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2014 SMOKY AWARD Winner
( formerly known as "Sterling" who many of you
reading supported his medical expenses)
In November 2013 a two-year-old male Yorkshire Terrier was found wandering the streets of Ventura, California, filthy, painfully injured, and frightened. There were abscesses from puncture wounds in his head, and his jawbone was broken so severely that the bone actually moved back and forth at the break. It was clear that a bigger dog had attacked him, biting into his head and crushing his jaw. His neck was also extremely tender, a sign that he had been shaken. The YTNR quickly rescued him from the shelter, named him Sterling, and made sure he got the medical care he needed. This included surgery to insert pins in his mandible to immobilize it while it healed, and numerous antibiotics to clear the infection. Sterling remained at the vet for a couple of weeks for close observation while his jaw healed, all the while wearing an embarrassing cone on his head. Inevitably, his endearing personality won the hearts of the veterinary staff.
While still wearing his cone, Sterling's foster mom Marge Williams was able to bring him home in early December. Under her loving care and the distraction of his new Yorkie friends, Scooter and Queenie, Sterling continued to heal and thrive. Happy to play by himself at times, he would throw his toy in the air, catch it in the cone, then toss it up in the air again. After two months the mandible had fused so the pins were finally removed from his jawbone and the annoying cone came off. Now Sterling was ready for his forever home.
As for us, we were still mourning the death of our 15-year-old Yorkie, Bella. She'd passed away in December and our hearts were broken. In March, when we decided to get another puppy, my husband Don scoured the Internet for days looking for the perfect match until he came upon a cutie named Sterling who had experienced a rough time. Having the big heart that he does, Don submitted the YTNR application and waited. We were thrilled when we found out we were being considered as Sterling's new parents and were excited when we went to meet him for the first time at Marge's house.
We drove an hour to her home, our bellies filled with butterflies and our hearts with high hopes that not only would Sterling like us, but that Marge and YTNR representative Patti Kushnir would also approve. When we finally met him, he was all ecstatic wiggles and curious sniffing. He jumped into our laps and gave us kisses, then ran a couple of laps before coming back for more. We were in love. As my husband said then, as far as we were concerned, he was ours. When we said our goodbyes that day, Sterling stood in the window and watched us go, his ears perked up and his head tilted as if wondering where we were going without him.
Next came the home visit. On Sunday, April 6, 2014, Marge and Patti came with Sterling to see how he'd react to our home and our two cats Inga and Trixie. They inspected our yard for escape routes or dangerous pitfalls but found none. Sterling loved our back yard - he darted about, rolled in the grass, and again jumped into our laps to give us kisses. The cats were apprehensive but merely backed off, hissed a little, and then hid where they could watch him curiously. There was hope. To our great relief and joy, these fine ladies decided we were a good match and would make a good home for Sterling. We then told them that his name would not be Sterling, but Vito - to go with his new Italian last name.
Vito immediately made himself the master of the house, letting the cats know who was boss. He and Inga became friends within days but fat cat Trixie stayed at a safe observant distance for the next two months. Now she tolerates his rambunctious attempts at friendship and lazily swats at him as he circles her wildly, trying to entice her to play. Maybe someday... He loves to go on long walks to the park, zigzagging, running up and down the hills, dragging us behind him. Even though he was obviously attacked by a bigger dog, his head and jaw crushed, he's still got a mischievous boldness to him and isn't afraid to go up to even the biggest dogs wanting to play.
Early on we realized that Vito had been trained by someone; potty trained and house broken, he knows when he's done something bad and lowers his head looking very remorseful. It's difficult to chastise him when he's so darn cute. He's clever, willful, engaging, playful, loving, and smarter than we are. He has a very expressive little face that can melt your heart, and a stubborn streak that can rival any human two-year-old. One of his favorite things is to jump into a lap, relax onto his back, and melt into a pair of hands for a nice neck massage. Nothing calms him quicker than this. We imagine his neck muscles are still sore from his injury so a good neck massage must be heaven to him.
This little fellow has brought so much happiness into our home. His exuberance is contagious and his antics make us laugh. He loves fetching squeaky toys, but is just as happy playing alone tossing a piece of bark into the air over and over again. He wears himself out playing all day and then conks out at night, limp as a wet noodle, sleeping through the night snuggled up between us in bed. Vito is the sweetest, most loving little dog in the world and we feel so blessed to have him in our family. His fun-loving spirit, his ability to trust so completely, and his zest for going forward in life without fear despite what he's been through are inspiring. Now little Vito is safe and loved unconditionally.
By Rebecca Tortorice