and cause sensitivity, making it tough to address.
Proud Dog Mom
“Your haircut doesn’t include a manicure or pedicure.” Hairdressers, nail techs, estheticians — all separate certifications. Pet grooming? One stop shopping. Groomers charge separate fees for additional services but have to be well versed in the full gamut of pet hygiene.
“You’re hairdresser only washes and cuts the hair on your head.” One head with 7 different growth patterns would be a walk in the park for the average dog groomer. Facial areas, paws, armpits, and tails all require varied techniques of trimming, and usually, the customer is rather wiggly.
“The likelihood of you pooping on your hairdresser is pretty slim.” Sadly, dogs can’t ask where the toilet is. Whenever, wherever, the world is their commode. That means it’s up to the groomer to drop the clippers and pick up the pooper scooper.
“Your hairdresser doesn’t remove boogers from your eyes.” Dog’s eyes are more prone to goopy corners. Overactive tear ducts clear unwanted debris and hair out of those sad puppy dog eyes. Groomers wipe away the boogies and let pet parents know if it’s standard discharge or something more serious.
“You sit still for your hairdresser.” At least when you go to the salon, you’re choosing to have your head handled. Groomers literally fight tooth and nail for the entire process of cleaning and cutting. Still, they manage to trim squirming pets without knicking them.
“You don’t bite or scratch your hairdresser.” If you do, please, stop! Groomers are prepared to catch a bite from a dog, even with all the precautions and restraints on hand in the salon. Accounting for pain and injury from the bite of a nervous or aggressive dog is common practice.
“Your hairdresser doesn’t wash and clean your rear end.” The whole “customer is a dog” thing makes this task much less awkward. Groomers don’t shy away from the gross. They earn their wages by tackling unpopular tasks, and cleaning dog butts falls into that category.
The rules paint an unpleasant picture of the job of a groomer, but all professionals who dedicate their time to the career, above all, truly adore dogs. To make them look their best, dog, man, and groomer need to be on the same wavelength.
South Whidbey Record
Laura explained how abiding by the rules ensures a comfortable space for pet and groomer, and it makes all the difference. “You have to be a strong person mentally to do this job,” she said, “because the dogs can feel if you are afraid or angry; they feel the adrenaline and respond to it.”
Dogs read the room better than anyone. Going to the groomers can be scary, so gentleness, confidence, and security go a long way in ensuring everyone has a best-in-show experience. That goes double for how pet parents treat the groomers!
Rover Stay Over
Before you strap your furry friend into their seat belt and head for Pet Smart, brush up on these interesting dog facts to impress the groomer and the other dog people in the waiting room.
Dalmatians may be famous for their spots, but the puppies are not actually born that way. Their signature black patches of fur don’t develop until they’re roughly two-to-three weeks old.
Dogs don’t curl up while sleeping just to look cute, or even to necessarily feel more comfortable. This tendency is actually rooted in their instincts to protect their vital organs at night (and to stay warm, of course).
Some recent studies have found that dogs usually try to “go to the bathroom” in such a way that they’re aligned with the earth’s magnetic field. Both sexes defecate in the north or south direction, but only females prefer to urinate that way, too.
The idea that dogs only see in black and white is a total myth. They can actually perceive a wide range of colors, although it’s more limited than the spectrum that humans can see.
Dogs are able to hear sounds from just about any direction because they have no fewer than 18 different muscles in each of their ears. Theirs are much different than human ears!
Sorry to get personal, but we’ve got to. Not only does your dog masturbate, but he or she will continue to do so even after being neutered or spayed. In fact, dogs can become addicted to masturbating, which is often a sign of constant stress.
Most people know that dogs always have wet noses, but what they may not know is that this layer of moisture allows them to absorb scent chemicals, amplifying their sense of smell.
Similarly, everybody knows that dogs have a superior sense of smell compared to humans, but that’s a huge understatement. Their noses are estimated to be 10,000 to 100,000 times stronger!
The reason why dogs run around in circles before resting is because it’s part of an instinctual “nesting” ritual passed down from their wolf ancestors. They’re just making themselves feel more at home!
With about 75 million dogs in the entire country, the United States has a higher dog population than any other nation on the face of the earth. Labrador retrievers are the most popular!
The wagging of a dog’s tail can mean much more than expressing happiness. Depending on the pattern, it can communicate different things, including curiosity, nervousness, playfulness, and even aggression.
Dogs are able to “see” more clearly by using their whiskers. This allows them to sense the slightest changes in air pressure, and even gives them a special sort of “night vision!”
The Norwegian Lundehund (also known as the Norwegian Puffin Dog) usually has six toes on each paw—which is two more than the standard four toes that most dogs have!
Dogs are able to sense important changes in human bodies. That’s why there are number of service dogs, such as seizure alert dogs, who can help patients during focal onset seizures.
There was once a service dog named Kirsch who, after accompanying his owner to all his classes, received an honorary degree in mental health counseling. He must have been proud!
Petting your dog is actually great for your physical health! When you do it, your blood pressure lowers to a greater degree than it would during interactions with other humans.
A breed of hunting dog, known as the Basenji, doesn’t bark. Because of the unusual shape of their voice boxes, they actually “yodel.” It’s been said to sound like they’re saying “baroo!”
Dogs lick their noses because the roofs of their mouths have the ability to sense different scents. They actually transfer scent particles to their mouths directly from their noses!
Newfoundland dogs have webbed feet to make it easier for them to swim! In fact, their superior swimming abilities may be their most defining trait—besides their obvious strength and size.
The bottom of a dog’s foot often smells a bit like a bag of corn chips. That’s because their sweat glands, which are only found on their feet, have a natural yeast-like smell because of the bacteria.
Dogs often suffer from separation anxiety when their owners leave. One thing you can do to help reassure them is to leave a piece of clothing with your scent on it for them to sniff.
Dogs often get jealous when they see their humans showing too much affection for anything, or anyone, other than themselves. They just love you way too much for their own good!
Men are three times more likely to get a woman’s phone number if he has a dog with him. That’s adorable, of course, but that does leave open the possibility that she might just want to date him for his dog…
Marcellat / Instagram
Seven-year-old Duke the dog is the elected mayor of Cormorant, Minnesota! Not only that, but he won by a landslide. Really, though, who wouldn’t want this sweet little guy as their mayor?
Orient the German shepherd led his owner, Bill Irwin—who happened to be blind—through the entirety of the Appalachian Trail’s 2,100 miles. That made Bill the first blind man to complete the hike!