By Sarah Barr
Teller Mange, the youngest of three kids in the Mange family, throws a tennis ball into the grass. “Jayson!” he calls, and the dachshund considers his options: fetch the ball or keep playing with Smalls, the other family dog. He decides in an instant. Jayson nips at Smalls’ ears, and his playful growls fill the air. He turns into an auburn blur, mock-fighting with all of his energy.
Jayson looks strong and healthy now, but his physical imperfections tell another tale. He was found lying in the middle of a Boonville road April 10, unable to walk or even wag his tail. Not that he would be happy — he had been hit by a car, and his pelvis was shattered. He was an orphan, and there was no one to buy him pain medicine, much less finance reconstructive surgery. His nose now looks as though it was cut diagonally downward then sloppily tugged back into place. The hair along a 3-inch scar has almost grown back completely. Indeed, this comfortable life is a new thing for Jayson.
No longer able to watch him suffer while waiting for an owner to come forward, workers at the Boonville Animal Control office reached out to Columbia Second Chance, a nearby animal shelter. With the help of an online fundraiser, Columbia Second Chance was able to let the community know about Jayson’s crucial need. Money poured in for the next few days, with donations even coming from children who had set up a lemonade stand in Jayson’s honor. The community saved Jayson’s life by meeting the $3,500 goal to pay for his reconstructive surgery.
After two surgeries, Jayson hit another roadblock to recovery. He tested positive for heartworms that could kill him if left untreated. This time, Horton Animal Hospital Northeast covered the tab. The goodwill of strangers, despite a poor economy, allowed Jayson to beat the odds. Heather Bialy, the director of shelter services at the Humane Society of the United States, says that 3 million to 4 million animals are euthanized yearly. Many of them are completely healthy. It seems unlikely that a dog that required so much medical attention and financial backing would make it through the unfortunately difficult system all the way to adoption.
Nothing is known about him prior to the accident. Valerie Chaffin, the executive director of Columbia Second Chance, thinks Jayson might have been a stray. “We’re constantly joking in rescue — we wish they could talk to us for 10 minutes,” Chaffin says. “Just give us a hint. ‘I was beat up, I was run over, I was thrown out of the door, I had a great family and they lost me.’”
Now, Jayson lazes in the backyard with his new family and enjoys a scratch on the head as the sun sets. After a few months of fostering Jayson, the Manges decided to make him one of their own. “I just kept asking the kids, and I could tell they really, really wanted to keep him,” says Heather Miles-Mange, the children’s mother. As daughter Jakely put it, “We’ve never really had a dog like that.” His tail slowly bounces from side to side, an absent-minded indicator that despite it all, Jayson is happy. Jayson has gone through a hellish past, but he is certainly living the doggy dream.