Guard dog finds safe haven

Bruta, a female German shepherd, has made quite a recovery at the Ocean View Kennels.

Bruta, a female German shepherd, has made quite a recovery at the Ocean View Kennels.

Journal Staff Report

A guard dog for the Rent-a-Tool Company on North Shore Road has found a wealth of sympathy from the Ocean View Kennel operators and from workers at Rent-a-Tool, after being with a rare disease.

Bruta, a female German shepherd, with her brother, Marcus, has been manning the grounds of Rent-a-Tool after closing time for the past three years. The two dogs are congenial animals, but once it is time to patrol the grounds, they get serious.

However, last February, Bruta began acting strangely.

One very cold night, she had gotten into a scrape with a raccoon on the grounds, which isn’t all that rare. The thing that was rare was she was gradually losing all her strength and becoming paralyzed.

Her strength deteriorated.

She lost weight.

Her hind legs began to fail.

About a week later, she was flat on the ground – a large, strong animal that had fallen flat in a week’s time.

Her owner, and the owner of Rent-a-Tool, Steve Williams, quickly made a trip to the Woburn Animal Hospital. Once veterinarians examined Bruta, they concluded she had “Coonhound Paralysis,” a deadly disease that is extremely rare, affects only certain dogs and is present only in certain raccoons.

Oddly enough, Marcus the dog had fought the same raccoon and hadn’t contracted the disease.

It was a one in a billion chance, but the odds were quickly piling up against the working German shepherd.

Nevertheless, after some initial, lifesaving treatment, Bruta had a chance to survive if she could find a place to recover.

That’s where the trouble came in. The guard dog was paralyzed, not being able to move at all, and needed full attention and care. Most kennels, though, wouldn’t accept a working, guard dog in their establishments, because guard dogs have a whole different demeanor than house pets.

Williams and his employees found a friend just down North Shore Road, at Ocean View Kennels.

Lisa Cutting, whose family owns the kennel, said she got a call from Williams one day, saying he had a special request. After telling her about the disease, the generous kennel owners couldn’t turn their neighbors – and Bruta – away.

“I didn’t know what Scott wanted, but he asked if I could meet him at the Dunkin’ Donuts,” said Cutting. “When he told me about Coonhound Paralysis, I said, ‘What?’ But we couldn’t tell him no. We love all animals here.”

Cutting researched the disease until she knew everything about it, and set up a segregated area for Bruta in her front waiting room. Then, she began taking the dog to rehabilitation appointments in Woburn, which included water therapy and physical therapy.

For several weeks, Bruta had to be picked up with a hoisting machine. She lay motionless on a blanket, day after day, able only to move her head and eyes slightly.

What was supposed to be a six-month recovery period, though, has been cut short. A week or so ago, Bruta began standing up, and now she can walk.

“We can’t believe how far she has come,” said Cutting. “It helps that she is so near to her home, Rent-a-Tool, and all the guys from up there come down every day to visit her. She is a guard dog and knows when it’s time to work, but she is a good dog, too.”

Williams and the crew at Rent-a-Tool hope to have Bruta back on the grounds with her brother by early summertime.

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