Left to fend for himself in the Mark Twain Estates, this dog had every reason to give up on humans.
Hundreds of foxtail and cheatgrass seeds had embedded in his body and left more than 300 abscesses. With every movement a new testament to agony, who could have blamed the stray dog for becoming fearful of or aggressive to people.
But Weed, a 5-year-old golden retriever, wasn't the type to give up on the human race so easily.
When Debbie Aronds, a real estate agent with Prudential Nevada Realty in Gardnerville, went to show a vacant mobile home on Mark Twain Avenue to some prospective buyers, Weed limped out from behind the trailer to greet her.
"It was friendly," Aronds said. "We went there to show the house to a potential buyer, when all of a sudden the dog walked up from behind the trailer."
Aronds said the area around the mobile home was overgrown with weeds.
"The dog wanted attention so bad and it was in such sad shape," she said.
The next morning Aronds placed a call to Lyon County Animal Services. "I wanted to call that day but it was too late," she said.
Ted Bolzle, animal services supervisor for Lyon County, made the decision to try to save the dog rather than euthanize it.
"He's one of these dogs that even hurt as bad as he was, he was a loving dog," he said. "You can tell he really liked people. It was just the right thing to do."
Weed was taken to the Yerington Veterinary Clinic where Dr. Lisa Hayden began treatment for the hundreds of embedded and infected foxtails.
Lee Blomquist, co-director of the Silver Springs Spay and Neuter Project and a registered veterinary technician, helped care for the dog.
Blomquist, who gave the retriever the name "Weed," said the dog is improving.
"He's doing a lot better now than we first expected he would do," she said.
She described Weed as not neutered, on the small side, with a little gray on his muzzle, a broken toe and covered with infected wounds from foxtails and other vegetation.
"I think he had about 300 abscesses on him at that point," Blomquist said. "That's when the foxtail seeds have gone in and worked their way under the skin and became infected."
She added that the 300 number was an estimate.
"We have been working on him every day all week and we're still pulling pieces of grass out of him," she said.
Blomquist said they had to shave him all down to get the foxtails out and, to protect the pooch from the sun, got him some T-shirts.
"We named him Weed, so we got him some tie-dyed T-shirts," she said with a laugh.
"One of the reasons why animal services brought him in is, despite the fact he was in so much pain, this dog was wagging his tail wanting love," she said. "He's just a real sweet dog."
The procedures Weed has had to undergo were grueling and there's more that needs to be done, according to Blomquist.
For the first two days of Weed's hospitalization he was anesthetized for a total of six hours - two the first day and four the second - so that the vet could surgically remove the foxtails. Monday he was anesthetized for two more hours.
"We put him under because of the pain he was in," she said. "Now we're working with him awake. Later we'll do some more. We don't want to do it all at once."
Bolzle said though Weed was found under the trailer's porch, the owners of the property were not the owners of the dog, and no animal abuse charges will be filed.
"He had been a stray in that area for a period of time," Bolzle said. "The owner is not known."
The cost of caring for Weed will be borne by Silver Springs Animal Services, according to Bolzle. Blomquist estimated the cost to be about $3,000.
"We have some donated funds and we use those for care of animals, we don't buy office supplies with our donated funds," she said. "I don't even know what the cost will be for this dog."
After his treatment, Weed will be returned to Silver Springs and be placed for adoption - but only to a special home.
"Once we get him taken care of, he will go into a home, but the foxtail and cheatgrass seeds will probably resurface over time, so those in the home must be cognizant of that," Blomquist said. "He's a sweet dog, he was just hurt and he needed care."
-- Contact reporter Karen Woodmansee at email@example.com or 882-2111 ext. 351.
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Send donations to:
Silver Springs Animal Services
3705 Highway 50 West
Silver Springs, NV 89429
Call Silver Springs Animal Services at (775) 577-5005.