Blood brothers

Zachary Danz and his dog Shadow
Two buddies, Zachary and his dog Shadow. Photos by J. W. Smith

By Jennifer Morgan - April 5, 2007

Shadow's story

Once upon a time there was a boy named Zachary who dreamed of the perfect dog. His ideal dog would be a "friendly, medium-sized, fluffy dog with floppy ears and a curly tail".

When Pamela Danz and eight-year-old son Zachary went to New York City to visit family, they had no idea how that fateful trip would forever change their lives. The Danz family had been frequent visitors of the Martha's Vineyard MSPCA Animal Care and Adoption Center, where they'd filled out an application and patiently waited.

In October, they headed to the city for the weekend, and talked about visiting shelters while they were there. They went to the ASPCA and did not find a dog that met Zachary's criteria. Pamela figured it just wasn't meant to be on that trip, but at the last minute, they decided to visit another shelter down the street. As soon as they walked through the door, there he was!

Sitting in a cage, was a young, tri-colored dog, probably a small Collie mix, complete with a thick fur coat, fuzzy, floppy ears and a big, curled tail, happily wagging it in anticipation of their attention. It was love at first sight for all three. However, Pamela was told that there was a mandatory holding period, which would not be up until 6:33 pm that evening. So for the next several hours, mom and son stood watch over their new friend, making sure that he would not go home with anyone other than them. And at 6:34 pm that night, he did.

Shadow is in good health now, thanks to the quick efforts of the vets at Vineyard Veterinary Clinic and the gift of life from a Greyhound named Puck.

Their new family member was called Shadow, a name that young Zachary had already chosen long before, in anticipation of the dog he knew he would have one day. And he instantly became just that, Zachary's devoted shadow. Upon his arrival to his new home on the Vineyard, Shadow adapted as if he had lived here his entire life.

One day, only two months after living with his new family, Pamela noticed that Shadow was not himself. She watched him for a day, as he became more ill, and then realized the grim reality of what she believed may have happened, and immediately raced him to the Vineyard Veterinary clinic. Being the curious pup that he was, while exploring his new home, Shadow found his way to the basement, where rat poison had been placed some time before. After being examined by Dr. C. Rogers Williams and Dr. Betsy Buck, they confirmed there were signs that he may have eaten some of the poison. Shadow's prognosis was not good. The life was quickly draining out of him. Pamela went to Zachary's school to break the news and to tell him that he might need to say goodbye to his new best friend.

Puck the greyhound and Dr. Betsy Buck
Puck the greyhound and his new owner, Dr. Betsy Buck. Although retired from the racetrack, Puck still had one more race to run, to save the life of another dog.

Puck's story

Once upon a time there was a veterinarian named Betsy who always wanted to adopt a Greyhound. Dr. Buck had treated plenty of them as clients, but had never had one of her own. When she moved to the Island, she often visited the Adoption Center, and asked the staff to keep a look out for a "social, cat-friendly" Greyhound, just in case. Puck, formerly known as Casper, was transferred to the Vineyard from the Brockton MSPCA, where he had recently come from the racetrack. He was unusually social and well adjusted for a track dog, and Dr. Buck was smitten. She already had a dog and four cats, but could not resist the opportunity to take this guy home with her. So she did.

Joined forever

As Shadow lay in the vet clinic, near death, Drs. Williams and Buck knew his only chance of survival was an immediate blood transfusion, and even with that, he was so sick they weren't hopeful. They needed a donor fast. In order for a dog to qualify as an acceptable blood donor, it must meet certain requirements. The dog needs to be healthy, current on vaccines, and within a specific age and weight range. Drs. Williams and Buck began the search for an appropriate donor, when Dr. Buck realized that Puck was quietly sitting in his kennel in the office, and he was the perfect candidate. His blood was drawn and immediately transfused to Shadow, who was lying lifeless in his hospital cage. Within an hour, Shadow was up and standing, and asking to go out!

Shadow spent a few days at the Vineyard Vet Clinic, being closely watched and recuperating from his close call. When it was time to return home with the family he had only known for two months, Shadow was more than ready, and Pamela and Zachary were just as eager to have him back home with them. Despite the odds, Shadow recovered fully and is living happily with his family, hopefully for many years to come.

Both Shadow and Puck were given another chance, by being rescued and adopted into permanent homes where they will always be loved and cared for. Thanks to Puck's gift, Shadow got one more chance to live happily ever after.

Jennifer Morgan is the projects coordinator for the MSPCA Martha's Vineyard Animal Care and Adoption Center.

The MSPCA of Martha's Vineyard is located on 276 Edgartown-Vineyard Haven Road, near the Triangle, in Edgartown. Shelter hours are: Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday, 10 am to 4pm and Thursday, 12 noon to 4 pm. Call 508-627-8662.