Leonidas, A Mountain House Rescue

September 12, 2012

A Very Injured Dog

The story of our dog, Leonidas which means “lion like.” We call him Leo for short.

On March 22, 2012, my youngest daughter was riding her scooter up and down our street. At the end of our street, she came across a very injured little dog. She came home and asked for food, water, and help. Judging by how he ate and drank, the little guy had been without food and water for some time. He had no collar and looked like he did not have an owner. I immediately posted pictures on a few local groups to see if he was missing. The picture on the left was taken when we found him.

My oldest daughter offered to carry him to our home where he could have shelter, food, and water. The poor little guy did not bark or whine. He seemed completely trusting. On closer observation, we found that he had an injured leg and open sores all over his belly. At this point, he did not walk or move on his own. He was also filthy, carried quite the stench, and had fleas and ticks.

The next day we took Leo to a local vet. I wasn’t particularly happy with our previous vet so I was thankful for the kind recommendation from Mountain House resident Jacqueline Lacaze-Dekker to Jules Veterinary in Tracy. Because we found no chip and there was no response about a missing dog, I decided to take financial responsibility to see what his condition was. My girls were already falling in love with the little guy.  Dr. Burnett did a complete check over  including the x-ray and gave us the not so good news. The dog had been hit by a car, had a fractured hind leg, road rash all over his belly, an injured eye, and injured teeth. The fracture was a twist type of break and the tibia bone was broken in three places. He needed surgery and it was not a simple surgery. Dr. Burnett mentioned a specialist would be the best route but was willing to give it a try himself. Dr. Burnett guessed the little guy to be about two years old so he could have a long life ahead of him. The biggest risk was the bone wouldn’t heal properly and amputation would be the next option.

Leo’s Broken Leg

Leo’s Repaired Leg

Wearing the Cone of Shame

We scheduled surgery for a few days later and in the meantime tried to come up with the a name. Coming to an agreement is not an easy task when there are six opinions! Many names were discussed, debated, and thrown out. Eventually, Leonidas, Leo for short was voted the best choice and seems to fit him perfectly.

Leo was able to come home a couple of days after surgery accompanied by pain meds, anti-inflammatory meds, and antibiotics. Dr. Burnett installed a long pin through the three pieces of bone and had to wrap the bone with wire to secure it all in place. The recovery was a long process and included instructions of rest and the dreaded cone of shame.


It became immediately clear that Leo was not going to easily take his medications. We tried many tricks to get him to take his pills. I boiled up chicken, his favorite and slipped the pills in. It worked a couple of times then he figured it out. We slipped his food into canned dog food, bacon strips, and many times stuck them in the back of his throat. Over time, he got quite adept at spitting the pill right back out! Then we introduced chunky peanut butter. At first, it worked like a charm as discovered he loved peanut butter. After about three days of success with peanut butter, he caught on and would no longer willingly lick the peanut butter and pill concoction off a spoon. At this point we were beginning to realize that Leo is a smart little guy! I finally found a method that worked. I coated each of his pills in peanut butter, opened his mouth and stuck them in. Because of the stickiness of the peanut butter, he could no longer spit them out so had no choice but to swallow. I don’t think he likes peanut butter much anymore.

It also became immediately clear that Leo had a strong preference to his two rescuers. He passionately loves my oldest daughter, the one that carried him home and in the early days, and kept close by her side. If she left the house, he would cry and cry at the front door. As Leo healed, those two formed a strong bond. His favorite position was in her lap or at her feet. If she wasn’t available, then he would find comfort being close to my youngest daughter, the one that found him. I would find her reading a book and he’d be on the couch right next to her for hours.

It took several weeks for Leo’s bones to knit together. Dr. Burnett kept a close watch on him and checked up on him every so often with x-rays. Leo gradually began using his leg again. The road rash and eye healed. Once the stitches were out and the cone came off, we were able to give him a bath and get rid of the dirt and stench.

In August, Leo had a second surgery to remove the pin. This time, the surgery was done at the brand new clinic in Livermore. (The new clinic, Arroyo Veterinary Center is staffed by many of the same vets at Jules.) The pin appeared to be causing minor problems in his joint, so Dr. Burnett wanted to remove it to be on the safe side. It was not an easy task. The pin took a fair amount of force to pull out of the bone. Leo came home sore, with more meds and wearing the cone of shame. This time, Leo bounced back quickly and was back to his energetic self in a week. For the first time since we found him, we could take him for long walks and let him play as hard as he wanted.

I would like to publicly thank Dr. Burnett and the staff for a fantastic job. Many times they went above and beyond in their service and care of Leo. When we first brought Leo in, they cleaned him up as best they could, removed the fleas and ticks and tangled hair. Many times they called me to check up on Leo.  They trimmed his nails when he was in for surgery. Both Jules and Arroyo clinics are incredibly clean facilities staffed with great people. I highly recommend either clinic. Thank you Jacqueline, for a great recommendation!

We ended up with a fantastic little dog. Leo is a pile of fun and energy. He house trained quickly, even when recovering from surgery. Thankfully he is a quiet dog, only barking when strangers come to the door. One of Leo’s favorite things to do is play fetch. He already understands the command “Go get your ball.” He also loves walks around Mountain House. Nearly every day Leo rides with me to school to pick up my youngest daughter. He can be seen hanging his head out the passenger window, waiting for one of his rescuers to get out of school. He can hardly contain the excitement when she walks to the car! Leo is now a part of our family and loved by all. While he still shows a slight preference to his two rescuers, he returns our love and greets each one of us with joy.

Jennifer McDonald

Out for a Walk in Mountain House



One Response to Leonidas, A Mountain House Rescue

  1. mhresident@ymail.com on September 12, 2012 at 4:05 pm

    A great love story. It is nice to have people like you around in our community.

Leave a Reply

Search MHR:

Connect with us:

facebook       twitter