Monday, October 29, 2007

Someone's Garbage

My next door neighbor called me. I didn't even realize they had our phone number, because we talk several times a day over our communal fence. I love my neighbors. A young couple with two of the most beautiful, delightful children you could ever meet. When they first moved in, Michael was still serving in Iraq and Ashley was raising then three year old Gavin. Michael came home and the family was blessed with baby Grace. Now Gavin is six and Grace is two and Michael has passed his Boards and is a Critical Care RN.

It was Ashley on the phone. "Oh Patience there's a little dog running loose on Jefferson Street. It's going to get hit. I've tried to catch it, but I'm late for work."

"OK, I'll go look." I loaded my pockets with goodies and set out with absolutely no luck at all. Not a glimpse.

About an hour after I got home, Michael called me. He said, "Hey that little dog is in our back yard, but it won't let me go anywhere near it." I grabbed some ham from the fridge and ran next door.

There was an emaciated little Pekingese up on a stack of bricks. The poor thing had made itself as big as possible by climbing on the bricks, putting itself at about waist height. Michael and Ashley's yard is fenced on three sides. I was doing everything I had learned about dogs so that this little one wouldn't bolt. I didn't make eye contact with it. I continued to talk to Michael in a cheerful voice, with my head turned away from the dog, all the while rubbing my ham in an outstretched hand to release the delectable scent.

I placed a piece of ham on the brick pile about three feet from the dog and stepped back. I heard a frightened growl as I approached. I kept laughing and talking with Michael and not looking at the dog. It inched over and snarfed down the ham. Yes! Another piece was offered, I stepped back less, the growl still came but the ham got gobbled with less hesitation. Step by step. Finally the poor soul was eating out of my hand, and then it allowed me to pat it, with a wary wag of it's sad little tail. Then we made eye contact, and I told the little dog that I was going to help and I had food and water and kindness to give. The relief on that dog's face was practically palpable, audible, touchable, it was so real. She allowed me to cradle her in my arms, with a tiny growl which melted into a groaning sigh.

Now what? She had no collar, no tattoo, and looked as though she had weaned puppies not too long ago. No spay scar. And she was so skinny. Here I was with my whippets, accustomed to feeling ribs as a normal state of affairs, with what should have been a roly-poly Pekingese in my arms. Horrified at feeling ribs, vertebrae, and pelvic bones protruding. Her coat was filthy and matted and dull, and one eye had an old scar on the cornea. My puppies were due in only two weeks and it would have been irresponsible of me all the way around to bring this poor soul into the household. Momma Whippet would have been exposed to Lord knew what diseases, plus she would have no doubt seen this intact female intruder as a threat to her unborn pups. And the rest of my pack would have thought of her as a squeak toy.

I called Bill from my cell phone and asked him to put his studio buddy Delia in the house. Didn't tell him why. I brought the poor Peke into the studio, through the gallery entrance, avoiding the house and the breezeway. Now, my husband is a Good Man. He immediately got eyes full of tears as he felt the bony little feather-light body in his arms. "Are we keeping her?" he asked without hesitation. I explained the dangers of trying to do that, and though I doubted it, I thought someone might be looking for her. I called the shelter, and all of the local vets, and our wonderful Animal Control Officer. I looked in the paper for a lost ad. Nothing.

Then I called Erica. She had been talking about getting a dog. Something bigger than my whippets. A German Shepherd or maybe a Rottweiler. But she was an animal lover through and through, with two cats, and I was in a bind. "Erica, can you come over? I need a little help. I found a dog."

Erica sat on the floor of Bill's studio with tears streaming down her face. "Oh she's so sweet. She's starved! Who would do this to a helpless little dog?" I explained why I couldn't take her in, and why I hated to take her to our city's high kill shelter. "Oh you couldn't take her there!" cried Erica as she hand fed her another bite of the kibble I had brought out to the studio.

"Would you be able to keep her until we can find her owners or find her a home?" I am a devious soul. Shameless, sneaky, underhanded. But the very picture of innocence.

Erica did take her home. She named her Bella. Beautiful Bella. She cleaned her up, took her to the vet. Posted a found ad in the paper. Called all around for someone looking for the dog. Loved her, walked her, fed her, groomed her, and loved her some more. Got her spayed after six months when the vet said she was healthy enough and had a little tumor removed. Got her teeth cleaned. Took her everywhere, let her play with dog friends in the neighborhood, walked her every day rain or shine all around town. Loved her. Adored her.

I don't know what Bella's life had been. I can guess though. I think she was some body's extra income. I think she was bred over and over again for someone to sell "AKC Pekingese puppies" or maybe "Peke-a-poos". Who knows. And I think when she got too old to breed, she got dumped. I think she was running around Jefferson Street looking for the car that had just driven away. I think she had never been adored, except by her puppies which were probably sold before they were ready to be weaned. I bet she had never known real tenderness and love. I bet she had never been valued as a soul full of sunshine and grace.

And now, years later, I see Bella and Erica walking through the neighborhood, with Bella's beautiful tail wagging gloriously and her Pekingese smile ready for everyone. With her eyes never leaving Erica's face for too awfully long; those eyes so dedicated, so loving, so grateful, so sparkling with health and fun. When I see this, every single time I see this, my heart swells with gratitude. I thank God that this little dog who has nothing but benevolence to offer the world, knows human love.

*hug your dogs*


  1. Hi Patience
    Thats a heartbreaking story.I cannot imagine someone just leaving a dog on the road and driving away.
    There must be a special hell for people who ill treat animals.

  2. Thank you fow telling us about this tale of love
    I hope howwible people who left hew get punished somehow in this life ow next!
    she looks so bootiful now!
    smoochie kisses

  3. Patience-u made me cry again! Thank God for people like you, Bill ,and Erica-Martha C.

  4. Bless you for rescuing Bella and introducing her to Erica! What a wonderful story! She's a beautiful dog!

    Love ya lots,

  5. Beautiful. I'm a dog lover like that. If I see one loose, you can guarentee I'm out there with a leash, hoping to get him back home... There have been several situations where I've failed. Once driving home on the highway, I saw a golden retriever. Dirty, scraggly. We always have a spare leash in the car, so I had my husband jump out and try to call it over. I think we spent an hour with that dog, but he never would come to us. It was really cold. I'm pretty sure he was abandoned on the side of the road. (We live on a base, where a lot of people get rid of pets when they move...)

    I'm glad this had a happy ending, it does my heart good to hear of loving people who care!

  6. Oh I love happy endings!

    Volunteering for a greyhound and lurcher rescue, we see dogs being dumped all the time. It's heartbreaking and we all do what we can but it's the tip of the iceberg.

    Irresponsible breeders need putting against the wall and shooting.

    And I do hug my dogs regularly and thank whatever's up there that they're safe.

  7. What a wonderful story!!! You did a very, very, very good thing and so did Erica. Congrats to everyone....that's a story to tell the children, grandchildren, great granchildren....Thank you so much for sharing it.

    And thanks for stopping by today and the congrats! Woofs, Johann

  8. Now stop making me cry! Really Patience, this was just a beautiful post and so inspiring. Your love of dogs is the most wonderful thing. Honored to know you, m'dear.

  9. Aww.. Poor, lucky, sweet Bella! <3 You're the very best at making eyes leaky, Patience!

    Pugs'n hugs, Ane.

  10. Patience,

    Opy and Charlie, the doggies who have the most authority at DWB are in the process of moving so they're super busy! Hang in there! Email them again. Maybe it got over-looked the 1st time? They're super nice people!

    Love ya lots,

  11. What a sweet story :-)
    Why do humans think they can just dump dogs when they are through using them?

  12. Hey Patience and the Whippets!!!

    wow...Lacie is sniveling on the floor here, but I, Scruffy, a big tough foxy wire is only angry.

    Why, Indeed....

    You guys are the best!


  13. what a great great story! good job in helping rescue that cute baby!

  14. Patience,

    A beautiful story. How lucky Bella was to find you and vice versa.

    Love and Koobuss Kisses,


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