A bit of an update on the two TN GSDs in bad shape last week.
This is taken from the blog of the kind lady that saved their lives!
Last Thursday afternoon, on 5/17/07, I signed on to Moose's myspace page as I usually do to see what all our other animal friends are up to. I glanced over at the bulletin section and quickly tried to look away, but I looked again and read it out loud:
"2 german shepards in TN DIE TODAY IF NO HELP IN A COUPLE HRS."
When I clicked on the bulletin link, the tears started streaming down my face… again, I tried to look away and occupy myself with something else. But those faces were in my mind and wouldn't go away.
In my adult life, I've not been a regular church-goer, but I've always held a strong faith in being kind and doing good things, especially for children, the elderly and animals of all kinds. The Sunday before I saw this bulletin, I went to church with my family on Mother's Day. We went to the church where my mother grew up, a small church located in the Foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains. The church and the people were simple but the message was important in regard to how it would impact me in the coming days. I can't recite the sermon, but I can say that it was about a man named Gideon, who was called to do God's work… a huge task was laid before him and he was just an individual trying to do the work of a large army. The message was about having faith in your mission and faith that you will have the strength to persevere despite the obstacles laid before you.
Unable to get the faces of the German Shepard dogs out of my mind after reading the bulletin, I realized that this was something that I needed to do. Some may argue that I am trying to find purpose in my own life and that may be true in some respect, I think everyone should find purpose in their passions… and if your passions just so happen to make the world a better place then you should consider yourself lucky. My passion is helping animals.
The first obstacle: Am I too late?
The bulletin read that the dogs were to be killed at end of business day on 5/17/07. I read the bulletin about 5:30pm on that same day. Was I too late? I emailed the shelter volunteer to inquire about the dogs, partially hoping that I wouldn't get a response at all because I didn't want to hear that it was too late. I received an email back from Peggy, the volunteer with Rutherford Co PAWS almost immediately letting me know the girls were still there, but it was an urgent situation as they were to be put down by the end of the day on Friday. I cried myself to sleep that night not knowing how I would do this… how would I care for them and keep my own animals safe? How would I pay for them if the medical needs are extensive? How am I going to do this by myself? Then I thought about the dogs… and faith, and strength and perseverance… this was now my mission.
The Leap of Faith:
I woke up early and made arrangements to take the day off. I work for a child foster care and adoption agency… my coworkers are caring, compassionate people and understand my need to do these kinds of things. For that, I am lucky.
I called my friend Connie at my vet's office, Companion Animal Hospital in Knoxville, TN. Connie is used to me bringing in strays to board temporarily, but being on the brink of the holiday weekend, they were already full. I explained that the dogs haven't received medical treatment and have been exposed to possible kennel cough; things weren't looking good. Connie told me to hold on for a minute, then she came back and said, "Bring 'em in, we'll work it out." Whew! Thank God for Connie and the nice folks at my vet's office. Things were beginning to come together and I began to pack up my Explorer with things that I might need to care for the dogs overnight, although I didn't expect to arrive back in Knoxville until evening, so I still had to work out a place to keep them overnight. Faith… strength… perseverance.
I took a few moments to post the blog on myspace about the upcoming journey… this made me feel like there was an extended support group out there… a spirit of community.
I stopped by my office to fax my adoption application to the shelter. I didn't even know if I would be approved for adoption since I already have 8 animals of my own. Then I told myself, "If I continue to dwell on the 'what if's' then I might as well go back home and crawl back in bed."
So I set sail toward Murfreesboro, TN. Since I graduated from MTSU years ago, I know the drive well… I knew exactly how long it would take and even knew how to get to the shelter. I arrived at 3:30pm central time… 2 ½ hours before their "put-down" time.
The shelter was clean and the staff was very nice and happy to see me. The female officer asked me if I wanted to meet the girls before completing the adoption papers. I hesitated a minute… I hadn't thought about what my reaction would be when I saw them. I work with abused and neglected children, but the sight of an emaciated, abused or tortured animal might make me throw up… can I keep it together? I took deep breaths on the walk to the kennels… in a weird way I felt like a death row prisoner walking toward the execution chamber. We reached Gracie first… she was timid as I knelt down to greet her, but after just a few moments she smiled at me as if to say, "Hello friend." I noticed Gracie hobbled a bit as she tried to stand up… she is missing part of her right back foot and also looks like she may be missing a toe on her left back foot. Was she caught in a trap? I don't want to know. After a few minutes with Gracie, we walked a few rows over and found Ruth. Ruth was lying on her bed and hardly able to lift her head as I knelt down. She was weak and grossly emaciated and her skin condition was indescribable. Then her tail wagged as I began to talk to her… she took every last bit of energy she had to scoot her body close to the bars for a bit of human contact… she was starved in so many ways.
As we walked back to the adoption desk, I promised the officer that I would make sure the girls would have a happy ending. I couldn't finish speaking because the emotions and tears became almost overwhelming at that point, so I just put my head down.
The adoption process was easy. I wrote a check for $210, signed my name a few times and they were mine. They hadn't been given any vaccinations and no medical treatment at all due to their looming death date, so I was given 6 little vaccination bottles and a couple of heartworm tests… luckily, I had packed a cooler full of ice, water and diet cokes so I could keep the vaccinations cold on the drive home.
Then it was time to get the girls.
With some old collars and leashes on hand, we went back to the kennels to get the girls. The adoption worker, Andrea helped me to walk them out and get them into my SUV. They were scared to go out the door… they were scared of everything. Andrea lifted Gracie into the car with no problem. Almost immediately, one of Gracie's ears perked right up as if to say "Woo hooo… I'm outta there!" Then I looked down at Ruth with her emaciated body and oozing sores all over her body… I was afraid she would break if I picked her up. So I closed my eyes, put my arms around her frail body and picked her up. Her legs were so shaky; she couldn't stand for long… so she laid down on the comforter that I had put there for them. The drive home was easy. Both girls laid together curled up in a little ball. I don't think they slept at all… they watched me the whole three hours home. They seemed relieved.
On the drive back to Knoxville, I was frantically trying to figure out what to do with them overnight… my vet didn't open until 7:30am the next morning. I didn't want to leave them in the back of my car overnight and exposing my animals was out of the question. Then I got a call from my dad, who reminded me that he was headed to Florida to go deep sea fishing. Perfect!! I have a key to his house; he doesn't have animals and has a nice, big garage. So we stopped in at the pet store and headed to my dad's. We got settled in to the garage and the girls were so happy… they had plenty of food and water, a nice comforter to sleep on and they had each other. Luckily, I had packed a few tubes of Frontline Plus for them which came in very handy because of the hundreds of ticks on them… the big, fat, juicy kind of ticks that I'm still having nightmares over. I spent most of the night with the girls… then caught a few hours sleep. They slept sound through the night. Early the next morning, my mom came over to help me get the girls ready to be boarded at the vet for the weekend. We washed their faces, removed ticks and gave them lots of love and attention.
Gracie & Ruth:
These two dogs have probably never had a name other than a shelter ID #. Normally, I don't name the strays that I find and place in adoptive homes… I think that should be the decision of the new pet owner. But I didn't want to keep referring to these sweet girls as "The one missing a back foot" and "The emaciated one." So, I gave them temporary names… they deserve that. I call her Gracie because she overcomes her disability with grace… strength… perseverance. I call her Ruth for several reasons that only make sense to me, but she was also found in Rutherford County.
On Saturday morning, 5/19/07 we arrived at Companion Animal Hospital. The vet staff immediately began to observe their conditions, help remove ticks and make them feel welcome. They were isolated from the other animals over the weekend due to their unknown health needs and began antibiotics.
On Monday, 5/21/07 they received their full physicals and blood chemistry panels. Some of my worries were alleviated after their exams… no signs of kennel cough; skin scrapes were negative for mange/mites, no major diagnosis thus far. I spent about 1 ½ hours with the girls on Monday afternoon… walking, taking pictures and resting under a shade tree. They really enjoyed being outside and learned very quickly how to walk on a leash.
On Tuesday, 5/22/07 we received the results of the blood tests. Amazingly, the girls were NEGATIVE for heart worms. Gracie's bloodwork tests were completely normal, but it was discovered that she has an ear infection which she is now being treated for. Ruth's blood work results were abnormal for blood platelets and something else that I can't pronounce and surely can't spell. But Ruth's abnormal results are more than likely due to her horrible bacterial skin infection (probably due to the ticks and sores.) After a few weeks of antibiotics for Ruth, we may have her checked for Lyme disease or Rocky Mtn Spotted fever if she continues to display any abnormalities.
Otherwise, these two girls have a very positive outlook ahead in regard to their health.
All along, their health issues have been huge concern. Now that they are cleared to be around other animals and have no major illness, I have to figure out what's next. I have 3 dogs and 5 cats already and my house is less than 900 sq ft. So I'm afraid that keeping the girls will be physically impossible for me.
Ideally, I am looking for a person or family who would take both girls… they are bonded and it would be nice to keep them together. But, understandably, that may not be possible. I think that the girls will bond very quickly to their new family and they've gotten along just fine being separated from each other over the last few days. The thing that matters most is that each dog goes to a person or family where they will be loved, well cared for and given the opportunities in life that they both deserve.
I am going to try to take the girls over the holiday weekend so they will not be kenneled. After the holiday, they will return to the vet to be boarded until other arrangements can be made… hopefully arrangements for a permanent home.
Friends, please put your thinking caps on… communicate with the people you know… do you know anyone who would be willing to take on this type of commitment?
I need your help now to make sure these to special dogs have a happy ending.
Thank you all for your expressions of support and encouragement!!!