As I drove to the clinic to pick up the latest rescue Rottie, I looked at my watch. It was Dec. 17th, and traffic was heavy with holiday shoppers. Somehow, knowing I was getting another abandoned dog made the season seem not so bright.
I pulled into the veterinary clinic where she was, and got out into the falling rain. It was a bone chilling day. The bright lights and warmth of the office felt great. Smiling people sat inside with their well-loved pets. I waited for them to bring her out.
Suddenly I saw a solemn-faced vet tech over the half door that led into the back. When she swung the door open, and I saw her, my eyes filled with tears involuntarily. Head and tail hung down. You could count every bone. Darting eyes were filled with fear and mistrust.
I paid the bill for the spaying with a heavy heart, and lead in the pit of my stomach, as I listened to the vet tech state her history. "Approximately 18 months old, and has already delivered at least one litter. 64 pounds. Heartworm negative. Questionable temperament, tried to bite the animal control people who picked her up as a stray. Collar was not imbedded, but had to be cut off it was so tight. Fearful of loud noises and approaches from the rear." Merry Christmas to you too, I thought bitterly.
I took the harsh nylon kennel lead, and gently led her to my car. She walked gingerly through the rain with her head down, careful not to make eye contact. She allowed me to help her into the crate. I could see the fear in her eyes as I gently reached in to remove the lead. My heart sank again.
On the drive home, I wondered about her life. She had obviously been tied. Most likely abused. Where were her puppies? Dead? Sold? Doomed to a lifetime of what she had suffered herself? I comforted myself with the thought that all that was over for her now. "Her." Hmmm. I would have to think of a name......
At home, I went inside to put my own dogs away. The less stress the better for her right now, I thought. Those chores done, I went out to get her. She had to figure out how to get up the steps to my house. Clearly had never seen them before. She startled at everything in the house. Wide eyed and stiff-legged, she finally found the courage to venture into the kitchen where I was.
I tried to comb some of the fleas off her. The clinic had not been able to bathe her before her surgery. I had never seen so many fleas, or so much flea dirt on one dog. I combed through once, twice, three times, and she enjoyed it. I turned away to rinse the comb in the bowl of warm soapy water I had. As I turned back to comb her again, her past life exploded in her head, and she suddenly grabbed my wrist. The pressure was hard, but she did not break the skin. Our eyes met. My calm, sympathetic gaze, her wild-eyed fearful one. Gradually, she released me. I combed some more. The second time I turned back her reaction was the same. She grabbed me, but a little harder this time. The same wild fear in her eyes. And now tears in mine.
I put the comb away, and settled her in a large wire crate with a soft clean bed. Most likely the first she had ever known. A nice warm dinner followed, with a sparkling clean bucket of fresh water.
I lay down to a sleepless night, knowing and dreading the task that awaited me in the morning.
I dressed grimly in the grey dawn. My own precious furr-children danced and cavorted around me as they do every morning, coats glistening, eyes gleaming, and big smiling faces. Somehow it made the day even sadder to see them so happy and healthy and loved.
Morning chores done, I turned to my horrible morning duty. She was fed a nice warm breakfast, scrambled eggs with plain yoghurt and canned mackerel. She ate it all. She had not chewed up her nice, warm, soft bed. She, with no name, thousands of fleas, and bones practically breaking through her hide, walked with me to my van, and again allowed me to help her into the crate. Again, as I removed the lead, the fear and mistrust flashed from her eyes. My tears made little splashes on the rubber mat in my van.
I drove silently to my own vet clinic. Filled out the necessary paperwork. And waited with her in the exam room. My vet, so kind and gentle with all his patients, was especially gentle this morning with little no name. She lay quietly as her leg was shaved along the vein where the needle would go. She lay quietly as the needle was inserted. I stroked her head and spoke softly to her as my tears fell on her dull, dirty fur. She looked up at me one last time before the shadows closed in on her, and the light left her eyes. Two great sighs, and she was gone. My vet placed a stethoscope on her chest, and, with tears in his eyes said, yes, she is gone.
One of hundreds, thousands, millions like her that go every year. Most with no one to hold them on their journey. There was no hope for her, but for many that are destroyed there is. There is only a lack of funds and foster homes that sends them to the needle.
Please, this Holiday season, give your BREED a special gift. Spay or neuter your dog. Breeding is a huge responsibility, and most dogs should not be bred. Donate money to a rescue organization. Volunteer at your local shelter. NEVER give a puppy as a gift, or buy from a pet store. All the no-names out there need you.
This article may be reprinted with my permission, as long as proper author is credited.
Otherwise, copyright © 12/97 by Rebekah L. James