Update on Brindle, Lost Ten Years, And Tristan

I got these two letters in the electronic mail from a mother who obviously knows how to rear a terrific and caring child.  You surely recall the story of Brindle, discovered lost and nearly dying by little eight year old Tristan.  Here is an update to the ongoing story of Brindle’s recovery.


Dr Randolph, I really enjoyed your story on my daughter Tristan and our new friend Brindle. It was really well written, and I’m glad you took the time to share. I’m happy to report that Brindle has been steadily gaining weight (in our home, we’re a little unfamiliar with being underweight, argh!) and is doing really well.  Thank you for helping to spread the microchipping message—I hope that this story will bring home more animals, hopefully in a shorter time than a decade. Thank you again, Amy Rohde

Brindle gets a huge hug from little Tristan
Brindle gets a hug from little Tristan


Brindle was in pretty bad shape when Tristan found him.  I’m not a dramatic type, but I honestly didn’t think he was going to make it through the first night.  Regardless, we decided that he was someone’s pet, and deserved to spend his last hours– if that was indeed what would happen– in a warm house, with a full belly and lots of love.

We found on the veterinarian’s exam the next morning that he had a massive hookworm infection, and he also tested positive for heartworms.  He weighed in at 59.5 lbs (he’s a boxer-lab mix, and was clearly MUCH too thin), and every vertebra and rib could clearly be seen.  At some point, he had been hit by a vehicle, dislocating his hip, and it had healed badly.  His teeth were found to be absolutely awful. He also had THOUSANDS of ticks on him.  Still, we knew that someone, at some point, loved him very much. We did what we could to try and make him comfortable– just as we had hoped someone would do if one of our dogs was in the same situation.

As you know, Brindle was microchipped, and we found Gary Rowley through Facebook.  His phone number was still the same, but I couldn’t get through, and I wanted him to know as soon as possible that we had found his friend.  I sent the message, and kept calling.  If I were in that position, I’d want to know too. 

We then started to try to get Brindle comfortable and healthy– or as healthy as possible for a 12 year old, large dog who’d seen more than his share of misadventures.  Because of his age and condition, the vet recommended a very gentle tick shampoo, but it still took us 20 hours to get all the ticks off of him.  To give an idea of how completely he was covered, I picked 14 ticks from between two of his toes.  We got him a soft bed to rest his old bones on, dewormed him, and started him on glucosamine to help with the stiffness. And then… good quality food and lots of fresh water.  He was starting to come around, but still, something wasn’t quite right.

I can’t believe I didn’t think of it until he failed to gain weight at his next two weighins, but his mouth was hurting him very badly.  He was nosing around in the food bowl, but apparently not eating much at all– and I feel awful that he had to go through that.  When we started him on soft food, he really started to show signs of improvement.  He’s gained 8 pounds since he started on the softened food (I really wanted to be careful of giving him too much, too soon and causing stomach upset) and has been gaining at a slow steady rate.

In our vet’s opinion, he will be well enough to make the trip in about a week, and the lady who will be his chauffeur just bought her plane ticket to come down on 30 October, 2009.  It’s all starting to come together, and I’m really excited that he will finally be going home after ten years.  CBS has become very interested in the story, and they have offered to fly Tristan and me out there to be at the reunion.  Tristan wants to hand over the leash herself, and I think it’ll be a great experience.  After all we’ve been through with him, it’ll be so nice to be able to see the end of the story.

As far as Tristan goes, she’s always been an animal lover.  The second word she learned as a baby was “kitty”.  Most little girls want to grow up to be movie stars or singers, but she wants to run a rescue for dogs and horses, be an animal trainer, or be a veterinarian—or all three, depending on how ambitious she is that day!  I think that this experience will encourage her to continue in that direction.  It would be as good for her as it would be for the animals she helps.

I’m so proud of her, and so happy that Brindle will have a happy ending.  As a family, we have discussed how lucky he is, but how many other senior dogs aren’t so fortunate.  I think we are going to look into fostering old guys (and ladies!) in the future.  Old dogs have a certain wonderfulness about them, and I would be blessed to be able to experience more of their kind, loving character in my home.

I’m including a picture of Tristan and Brindle.  I was reading through your blog last night– lots of great information on there!– and saw the post about kids and pets.  I think you’ll like it.

Oh… before I close…. If you can use this story to help persuade owners to microchip their pets, please do.  We were lucky enough to be able to evacuate with our dog for Katrina (we lived in New Orleans) but I know many pet owners didn’t/couldn’t, and many pets and pet owners could never find their way back to each other afterwards.  It’s important in every area, but on the Gulf Coast, I think it’s essential.  If this story could be used to help even one family not have to deal with that…. I’ll be thrilled.  Amy Rohde


As someone who rode out and lived through the northeast quadrant  of Hurricane Katrina in Hancock County, Mississippi, and read hundreds upon hundreds of stories about people permanently separated from un-microchipped pets, I am the world’s loudest advocate of microchips.

As someone who has dedicated his life to prevention of dog and cat disease and suffering, I look forward to the day I get to welcome Tristan into our profession.  She already has the most important characteristics of a good veterinarian:  love, caring and passion and compassion.  And the greatest of these is love.
See you tomorrow, Dr. Randolph.

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