Lena and Mario and I all fell in love with Joey Jam, as he eventually became, on the same night. We’d all gone out of town to hang out in a gravel pit, as you do, and listen to groovy tunes. There we first met a mangy but super happy somewhat black dog, who would eventually become Joey Jam Neugebauer.
The dog that followed the backpackers to the bush doof that night though, is a far cry from the Joey Jam of today. He landed squarely on his paws when he moved in with his new doggy family Butter and Peanut to the Neugebauers’ house. I tell you, he looks a million bucks to what he did back then.
Bald, smelly and slightly barked up around the face, that half-grown mutt was hugely unattractive. Despite his appearance he was as happy as a dog with two tails, and he roamed around charming the crowd despite his really bad suit. At the end of the night though, he had disappeared when the folks he had arrived with were leaving. Turns out he was worn out earlier than them and had beaten them all home!
Sadly, a mangy dog isn’t allowed a bed at the backpackers, so he scored himself a ride in the Rangers ute to the pound instead. He didn’t have to rest his paws there for too long though, as soon as his picture hit the Shire rangers page, Lena was on the phone at 8am bailing him out. His charms had already well and truly won them over the night before, Lena and Mario been planning his rescue all night.
Adding this motley hound to the team meant special permission was going to be needed to keep three dogs, but that technicality was not going to stop Lena and Mario giving this happy soul the second chance they felt he deserved. Approval was indeed given to these most dedicated dog carers, and Joey became the Jam between Peanut and Butter, in an instant.
His big brindle Mastiff x sister Butter, and his lil Kimberley cross sis Peanut, both rescues themselves, reckoned he bridged their gap absolutely perfectly. He became The Best Bro Ever.
His new family fed him up with kilos of good tucker, miles of immune supplements, and rubbed magic Red Healer cream into his raw and painful skin to treat his diabolical mange. Joey was just starting to look like a healthy dog…when we found out he also had the dreadful exotic disease we had recently discovered in the Kimberley. Joey had Ehrlichia canis.
On a trip out to Packsaddle Creek, Joey Jam made the very costly, and nearly fatal, mistake of disappearing into the bush for a run with Butter. Twenty minutes later when Butter returned alone, Mario and Lena followed the sound of his yapping into the bush and found Joey collapsed and nearly dead. That was the start of 3 days and nights at the vet, and more than one moment when we all thought he would not survive. But Mario and Lena’s faith in him saved his life.
“Joey was our calling,” said Lena. “It was such an emotional day when we bought him home from the rangers. He was still shivering and shaking as we carried him inside, but Butter gave him a great big kiss and it was like a long-lost brother had come home. We couldn’t give up on him when he got sick. No matter what it cost, or how poor his outlook was. We couldn’t put a value on his life, its only money, right?”
Despite suffering kidney and liver damage after overheating, which mostly happened due to him having the tick disease, Joey was helped by his family to fight through his sickness and make it home. A few months of special kidney diet and even more TLC than before, and Joey Jam is a beautiful healthy fella at last.
There’s no running out bush anymore though, he doesn’t cope with the heat so well, but Lena says he is so full of life now. When they headed out the door to share their story with me, he grabbed his lead and went pronking (bouncing on all 4 paws) to the gate with excitement. He is one happy Dude.
According to Lena he gives The Best cuddles in bed, snuggling his whole length against her and resting his head on her chest. “He’s the best. He was always meant to be a part of our team. He is the bridge between our girls, and we just love him.”
Joey Jams’ giant smile says it all. And if Lena and Mario had their way, they would rescue a hundred dogs.