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Awesome Acres 'Pacas & Pyrs

Quietly breeding Oklahomas finest Suris

The Sumo Affair


Before we start, this story has a very happy ending. If any part of it brings a tear to your eye, it is because you are a true Pyr Person rejoicing in the triumph of a great, Great Pyrenees.

It was September 19, 2001, and the country was still in shock from the events of 8 days earlier. On that morning, Sophie, our senior LGD Pyr, led the great escape under the front fence, followed by our two show dogs Sassy (Euzkalzale Sassafras and Lace) and Sumo (Euzkalzale Indian Summer). Sophie shortly returned, and we found Sassy about a quarter mile away and very happy to be found. Sumo, however, could not be located. For the next 3 hours we searched and called, searched and called, widening our area until we were over a mile from home. We kept returning to the house, hoping to see Sumo at the front gate, but he never appeared. Finally, we saw a lonely dirt road we had not checked out. About a half mile down the road, we saw a farmer and asked if he had seen a big white dog. He told us there was one in the field out back. With great anticipation we drove down the side road, and there we found Sumo, lying in the farmer’s field, head up, alert, and totally unable to stand.

Our initial assessment was that he had been hit by a car. His left rear leg and hip appeared slightly disfigured, and there was a small amount of blood. Ever so carefully, we loaded him into the Suburban and headed straight for our vet. At the vet, the reality turned grim. As the vet shaved Sumo’s left hip, numerous small puncture wounds were seen. X-rays confirmed that in fact he had been shot, and his left hip and butt area was full of birdshot. There was no evidence of broken bones, but the soft tissue damage was considerable, and the neurological damage was very evident. Sumo was now knuckling down on his left rear foot. The prognosis was devastating – Sumo would never walk on his left rear foot again.


A flood of emotions took over – guilt, anger, despair, guilt, profound loss, guilt, and more guilt. Here we had Sumo with 13 points and 1 major, definitely on the way up. And he earned every one of those points the hard way. You see, Sumo is not blessed with the drop-dead great looks of so many of the well known Champion Pyrs. He is a Big Head, a look that we love, but so often a challenge in the show ring. Sumo’s greatest asset was his movement, and oh, could he move. He literally thundered around the ring, head up tall, long reach and powerful drive, and this was good enough to offset the big Polar bear head with the deep, soft brown eyes. To hear that he would never walk again, was a death blow to his show and breeding career.

What followed over the next almost three years is an amazing sequence of treatment, therapy, rehab, and ultimately triumph. Seven days at our vet was followed by 10 days at the Oklahoma State University Veterinary Teaching Hospital. There was surgery to debride the avulsed tissue and more surgery to repair the gunshot wound. Sumo became somewhat of a celebrity at OSU. Because of his size, he couldn’t be fit with an e-collar, so they modified a plastic trash can lid which he wore like a badge of courage, and attracted lots of attention. The knuckling down remained a major problem after the soft tissue started to heal, and there was the problem of wearing through the Vet Wrap and padding as he dragged his foot. We used the services of a custom Cowboy Boot maker, and had a boot fashioned that would protect Sumo’s foot, and encourage him to set the pad down rather than turning it under. The leather boot was later replaced by a series of other protective boots, the most successful of which was the yellow, All-Weather Muttluks boot. These are the best fitting, longest lasting boot we have found so far, and would highly recommend for any situation requiring foot protection. The foot drag led to abrasions on the top of the paw, and pad injuries on the underside. We learned the value of Neosporin powder, Wonder Dust, and Happy Jack’s Pad Coat, and we went through gallons of Nolvasan to soak his foot, and several hundred doses of Keflex. This went on for over 2 years.

Therapy and rehabilitation came in the form of referrals to two excellent specialists. One, Dr. Wes Hill, was a Chiropractor (human) who also treated canine clients. Sumo became one such client, and rose to celebrity status when he would show up twice a week to a waiting room full of people who were eager to see the "big, white dog". He would go right to "his room" and, with a little help, get on the adjustment table for his treatments, which he appeared to enjoy. On his initial visit, Sumo’s left leg reflex response was zero. Six months later, his left and right reflexes were almost equal, something the vets initially thought would be impossible. Concurrently, Sumo was treated by Dr. Nita McNeill, a Holistic Vet who performed Acupuncture and Reflexology on Sumo. Regardless of anyone’s thoughts on this modality of treatment, Sumo was much improved at the end of therapy.



Approximately 2 years after the initial incident, Sumo was about 90% improved. He was placing his left rear foot pad down, but his gait was not correct, and he would occasionally hop on that foot. X-rays revealed severe degeneration of the bone in the inner (index) toe of the left rear foot, and after considerable deliberation the decision was made to amputate the last joint of the toe, and hope for good cosmetic healing. The amputation was a total success, but soft tissue healing remained a problem due to chronic abrasions and pressure sores. This time Sumo spent a total of 120 days at OSU, undergoing advanced treatments for wound closure and healing involving laser therapy and other high-tech treatments. The result was 100% successful functionally and cosmetically.




 On August 19, 2004, two years and eleven months to day from the date of the gunshot incident, Sumo returned to the show ring in Kansas City, MO, taking Best Of Winners, a 4-point major, and finishing his Championship. The movement was back, and Sumo, now almost 5 years old, thundered around the show ring and into the record book of AKC Champions. We often remark on the stoic nature of the Great Pyrenees. What we often fail to recognize, however, is the full extent of adversity the Great Pyrenees is willing to overcome, and that inside every massive Pyr body lays the heart of a Champion in true spirit.


Sumo and Sassy now spend their days guarding the front gate, or the back door (from inside the kitchen). They keep us safe from squirrels, bicycle riders, and joggers. The fences are electrified and escapes are rare. We are so thankful to everyone that played a role, however large or small, in Sumo’s recovery and rehabilitation. They have given us back the dog of a lifetime.

Sadly, Sumo's time with us ended on Christmas Day, 2011.  Surrounded by those who loved him, and who he loved unconditionally, he went to the Rainbow Bridge where he waits with Sassy for our grand reunion.  There will be other Pyrs in our life, but never another Sumo. Until then, rest easy my boy.

Updated January 20, 2013