Squish the dog has a bit of a funny name, and a bit of a funny look. But how he ended up that way is no laughing matter.
When he was just a puppy, Squish was taken in as a stray by an Ohio animal shelter. The right side of his face was swollen. At first, doctors thought he had a bite wound that had become infected. Unfortunately, that was not the case. Squish had suffered significant fractures to his skull and upper right jaw, likely due to blunt force trauma.
“It was suggested that he may have been intentionally hit by someone rather than something since there were no other fractures or injuries to indicate accidental trauma like being hit by a car,” he owner, Danielle Boyd, told us.
The fracture involved damage to the growth plates in his jaw and skull, which led to malformed and shortened bones surrounding much of the right side of his face and jaw, she said. He also had a lot of scar tissue. All this made it difficult for Squish to even open his mouth, let alone eat. His future looked bleak.
“Due to the amount of damage to the side of his skull and jaw, and his extreme difficulty eating, with the potential to progress to a complete inability to eat, there was concern for declining health with no cure and he was placed on the euthanasia list,” Boyd said.
She was one of the first doctors to evaluate the young dog.
“I opened the cage door and he gently sniffed my face and tried to lick me even though he could barely slide his tongue between his teeth,” she recalled. “I picked him up and held him in my arms where he melted. He fit perfectly there. I held him like a baby, and he laid motionless cradled in my arms.”
Boyd fell for him pretty much immediately.
“I was enamored by this little one-eyed pup who clearly endured so much pain, yet you would never know but by looking at him,” she said. “He acted like any other happy go-lucky pup.”
That night she took the loving puppy home with her so he could experience what it’s like to be in a home. He was a “living, breathing, puppy tornado.”
“I have never seen a puppy run so fast and never stop,” she said. “As fast as he had whirled through the house, he quickly relaxed and wanted to sleep. I let him sleep in my bed that night. He curled up next to me, nestled between my arm and chest and didn’t budge.”
The next morning Boyd knew she couldn’t let Squish be euthanized. She adopted him that day and set out on the long journey to get Squish the medical care he needed in order to survive.
Since then he’s had two major jaw surgeries and an eye removal. He requires ongoing dental care and always needs to have his teeth brushed. This last year, he had a tooth removed that was causing him pain. But other than that, he is a pretty normal dog.
“He does not know any different. To him there is no difficulty — it is just learning how to do things with what he has,” Boyd said. “If I did not see his physical changes, I would have no idea he has any issue with his jaw. He has one eye but functions like a two-eyed dog.”
Today they live in San Antonio, Texas, where Boyd is working to become board-certified as a veterinary ophthalmologist. Despite everything he’s been through, Squish is a happy-go-lucky dog who always seem to have a smile on his face — albeit a crooked one.
“He makes me smile every single time I look at him,” Boyd said. “He is always bouncy, happy, and wagging his tail. I can’t help but smile!
Squish loves looking out the window on car rides, going on hikes, and playing with sticks and in puddles. He especially enjoys meeting people, so much so that Boyd plans to train him to become a therapy dog.
“I want him to visit children with disabilities and help remind them that although he may appear different, he is in no way disabled,” she said.
In the meantime, Squish is making other smile through posts on his Instagram account, @apupnamedsquish.
Adopting a dog like Squish does have it challenges. Boyd cautions against taking on a dog with a disability or special needs without first consulting with a veterinarian.
“Veterinarians are an invaluable resource and will be able to help [you] understand the complications that may arise, the care that will go into not only home life, but also veterinary examinations and ongoing care for the life of the animal,” she said. “There can be a great financial cost in taking on any animal and often times special needs pets will require more.”
Boyd said Squish wouldn’t be here today if not for the veterinarian and veterinary technicians that made it possible for him to undergo successful surgeries.
“I am forever grateful to all that fought for him and allowed me to be so very lucky to call him mine,” she said.
While it has been a difficult journey, caring for Squish also has been a rewarding one.
“I have grown tremendously because of Squish and he has inspired me in ways I never imagined,” Boyd said. “The unconditional love of a rescue animal is unlike any other.”
By: Stephanie Brown