written by Connie Versagi

I was checking my email, as I regularly do, and there was a subject line that jumped out at me, Help...Airedale In Trouble and I quickly opened the message. Debi introduced herself as an Airedale owner (3 times over) who was trying to help an Airedale in need in Mississippi.  Here is Arliss' story...

He was just a homeless fellow, wandering around the neighborhood with no where in particular to go.  He walked in people's yards or near their fences-- looking longingly at the people, kids and dogs within the fence.  He knew better than to stop to try to catch their attention as people got mad and shooed him away. People said that he might be wild, ferocious, dog aggressive, people aggressive, anything but friendly and he probably belonged to SOMEONE.  He knew he didn't belong to SOMEONE since the last man that had him didn't want 'a dog like him.'

That is what the man told Debi at the gas pump. Debi was filling her car when the man spoke to her.  He said that he had wanted an Airedale like hers but he didn't want this one!  Little did Debi know at that time that she would come face to face with the dog that wasn't wanted, Arliss.

Arliss walked all day looking into the fenced backyards longing to belong and hoping someone would offer a drink or a bit of food to him but no one did and it was getting dark. He stopped at a home where there were kids playing outside and he saw the big people watch him -- but then they all went inside and he just kept walking.

The next morning, the big people came back outside and were surprised to see the dog again, only this time he was limping badly and he had lacerations on his body.  This time the frightened people called their neighbor to remove the dog. The neighbor man had dogs of his own and perhaps he would help the dog.

The neighbor man came out and looked the dog over. He noticed that the dog was not using his back leg and he had some bad cuts and scratches and he growled when he was touched. The dog was matted, dirty and smelly but the man seemed not to care and took him home.  There he received a bath and he trimmed out the bad mats. His cuts were treated and he was given a good dinner. The dog liked the man and he hoped he could stay but the dog was in great pain and growled when people approached.  The man did not want to keep 'this dog' and made plans to find him a home.

The man was sure he could find the owner by running an ad in the local paper for a couple days. With each day that passed and no calls, the man talked about taking him to the shelter if he wasn't picked up.  The man also noticed the dog's pain was getting worse and his breathing was labored. The man could not afford to care for the dog but he did take him to his vet to receive some attention to his wounds and settled for pain meds and a rabies shot. The man suspected that the dog had been hit by a car and could have some broken bones. He had hoped that the owner would come to claim and take care of all of his medical needs.

Debi had been reading the paper that day and saw the ad for the FOUND Airedale. She had a friend who had an Airedale and he was out of town and hoped that the dog hadn't made a break from the dog sitter. She decided to go over and see if she knew this dog so she called the number and drove over.  There she saw a small, skinny, Airedale-- he looked fuzzy like a puppy but he was hurt and he growled at her. Her heart was overwhelmed with sadness as she wanted to help him. She knew that she could not take him home as the alpha male Airedale in her home would not allow that.  She left the skinny dog and was determined to help by searching on the internet for an Airedale Terrier Rescue Group. She found ATRA and wrote the email - Help...Airedale in Trouble.

Debi sent me the email and over the next couple days, we exchanged pictures and information on how to help Arliss.  We concluded that this dog needed immediate attention and would receive medical care through ATRA's funding.  Debi was able to get Arliss to a vet for immediate medical examination and x-rays.

Upon examination, Arliss was in a good deal of pain and he was not using his back leg consistently. After x-rays, it was determined that his leg and pelvis were in good condition with no fractures but he had received some extreme trauma to it- most likely from being hit by a car.  His lacerations were cleaned and he was given all of his shots and tests.  His breathing was labored and shallow and that worried the vet so he tested for heartworms and it was confirmed, he tested strongly, HW positive.  More tests would be necessary to see if he would be strong enough for HW treatment.  A day later, Arliss was bathed and groomed and suddenly his Airedale spirit was starting to shine through.

Debi, who had not seen Arliss since the initial day, went back to see him and take some new pictures of our boy. Much to her surprise she was greeted by growls and kisses. Suddenly Debi knew that Arliss was TALKING through his growls and was trying to THANK Debi for her help! Those frightful growls were just Arliss' words to share his happiness that someone cared enough to help him! He was so happy to belong!   Yippee!!!  And it was then, that Debi put the man, the comments and the dog all together, Arliss was the dog that no one wanted- this dog!

But Arliss does belong -- to ATRA and maybe to you!  Arliss remained at the vet's office in Mississippi for several more days of observation after his first HW treatment. We have made arrangements for transport out of Mississippi to Arkansas to join his foster family. He is home now and look at this face!!! This dog is smiling!  We know very little of Arliss' needs yet but soon we will be able to match him up with an appropriate family!

Arliss still has his second HW treatment to complete in about 3-4 weeks and he will be neutered sometime after that.  ATRA continues to provide ongoing financing for Arliss' medical care.  His initial care was over $700!  If you would like to donate to Arliss, please send your contributions to ATRA.

UPDATE October 2005

Arliss received his first heartworm treatment while at the vet�s office in Mississippi. Then, he traveled to his foster home in Arkansas. After he arrived, Arliss' appetite decreased to the point where he lost six pounds in two weeks. He laid around on his doggie pillow most of the day and showed little interest in the resident Airedale or his foster Mom, Marcia.  Near the end of week two, the Airedale sparkle is beginning to emerge! He has become more interested in following Mom and his appetite has improved as he is eating with appropriate Airedale gusto- to the point where he is counter-surfing and making off with sticks of butter and other miscellaneous goodies! Mom is glad for Arliss' increased appetite and energy, but sorry for her counters--lol. 

Now that the weather has cooled off, he comes in from the brisk outdoors very frisky and wanting to play. He plays like a puppy almost, very prancy and dancing around, mouthing on Mom but not hard, though. 

He is becoming more affectionate every day (yes, Mom did get kisses one time in three weeks!) as he becomes more comfortable in his foster home and his growley, grumpy foster brother.  Mom  believes they have what is called détente-Peaceful co-existence.
Arliss does not appear to be good around cats but if he is as young as he appears to be (puppy like in his play) perhaps he is trainable.  No accidents in the house for almost a week now and this is with both boys loose in house whilst Mom toils at work to pay for the kibble and doggie toys! Arliss has not chewed on anything inappropriate and the errant stick of butter on the counter doesn't count.

He seems to enjoy rides in the car and rides well. He loves walks but has a tendency to pull while on lead. The pulling is not bad, we suspect it's just his youthful exuberance. 

Marcia says that her initial impression  of Arliss is that he is a sweet and gentle soul. She has put hats on him and he seems to like the attention as he wore this one for several hours!

She will continue to add updates as he unfolds from his cocoon of the past.

UPDATE November 2005

Arliss has come such a long way since leaving Mississippi one-and-a-half months ago.  From a frail little boy who would just stand there, wobbling, with empty eyes, to a now joyful, playful, happy boy who is becoming more “Airedalian” every day!

By that we mean teasing, counter surfing, loving COLD nose pokes, wet beard wipes and oh yes, headbutts!  He is filling out nicely, will eat anything offered.  A few transgressions in the chewing department, but nothing radical.  (This is what fostering is all about.)

He is sailing through recovery from his last heartworm treatment.  When Foster Mom is at work resident Airedale Ace takes the bed and Arliss takes over the guest bedroom bed.  He is still a guest, you know!  We’re glad they worked out the logistics – lol.

We are thrilled to report Arliss is making a complete recovery and has turned into a sweet, loving companion with maybe a tad of devil dog in him.  He will keep you on your toes!  He still favors his one leg if he overexerts or if he is off his anti-inflammatories for more than two days.  We are not sure if this is a temporary requirement or a long term one, but he is in constant happy motion now and so says his Foster Mother Dale Marcia!


Arliss has finally found his forever home with his Michigan foster parents, Mike Billion and Kirk Nims.  They didn't give up on him when he had aggresion issues - diligently and persistently pursuing possible causes of pain until they uncovered the truth.  Arliss had bone chips in his ankle.  This source of pain was surgically removed and today Arliss is the happy boy his family knew he would be.

Arliss and his new family would like to share their story with you about aggression and pain issues.  It is so important to check for possible causes of pain that might be the reason for aggression problems before labeling your Airedale as vicious.  Click here to read there story. 

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    1123 Vesper Road
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