Dog Found Horribly Matted On Streets Just Wanted To Be Pet
“We don’t think he’s ever been inside a home.”
It was a garbage bag. That’s what the woman thought when she peered out her car window and saw a strange black object in a field in Odessa, Texas. But then the garbage bag began to move. The woman squinted and realized it was a dog.
The woman told her husband to stop the car, and she hurried out to see if the dog was OK. She called the dog, and he immediately ran up to her — and he was covered in thick, dirty mats.
“She said that she didn’t know what to do,” Amy Schwartz, a veterinary technician at West Texas Emergency Veterinary Clinic, where the woman brought the dog, told The Dodo. “He was so matted that she didn’t know how to pick him up.”
When the woman arrived, Schwartz was the one who went into the reception area to meet them.
“She was holding this black and brown matted creature that I couldn’t even tell had a face,” Schwartz said. “I couldn’t tell which end was which, except for the fact that he was trying to wag his tail. But the tail was so heavy from being matted, that I at first thought that the tail was broken.”
Schwartz guessed the dog had been living out on the streets for at least six months — maybe even a year. But what surprised her even more was how friendly he was.
“He was like, ‘Hey! Does anybody want to pet me? I’ll let anybody pet me who wants to pet me,’” Schwartz said. “He was trying to lick us, and wanted to be petted.”
The dog was so matted, Schwartz couldn’t even find a place to draw his blood — and she also had a hard time finding his back end in order to take his temperature. So before she could do anything else, Schwartz knew they had to shave him down.
The couple who’d found the dog, who was later named Matt, agreed to cover his costs. But then something amazing happened — other people in the clinic reception area, who’d heard about Matt’s dilemma, also agreed to chip in.
“Everybody was really touched in that waiting room, and donated to getting him treated,” Schwartz said. “One lady was picking up her dog … and she heard his story as she was paying out her bill, and she put money toward this dog.”
Schwartz and the other vet techs got to work to try and clean Matt up.
“There was a ring around his neck, almost like a fur collar that we had to get separate from the pieces that attached to the back and his shoulders,” Schwartz said. “His legs were definitely the worst, and he had some sores.”
But removing Matt’s matted fur wasn’t straightforward — it ended up taking the team several days.
“It wasn’t just shearing away all of these mats,” Schwartz said. “You had to work a section, clip it away, work it further down, clip it away.”
The whole time, Matt insisted on sitting in the vet techs’ laps.
"I had him sitting in my lap, and worked on clipping him,” Schwartz said. “And one of the girls was able to do the same to get the last of the feet cleared.”
“He never shied away from being touched, and he never shied away from being petted, interacted with or talked to,” Schwartz added. “If you looked at him, he’d immediately start wagging his tail. He just wanted you to pay attention to him … so it’s kind of hard to believe that this dog was out there, and hadn’t been approached by somebody else previously to this.”
All in all, the vet techs removed a whopping 3 pounds of matted fur from Matt, revealing a completely different dog.
“We could not tell what breed of dog he was, and we still really can’t,” Schwartz said. “We’re going to have to wait until the hair starts to grow back to really see the definition of the hair.”
The couple who’d found Matt couldn't take him home with them, so Schwartz got in touch with Rescuers Without Borders, a Texas-based group that rescues local dogs, as well as stray dogs living at a landfill in Corum, Turkey. The group agreed to take Matt into their care, and they organized a foster carer to pick him up last Friday after he was cleared to leave the vet clinic.
“Everyone at the clinic, including myself, had grown a little attached to him,” Schwartz said. “He was kind of our little mascot already. He’s never met a stranger. Everybody he comes into contact with, he wants attention from. For a dog who has obviously not been taken care of very well by people, it’s amazing. It’s a testament of how strong dogs are. People don’t forgive as fast as that dog does.”
Now Matt is enjoying life at his foster home, although he has a lot of learning to do, Schwartz explained.
“We don’t think he’s ever been inside a home,” Schwartz said. “It’s possible that he lived inside a yard, and was kept in a kennel environment, but we don’t think he’d ever been inside a home. He’s recuperating, and also learning how to ‘dog.’”
While Schwartz sees a lot of dogs in need come into West Texas Emergency Veterinary Clinic, there’s something about Matt that tugged at her heartstrings.
“The process of seeing so many people come together to help just one dog — it restores your faith that you can save them,” she said. “You can help, and you can do something to make a difference. And if it’s just one dog, it’s worth it. He is worth it, and seeing that somebody didn’t appreciate how amazing he was at some point in his life hurts, but now he has a chance.”