It was three years ago in February when a farmer near Lawrence, Kansas found that two small spaniels were on his property, and using an old auger pipe as shelter. The farmer was worried about the two pups, especially given the snow on the ground and impending heavier snows. The farmer started to put food and water out on the deck, and while the two spaniels would sneak up to eat, they wouldn’t allow the farmer or his wife to touch them or even approach them. Finally, when the snows were very heavy, the farmer trapped the two pups on the porch. Thus began the saga of the “Pipe Spaniels”.
The farmer and his wife weren’t “dog people”, but didn’t want to leave the pups on their own. Below is a letter the farmer wrote to a friend, hoping to find someone that would come and take care of them:
Date: February 2014
Subject: Two spaniels dumped at my farm…..
About two weeks ago, two spaniels were dumped (I think) at my farmstead. Looking on the web, they seem to be King Charles spaniels. (See attached pictures). They set up residence in an old auger pipe near my pole barn. I have been feeding and watering them, and insulated the pipe as best I could. Though they don’t seem afraid, they are quite wary. I have never been able to touch them, pet them, or examine them. I think they might both be females, in that they squat to pee, rather than lift a leg. One may be the parent of the other. The texture of their fur is a little different, one being more puppy-like. They seem inseparable. They had neither collars nor tags.
When it started snowing heavily last Tuesday, we trapped them on the deck when they were eating, and I brought them in the house, which they did not like much. We have kept them in the house since then, as their pipe is buried under about a foot of snow, and the depth of the snow at our place is well over their heads. Since then, they have been hiding under my bed, and will seldom come out, except when alone, though they do seem to be taming down a little, but only a little. The older one is more likely to come out, but the younger one is very wary. They have developed a taste for my shoes.
I can’t keep them. My wife and I both travel a lot for our jobs, and my travel season is rapidly approaching. Do you have anyone who could take care of these two until somebody will take them permanently? They seem to be really sweet little dogs, but my wife in not an animal person (to say the least), and these two deserve a permanent home. They might be outside dogs – they certainly aren’t housebroken – and don’t every go to a door to be let out. They would be perfect barn dogs, but my barn is a pole barn – open on all sides, providing no real shelter.
Any help would be greatly appreciated. At some point, I’ll have to take them to the shelter. I’m working two other avenues of people who are trying to place them, but, so far, not luck. One person is my neighbor, Dawn Barnes. Any relation?
Anyway, I’m just spreading the word. Please help if you can. I would drive these guys somewhere if necessary. They need a home.
The dogs found their way to “Suzy”, who worked with them for a few months to try to get them acclimated to people. It was slow going, as the dogs refused to be touched, refused to let human beings close to them. Slowly, Suzy got them to trust her, to the point where they’d start to let her touch them and pet them. During this time, a group interested in spaniel rescue became aware of the two pups, who were quickly dubbed “The Pipe Spaniels”. Given their story, and given their lack of trust in human beings, the group became very emotionally invested in the outcome of the two pups. Suzy decided the best way to continue rehabilitating the dogs was to find their forever home, someone who could bond with them and continue to work with them.
Suzy responded to an inquiry from a family 300 miles away, in South Dakota. After vetting the family, Suzy believed the right fit for the Pipe Spaniels had been found. Free of any cost and on her own time, Suzy drove the two pups up to their new forever home, in July of 2014. The small family, with a mother, father, and young son, had recently lost their precious “Cooper”, a Cocker Spaniel that was also a rescue dog and who lived a long, happy life with the family. The Pipe Spaniels seemed like a wonderful fit, a chance fill the void in the home that had existed since Cooper passed, and a chance to provide two lost souls with a lifetime of love. Suzy was very emotionally invested in the two little spaniels, but did the hardest thing any rescue person ever has to do…leave the two with their forever family. Many tears were shed as Suzy left the dogs and drove home, and so began the new life for the Pipe Spaniels.
If you haven’t figured it out, these two wonderful, sweet, perfect little souls became “Oscar” and “Felix”, our two little love bugs who have enriched our lives so much over the last 3 years. Until today, I’d never seen the photo above. Until today, I’d never seen the original email the farmer sent, looking for someone to rescue the two dogs. Oscar and Felix were clearly quite young when they were found by the farmer, and we’ve started celebrating their “birthdays” right around Valentine’s Day, near the anniversary of when the farmer found them. We believe they were 1 year old or perhaps less when found, which means Oscar and Felix are now celebrating their 4th birthday, with the last 30 months of their lives spent with us.
It’s been a challenge, particularly during the first several months! At first, the two were curious, but incredibly shy and jumpy. They’d prefer to sleep under or behind a chair, somewhere they felt “safe”. They started to tolerate our presence and touch, but were clearly nervous and shy. Slowly, in LARGE part to the wonderful, tender love of our young son, Oscar and Felix began to break out of their shell. It started with them trusting us enough to nap or even play out in the open, away from the protective cover of a chair or table. It progressed to sleeping or napping next to us, or even on top of us! There were struggles along the way, such as trying to teach them to walk on a leash, or learning to tolerate visitors in the house. But they continued to progress.
Three years after the Kansas farmer found them, Oscar and Felix are happy, healthy, and loved as any pair of dogs have ever been loved. It’s been an unlikely set of circumstances that led to their arrival in snowy South Dakota, but we’ve been blessed with two of the sweetest, kindest, gentlest souls on the face of the earth. Happy birthday to Oscar and Felix…the Pipe Spaniels!!