Are the Unfortunate Ones, More Fortunate??

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I picked up a bait dog the other day, abandoned at a park, injuries all over his face and legs. An open wound on his hind leg. He’d snap if your hand went anywhere near his head .

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But when I brought him back to the shelter, he responded to the women while growling at men. A man must’ve hit him, repeatedly.

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I named him Wyatt- In honor of a puppy that we’d just lost to a freak accident.

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While tossing and turning all night; I figured that we couldn’t just leave him at the shelter. In the metrics of animal control, he was just another dog. Just another number.

He’d be deemed as human aggressive in 72 hours and euthanized- that much I knew.

So I contacted people who care, those don’t take NO for an answer- who stop at nothing.

Those people were;

A woman; not intimidated by a gargantuan sum of money a trainer asked to neutralize Wyatt’s human aggression.

A man who pleaded with others to save Wyatt’s life and then stepped up himself; willing to risk his 10 other pets and learn how to deal with an aggressive animal.

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The overall figure we needed to raise ran well over 2500$.

As donation after donation came in and friends responded to our pleas to donate, I asked myself- WHY WYATT?

Why do we expend all our resources to save one dog- just because he has a story while hundreds other die at the shelter because their story isn’t sad. Because it doesn’t get Ooh’s and aah’s and likes on FB.

The unfortunate become the fortunate.

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Is Wyatt’s life more important than Paris’s life? The quiet, shy pit bull who died amidst our last minute pleas to save her.

Sometimes we see so much cruelty around us that one dog becomes a SYMBOL.

A symbol that we will not allow cruelty to win over love.

It’s still just one life and NO Wyatt’s life is not more important than any animal that is euthanized.

But we root for the under-dog. We look for the unfortunate ones- and try to make them fortunate.

We try to make LOVE win- because we DESPERATELY need to believe that good wins over all evil.

Wyatt is well on his way to recovery- while several have died un-noticed.

Both we and them have been the unfortunate ones.

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The Roles of Our Lives

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The Bhagvad Gita claims that ‘The Savior is bigger than the killer.’

We, at the Chuck Silcox center at FWACC play our roles in saving each soul. It’s a tale of sweat and tears for animals we feel responsible towards.

It all starts with the most important ingredient; one compassionate citizen who has witnessed an act of cruelty decides to be the voice of the hapless animal. So we get a call. The ladies at the call center are experts in assigning priority to calls based on urgency they hear in a citizen’s voice.

“These two dogs are tied in the backyard,” The citizen gulps for air. “They don’t have any food or water they are very very…” His voice starts to break. “Please help them.”

The Animal Control officer who responds knows the law backwards. We can’t enter someone’s yard without a warrant unless we perceive that an animal’s life is in danger. Minutes later, he dials the cruelty officer’s phone, “You’ve got to see this.” His voice is hurried. “Please drop everything and get here.”

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The cruelty officer has seen hundreds of emaciated animals with open, maggot infested wounds. Even he cringes at a puppy so emaciated that his pointed hipbone has broken through the skin from being unable to get up. The mother dog has a 25 pound bar-belle plate tied to her collar. The grass in the backyard so tall, that we heard the two pit bulls before we saw them. Flies swarm their ears and maggots crawl in their open wounds. The puppy is so weak that he falls every time he tries to get up. His furless white skinned body has created a small pit from repeatedly trying.

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The cruelty officer flips his phone. “I’m getting these dogs out of here, right now.” He dials the Vet at the shelter and calls for the emergency code.

As the truck pulls in to the shelter the dogs are transported to the waiting arms of the vet-techs. They name the puppy Duke and the mama Duchess. Naming animals makes their survival personal and half the battle is won. They hope that these two are not too far-gone to be helped.

Next day the Shelter manager and the Vet are sitting with the puppy in the yard when I walk out.

“I think we’ll have to put Duke down if he doesn’t eat.” The Vet helps the puppy to its feet but it collapses in a lump of skin and bones.

“Can we try a blood transfusion as a last resort?” The shelter manager draws back her auburn hair into a ponytail as she cups the puppy’s face with her palms.

“We don’t have a donor.” The Vet pinches his nose under his spectacles.

The shelter manager splays her arms. “What about the dog that got into a fight yesterday and is in recovery. The white and black pittie- Woodrow.”

“Well, I suppose we can try.” The Vet smiles.

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The shelter techs those clean Duke and Duchesses kennels everyday have bonded with them in the next 4 weeks. Slowly but surely they gain strength and their wounds heal.

The rescue coordinators at the shelter work overtime in finding these two dogs a rescue. They try to have mama and the puppy stay together while they learn social skills at a foster.

Finally after nearly dropping dead in hundred-degree weather, 5 weeks ago, Ms. Alix at Believe-A-Bull rescue steps up to take on the toughest task yet; Train them and then find them a loving home. She takes upon her young shoulders the task of reversing the cruelty these poor animals have faced at the hands of some humans.

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After getting a lot of care and tenderness at the shelter; Duke and Duchess now get love at Alix’s home. The grooming and cleaning; the training and playtime; the kissing and the cuddling transform them into lovable pets in two short months.

Then a family sees them for who they really are; sweet gentle souls. They get adopted and as luck would have them they are still together in the same home. Together they bring joy into a family that has been bereft of happiness due to circumstances out of their control.

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The shame that some perpetrators had put humanity through has been reversed a bit.

But this is just one story. We live these stories everyday. We get a new Duke and a new Duchess often. We do not let compassion fatigue get the better of us; we stand united as a voice for the voiceless at the Fort Worth Animal Care and Control center.

We as a society need to play our role too; one to prevent cruelty rather than fix the symptoms of it. One to teach our children compassion and love.

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And then there is my role.

I just observe and report.

50 Ways to Leave Your Puppy

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You surely have seen several ways to restrain a puppy.

But I’m sure you haven’t heard of this.

A puppy got dropped of at the shelter in the wee hours of the morning yesterday.

This rottweiler puppy had its legs duct taped together so it wouldn’t be able to get far away from the shelter till we found it in the morning.

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As we removed the duct tape off the puppy shivering because of the cold and out of fear, I realiszed that his hind leg was badly injured.

Then to underline the neglect this poor puppy must’ve faced- he tested positive for Parvovirus.

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We got him in an incubator and on fluids and although he did vomit and had diarrhea (he broke) he did OK through the day.

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In the evening I agreed to drive him to Austin for Austin Pets live where they treat Parvo puppies exclusively. Their building is nothing short of a fortified fortress against contamination.

I wasn’t allowed to go in more than 5 feet from where I had parked my Z-4. The puppy was plucked from my arms by the waiting Vet-tech staff and I was back in my fancy car.

I had once promised to protect my car from soda and eatables. Nobody was allowed to eat inside my car and today I transported a sick puppy that had Parvo. The smell of Parvovirus is so nauseating that once you’ve smelled it; the very mention of the word Parvo brings that smell to mind.

Tonight the puppy is safe and the car I love has been violated.

50 ways to leave your love(r)-

Had a ball once- NOT HAVING A BALL NOW.

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“I love a tennis ball- There; I said it.”

The soft fluorescent fuzz on the ball helps me grip it as I snap in in the air. The dirt and grime from weeks and the nastiest smells are all trapped within the short wiry hair on the surface.

A joy- A total–

“–What the heck? I just got trapped inside these tennis courts. Someone locked the gate and now I can’t get out. The other dogs always told me that my love for the tennis ball will get me in trouble one day. Uggggghhhh.”

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The Animal Control Officer (ACO) in the blue uniform shows up and put me on the back of his truck. He pets my head and promises that I will be OK at the dog-pound. There’s my other fault- I am gullible. The animal control officer makes a verbal contract with me that I will be better off inside than as a stray.

I believe him. I always believe everybody- what can I say. I’m an animal.

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Humans invented time. From that time they allocated some time for me. 72 Hours is what I was given. I have no idea how much time that it and how many times will the sun come out before my time runs out.

All I know is that I am inside a kennel, I don’t see the sun come out. All I see is the inside of a dark kennel and hear other dogs barking, begging to be let go all day. Then they give up when the humans leave.

Then one day when they lifted the partition between my kennel and the next one as they do while the humans clean, I met Tiki Tiki.

She told me she was abandoned and had a million fleas on her. The same ACO had picked her up and promised her a good life in a real home. She was scared of everything. She’d never known affection so I shared my love with her. I told her stories about humans who care, about tennis balls those bounce, about families who take their dogs on vacations. I consoled her till she trusted me.

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Then one day they lifted the partition and there was another dog there.

Tiki was gone. My best friend.

My ONLY friend.

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The ACO was true to his word. He found Tiki a home- but I was left alone- all by myself.

Now he visits me everyday and takes me for a walk- he promises me while petting my head that one day I will find a real home too. He calls me Ol’ blue eyes and has named me ‘Sinatra’.

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As time goes on, I see other dogs come and go. I stay here and wait- I hold my end of the bargain I made with the ACO and be patient and a good boy.

He tells me he will post me on Facebook and somebody would wan’t me.

But I wait.

And I wait.

I’m holding my end of the contract I made with the ACO; will he hold his end up?

And maybe I can have a BALL OF A TIME too.

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Bad to the Bone?

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Neglect?- Of property? Of Animal?

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Abandonment?

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Was this puppy in a dangerous situation?

That is a skull and pelvic bone of another dog

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A Puppy?

-It looks fat because its belly is bloated with round-worms.

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Thirsty?

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Hungry?

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Brought to shelter?

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Did it get its first bath?

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Did it get Spayed?

Is it ready for the BIG Adoption event?

Will it find a loving home?

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Compassion fatigue??-  NOT YET.

Every time You Go Away – You Take a Piece of Me With You.

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It never fails.

This is the set up.

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You wake up one day and decide that the little puppy you got a few years ago is not so cute anymore. You don’t want it anymore. The barking bothers you, the Vet bills are too high, pet food is too expensive, you just got laid off from work, your new girlfriend is allergic to dogs, you are thinking about having children, you are moving, your dog just bit someone and its expensive to keep him.

(I’ve heard every reason in the book)

So you decide to give it up.

You bring him down to the city shelter.

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This is the bell you ring.

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This is where you tie your dog.

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Then you kiss it and shed a tear or two (trust me you always do- because your tears wash away your guilt).

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Then you leave. You return to your life.

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THAT IS WHERE I COME IN. AND THIS IS WHAT I SEE.

The dog keeps wagging his tail and watching the door like a hawk.

He sits down and tries to do what he did when you called him a good boy.

Then he gets up and charges the door only to be yanked back by his leash.

Then he looks the other side by moves as far closer to the door as he can.

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Then he sits down and stands up a few times.

Then his tail stops wagging.

Then his shoulders slump and he lowers his head.

Then he starts trembling- uncontrollably.

Then he gets evaluated and led to a kennel.

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There he lies cowering in a corner afraid of a new place.

Then he goes to another dark kennel where other dogs bark incessantly.

Then in 72 hours, this is where he ends up- just when he was getting used to his new life and realizing that he’s been abandoned.

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Then he ends up in a garbage bag here.

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Meanwhile you are enjoying your next weekend, assuming your dog is living with a new family.

Please stop breeding/ Please stop surrendering. All shelters are full. The city requires us to take in all animals- but more surrenders lead to more Eutahnized animals.

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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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 © Inderpal Sandhu and inderpalsandhu.wordpress.com, 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Inderpal Sandhu and inderpalsandhu.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.