After Marianne Brosnan of Shorewood retired from a long career as a nurse, the last thing she wanted was a dog that would interfere with her travel plans.
But her vow to remain pet-free was doomed after she met Payton, a dog she adopted in April. Payton will be featured in the Forest Preserve District’s 2020 dog park calendar, which is raising money for the Will County Humane Society.
Brosnan began volunteering at the humane society several years ago as a way to keep busy after her husband died of brain cancer
“So I started with once a week, and it ended up I was going there six days a week and I’m now on the board,” she said.
But she didn't want to adopt a dog, instead deciding she would just spread her love around to all the shelter dogs. Then last spring, a golden retriever/golden lab mix that had spent time in two Indiana shelters came into her life. As a volunteer, it was Brosnan’s job to walk dogs at the humane society's shelter.
“When I would walk him, he would walk right next to me,” she said. “So the (humane society’s) vice president said, ‘I know this is your dog.’”
LYME DISEASE DIAGNOSIS
No one was interested in adopting the dog because it was obvious he was very sick. He had a terrible upper respiratory infection and infections in his ears, Brosnan said.
"Everything was red, oozy, he was a mess," she said.
He didn’t play or run around or bark, all he would do was lie down. And at 60 pounds, he was underweight for his breed.
“So I said, ‘Well, I guess I’ve got to take him because he needs a nurse,” Brosnan said with a laugh.
When a veterinarian examined the dog, a tick was discovered and a test showed he had Lyme disease antibodies present in his blood. Lyme disease is a bacterial infection commonly transmitted by deer ticks.
“Where high (antibodies) would be 30, he was 460, so he was really, really sick,” Brosnan said.
Fortunately, the dog had already been on antibiotics for a week for his upper respiratory infection, so he only needed three more weeks of antibiotic treatment for Lyme disease.
As part of his recovery, Brosnan began walking the dog, who she named Payton after Chicago Bears football star Walter Payton. Hammel Woods was near her home, so Brosnan would leash the pup and head for the preserve. She said she enjoys the wildflowers in the spring, bird-watching and even walking in the rain.
"Nature is just fantastic," she said.
At first, the walks were super short because Payton was very weak, Brosnan said.
“We would walk 15 feet and then he had to lay down. ... Each time we would go a little bit further.”
Brosnan said she could tell the dog's joints, especially his hips, were tight, and he couldn't even wag his tail. But their hard work and persistence paid off: Payton can now walk about 2 miles per day, and he weighs a healthier 75 pounds. And he’s not as submissive and quiet as he used to be, Brosnan said. In July, he finally barked, and he seems more confident around other dogs.
Brosnan said she never had a chance at keeping her vow of no more dogs after her kids were grown.
"I am a firm believer that dogs pick you," she said.
HUMANE SOCIETY SUCCESSES
Brosnan and Payton would never have met if the humane society hadn't opened its doors to the seriously ill dog.
"We take sick dogs," Brosnan said of the agency. "There have been many instances of dogs (being accepted) where other shelters ... might be considering euthanizing."
But the Will County Humane Society has a different philosophy, and all the volunteer help and donations make a big difference in keeping the agency going, she stressed.
Brosnan urges those who are seeking a dog to consider adopting.
"I do think it's important for people to consider shelter dogs and not just going for a breed," Brosnan said.
She is thrilled to be a part of the agency, and she loves having Payton in her life. And she has had so many people volunteer to babysit the dog, she will still be able to travel and enjoy her retirement. But Payton will be patiently waiting for her when she returns home.
"He is fantastic," she said. "He's a good boy."
Payton is one of the many fabulous pooches who have been helped by the Will County Humane Society, and this is his story. He will be appearing in a special section in our 2020 dog park calendar; all proceeds go to the Will County Humane Society.
Sales have ended for the calendar. We'd like to thank the hundreds of people who purchased a calendar and supported this great cause.