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Houston’s Friends for Life helped the sweet puppy heal and placed him with a foster family, who decided he was never going to leave.
He’s got a million dollar smile and the personality to go with it. Conor — a 1-year-old Boxer–Pit mix — is as charismatic as his namesake, UFC champ Conor McGregor. Just like the flamboyantly dressed fighter, this Conor stands out in a crowd. The burn scars on his face tell the story of how this happy young dog fought for his life and won, thanks to the folks at Friends For Life, a no-kill shelter in Houston, Texas.
“We have no idea what actually happened to him,” explains Keri Meyer of Friends For Life. “The vet’s best guess based on where the wounds were and the concentration of them was a chemical burn, but we’ll never know for sure exactly how or why he got those injuries.”
Although Keri doesn’t work directly with the organization’s dogs in her official role as manager of Friends For Life’s Fix Houston™ program, she and her husband frequently open their home to canine cases.
“In the two years that I’ve worked here at Friends For Life, we’ve fostered over 200 animals,” explains Keri. “Conor is the only one we’ve ever kept.”
Having previously fostered numerous animals with special medical needs, Keri and her husband were the perfect people to care for Conor after he arrived at Friends for Life. He had been found on the street by a concerned citizen, and when Keri saw Conor’s condition upon intake she knew she had to bring the tail-wagging puppy home for extra medical help.
The painful burns on Conor’s face and ears weren’t the end of his physical problems. He was also smaller than the puppies he’d been brought in with — emaciated, in fact. He couldn’t eat and needed an enema to poop. His issues were the kind of thing Keri and her husband knew how to deal with. The hardest part for these experienced fosterers was just being patient.
“It was very sad for Conor because he had to stay in a kennel. He couldn’t come out and play with us or with the other dogs,” Keri explains, adding that Conor got lots of love and special attention as his burned face began to heal.
“We would feed him baby food from a spoon because he couldn’t quite open his mouth all the way to eat kibble.”
Keri and her husband nursed Conor through rounds of antibiotics (to prevent infection in the burns) and rounds of hydrotherapy to encourage his new skin growth. After that, the pup was treated with frequent cocoa butter massages. Finally, after about three months as a medical foster, Conor was physically ready to move on. All he needed was the final okay from his vet, and he’d be ready to be adopted. It was a bittersweet moment for Keri and her husband — one that was followed by a major revelation.
“We knew right when he got cleared to be adopted that there was no way that we could let him go,” Keri says. “We both just stopped and looked at each other, and were like, he is the most perfect puppy we’ve ever fostered, so why would we give him up?”
The couple made it official, making Conor a permanent member of the household that also includes an 85-pound Pit Bull mix named Bam and four female cats. At home, young Conor is just one of the family, but when he’s out in public, this unique looking dog attracts a lot of attention.
“He’s just one of those dogs who is so ugly he’s adorable,” says Keri. “We get quite a few comments. We actually call him our little zombie dog because his mouth doesn’t close all the way and neither do his eyes. He’s always got kind of a permanent smile, and even when he sleeps his eyes are open a bit.”
He may bear a slight resemblance to a supernatural creature, but there is nothing scary about this super-friendly pup. Keri says Conor loves everyone he meets, and if a human in his past is responsible for his burns, Conor isn’t holding any grudges against our species. He’s a great example of how animals with bad beginnings can still make great pets, and he is making sure the next generation of Friends For Life animals gets the same kind of special attention he did.
“We also still foster puppies and kittens, and Conor is a really great mom to them,” Keri says. “Friends for Life saved his life, and now he also helps to foster Friends for Life animals and socialize puppies and kittens.”
Top: Photo courtesy Friends For Life.
Heather is a wife, new mom, and former TV journalist in Alberta, Canada. Her beloved Ghost Cat was once her only animal, but the addition of a second cat, Specter, and the dog duo of GhostBuster and Marshmallow make her fur family complete. You can follow Heather on Twitter and Google+.
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