Old dog is a diamond in the rough

The face of Spaghetti the dog
You can’t help but fall in love with a senior dog who has a heart of gold and a name like Spaghetti.
By Sarah Thornton

It was clear Spaghetti hadn’t had the easiest of lives. The senior dog was missing large patches of fur, and what wasn’t missing was dull and matted. His right front leg was a little crooked. There was a cyst on the back of his neck, and the whole area was swollen with a spider bite. His hearing was also beginning to go. And when he’d stand still for very long, staring out into the middle distance, his back legs would start to tremble beneath him. From a distance, his proportions and scruffy face made him look like a puppy. Up close, you could see the gray fur around his eyes and nose.

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Although outwardly he seemed like a tired old man who’d been through it all and was ready for life to slow down, Spaghetti is nothing if not full of surprises. His human friends describe him as happy, lovable and goofy. They also say he has enough energy to easily outlast just about anyone.

Patching up a patchy dog

When Spaghetti arrived at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary from a shelter in Nevada, he was quickly taken to the clinic for a thorough examination. His patchy coat was the main focus, as there could have been any number of underlying causes and veterinarians wanted to make sure he was as healthy and comfortable as he could be.

They ruled out more common causes of fur loss, including mange, ringworm and Cushing’s disease. He also didn’t appear to be suffering from any allergies that might have caused him to overgroom.

Patchy fur can also be a sign of malnutrition, so the next step, when he was cleared for everything else, was simply to get Spaghetti on a healthy diet. He was prescribed an oil additive for his meals to promote a healthy coat, along with a mix of nutritious wet and dry food.

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Veterinarians also checked the open bumps on the back of his neck — the cyst and the spider bite — and got Spaghetti started on a round of antibiotics, as well as recommended warm compresses to help ease any pain and keep the area clean. And finally, for his trembling back legs, along with any other aches and pains brought on by his long life, Spaghetti was given pain meds.

Throughout the entire process, Spaghetti was a model patient. He stood still for his examination, nuzzled up to veterinary staff, and kept his tail in a gentle wag for all the poking and handling, completely unbothered.

Without any fuss, he was on the road to recovery. He was feeling good, and within a couple weeks, his fur began growing back in. And soon, he was headed to a foster home, where he was more than happy to be surrounded by people and other dogs.

A lovable “Velcro dog”

It was a holiday week when Spaghetti moved in with Dogtown caregiver Sam Woyak and her two dogs, so her family was in town and had brought their own dogs. Her boyfriend and his husky also joined them. It was truly a full house. And Spaghetti loved it.

“He wants to be by his people, and he likes it when everybody is in the same spot,” Sam says. “If there’s any sort of action anywhere, he has to be involved. He wants to be part of it.”

Spaghetti took no time at all charming the entire family — both human and dog. He played with Thor, the husky who usually has too much energy for any other dog, for the entire weekend. Ultimately, it was Thor who flopped over in exhaustion first.

He also won over Sam’s mom’s little terrier, who tends to be a bit snippy with other canines. “She loves him,” says Sam. “She even tried to play with him, which does not happen.”

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He had an easy connection with Sam’s dogs, too. And if anyone grumbled or grumped at him, Spaghetti would turn around and wander off to try again later when they were in a better mood. His easy approach put them all at ease.

Of course, Spaghetti didn’t even have to try to make the human family members fall in love with him. When Sam’s stepdad went outside to mow the lawn, Spaghetti followed him up and down, and up and down, for the entire afternoon. If someone went into the kitchen, Spaghetti was right behind them just in case they needed a cleanup crew. The moment Spaghetti saw anyone going anywhere, he’d get up and join them.

“He is always, always, always under your feet,” Sam laughs, as she explains how she has to carefully shuffle around him. “He wants to be where you are all the time. And he doesn’t just stand there; he wants to lie down at your feet.”

Spaghetti goes home

Spaghetti also sometimes tagged along when Sam went to work at the Sanctuary. She’d set him up in a quiet space at Dogtown headquarters, and he’d spend the day getting visits from staff and volunteers.

Anyone could go in, meet him, and take him for a walk, no special introductions necessary. And he goes on every single walk, no matter how long, with full enthusiasm and without tiring for even a second. Spaghetti is an energizer dog, stopping just long enough to sniff at interesting spots along the trail before trotting on to the next one.

On golf cart and car rides, Spaghetti sticks his nose into the wind and lets his floppy little ears blow around without a care in the world. He’s simply full of joy.

“He looks like he’s been through heck,” Sam says, “but he does not act that way. He’s just happy to be here, wherever he is. He’s got such a good attitude.”

And that bright personality and easygoing attitude paid off big time. Just a short time after he’d arrived at the Sanctuary and moved into foster care with Sam, someone else fell in love with Spaghetti, too, and took him home.

Silver muzzles bring silver linings

Looking for an active senior to go on walks with, or maybe a couch potato to keep you company? You’ll find both of them at your local pet shelter.

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