My name is Zac Melton and Hartley is my Pyr. I found Hartley around the summer of 2008. He was a “high risk, special needs dog”. It was between him and his brother Hudson. Originally I was going to take in Hudson, however he was adopted the day before. Taking in a dog like Hartley and having no prior experience with big dogs, is in hindsight not all that bright…but hey when it's love you don’t think. We all know this.
In short, Hartley was shot in the face in Harrison, Arkansas with what looked like a .22 cal bullet and was left to die. He wandered around for a week bleeding until some lady couldn’t take it anymore and called Dawn at the CGPR. Dawn took him to the local vet in the Harrison region and they did everything they could to stop the bleeding and heal his wounds. This was the first time he was recommended for euthanasia. He was given shots, flea and tick medication, and pain killers for his face.
I found him a few weeks later (at this time, Dawn, Ken, and their daughter were living in a neighborhood in Thornton and had only a handful of dogs). Hartley was underweight and still had dead ticks all over him…however! He was happier than he had been in a long while. He was safe and people loved him. It was obvious.
Dawn had warned me about “high risk” dogs and taking in a dog like Hartley, but she also believed that he had a huge heart. Her price at the time was $250 for a healthy dog and $125 for a “special needs” dog. He was most definitely “special needs”. It wasn’t long after taking him in that I noticed he had a rattling sound in his nasal cavity (Dawn did point this out to me when I got him). I took him to Fort Collins to get him get checked out and x-rayed. The results were dismal. He had bone fragments and metal shavings from the bullet still lodged in his nasal passages and behind his eye. This is when I learned the meaning of “to live outside of your means” and how easy it is to do things that you can’t afford for love. I had just paid off a $10,000 debt on my credit card maybe a week prior and was attending college on the GI Bill…in short, I was broke.
The young doctor gave me a few options: The first option was to not do the surgery and who knows what will happen. The second option however was much better, do the surgery and who knows what will happen. I thought long and hard for an entire 60 seconds and said “do it”.
This is when it got interesting...my wonderful, underweight, 80lbs, 2 or 3 year old puppy just so happened to hate everyone that wasn’t me. During this visit the suggestion of euthanasia had been recommended for the second time. It took almost the entire staff to subdue him. He broke out of his soft muzzle and his hard muzzle. The staff had to reassure the other clients that everything was “ok” in the back room and that the dog, my dog, was alright.
I came back a few days later after the surgery to pick him up. The funny parts to this story were that I had to cut the stitches from his neck…the young doctor was too afraid to touch him and that my poor dog had to wear a cone for a month. The sad part to this story was that I fed him through a tube in his neck for that month and the “holy crap you’re kidding me, but oh well” part of this was that the surgery cost $5000+ (a few months later I would end up spending another $700 to extract one of his canines that had died due to the gun shot).
Since his rescue Hartley and I have hiked various routes off the I-70 corridor. We have summited Mt. Beirstadt, the closest of the 14’ers. I have taken him down to various rivers and let him try to “eat” the water. However he did seem sad when I had to leave him alone, so I got him a companion. She also came from Dawn. Her story isn’t as nearly compelling as his. I think she was a stray…that’s it. One of my favorite memories was trying to sleep in a queen sized bed with 1 other person and 2 Pyrs.
Ironically Hartley and I now live in Arkansas, I wish I could say that he is just as happy as he was in Colorado, but I think his wound still acts up from time to time, and the weather here isn’t as nice as it is out there…but still he is doing well, and if you come into my back yard and he doesn’t know you…even if you really like his story and think that he sounds like a great dog (which he is) I promise you, you will get growled at. He’s a Pyr and he protects me.