A dog's best friend

Missy's glamour shot doesn't due her justice!  She lights up the room at Abstract. Photo by Cindy Jahn.

The little shi-tzu was only supposed to stay with Cindy Jahn for a weekend. But that was two years ago. Now "Missy" is very much a part of Jahn's life.

A visit to Jahn's salon, Abstract on Fairmount Boulevard, shows just how the dog has affected Jahn. In addition to shampoos and products for humans, the salon now features a grooming line for dogs and cats along with pet apparel and fashion accessories like jewelry. Jahn has had displays at the Bark in the Park, Woofstock at Holden Arboretum, and held a cut-a-thon to raise funds for the Geauga County Humane Society.

One might say fate joined the two. Missy was wandering around in Shaker Heights, when she was almost hit by a bus. One of Jahn's friends saw the frightened dog and rescued her. The friend called the authorities, who told her to take the dog to a shelter or the APL.

Instead, she brought the dog to Jahn.

Missy needed a bath; she reeked of urine and her fur was badly matted. Eight shampoos and four conditionings later the dog still smelled, so Jahn cut the animal's hair.

That's when she noticed the red, irritated skin. Missy's nails were badly overgrown, pulling her toes over to one side. Over the weekend, the dog drank water and asked to go outside several times an hour. By Sunday evening Missy was at a veterinary emergency clinic and was diagnosed with a bladder infection she apparently contracted from being confined in filthy quarters.

Jahn has a theory about the first six years of Missy’s life. She thinks her dog had two previous owners. The first one made her into a well-mannered and wonderful companion. That owner taught Missy to sit, and to shake. She was housebroken and knew how to walk on a leash.

Something happened, however. Missy ended up with another owner who fed her, but kept her confined in small quarters. Jahn thinks the second owner neglected the dog, and finally dumped her.

With Jahn, Missy has gone from an abandoned pet to an adored companion who brings joy to others.

Every Monday, Missy volunteers as a greeter dog at the Cleveland Clinic. Jahn feels the greeter dogs add a lot of pleasure and comfort in that environment--to the staff and families, as well as the patients. She also has plans to train Missy to become a certified therapy dog.

"People light up when they see Missy," Jahn said, adding folks often stop to talk. “Everyone has a story.”

Fran Mentch is a resident of the Severance neighborhood in Cleveland Heights.

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Volume 1, Issue 9, Posted 11:15 PM, 07.16.2008