People make the news all the time by claiming to have spotted something exotic where it should not have been. Elvis keeps getting seen as he buys cookies at Dollar General, and Bigfoot has shown up pretty much everywhere except the ladies lingerie section at WalMart.
Sometimes, we are pretty sure that our eyes are playing tricks on us, so sometimes we overlook things that actually are there.
That’s what happened when Danielle Finley and her boyfriend were driving down a dirt back road in rural Pennsylvania. Finley was fairly certain it was either a hyena or a chupacabra trotting down the side of the road.
Thankfully, she didn’t just close her eyes, she took a second look. And gasped.
She had her boyfriend stop the car and she jumped out. Running towards her was a tiny little creature. Huge patches of rough black skin amid the sketchy tufts of white hair gave him the appearance of being anything but what he really was.
“We were thinking he was just going to duck out of the way in a minute, so we were just cruising,” Finley told The Dodo. “But he didn’t duck away, so we stopped, and he came running around and looked up into the car.”
The little Cairn terrier ran straight to Finley and jumped about with joy. Finley and her boyfriend were a little hesitant about touching him very much. Their two dogs were with them in the car and if the skin condition was contagious they didn’t want to spread it about.
But, they gave the little dog, that Finlay’s boyfriend decided to call “Phil,” food and water. Little Phil was so grateful, cleaning both bowls almost immediately. They knew then that they needed to do more for him than just leave him with provisions.
So, ignoring the threat to themselves and their two dogs, they scooped him up and took him home with them. They researched skin conditions that afternoon and were afraid that their first impression was correct.
They were almost certain that Phil had mange, a sometimes contagious condition caused by mites burrowing into the skin, which results in fur loss. The vet offices were all closed but as soon as they opened the next day they had the little dog waiting at the door to see the vet.
They were surprised and relieved to learn that he didn’t have mange. “It was just a really severe skin condition from being out in the elements,” Finley said. “So he just lost all of his hair, and he was itchy and stinky, but no mange.”
No one had reported a missing terrier, but the veterinarian was quite certain that Phil had belonged to someone and until fairly recently.
“One of the things she noticed is that the bottom of his teeth are ground down, so her theory is that it’s probably from being kept in a crate all of the time,” Finley said. “She has a feeling that whoever owned him … kept him in a crate for a little while, and eventually dumped him, because his health issues got out of control.”
Many areas of rural Pennsylvania are well known around the country as being the home of some of the country’s worst puppy mills. It is quite likely that Phil had been the victim of one of them and either escaped or was dumped because of his age and appearance.
Whatever Phil’s past has been, it’s a certainty that his future is rosy. Finley and her boyfriend have decided to adopt Phil permanently.
“We both knew it would be hard to find him a home anyway,” she said. “We love animals, we love dogs. We’ve got three others, so why not add one more?”
It’s sad that so many pet owners turn away older pets, but it’s so heartwarming to see wonderful people stepping up to take responsibility for someone else’s heartless actions.
They have Phil on a special diet and his fur is slowly growing back in. “He’s getting peach fuzz everywhere, and he had significantly more hair than when we found him,” Finley said.
They understand that Phil will always have missing patches of fur — and Finley believes that he’ll always look a little funny.
“We’ve heard that he looks like a hyena, like the hyenas you see in ‘The Lion King,’” Finley said. “Or a chupacabra — we get that a lot. And a lot of people think that he’s one of those hairless dogs.”
His lucky owners don’t see the bald patches of skin. They don’t think about how strange he looks. All they see is the grateful, happy look in his eyes when he sees them.
“He just wants to lay with you and be with you, and he wants to relax with you all of the time,” Finley said. “On top of that, there’s his little face — he’s got this look in his eye like he’s grateful all of the time. It’s like he can’t believe that he’s got a comfy place to lie every day.”
Not only is he grateful for his new human parents, he’s really enjoying having siblings. He likes all three of them, but he’s formed a particularly close bond with their oldest Boston terrier, Lily.
“They’re pretty tight,” Finley said. “You can almost always find them squeezed up together.”
His hair is growing so well now that they are considering taking him for a professional trim. “The groomer will probably look at us like we’re crazy people, but we just want to get him trimmed down with how long his hair is getting,” she said. “It’s probably grown in three times the amount than when we found him.”
Phil does know how lucky he is, but Finley says it is her and her boyfriend that are the lucky ones.
“He’s the sweetest dog,” Finley said. “And we feel so lucky to have him.”
It’s nice to know good people still exist in a world that seems to be proving recently how very heartless some people can be. Good luck to this happy little family!