If every dog has its day, yesterday belonged to Houston, a 5-month-old stray who went home with a new family and mended leg.
The black mutt underwent orthopedic surgery Tuesday -- a week after a Baltimore Zoo employee discovered him limping through Druid Hill Park. Houston spent Tuesday night in the Chesapeake Veterinary Referral Center, where a $1,000 procedure was performed at no cost to his new Severna Park family.
Zoo workers often stumble on stray cats and dogs, but Houston, they say, was different.
"We see so many abandoned animals on a daily basis, but something about this dog just seemed special," said zoo employee Diane Riley Brown of Timonium, who got her sister in Severna Park to adopt the dog. "Houston's so sweet. He gives hugs and just loves people."
Brown and her sister, Colleen Riley Prengaman, knew they couldn't afford the surgery to repair Houston's mangled leg and searched for a way to avoid amputation.
The pair finally came on Dr. Joseph M. Prostredny, a veterinary surgeon who works in the same Annapolis referral center as Prengaman's receptionist's sister's best friend.
A thin connection, but the sisters said they were willing to do anything to help the puppy they had fallen in love with.
After looking at X-rays of the fracture of Houston's left front leg, Prostredny agreed to perform the surgery free.
"It makes us feel good to do this on occasion," Prostredny said. "Here was a stray without an owner and with a major injury. Without treatment, he'd be crippled or an amputee. Now, the dog has a chance to go on and have a normal life."
The veterinarian said Houston went through surgery fine and has a 95 percent chance of recovery if he can manage to sit still for six weeks. That means no playing with his new family or Dublin, the family's 9-month-old terrier.
Recovery will be hard, say the sisters, for the dog loves to play.
"He's so gentle," Prengaman said. "He follows me around like a shadow. I can't wait till he's fixed and ready to play again."
Pub Date: 8/08/96