Odie makes the best of opportunity

This is Odie. He’s supposed to be a guinea pig. Rest assured he’s a perfectly capable understudy with high hopes of making the lead role of Pet of the Month his very own.


Slammed with yet another snowstorm-of-the-century last weekend, I couldn’t make it to Blackstock to shine the spotlight on the intended star of this article. The illustrious ‘Sage’ of Wiggles Guinea Pig Rescue was understandably opposed to meeting me at an undisclosed location in such inclement weather. Pampered piggy sends her regrets and kindly asks that you stay tuned for her highly anticipated appearance in a future Beach Metro article.

In the meantime, Odie is only too happy to have the spotlight on him. He really does shine like a diamond when given the opportunity.

Opportunity is the key word for this deserving beagle. Had it not been for a series of unexpected opportunities just when he needed them most, I wouldn’t have had a fallback plan for this snow-blocked article because there would have been no Odie.

It was the tail-end of November when a long-awaited opportunity knocked for Odie. He’d been rescued by Vaughan’s animal services in July. He was lonely and itchy. He either had a bad case of fleas or was suffering from a skin allergy.

When fleas were ruled out, the shelter’s veterinarian prescribed medicated shampoo and antibiotics which seemed to help. The staff grew fond of the dog they named Odie, considering the bathtub-bonding that followed. They fully expected he’d find a loving home, until one day in late fall when they discovered him limping.

Odie had somehow torn a cruciate ligament in his knee, likely a result of scratching. Odie had an acrobatic flare for it, bending like a pretzel to get at particularly itchy spots. Regardless of how he did it, Odie was no longer deemed ‘adoptable’. He needed surgery that was not within the shelter’s budget.

The curtain was about to fall for Odie when Angela, the shelter’s volunteer program coordinator, remembered a conversation with a local veterinarian. Dr. Kevin Corrigan of the Thornhill Veterinary Clinic said that if they ever had a dog in the shelter in need of cruciate repair, he would be glad to do it at no cost. Angela called him immediately.

This is a generous and rare opportunity – the cost of the operation starts at $2,000. When Angela phoned me at Big On Beagles Rescue, we were still recovering from multiple medical emergencies in 2013. Suffice it to say, Dr. Corrigan’s incredibly kind offer saved Odie’s life.

All Odie needed was one more opportunity through us to make it work. We needed an experienced foster parent prepared to take on the challenge of keeping a beagle ‘on simmer’ for several weeks of rehabilitative post-op care.

Even on the coldest day, the average beagle risks flipping his lid from bubbling over. Odie’s foster mom would later report, “wrestling a greased pig would have been easier than trying to get this little beagle to stay still for one minute.”

And that was just to take his picture for our website.

Just before Christmas, Tracy took the plunge and became our newest foster parent and Odie’s miracle opportunity. Not only had she been through the same surgery with her own dog, a bull terrier named Zach, but she had also developed the perfect diet to control Zach’s allergies. Tracy had the experience needed, together with one howl of a sense of humour – essential to surviving life with a beagle!

Odie’s allergies flared up just before we took him in, so we’ve had to postpone the operation. It should come as no surprise that, for Odie, the delay has translated to a dazzling detour into the land of opportunity.

Here are a few snapshots of Odie’s journey so far, courtesy of Tracy’s ‘Pupdates from Fosterville’:

Dec 13 – Made it home safely… Odie lounging on doggy bed … can hear him dreaming.

Dec 14 – Odie’s first night … stared longingly at my bed for hours, discovered Zach’s step stool, climbed up at 2 a.m. … fell asleep to the gentle snoring of two dogs.

Dec 18 – Day five of life with Odie-O … shares Zach’s ottoman for ultimate bird-watching … such a sweet boy.

Dec 19 – Spoke too soon! Odie got into garbage … listened attentively to lecture and apologized by way of sweet beagle kiss. Side note, Odie doesn’t like cranberries but adores my homemade pumpkin & cinnamon dog cookies!

Jan 20 – Walked around with carrot in mouth for an hour … finally ate it! Loves his discovery of rabbits under deck.

Jan 27 – No, Odie, I will not dig out 10 feet of snow so you can meet rabbits under deck! Favourite pastime? Peacefully surveying world from front window … at least until neighbour’s cat shows up on window ledge.

There’s so much to discover in the land of opportunity for an opportunist like Odie. Try following that performance, Miss Piggy.

Odie the Opportunist is an approximately 7-year-old male neutered beagle seizing the day at Big On Beagles Rescue (bigonbeagles.ca). Our thanks to Vaughan Animal Services, Dr. Kevin Corrigan of the Thornhill Veterinary Clinic and Odie’s foster mom for giving Odie the opportunity of a lifetime!

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