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Happy end for pup's odyssey, thanks to MSU medical care
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- They are an unlikely pair -- a man with a career dedicated to discipline and a pup whose first months of life were spent running with a pack of strays. How the man and the dog came together also involved unlikely circumstances.
On March 28, Robert H. “Doc” Foglesong was named Mississippi State University's 18th president, following a 33-year career in the U.S. Air Force. His last assignment before retirement was commander of U.S. Air Forces in Europe. On April 8, a “Good Samaritan” found the young stray dog beside a Starkville street. A dash in front of a car had left him with serious injuries.
The dog was brought to the emergency medical center at the veterinary teaching hospital in MSU's College of Veterinary Medicine. After initial treatment to stabilize his injuries, he was sent to the intensive care unit, where he became the patient of CVM student Libba Miller, a senior from Ripley.
“Both his back legs were broken, and he had other health problems, including parasites and malnutrition,” she said. “He was about 10 months old and appeared to have been homeless for quite a while.”
The dog's luck, however, was about to change. President Foglesong is an avid runner, and one of his favorite routes on campus takes him past the CVM. On his run the morning of April 22, he stopped to visit the emergency medical center. The forlorn pup caught his attention, and he asked Miller what happens to strays that are brought in for treatment.
“I explained that we provide the best treatment we can, but if no one claims them, they eventually have to go to the local humane society,” she said. “I also told him that because of their medical needs and other problems, strays with major injuries usually don't get adopted. His response was ‘I want this one!'”
The adoption arrangements were made, but because of his injuries, the dog needed more recovery time at the CVM. He did, however, almost immediately acquire a name. The MSU president was throwing out the first pitch at the Saturday afternoon baseball game between the MSU Bulldogs and Arkansas at Dudy Noble Field, so the new member of the Mississippi State family was dubbed Homerun, or Homer for short.
Homer, who appears to be part border collie, remained at the CVM for three weeks. He underwent successful surgery to repair his broken legs. He remained under the care of Miller, who tended to his medical and other needs.
“He had abandonment issues and was afraid of people,” she said. “I worked with him to resolve those issues and with house-training and basic commands. Dr. Foglesong visited him almost every day, and that helped.”
Just over a month after his near-fatal encounter with a car, Homer was greeting visitors to the president's home with a wagging tail and seemingly endless energy.
“He's definitely not a setter,” Foglesong said. “Despite his past, Homer loves people and always wants to play.”
Homer also loves to run, but not necessarily the disciplined type of running that serves the MSU president well in marathons and other long-distance events.
“I've taken him on runs up to three miles, but he's pretty easily distracted,” Foglesong said.
Homer returns to the CVM for checkups and routine treatment, and there's still a bond with Miller.
“He's always glad to see me, and I kind of think of him as my puppy,” she said.
Arrangements also have been made for Homer to spend time with a local family in the country for additional training and the freedom to run off a leash without the dangers of traffic.
While Homer is definitely a lucky dog, he's just one of hundreds of animals that benefit from the CVM emergency medical center's services each year.
“The emergency medical center at the veterinary teaching hospital is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” said Dr. Robert Cooper, associate dean for academic affairs. “We're available for referrals from veterinarians throughout Mississippi and surrounding states.”
The center also is available for emergency cases, such as Homer's, at times when veterinarians' offices and clinics are closed.
“We provide a full range of services, including advanced diagnostic imaging, tests and procedures, and state-of-the-art medical and surgical care,” Cooper said.
The teaching hospital is an important part of CVM students' education.
“Students rotate through all the areas of the teaching hospital,” Cooper said. “They receive hands-on experience under the guidance and supervision of our faculty that allows them to put into practice what they've learned in the classroom.”
Homer would agree that they have learned their lessons well.
Contact: Dr. Robert Cooper, (662) 325-1134