Three-Legged Dog Cares For Kittens
By Diane Herbst | Wednesday, January 5, 2011 5:15 PM ET
Maty, a rescued Australian Shepherd mix, comforts feral kittens and transforms them into sweet, friendly purring machines.
When Maty's left leg was amputated shortly after birth, the Australian Shepherd mix adjusted just fine. She jumped and leaped her way to two appearances at World Frisbee competitions as the first three-legged competitor. And thanks to a personality as sweet as Mother Teresa's, she unwittingly became a nanny of sorts for tiny feral kittens.
"We knew Maty was good with the kitties, and they would go up to her," says Lynne Ouchida, community outreach coordinator of the Humane Society of Central Oregon in Bend. "Since Maty is missing her left leg, when she lays on her right leg, she has a nook (where her left leg once was) and it creates a cradle. They lay in that spot against her belly."
Kittens generally stay with the 10-year-old Maty in a bedroom in Ouchida's home for about two weeks, until her kindness creates a comfort level that includes lots of purring. Then the kitties are ready to meet other creatures.
"Maty allows us to introduce humans as a positive aspect to their lives," Ouchida says. "When you approach a feral kitten, they hiss and spit. But [with Maty], they instinctively know not to be afraid."
What is it about Maty that allows semi-wild kittens to cozy up to a 42-pound dog? "She is very laid back and is so socialized," Ouchida explains. "She has a very, very sweet gentle soul and is very eager to please. When she gets tired of the kittens, they go after her and chase her."
"If we are feeding them by syringe, she loves to clean them off, so that is one way they get used to her," she continues. "They have this symbiotic relationship. Alot of times the kittens want to crawl up higher on her, and Maty she loves to hang out with them."
Maty's early life was rough. Cleaning workers found Maty and her 3-week-old littermates abandoned in a motel in Bend and brought them to the Humane Society.
After Maty's exposure to another puppy with parvo, she became lethargic. "At most shelters she would have been euthanized," Ouchida says. But this Humane Society is not a run-of-the-mill shelter. While nursing Maty back to health, a staph infection was discovered to be eating away all the tendons and ligaments of her left leg. Pockets of infection were invading the pup's body. So at 8-weeks, the leg was removed.
"She is quite the survivor," Ouchida says. "We say she survived that infection that ravaged her body because she had a mission."
Following a brief stint living at a nursing home — she was always active, and they decided a puppy wasn't a good fit," Ouchida says — Maty returned to the Humane Society and has lived with Ouchida ever since.
In addition to her kitten comforting duties, Maty comes to work with Ouchida every day. She serves as a sort of guinea pig to discover which homeless cats like dogs, and accompanies Ouchida on visits to local schools.
"She's pretty amazing," her owner says. "She never ceases to amaze me on how an animal can give to other animals, and humans."
You can find out more about Maty on her Facebook page.
Photos courtesy of the Humane Society of Central Oregon.
Three-Legged Dog Cares For Kittens - Tonic