Injured puppy finds forever home
Last updated 10/17/2023 at 9:38am
When MJ and Evan Schulte were watching the local news last January, they were horrified to see a story about a two-month-old puppy whose owner caused a head-on collision near the Bend Factory Outlets on Highway 97. The puppy named Diligence (Dill) had a broken femur, lung contusions, a dislocated pelvis, and a small fracture in his nasal bone.
His former owner was jailed on multiple charges including animal abuse. To have a chance at survival, Dill needed extensive veterinary care, including surgery, pain management, and physical therapy. He also needed a new family with special skills to help him recover. That's where the Schultes came in. MJ was raised primarily in Sisters and graduated from Sisters High School in 2011. She and Evan live and work in Bend. As soon as they heard Dill's story, they wanted to help.
Bend Animal Emergency and Specialty Center (BAE) took Dill in after Good Samaritans retrieved him from the wrecked car. He was in critical condition. Until a new family was selected, Dill would remain under the care of BAE. When he arrived, Dill's little back legs were paralyzed from nerve damage. He dragged his back legs as he moved around the clinic. His prognosis wasn't clear; that would take time and determination by the BAE staff coupled with Dill's will to live.
On the Schultes' wedding anniversary, they went into the clinic to donate to Dill's fund. It wasn't their first time at BAE.
"We took our dog, River, into BAE to make a donation, and the staff said it was so weird because they were just talking about us," MJ said. "BAE was the first place we took River when she was injured the summer before."
BAE's Culture and Wellness Manager, Brittany Landucci, called the Schultes a week later asking them to write an email about why they wanted Dill.
"Knowing how we cared for River, Brittany thought we'd be a good fit for Dill. We met Dill at his foster care home and fell in love instantly," said MJ.
Landucci said that when Dill arrived he was in rough shape. It was hard to tell the extent of the damage to his tiny frame.
"Dill was the sweetest, most easygoing patient we could have asked for - and he was just a puppy! I think from the get-go, he knew we were trying to help him recover and feel better after being in such a traumatic car accident. From the day Dill came into the clinic, each team member formed their own special bond with him. I truly feel those connections along with quality medical care from BAE got him through his accident," said Landucci.
A border collie mix, Dill was facing a possible leg amputation and long-term physical therapy to try and help him regain at least some of his mobility. Soon, many generous people stepped up to help raise money for BAE's Angel Fund that would help pay for his treatment. The Schultes were one of the first donors. They understood the trials of facing huge veterinary bills for a beloved canine family member.
A few years before, the couple had rescued River, a beautiful, mixed-breed pup. A high-energy, athletic dog, River loved going on long runs with them in the mountains around Central Oregon. Then, last year, the unthinkable happened. Evan heard a terrible yelp and cry from River in their backyard. He found River with the skin from one of her front legs pulled off like a hanging sock. River's treatment was extensive and required months of veterinary care and at-home wound care. MJ, an elementary school teacher in Bend, was home with River during her summer off from teaching. Evan recently began work as a nurse at St. Charles in Bend and was well versed in wound care and long recuperations.
With River healthy after months of rehabilitation and extensive surgeries, the couple was open to adopting another dog. There was a waiting list to adopt Dill, whose big brown eyes and loving personality came through during numerous news reports following his progress.
"As soon as we could, we got on the adoption list," said MJ.
The couple felt like Dill would be a perfect addition to their family.
"We always look at the dogs that are wounded and need adoption," MJ said. "At first, the BAE didn't even know if he'd be OK. We wanted to at least make a donation to Dill's fund because, during River's earlier injury, so many people donated when we needed help with vet bills."
The Schultes said taking in Dill was meant to be.
"Everything aligned and we felt like Dill chose us as much as we chose him. When River was injured, we spent a lot of time in waiting rooms; we'd hear over and over people talking about having to make tough decisions about finances and affording treatment for their animals. We were in the same position trying to do what was best for River. We decided when we were ready, we wanted to adopt a dog surrendered to the vet so we could take over their care."
Landucci said that Dill couldn't have found a more perfect family.
"As we started sharing Dill's journey on social media, MJ reached out to us and mentioned her desire to adopt a dog with special needs. I told her it would be weeks to months down the road before Dill would be ready for a home, but she patiently waited and checked in as his prognosis improved. We all knew from the beginning MJ and Evan (and sister River!) would be the perfect family for Dill. Both MJ and Evan expressed the desire to continue Dill's physical therapy with Stride. Evan even built Dill his own physical therapy equipment to use at home... talk about the best family ever!"
Today, Dill weighs 34 pounds, and has stopped growing.
"Dill will have deficits forever. We're working on him being able to trot or jog in a proper cadence for longer periods of time," said Evan. "He's learning how to adapt to his deficits. We're learning techniques so he can move safely. He's beginning to understand that certain things are painful for him. We want him to enjoy our passion, too, for hiking. If he didn't progress anymore, he'd still be perfect for us. He went on our van trip all over Oregon, to beaches and rivers and paddleboarding and loved it all."
Swimming is one activity Dill is doing a lot lately.
"It's the coolest thing we've seen Dill do. He swims circles, he loves it. He swims in rivers, lakes, and even a bit of the ocean," said MJ. "He loves swimming at Farewell Bend. I think that's when he can do something the same as the other dogs. He looks so free and there's no deficits there."
To donate to BAE's Angel Fund, call 541-385-9110. Because of it, doctors are able to treat patients with limited resources like Dill.