On a fateful afternoon three years ago, Charlie, a velvety, chocolate brown Brittany Spaniel and Australian Shepherd mix was rushed to the Animal Clinic at Equestrian Woods. She had life-threatening injuries after being pinned under a car. Veterinarian Jennifer Carl-Howard never guessed at the time how that helpless, four-week-old puppy would change her life.
Carl-Howard thought euthanasia was inevitable given the extent of Charlie’s injuries and the fact that her owners were financially unable to support her through the necessary procedures. After witnessing the puppy lick a family member’s ear and wag her tail in spite of her condition, however, Carl-Howard had a change of heart.
The veterinarian asked Charlie’s family to surrender ownership of the dog to her in exchange for treatment. Charlie then underwent three different intensive surgeries to repair six fractured bones from her pelvis to her back legs. Throughout the process, she never lost her sweet, fighting spirit.
“Even though she was severely injured, her spirit and attitude were upbeat. She was licking our faces and wagging her tail,” Carl-Howard said. “She was sweet and engaging, even in that situation. All through her rehabilitation, she was the same way.”
Today, no one would ever recognize the frail puppy that was brought to Equestrian Woods back in 2009. While Charlie still has a few lingering effects from her accident, the injuries haven’t prevented her from entering more than 30 obedience and rally competitions, where she has won multiple titles under Carl-Howard’s guidance.
Charlie’s debut was in last year’s Bluegrass Classic Dog Shows, where for the first time, the American Kennel Club allowed registered mixed breed dogs to compete in the performance categories.
The annual show, scheduled for Aug. 30 – Sept. 3, will take place for the first time this year at the Kentucky Horse Park Alltech Arena. The competition has been held outside since the early 1940s, but in recent years, bad weather conditions have negatively affected attendance and interest in the event.
“The Kentucky Horse Park has been our home for the dog show the last 18 years. They want us to be successful and want (the Alltech Arena) to be used for a variety of things, so they worked with us on the price,” said Bonnie Massie, president of the Lexington Kennel Club (LKC), one of the hosting entities for this year’s shows.
With the move to the Alltech Arena, however, Massie expects this year’s Bluegrass Classic Dog Shows to be better suited for audiences, and animals. The show, which is held in conjunction with the Mid-Kentucky and Northern Kentucky Kennel Clubs, usually attracts around 1,500 dogs.