Thus began the long four month effort to get him home. I wrote and told her she could not show him in that condition and that I would pay to have him shipped home, or I could come and get him. She told me she was too busy to send him home, the airport was too far away for her to get him there, she had a judging assignment and would not be able to meet me. If I could just wait she was coming to see her sister and would bring him home and then those plans changed and she was not coming. Every possible suggestion I made was met with resistance.
Then completely by surprise she called my house on a Saturday, said she was at her sisters and that Robert should come and get his dog. I thank the powers above that Robert was home that weekend instead of with me at a dog show. When I arrived home on Sunday I could not believe my eyes. He wouldn't come out of his crate to me. He was terrified of Robert and would retreat right back to his crate if either of us approached. We put him and his crate in the dog yard and he would slowly come out to potty. He tried to lift his leg to pee and he fell over so he squatted. He would not come out to eat so we put his food in his crate and he ate everything we offered, like the starving dog he appeared to be. His coat was in tatters. It looked like a 2 year old had given him a haircut, the fur fell out in clumps. And he held his head to his left side, almost on his shoulder and did not seem to be able to hold it correctly. I called my vet at home and she suggested many small meals and lots of water and to do whatever made him comfortable until she could see him on Monday. I cried for him and guilt laid heavy on my shoulders because I was the one who sent him away and I just knew that when we got to my vet the next day that she would tell me we had to put him out of his misery and end his life.
My vet nearly cried when she saw him. He was a 7 pound dog when he left and he was now 4 1/2 lbs. he had raging ear infections, we ran a complete blood panel, took blood to test for any tick borne disease and heartworm, and she did a neurological exam. She suggested we call in a neurologist because her basic exam showed serious neurological impairment. She opined that his neck problem could possibly be from an accident but it could also be a brain problem and for that reason she was reluctant to take an xray. Anesthesia could make his problems worse.
The neurologist agreed that it was difficult to tell if his problem was from a brain problem or an injury but in any case an xray was too risky. So we took him home and hand fed him many small meals a day. He ate everything I offered. We got his ear infections under control. He put weight on and learned to trust me again. Other people, not so easily. He remained a shy dog around strangers. It took him longer to trust Robert and it was a year before he would willingly walk out the front door for a walk around the yard and almost 2 before he took a walk around the neighborhood.
I took him to chiropractors, a man who used a tuning fork on his spine (a technique he developed to use on horses that had back injuries), a different vet for laser treatments, he slept on magnets and drank water that had been filtered past magnets to charge the ions and help correct his body chemistry. I went anywhere and did everything that was suggested to try and help him carry his head correctly. Every vet that I took him to felt it was an injury that was at the root of his problem. I tried to ask Leyda about him but she kept telling me nothing happened and that he was fine when she brought him back to me. RuthAnn heard, a year after I got him back, that Leyda's husband had been in a terrible car accident and that a dog in his care had been killed in that accident. I have come to believe that Turbo was in that accident and that she kept him away from me for so long hoping he would get better and when that didn't appear to be happening she brought him home.
Years went by and we just accepted the idea that he would always hold his head to the side. His specials career was out of the question. He did grow his coat back and he regained his weight. I bred him a couple of times and he produced some beautiful puppies. The last breeding caused his back to spasm and he could not walk for hours after so I made the difficult decision to have him neutered knowing how hard it was going to be for him to not be able to breed the girls. I've never been so nervous leaving a dog at my vets office. She assured ne that they would work as fast as possible and with all the pre-op testing that was done she felt he would be okay, And he was.
I am a huge believer in serendipity, that the power that runs our lives and watches over us sometimes puts us in a place or a time that will benefit our lives or people we love. That was the power that brought Turbo, me and Nancy Westphal together. Turbo had been home for 4 years. I met Nancy at a local dog show when she introduced herself and said she was looking for a papillon and she liked the dogs I was showing that day. We started chatting after the show and I don't know why I mentioned Turbo but she told me she was a Sacrial Cranio Therapist and she would like to meet Turbo because she felt she could help him. Thus began his true rehabilitation. She started coming every Thursday and after about four months we started to see improvements. Always shy around strangers he was always happy to see Nancy. She was slow and patient and if he indicated he'd had enough she would stop and let him relax. The tightness in his shoulder gave way to a suppleness I could not believe. There was a spring in his step and he was holding his head correctly most of the time. Stress would put it back on his shoulder but not for long.
He was doing so well that I decided to enter him in the Sunshine State Papillon Club speciality in December of 2011. He was now a 7 year old veteran and if he didn't come out of his crate at the show then that was fine with me. But when I opened the door he bounced out of that crate ready to go and boy did he put on a show. He jumped around, kissed Leah James, the judge, and just generally had a wonderful time. I was reduced to tears showing and watching him have such a good time. No ribbon has ever meant as much as that one did. His special friend, Nancy, was there to watch. He held his head correctly the whole time we were in the ring.
It was after that show that I began to feel Turbo shifting his loyalties. He looked forward to Nancy's visits and seemed to want to go with her. I looked deep into those brown yes one day and just asked him if he wanted to go. Call me crazy but I felt his answer and then I called Nancy. She was thrilled to take him for a trial visit. He seemed very happy to be at her house and when I came back in an hour he was happy to see ne but did not try and follow me out her door. So I left him for a week and again he didn't try and follow. He now lives with Nancy and I see him weekly.
We attended the Papillon Club of America National Speciality held in Springdale, Ohio. He was shown by his breeder RuthAnn Ford in the puppy sweepstakes under breeder judge Susan Pollard and was awarded 4th out of 20 entrants in his class. The following day in the regular point show I showed him and we won our 9-12 month old puppy class (entry of 20), under judge Sandra Goose Allen. I could not have been any prouder of my boy. With all of those dogs in the ring we were there a very long time but he never quit showing. That photo and ribbon are hanging proudly in my house.
His story started out simply. He was the first real show dog that I purchased and he was terrific. He finished his championship in fine style.
His first win under judge Colleen Brossard, at the Greater Orange Park Kennel Club show, in Starke, Fl, Jan 29, 2005, was a four point major. He won Winners Dog, Best of Winners and was also awarded Best Puppy. Under judge Ann Hearn in the puppy group he was awarded a Group 1.
She comes to training class with me every Monday night and is going to show him in any shows that offer a veterans class. She is also planning on some therapy work after a visit with him to a hospice facility to visit a friend and Turbo was very calm and just laid on the bed by the man's side until it was time to leave. And that is how Turbo returned to the show ring he loved, has a new best friend and just might be starting a new career as a therapy dog.
He finished his championship at the Singing River Kennel Club of Mississippi, on July 30, 2005 , under judge Mr Roger Hartinger winning a big 5 point major by going Best of Winners again. He was just 2 weeks beyond his first birthday.
Update: I have just recently been told that Leyda did not have possession of Turbo in the months before she brought him home. Her ex-husband Gaby had him. When she took him from me I believed she would be showing him and caring for him. I was surprised when his registration papers had both of their names. Nor was I informed that he was going into an unstable household and would not be living with Leyda. I never met her husband. Both important pieces of information that could have changed my mind about his trip. I have blamed Leyda all this time for causing and or covering up what happened to him when in fact she was not the likely person responsible for his injury. However, I still hold her responsible for not protecting my dog, not telling me where my dog was, how I could go about getting him back and continuing to tell RuthAnn that nothing was wrong with the dog.
The story continues with his fabulous Best In Veteran Show win on December 1, 2012 at the South Dade Kennel Club show held in Davie, Florida. Our breed judge was Marlene Mortera and the group and Best In Show judge was Mrs Conny Guiterrez-Otero. She commented that she loved his happy attitude, his beautiful coat and his great condition.
I had occasional email reports of his wins in Ecuador, Belize, Columbia and other countries. He did earn his international title. he sired a litter of 6 puppies for Leyda and then no news for a long time. Then RuthAnn called one day to tell me that Leyda was looking for another papillon to show and suggested I find out what was happening with Turbo.
I emailed her (my big mistake, I only had the email, no address and no phone number) to ask if she would send me a photo of him because I was wondering how his coat was developing and about his latest adventures.
It took a long time for her to answer and she said she would try and get a photo of him. She told me she was having a hard time getting him to eat and she could not keep weight on him. It took her weeks but she finally sent the photo below. I cried when I saw it. I forwarded in to RuthAnn and she called immediately and told me "something is very wrong with him. Get him home ASAP"
Best In Veteran Show win on December 1, 2012
Since he was so young my plan was to enter him in a few shows here and there while he was growing up. Then came the proposition.
His breeder RuthAnn Ford knew that Leyda Perez was looking for a papillon to show at the World Dog show to be held in Mexico City the next year. She would take him home to Columbia and while getting him ready for the big show she would show him at shows around her home and try to get his International FCI title. Robert and I were to fly to Mexico and after the show bring him home to start his Specials career. He should have been gone about 18 months.
I will never forget that day. Leyda was here in Florida visiting her sister who lived close by. I took her and Turbo down to the Miami airport for her flight back to Columbia. I watched him disappear into the terminal watching me the whole time. My heart was heavy as I drove away but I thought it would only be for a short while and then I'd see him again. Little did I know that it would be a little over a year and he would return a damaged and terrified shell of his formed self.