RAMBO- The Size of the Fight in this Dog?

RAMBO- The Size of the Fight in this Dog?


         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.


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?



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.


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.”


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.”


“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.


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.


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.


Here a Dobie There a Dobie, Everywhere a Dobie.


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


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


A blatant show of athleticism.


A few humans to pet and love on them.


Some kids to lick.


A water tank.


People who sweat to find them a home.

Get adopted- adjust in new homes with new friends.



Interact with other species

Get cleaned up.

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


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