Jennifer Svelan’s three dogs are all bark and no bite, literally.
The North Cliff resident has a thing for senior dogs, and none of hers have teeth.
First she found 16-year-old Ellie from a Facebook post and went to pick her up in Fort Worth.
The dog had yeast and fungal infections all over her body.
“She stank so bad that I had to roll down all the windows and open the sunroof just to take her to the vet,” Svelan says. “Fleas were jumping all over her. The vet thought her legs were broken, but it was just that all that gunk was caked.”
The 16-year-old still battles skin problems constantly. But she is the boss of the house, and the other two dogs follow her around and defer to her power.
Then came Otis, who is 10 or 11.
Svelan also saw him on a Facebook post, and she also drove to Fort Worth to get him.
He was heartworm positive, had intestinal worms and a tumor growth on his leg.
His teeth were rotted, and he wasn’t neutered.
“I might’ve had one or two glasses of wine,” Svelan says. “I said ‘I’ll take him,’ and I picked him up the next morning.”
She spent over $400 at his first vet appointment, but Wine to the Rescue has helped with all of Svelan’s dogs and one of her three cats. That nonprofit’s mission is to help the most urgent rescues, and they raise money through wine-tasting events.
Skywalker is the most recent addition to the family. Svelan saw him in a post from Dallas Animal Services this past April, in a pic with his tongue hanging out.
“Clearly I have a type now,” she says.
He was available to rescue groups only, so Wine to the Rescue told Svelan they would sponsor him if she would foster.
“I don’t do so well with fostering. I’ve already failed twice,” she says. “I don’t need another dog.”
She went to pick him up on a Sunday, and when they opened the crate, he jumped into her arms.
She was hardly out the door before she knew she was keeping him.
Skywalker, estimated to be about 10, had his jaw broken in two places. Abscesses in his mouth grew so large that they broke his jaw.
“He must’ve been in so much pain for so many years,” she says.
Vets had to perform two mouth surgeries, one to remove part of his jaw and one to pull the rest of his teeth. Now he drools constantly and gets food everywhere, but he loves life.
“He wakes up every morning and just throws himself off the bed because he’s so excited to go eat,” Svelan says.
Skywalker is terrified of Svelan’s feral cat, Harvey, that lives on the back porch.
She also has two other cats, a pretty Maine coon, Maya, and a white cat, Fiona, which is striking with its white fur and chimera — one blue eye and one green.
Svelan, 44, lives across the street from her cousin who is like a sister, Stephanie Hindall. And she works with blind and visually impaired children.
“Seniors have medical issues. There’s always something. Ellie gets baths regularly because of her skin ails. Otis is on medications,” she says. “But, my God, I wouldn’t have it any other way.”