Saving one dog’s life

PRINCEVILLE — Linda Breitstone has always been an animal lover.

That love saved the life of an abandoned puppy near a friend’s home in late August.

“As I was coming out and made a right turn, I saw this dog who walked a couple steps, fell over sideways, walked a couple more steps and fell over again,” Breitstone said.

She said he looked like he was starving to death and was extremely dehydrated. Though concerned he might be dangerous, she approached the animal.

“He had the most soulful brown eyes,” Breitstone said.

For two hours, she fed him bits of the doggie treats she carries with her. Breitstone finally gained the dog’s trust, just as she ran out of treats. A neighbor who was walking his own dogs helped lift the stray into the front seat of Breitstone’s car.

But the dog got sick all over her front seat.

“He cowered after he got sick,” Breitstone said. “Like he thought I was going to beat him.”

Upon arriving home, a call to the veterinarian told her specific directions to feed the stray ice cubes and small amounts of food. Breitstone knew the dog was in bad shape. But the veterinarian confirmed he was close to death.

“You could see his collarbone,” the Princeville woman said. “And you could see scars from where he was hurt, but fur has grown over that.”

Two weeks later, lots of love, patience, play time, daily walks and the help from a groomer, a veterinarian and generous friends led to the eight-month-old’s full recovery. The dog is a cross between an English pointer and a greyhound

“He is really gentle with children and other dogs,” she said. “At first he was just a beaten down dog. Now he knows how to amuse himself. He has such joy.”

Breitstone said adopting out the dog she named Toby is going to break her heart for myriad reasons.

“Toby is my favorite,” Breitstone said. “He is the sweetest, gentlest, extraordinarily intelligent dog.”

Breitstone’s friend Joe Frisinger said, “It is such a turnaround from when he was almost dying. The dog was badly beaten with welts on his back from the person who had the dog before.”

Penny Cistaro, executive director at the Kauai Humane Society, said if someone suspects animal abuse, to report it.

“If someone finds a stray and they believe the dog has been abused they should bring the dog to us and give us the information,” she said. “We can do an assessment and if an owner appears we can do a further determination of the situation. We need an eyewitness willing to go on the record.”

Nevertheless, Cistaro said that a dog can be abused by a person and still be a great dog with other people.

“A dog forgives, they don’t necessarily forget,” she said. “They need to learn that a rolled up newspaper, for example, won’t hurt them and that comes gradually over time. Some dogs bounce right back, others more slowly.”

If you would like to adopt Toby, call Breitstone at (415) 987-7772 or Joe at 826-0256. Time is of the essence. Condominium rules where Breitstone lives have restrictions that will keep her from housing Toby beyond Saturday.

Frisinger was impressed with how Breitstone put Toby’s needs first.

“She would hand feed Toby and show love and kindness, sometimes for 18 hours a day,” Frisinger said. “I think she is one of the kindest people on Earth.”

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Lisa Ann Capozzi, a features and education reporter can be reached at lcapozzi@thegardenisland.com

Correction to Breitsone phone number on Sept. 16, 2014.

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