Kristin Regan has been an animal lover all her life, resulting in extraordinary outcomes for the animals she has loved. The story of one of them, a heroic little dog originally named Ozymandias or Ozy, was discovered while interviewing clients of Cascade Veterinary Referral Center. The folks at CVRC wanted to share patient stories to offer hope and comfort to others facing various medical procedures.
Once Ozy’s story (now Chuvian) came to light, it was so moving, powerful and inspirational, it was told again and again. Every telling evoked a singular response: awe.
Ozy’s story began in 2001 when Kristin, just out of school, was working as an optician in a local mall, a few doors down from a Scamps pet store. Every day Kristin spent her lunch hour there, pulling the dogs out for some love and a break from confinement, and even cleaning the cages. One day in the midst of this, Kristin went to the back of the store for something, and passed a filthy, oily-looking rag on the floor. Nothing clicked so she didn’t slow down . . . until heading back to the front of the store. She realized with shock that the dirty mass was not a rag at all — it was an 8-week old puppy.
Gathering up the dying baby, Kristin found its eyes, overgrown with hair, hadn’t opened. She would later learn they hadn’t due to parasites . . . which were also in his lungs. The puppy’s nails were bent backward, and his tail — which being Pomeranian should’ve curled over his back — was broken downward. His pelvis was broken and he’d been doused in battery acid.
Kristin later learned that Scamps routinely left sick animals on the floor to die so the bodies could be submitted for reimbursement. The puppy she’d found had obviously met this fate. That is until it was interrupted by Kristin, who — not for the first time and certainly not the last — said: NO.
Cradling the broken puppy Kristin swept to the front of the store and announced to the young girl working, “You have two choices: you can turn around and I’m stealing this dog, or I’m calling 9-1-1.”
When Kristin saw the girl’s stricken, “I need this job” expression, she said, “Okay. What will you sell him to me for?”
Kristin paid it and headed straight to a vet who sent her to DoveLewis, where the pup would spend the next 90 days, and time off and on over the next year. “They did skin grafts, worked on his tail, his eyes, ears, everything,” says Kristin. “I sold my motorcycle and cashed in gifts from my high school graduation.”
She also filed suit against Scamps. As it happened, the company shut down shortly after, though Kristin says she can’t take credit for it, adding that had they stayed in business, she’d be all over them. “I’d do it ten times over,” she says.
Ozy not only survived, but thrived. These days he goes by Chuvian, and when asked why, Kristin replied blithely, “Oh, he goes by whatever he answers to at the time.” She went on to list her other pets who started out with one name and ended up with others: “Artemus Yehoshua is now Dilly, and Lucy In The Sky Of Diamonds became *Snoose.”
Chuvian’s original name came from a Shelley poem from the 1700s that Kristin felt told his story. While working on the original interview this writer pasted the poem to the end of an email and, in addition to other comments in Kristin’s reply, she had tagged the poem to show what it meant to her. The poem with Kristin’s notations appears at the end of this story.
While during his early years Chuvian required vet care for the many issues stemming from his traumatic puppyhood, such as multiple skin allergies caused by the acid burns, treatments for a heart murmur, liver problems and more, he also had dysplasia. In October 2011 he blew a hip. “He’d just leg-lifted to pee and his hip fell out,” says Kristin.
After his regular vet attempted to re-set his hip twice without success, Chuvian was referred to a specialist and became a patient at CVRC. The process went quickly, and he was soon in recovery.
“It was the smoothest progression of any traumatic experience I’ve ever dealt with,” says Kristin. “I walked in and everyone was smiling. I didn’t feel like smiling, but everyone was so warm and welcoming, I couldn’t help but smile.”
“They didn’t talk about cost at all until after the consult,” Kristin continues, “which I really appreciated — I wanted to just focus on the injuries.”
The surgery was estimated at $2200-$2900. Kristin dropped off Chuvian and checked on him by phone every few hours. “He was having heart problems, so in addition to the surgeon and technicians, CVRC had to staff an anesthesiologist the entire time.” Because of this, Kristin expected the final bill to be far higher than the original estimate.
When it arrived, however, Kristin was astounded. “They could’ve taken me for everything I had . . . and I would have gladly paid.” The final bill was $2,316, “barely over the lowest end of the quote,” she says.
When she picked up Chuvian, CVRC’s Dr. Flynn told Kristin that, unlike most procedures, his surgery would only be successful if she got him on all fours as soon as he cleared the effects of anesthesia and pain meds. Oh, and by the way, he said: he needs to lose 3 lbs.
Kristin told the doctor she’d have the weight off in two weeks. He replied, “Not possible.”
The doctor also warned her that little dogs didn’t typically heal well from hip replacement, and that there was an 80 percent chance his second hip would dislocate within a year, so she should start saving now. “When one hip goes it puts weight on the other,” explains Kristin, “and eventually it goes too.”
While most dogs who’ve had hip replacement typically have a limp or spine issues, Chuvian’s two-week post-op checkup showed no sign of what he’d been through . . . except where he’d been shaved and tattooed for surgery. And, true to Kristin’s word, he’d lost the prescribed 3 lbs. The doctors and staff called him an anomaly.
Eventually Chuvian’s second hip did go out, but not within the year as predicted. “He made it a year and a half,” says Kristin.
“The second surgery took exactly the same amount of time [as the first], and cost only a little more — consistent with the rising costs of my own doctors in that period of time,” says Kristin.
“The second surgeon — CVRC’s Dr. Howard — also called Chuvian an anomaly,” says Kristin. “He asked, ‘How did you do this?’ I just told him I’d done what he told me to . . . I got him on his legs as soon as he came out of anesthesia.”
Kristin worked at a scrap metal yard on 14 acres, “so we were able to do four or five hours of physical therapy a day,” says Kristin. “Chuvian is really, really smart, but I’m just a little bit smarter. When he pretended to be using his leg but wasn’t, I knew.”
In addition to the therapy Kristin’s work situation afforded Chuvian, she says, “All the tips the doctors gave me to ensure his full recovery — they prepared me for every possible scenario — really helped. For the first seven weeks I had a plan for physical therapy.”
“Both surgeons gave cues like that, explaining in depth what to expect after surgery,” says Kristin. “And they were direct and to the point, which works really well for me. One doctor suggested I do physical therapy first and then walk, saying that if we walked first, Chuvian might not want to do the therapy.”
“Overall the doctors made the experience and surgery more human and less . . . surgical. It made it so his success was on my shoulders, and that meant the world to me. It meant I had control — control of the health and wellness of my animal.”
Talking about it all again, Kristin was clearly reliving the moments.
“The first hip damn near decapitated me,” she said. When asked what she meant she explained, “I didn’t know what to do. I walked into CVRC and they told me exactly what to do. So I was able to turn my head off and just follow their instructions.”
In Chuvian’s case, that went a long way in earning him the title of “Anomaly,” which is just another name for Champion.
By Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822)
I met a traveler from an antique land
who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown, (when I found Chuvian)
and wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
the hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed; (the Scamps employees)
And on the pedestal these words appear:
“My name is Ozymandias, king of kings: (Chuvian)
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!”
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
the lone and level sands stretch far away. (Scamps Pet Store)
* Notes in bold by Kristin Regan
Editors Note: Chuvian is one of many touching success stories of pets who've been patients at CVRC, dealing with serious medical issues. See more stories, dealing with a variety of procedures and health concerns, at CascadeVRC.com.
ALSO: Spot sends love and appreciation to Kristin and her family, who recently said goodbye to Snoose (upper photo). She was a lovely and well-loved girl.
Kristan Dael is a freelance writer and the alter ego of Jennifer Mccammon. She lives in Portland with her 4-pack, and strives to produce articles that inform, edify, engage and entertain.