RAMBO- The Size of the Fight in this Dog?

RAMBO- The Size of the Fight in this Dog?

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         We all fail.

I’m carrying a brown and rust Doberman into the ICU. His nose is dripping snot on the floor as his head lolls back and forth on my arms. Having rushed Rambo to the Emergency Vet at Gulf Coast for the third time in the past three weeks has drained me of all energy- but I still have the one thing that drives all of us rescue workers- Hope.

His body feels like a sack of potatoes in my arms and I lay him on the stretcher. The compassionate workers at the Houston Area Doberman Rescue (HADR) have given all of themselves into saving this 18 month old Doberman. We all stare at each other with empty eyes as the doctors take over his weak body.

We gave Rambo our heart, we gave him our love, we gave him our blessings, we gave him our hope…His health recovered briefly before failing again. The countless compassionate donators who paid a part of his staggering hospital bill and his loving foster Cindy who showered boundless love and care to Rambo all keep their hope alive for Rambo.

And he gave us his love.

Our tired, sleepless eyes and confused minds try and make sense of the doctor naming Rambo’s illness- Ligneous Conjunctivitus. A condition so rare that six cases of the disease have been reported so far, five of them Dobermen.

“His body can’t sustain life any longer.” The vet pinches his nose under his thick glasses. “This could be a Doberman relevant disease and Rambo’s body will help his fellow Dobermen. We would like to use his body to research this devastating disease. If you could–”

“Yes.” Cindy blurts out. Then she puts her soft warm hand on mine. “That’s what Rambo would want, Inder.”

My legs stagger. His body? But he’s only a puppy—He has not known life yet. At a year and half old, he just started living a few weeks ago.

At the end of the day- that is all he had; his Body. That is all we gave him- taking from him his freedom, his puppyhood, his comfort and his shot at life.

We took his life- You and me- we did. Not just the vile excuse of a man who tied him to a tire and a cage outdoors for a year and a half, starving him. The only water he got was off a drain. We shut our eyes to cruelty too often. We let the perpetrators slip through the cracks too often. The reason why that man could do this is because he knew he wouldn’t be held accountable.

When the last dog the owner had (the boxer) died, he should’ve never been allowed another dog. But he got Rambo- and we didn’t care.

So we failed Rambo. You and I did. Humanity did.

I wow today that never again will Rambo’s owner own another dog. If he gets one I’ll steal it. If he gets another one; I will steal that too. I am a thief- so let it be written- so let it be told. I have no shame.

Here lies Rambo- ready to leave this world; ready to leave this body that has tormented his soul.

****************

        Today Rambo was Euthanized, his favourite toy duck by his side. He had just learnt how to play with it less than two months ago. Today his Duckie held his paw as he crossed the rainbow bridge. I had failed to say goodbye to my friend Cooper a few years ago. Today I didn’t turn my back on Rambo. My heart is broken in so many pieces today that I don’t think it will mend.

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But it will have to. It must- Just like it did when my own Speedy passed, or when I couldn’t bear to see Cooper be euthanized. Or when Tina found Mi Corazon crushed and flattened on the road in Phoenix or when Sadku was euthanized for no apparent reason.  My heart must mend because like anyone in rescue it the next one you can save that drives us and not the ones we failed.

Every bit of Rambo means love. To us humans; Love is selfishness. Love has thrashed the greatest of goals and desires into the most mediocre of fights (as I found out very recently). His love means giving and strength despite what we put him through.

Today Rambo closed his eyes for the last time.

Will we open ours?

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RAMBO- The Fighter

“Gosh, he’s the biggest Doberman I’ve ever seen,” I turned on my camera.

“And the most handsome one too,” Cindy tore a double-quilted paper towel from the roll.

The two-year-old 32 inch tall Doberman felt his way around the new house and stumbled towards me. His burnished-copper rust coat was dry and rough, his eye crusted over by mucus secretions. He turned his head to peep from behind the infectious growth in both his eyes.

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He bent his head in front of me, nudging his head in my hand. “This is the way he greets all strangers?” I caressed his head.

“Yep.” Cindy rushed at me with the paper towel held out, “Inder, mind the snot.”

My hand snapped to my nose but Cindy was gunning for the dog’s nose.

“I’m sorry, Inder. Rambo’s infection is terrible.”

“Rambo? Did I hear you right?” I held his face in my hands. “Nobody will use the word ‘Rambo’ and ‘snot’ in the same sentence, unless it is ‘Rambo punched the snot out of the bad guys.” I laughed.

I touched his nose. The sand-paper grit texture of his nose was crusted over by dried mucus. His eye-sores, his ears, even his penis has minor secretions of mucus.

“What is wrong with him?” my voice faltered.

Cindy sighed and slumped in her chair. “These are symptoms of Ligneous Conjunctivitis. He’s been abused badly and was kept tied to a tire for two years. He has been denied food and water…” Cindys lower lip quivered. “He’s never been a puppy. He’s never had human contact, he’s…” she choked on her words.

I followed Cindy and Rambo into the yard. Cindy tucked her coffee to her neck allowing the warmth to grow into her body. “The vet is trying his best to save Rambo’s eyesight but he might have a bigger problem.”

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I shivered in the hot summer Texas sun A two year old dog that’s fighting for his eyesight is not the biggest problem for the dog?

Cindy continued, “He might have Ligneous Conjunctivitis and need plasma replacement therapy. That can be very expensive and it will fix the problem but won’t cure it. He’ll need annual treatments.”

“Does that mean he’ll be put to–”

“–That’s the worst case.” She cut me off before I could use the dreaded word. “I hope it doesn’t come to that but it isn’t looking good” Cindy wiped the fresh lot of mucus Rambo had gladly rubbed against her blue shirt. “The woman who reported him will be devastated. She spoke to the owner, secretly fed him, thought about stealing him and finally called the SPCA.”

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“Why didn’t the SPCA take him away sooner?”

Cindy squinted her eyes. “There’s more cruel people out there than you can imagine, Inder. They are overworked and under-staffed, but thank god for them; they finally got Rambo. The abuser’s previous dog wasn’t so lucky.”

I splayed my arms, “What? He’s done this before?”

“Yes. His last dog was a boxer that died of thirst.” Cindy shook her head. “But now they have him black-listed. He won’t e able to abuse again. Let’s just hope we we’re in time for Rambo.” Her peridot-green eyes softened with love she has felt for Rambo in the one week she’s been fostering him.

Rambo walked around with a toy in his mouth. That was the first toy he’d known. As a puppy he’d never played. He wasn’t sure what he should do with the toy. Cindy’s other foster Doberman, showed him how to play but Rambo was just so excited about having a toy that he didn’t want to give it up.

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Rambo’s personality had just started shaping in the past week. He was not living before- he was breathing yes, alive yes—but he never lived. He is a two year old puppy. My heart bled imagining that he might be put to sleep in another week. A three week old, two-year-old Dobie. A life truly extinguished. I asked my own departed dog Speedy to put in a good word for Rambo to Speed’s good buddy; God.

Just then the bell rang and Rambo perked up. He dropped his precious toy and actually trotted to the gate. The woman who secretly fed him and showed him the only affection he’s ever known was at the gate. She dropped to her knees and Rambo dug his body into hers. She held his head and kissed his rheumy face. She apologized to Rambo profusely and he was stuck to her like he were velcroed to her.

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Tears stream down her face and she cried for Rambo openly. The tears she had shed for him secretly for two long years were unleashed. Cindy, after having fostered several abused dogs and the ones she’s been unable to save from euthanasia lists is hardened to pain. Even she couldn’t help shed tears for Rambo.

Rambo’s fight had become personal to her.

I pulled my face out from behind my camera and wiped the lens. The scene still looked hazy. Then I felt a big fat tear trickle down my cheek.

Rambo’s fight just became mine.

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Here a Dobie There a Dobie, Everywhere a Dobie.

                  

What does a Dobie need? The same thing any other dog needs.
       Room to run.

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Other dogs to play with. And since they are Dobies…everybody is Alpha.

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A blatant show of athleticism.

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A few humans to pet and love on them.

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Some kids to lick.

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A water tank.

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People who sweat to find them a home.

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Get adopted- adjust in new homes with new friends.

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Interact with other species

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Get cleaned up.

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When all is said and done and everybody has played their part. There is just one important thing left to do……..
……Take naps.

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Doberfest- what doberfest? Everyday is a festival of life for us.

 

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Holi- The Festival of Colors

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            Nothing depicts the harmony and brotherhood in the Indian society like the festival of Holi. It’s one of the most joyous occasions for Indians. It signifies the victory of good over evil. The story comes from an evil king who tried killing his son by burning him alive for not worshipping him. God saved the child and the king and his evil sister were killed in the process. 

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           We celebrate Holi with colours. We drench everybody on the street in blue, purple, green and yellow. It’s like a big happy family and nobody’s a stranger. People forget about their personal squabbles and differences, playing Holi with great fervour.

            Loading our Holi ammunition into a Jeep, we were almost out the big metal gate when the gangly Doberman puppy, Speed blocked our way. He was wagging his tail and as usual excited about nothing in particular. Stuti picked him up, “Let’s take him with us.”

            “Where’ll he fit? We have plans. He’ll be in the way.” I said.

            “He’ll be in my lap.” She introduced him to the group. They pet him and he took turns licking everyone.

            Her friend started, “He’s so–”

            “–cute, I know.”

           At the Punjab University the girls of Sarojini Hall hostel, who would run away from our rowdy group, now surrounded our Jeep, playing Holi with Speed.

           My friend nudged me with his elbow, “Dude, can I borrow this babe magnet for a day?”

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          I made it a point letting everybody know that the puppy was my “loving brother”.

            We took Speed to every friend’s house. We coloured their families, were fed hearty snacks, sought blessings from elders; then we moved onto the next house.  It seemed like an extension of how Speed lived his life every day. The entire neigbourhood was his home and the inhabitants including the strays, his family.

           Now our equation had to morph into that of two bickering brothers; quarreling, arguing, fighting, complaining and wing-men at the end of the day.

            The measure of how much fun we have playing Holi is determined by how many days it takes in washing the colour off our skin. Nobody minds when we show up at work on the day following Holi with monkey-like faces.

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            Speed’s coat had been covered with silver coloured oil paint. Our friends had spared his eyes. The black hair around his eyes and the silver paint on the rest of his body gave him the appearance of the Lone Ranger. His body looked like that of his own horse, “Silver”.

          “Hi-ho Silver, away,” Dad said.

            “Who is that masked dog anyway?” Mom asked.

           Hey Tonto, I’m your Kee-mo Do-bee.

            We three brothers weren’t allowed in the house post our “Holi romp”, our “Toofani gaeda” (whirlwind tour). We bathed in the yard, rinsing colour off each other, prancing, frolicking, playing, to mark the end of the joyous day.

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To Kill a Mocking Lizard

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To kill a Mocking Lizard

 

           Speed took his new role of Protector and Sentinel of the family a little too seriously. His job was ensuring that everyone was home at night, safe and sound. He kept patrolling the yard.
         In his deranged mind, his job included protecting his precious castle. Strange looking enemies, especially those evil, creepy- looking lizards needed to be warded off.

         How dare that lizard sit on my wall, contemplating his next move? He could be plotting taking over my castle, kidnapping everyone and stealing my food.
Must catch lizard…must kill lizard… must destroy lizard…don’t let it live…kill ..ravage…annihilate…Hey what’s that? Another one? So they have an army?
OK creepy long tailed fellows … deal with the one, the only; the truculent short tailed Colonel Speed; the one-dog army.

      He charged at the lizards full steam, head-butting the wall in an effort of dislodging them. The lizards just sat there on the thirteen inch thick brick wall, amused by this lunatic.

      Head hurts…don’t care… ice ‘em, rub ‘em out, waste ‘em …let ‘em sleep with the fishes…everyone’s life…in danger…must protect…I’m the undisputed mafioso…all hail Don Speedoni…you never go against the family…feeling woozy… sooooo light headed…sinking ..sinking…pfffffft.

       His charade didn’t affect the lizard rebellion. One of them may have left the scene of its own volition. Speed must’ve taken this as a definitive victory, to be duplicated with every head-butt. Disoriented, he desisted from learning his lesson.
       “Why do you do it, Speedy, you can’t hurt those lizards,” I asked him.

         Same reason I do most of what I do– because I like to. Its a dog’s life, man. If you can’t eat it or screw it– Piss on it.

 

Da’ Coopster ……. Continued….

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           I’d been sitting in the parking lot with Cooper’s head in my lap when my phone rang.
           I wore the blue-tooth around my ear. “How much time does the Vet give him?” This couldn’t be happening to my Cooper, my favorite playmate at the shelter, my reason for joining this Rescue. I bit my quivering lip.
           “A few weeks. The cancer has spread. We’ve decided to put him to sleep. It’s the only…”
          Her words faded into mumbo jumbo. Put him to sleep? He’s so full of energy. He’s my running buddy. I squinted the harsh Arizona sun out of my eyes. “When?”
“Today. We’re taking him to the dog park and then feeding him some burgers. Then we will take him to the vet and–”
          “–Don’t say it.” If I don’t hear it, then it didn’t happen. Right?
           “I know you love Cooper.” Her voice softened. “It’s time to say goodbye.”
           I clasp myself tighter. “I…err…you see…umm…I can’t…don’t have the ability of saying goodbye.”
         “That’s okay. We’ve called Tina from HomeFurGood Rescue. She’ll be with him till the very end. Till his eyes–”
          “–you called someone else? Someone that doesn’t even know our Coopster?” I splayed my arms.
          “She’s the one we call when any of our dogs are euthanized. She has a way of comforting the animals in their final moments.”
          “What a horribly depressing job. She must be a dark, gloomy soul.” I clasped two fistfuls of my hair.
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            Two days later. I’m walking into the HomeFurGood shelter for picking up Coopers ashes. The receptionist directs me to Tina’s desk. “She’s helping a dog that’s being put to sleep right now. Take a seat, she’ll be in soon.” She motions to a wooden chair.
          I take a seat, cross my legs and rap my fingers on her desk. A short haired woman stares into my eyes from a picture frame. She’s holding a handicapped dog in the picture close to her chest. Her nametag reads Tina. N. She has a warm smile that makes even the crow’s feet around her eyes appealing.”
        OK so she’s young and pretty…and happy. But she must be a depressed ‘in the closet’ lesbian. I pick up a plastic clip from her desk with a small tube attached to it.
“Mr. Sandhu. I see that you found my special Euthanasia tube.” She flashes her pearly whites and extends her long fingers towards me.
       I drop the tube and rub my hands clean. The tube falls to the floor with the yellow smiley face tag facing up. I shake her warm and soft hand. Then I rub my palm on my shirt.
     “I see that death bothers you.”
     “I love dogs way too much and don’t have the heart of watching them die.”
      “So you close your eyes. Did you ever consider Cooper’s passing from his point of view? You refused to be with him–”
     “–You don’t know Cooper. He was my favorite dog.” I touch my heart. “You see hundreds of dogs die every day. They’re all the same to you. You don’t know the first thing about Cooper–”
      “–I don’t know the first thing about him. But I know the last.” She crosses her arms. “I snuggled next to him on the soft Sherpa blanket. He ate a Frosty Paws ice-cream I brought him. Then he nuzzled my hand so I gave him a second one. I kissed him between his eyes and whispered stories about how when he gets to heaven he should look out for Speedy, the Dobie who is the keeper of the gates. To seek out Mi Corazon and Sarge; the one’s I couldn’t save. I held Cooper, speaking softly until he drifted off.”
       My shoulders droop. The chair is just aIMAG0980bout ready to swallow me.
She walks up to me and sits on her desk. “Cooper would’ve been a little happier in death if you had been with him when he passed on.”
I rest my elbows on my knee. “I was- was- scared.” I manage a whisper.
She touches my shoulder. “I know fear, Mr. Sandhu . Every Friday, I find a list of dogs at Animal control those are going to be put down. I drive to the pound paralyzed with fear. Knowing those dogs are missing their chance at life are the darkest moments of my week.”
“How do you do it, Tina?”
She sighs. “I’ve encompassed the world of rescue. I’ve brought the love of animals into my heart. My love for the animals does not fill some void in my life left by a bad relationship, a dog that passed or some sociological issue I had in my childhood.” She taps the picture of a black and tan Doberman wearing a red collar that reads ‘Speed’.IMAG0978
              I raise my eyebrows. “Why do you–”
“–Because nobody else will. They’ve gone through life without love or understanding.They are at the Animal Shelter because a human chose to abandon them. Because they think the dog’s life wasn’t worthwhile anymore. Now at the end of their life and in the final moments I share my heart and my love with them. These last comforting moments are all I can give them.”
       I tug my earlobe. That explains her picture with five handicapped dogs. “Do you think you make a difference in their lives?”
      “Absolutely. The human touch and love is all an animal needs. That love is all that Cooper needed to make the most difficult journey he ever made.” She places an urn of his ashes on the table.
      The urn rattles. I place my trembling hand on it. I haven’t encompassed rescue like her. After having done this for seven years I feel today that I’m on the outside looking in. I haven’t encompassed compassion. I still judge people based on appearance or sexuality or my preconceived notions. “Thank you, Tina.” I stumble out the door.
     She calls out behind me. “Peace be with you.”
     I stop in my tracks. If I were a marginally better person, I’d be friends with her- because if a person like her is not in my life. The loss will be entirely and completely mine.DSC00660

Da’ Coopster

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The life of a rescue worker; try our best to win a fight for a dog’s life from the abuse and indifference of man. Every once in a while we’re tested by god’s ultimate plan.

I was excited at the prospect of reaching the top of Squaw peak again. It was an idle Sunday morning and I was hiking in the pristine Valley of the Sun, accompanied by the zealot Doberman from the Desert Doberman Rescue Group (http://azdoberescue.org/). His soft rust colored coat reminded me of butter melting on overdone toast.
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The now five year old powerhouse, Cooper was abandoned in the desert as a six month old puppy. In the desert, filial instincts gave way to survival techniques. He’d been abused and maltreated and left for dead.

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I shook my head. Who would be so vile to abuse this kind dog? He wants to please people, to the point of being servile. He craves attention, but is never in the way. He always turns around to make sure I’m not out of sight, as he prances to the top of the mountain. That day he seemed a little off his game. He was taking too many breaks. The Vet was concerned about his recent lack of appetite and had wanted to do a few tests. His results were due anytime–

Burrrzzzzz. I peeled my cellphone out of my pocket. A closed envelope flew across the screen. Text message from Sidney flashed on the blue screen.

I paused mid-step. Cooper stopped and turned.

“It’s cancer,” announced my phone. I blinked hard. It still said the same thing.

The world had collectively punched me in the gut. It can’t be. He’s so healthy and strong. I fumbled a few lines on the phone and finally types. They’ve made a mistake. It can’t be.

I tried pressing the send button send a few times. Dingggg. The message floated into cyberspace.

Squaw peak must’ve been as high Mt. Everest because we were the only ones at the peak. The world below was so far. The oxygen. What happened to all the oxygen?

Burzzz. I squinted at my phone. So sorry, Inder. The report is clear… I shut my eyes.

No way, God … This can’t be happening. Why Cooper? Why? Hasn’t he been through enough already? This is so unfair. So…I flung my phone, shut my eyes and held my face in my hands.

My grandfather’s face flashed before my eyes. Don’t you fucking try and give me some sage advice here, old man. Your wisdom is not—

–Cooper pawed my hand. I opened my eyes. He had my phone in his mouth. I rubbed the skin between his eyes. “Coop, why did you have to come into my life and make me love you so darn much?”

He dropped the phone in my lap. My grandpa smiled back at me on the screensaver. His words rang in my ears. A couplet from the Guru Granth Sahib; the holy book of the Sikh religion of Northern India.

Teriyan beparwahiyan O rabba Ki Ki khed rachawein

(Your carelessness O Lord, plays weird games with humans)

Ikk nu bhejen is duniya te, Ikk nu kol bulayein.
(You send one new one in this world and call one back to you)

 

Darn it…I should’ve taken him to the Vet sooner. Maybe when he had the first symptom. If only I was a more regular volunteer, I would’ve noticed something sooner. Maybe—

Burzzzz. My thoughts returned to the present. The Vet’s given him a few weeks.

I held his face in my hands and kissed his forehead. “Please don’t leave me, Cooper. Please, buddy.”

                                                                                          ………………..To be continued

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The Nut Job

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The joy of dog-sitting and learning the quirkiness of a new dog. Hank in this case a.k.a Hanky, a.k.a Hanky Panky a.k.a Da’ Hankster (you get the picture).
So Hanky has this quirk about taking whatever you feed him to his spot (on the carpet). He drops it out his mouth and then squats by it and eats it. He makes sure that his butt is facing you while he eats (a supremely greedy but shy eater, if there ever was one) Come what may; he does not eat in front of you. Yesterday I was eating some Cashew nuts. I gave him one. He took it , ran to his spot and did his routine. He was back in a flash, so I gave him another one. Then another and another.
It took him no time in figuring out that the constant back and forth trip wasn’t worth just one nut. So he stood there, dropped his shame,begged and ate right there. Greedy as always; just newly shameless.

No Country for Old Dobermen

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Dobe-Old
We geriatric dogs at the dog park are a motley crew. We sit under the shade by the water buckets and watch life go by. Although I’m out of breath easily, I’m still more active than this sorry bunch of slackers. I exercise more than the rest of them combined.
We gas about our halcyon days. The tall tales of our achievements run as wild as our demented imaginations. I doubt if anyone really listens. Some of us have lost our hearing. We just bark our heads off like grumpy old dogs.
I point at the four-year-old females frolicking in the water, “Look at those totta babes? Wouldn’t you agree guys. Kya maal hai?”
“Ai Mami! Look at those curves, Vato,” says Chuy the Chihuahua. “Ay carumba, so many dangerous curves and me without brakes.”
“Sweet az. Ain’t she, mate,” says Dundee, the Australian Shepherd. ”Fair dinkum–wicked Sheilas.”
“–None of them would give you decrepit old farts a second look,” I say. “I should know. In my golden years I’ve been with numerous females. The stories of my virility spanned several municipal zones.”
They mutter and roll their eyes. Some try remembering what on earth they’re doing here. I continue, “Had they invented Viagra for dogs, y’all would’ve seen me in full flow.”
I know in my heart that I have to be content with throwing verbal bouncers when the real thing clearly refuses to rise.
“You guys are terrible, Der Kokolores. I’ve always been faithful to my Ethel,” says Sage, the Bulldog, trying to shield his man-dog-boobies which are clearly bigger than Ethel’s.
“Fanabala. You hen-pecked old timer,” says Bruno Leathernuts, the Italian Greyhound.
A toothless fighting match ensues. “Geez man,” I think, “Too many freaks, not enough circuses.”
We’re watching the young ‘uns at play when we are hit by the noxious smell of rotting pickled eggs. It is King Toot himself, up to his old tricks. “Cletus, enough of your silent deadly ones. Lay off on the fried road-kill your mom feeds you,” I say. “You’re the reason these flies are swarming around us.”
“Don’t y’all skeeters and chiggers be sayin’ nuttin’ bout’ muh mamma. She dern near purfect,” he states. I’ve seen his mom and dad. Between Cletus and them, they have five good teeth. Also I have no idea why they painted the number eight on his side and call him Dale Jr.
“The youth of today I terr you,” sighs Uski Li, the chow chow. “They have no respect for the erders. They no hap me, when I in pain. The whore young dogs speak in degrading barks and they have no varues.”
“It’s the blud-fiah music day be listenin’ to,” says Ziggy, the Basenji, making the shaka sign with his paw. “What in the name of likky likky ganja is Beiber fever? Is it anything like valley fever?”
“I just can’t deal with the pain in my hips,” says Alfie the Weimaraner. “Hey Speedy. What was the name of that Ayurvedic medicine Inder got for you? Hook a brother up with that good stuff.”
I hear Alfie list his ailments. He seems to have taken too many thermometers up his butt.
It is almost four of o’ clock. It is time for all the old timers to be taken home and fed their early supper. We bid each other adieu hoping to stay alive for our next weekly meeting.

THE AUDACITY OF…

                 By the time a human is wise enough to watch where he’s going, he’s too old to go anywhere. I twirl the fluorescent ball. Its fibers catch the ridges of my fingerprint. I wipe the saliva off my hand. A Doberman puppy on the other hand–

            The complex art of putting paw in front of paw, maintaining her balance and keeping an eye on the ball is too much for the puppy to handle. She stumbles on her own cast. I lunge to catch her fall and in one swift motion she snatches the ball out of my hand and hops into the open yard.

           I smile at her triumph. This tennis ball means the world to an eight-month-old puppy. The past is behind her; the future holds thousands of promises and a sea of sunshine.

            It didn’t seem like it five months ago when I got a call early in the morning.

          “We found an injured thirteen week old female Doberman puppy by the sidewalk.” The volunteer’s voice was more urgent than usual.

            I’ve done this a hundred times before but it hurts every single time more than before. I take a deep breath. “How bad is it?”

“Umm…”

            Gosh. “How did we find her?” I press my palm to my forehead.

            “Somebody saw her fly out of a pick-up truck at about 50 mph.”

            When will people stop taking their dogs out in pick-up trucks? Dogs don’t belong in the back of pick-up trucks. Like children, they must be strapped in with a seat belt.  “If she’s a puppy and she fell out, the truck must’ve had its tail-gate lowered.”

            “Yes, he slammed on the brakes and then took off at a break-neck speed. The witness said she flew out like a cannon-ball and struck the pavement. The driver didn’t stop. She’s been here since. Can’t move.”

             A lump forms in my throat. “Stay with her and keep her calm. I’ll rally the troops.” The call I make to the director puts the entire organization at Houston Area Doberman Rescue into auto-pilot mode. There’s a certain amount of mechanical synchronicity in the way we become when we hear of an abandoned dog. We act swiftly and deliberately; get medical help, identify a foster, estimate medical costs, start a fundraiser, ensure the dog’s safety—then we breathe.

             Finally we name the dog.

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             Yip Yip Yip. She jostles me out of my thoughts by dropping the ball at my feet and is pawing it with the leg covered in a blue cast. Messages are scribbled on it.  GET WELL SOON, HOPE. I LOVE YOU, HOPE. YOU GO, GIRL. YOU’RE MY HERO, HOPE.

              Hope. Yes, that’s it; simple, honest and straight from the heart.

              Aoo Aoo Aoor. She taps the ball with her cast, sits on her butt and waves her front legs in the air like a Kangaroo. I caress her head and playfully tug her cropped ear. “That’s enough for today. The cast came off your other foot just yesterday.”

              Aaoooooooonnnnn. She cocks her head.

             “Yes, little girl. And your E-collar came off yesterday.” Poor puppy has worn that uncomfortable collar for sixteen weeks straight; half of her life so far.

             She cocks her head in the other direction.

            I sit cross legged in front of her and run my finger on the fur between her eyes. “You’re doing great now. Yes you are.” She had a broken femur, a displaced and chipped left hind leg, fractures on either side of the growth plate in her wrist where her wrist had hyper-extended upon impact with the pavement.

               She blinks a few times.

             “Yes you’re very brave, Hope. You had some lung damage, radial nerve damage in your front leg and you pinched a nerve in your hip because you sat on the concrete for five days.” I put my arm around her neck. “Every bit of you was banged up, wasn’t it?”

             She presses her muzzle to my chest.

            “Yes Hopey, the doctor said even your heart was bruised.” I kiss her nose. “Does this heal your heart a bit?”

            She takes out her broad spatula-like tongue and licks my cheek.

            “Yes, Hopey. I know. I love you too.” 

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            This is what we humans classify as an aggressive breed? The ones who are indifferent to an animal’s suffering are the real aggressors. This puppy still responds to the one feeling that is lost on the driver of that truck: love. She doesn’t know she’s being rescued by a rescue group. The children who write on her cast, the foster family that spoils her by feeding her the yummy treats or by the vet who kisses his patient before and after each surgery. To her they are all the same- the people who show her love. That’s exactly how she responds to all of them– by showing love.

            Many years ago, when my niece turned one, I tried for weeks to teach her how to walk. She’d clasp her tiny hand around my finger and I would guide her. She would take a few flat footed steps, cross her legs, lose her balance and plop on the floor. So we’d try again. She’s nine years old now. When she grows into a woman and gets married to someone, I’ll watch her go to her new home and her new life and I’ll cry. I know this today.

            I’ll cry when Hope goes to her new home too.

            She’s eight months old now and has undergone three surgeries. Her puppyhood has been spent in hospitals, e-collars and casts. She hasn’t run at full gallop ever. A puppy masters the complex art of running by extending both its front legs in gallop, not worrying about stopping. It gladly lets inertia make it fall and roll over. There will be none of that for Hope but with the love and care of her foster Ms Carpenter and her companion dogs. She will run soon.

            The one thing the human indifference hasn’t extinguished in her life is hope. She is hopeful that one day her wrist will extend the way it should. She hopes that when this cast comes off, no further surgery will be required. She hopes that somebody will fall so utterly and completely in love with her that they will take her home.

            Yes, that’s what she has: that’s what we have for her.

             And now, introducing for the first time, in the red corner wearing no shorts at all, this black and tan girl weighing in at forty pounds when dripping wet- Hope: Our hope.Humanity’s Hope.

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