Meaghan Hancock and her husband Chris Parkins moved to Portland from Ontario, Canada about 3½ years ago. New to the area, Meaghan says she “really, really wanted to get a dog.” Chris had reservations about it, but one evening the pair saw a French Bulldog on television, and they found it was so goofy and ridiculous, Chris said, “If we’re going to get a dog, that’s the kind we should get.”
They soon found a breeder in Beaverton, and went to see a litter of puppies. From a kiddie pool filled with 10-15 pups they chose Smudge, who “wasn’t a bully and wasn’t afraid of the other dogs,” says Meaghan, “she was just middle of the road.”
Smudge “loves everything and everyone,” says Meaghan, “and everyone loves her.” People often stop them on walks, laughing and commenting on Smudge’s huge ears. Recently a police officer stopped, lowered his window, and said, “That’s the best dog I’ve seen all day.”
Smudge loves people, attention and food, says Meaghan, adding “she thinks everyone has a treat for her.”
Being food-motivated, the training years were fairly easy. She broke her leg as a puppy, and her recovery involved crate time, as well as being carried in and out “to do her business.” This wouldn’t be the last time.
Moving on from puppyhood, the Hancocks found Smudge a great match for their lifestyle: she loves being on the couch as much as going for a three-mile hike or a drive to Vancouver BC, where they have family and friends.
Playing with another dog this spring, the two got into a mild tussle. All seemed fine as the evening wore on, until Smudge showed signs of discomfort. “She was having a hard time settling down,” says Meaghan. “She would try to lie down, sigh, then get up and move around.”
Off to an emergency vet they went, but the doctor found nothing wrong. Hours later however, it was apparent something was indeed wrong. Smudge’s discomfort had increased, and her sighing had become crying as she continued to try to lie down then get up and move around, obviously in pain.
Xrays by the second emergency doctor revealed a spinal injury. First thing the next morning they went to their regular vet, who referred them to CVRC. Smudge was seen that very afternoon, and stayed overnight so she could have laminectomy surgery in the morning.
“She loves the vet,” says Meaghan. “Even with her ruptured spine; we went four or five times, and after the second visit she’d go all Tasmanian Devil she was so excited to say hi to the techs, the receptionist and the vet.”
Recovery called for several months of crate rest, and carrying Smudge in and out to “do her business.” Meaghan says Smudge did okay with it, perhaps because she’d gone through something similar after breaking her leg in puppyhood. Meaghan realized Smudge didn’t have complete control of her back legs. “She could walk and hold herself up, but she had low coordination,” she says.
At her one-month follow-up the doctor gave the okay for Smudge to take a few steps. She was cleared for normal activity a month later. Today, almost four months after her injury, Smudge is “back to 100 percent,” says Meaghan. “She’ll probably never be a long-distance runner, but she never was.”
She is a good walker. And that, plus Smudge’s love of couch time, prove Meaghan’s hunch at first sight: she is perfect for this family.
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