WOODLAND — Doogie, the once-malnourished dog nursed back to health by a Yolo County animal rescue organization, has found his forever home.
Roughly 25 pounds underweight when a passerby found him starving and nearly hairless along Highway 113, Doogie is living large — literally, at a robust 109 pounds — at the Lodi home of George and Stephanie Brown and their son, Travis.
“He’s probably one of the best dogs we’ve ever had,” George Brown said Thursday during a visit to the Valley Oak Veterinary Hospital in Woodland, where Doogie underwent a routine checkup.
There to welcome him was Renee Lancaster, owner of Rotts of Friends Animal Rescue, which took in Doogie after he was discovered on a cold day in November 2012. In addition to his skin-and-bones condition, the mastiff/hound mix suffered from a heart murmur, inflamed ears and eyes that had been crusted over.
Over the next eight months, Lancaster and her band of volunteers embarked on an intensive recovery effort, giving Doogie frequent baths, special meals and medications for his various ailments. His reddish hair began to grow back, and his shy demeanor gave way to one that was boisterous and playful.
Donations of toys, clothing and funds for medical care poured in following media reports of Doogie’s rescue. So did contributions toward a $2,500 reward for information leading to the arrest of the dog’s previous owner, but that person was never found.
In June, Lancaster took Doogie with her for an appearance on Channel 31’s “Good Day, Sacramento” to promote her annual Mutts & Martinis fundraiser. He caught the eye of Stephanie Brown, who had just lost her beloved Great Dane.
“When I saw him I started crying,” she recalled Thursday. “I told my husband, ‘I have to have that dog.’ “
Lancaster said there were about 15 families in the running to adopt Doogie, but the Browns proved to be the best fit — down to Stephanie and Travis Brown’s complementary red hair.
His adoption became official on July 9.
“He’s the sweetest dog in the world,” Stephanie Brown said. “He’s my shadow — if I’m upstairs, he’s upstairs. If I’m in the office, he’s lying by the chair.”
That’s typically where he is when 11-year-old Travis gets home from school. “He’ll come running in, and he gets on the floor, too,” George Brown said.
Lancaster had hoped Doogie would be weaned Thursday from his medication for mange — a skin condition caused by mites — but veterinarian Rich Thornburgh said he wasn’t quite there yet.
However, “he looks a lot better than the last time I saw him,” Thornburgh told the Browns. “His heart sounds great.”
After exchanging gifts — a blue-and-yellow stuffed bone for Doogie, photos of Doogie lounging and playing for Lancaster — the Browns and Lancaster agreed to meet again next month for another veterinary checkup. Lancaster also plans to visit Doogie occasionally in Lodi.
“He’s like a little Velcro dog — he really sticks to them,” Lancaster said. “I had no idea he was going to blossom like this.”
— Reach Lauren Keene at [email protected] or 530-747-8048. Follow her on Twitter at @laurenkeene
By March, Doogie had put on plenty of pounds and regained some luster in his coat. He graduated from the Yolo Canine Academy’s six-week obedience training class, so he knows all of his commands and walks well on a leash. Courtesy photo
Last November, Doogie was so emaciated and diseased that his rescuers couldn’t even tell what breed he was. He was little more than skin and bones, weighing in at about 45 pounds, and suffering from a heart murmur, inflamed ears, crusted-over eyes and a hairless body brought on by severe malnutrition. Courtesy photo
Doogie gives a wet kiss to his old friend Renee Lancaster during a checkup by Dr. Richard Thornburgh at Valley Oak Veterinary Hospital in Woodland. Fred Gladdis/Enterprise photo
Renee Lancaster looks at recent photos of Doogie in his new home with George and Stephanie Brown of Lodi. Fred Gladdis/Enterprise photo
Doogie looks up to his new “parents,” George and Stephanie Brown of Lodi, following a checkup by Dr. Richard Thornburgh at Valley Oak Veterinary Hospital in Woodland. Fred Gladdis/Enterprise photo