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Five Rescued Dogs - In Memory Of Maggie
First I must say that I love all dogs. Every breed, and individual dog, has its own virtues and its own beauty. Over the years, I have made homes for a variety of dogs. Until about twelve years ago, virtually all of these dogs were purebreds. All that has changed. Now my priority, and that of my family, is rescued dogs. It seems to me, that rescued dogs are the most grateful dogs. They show their gratitude with extra loyalty, extra love, and extra devotion. They may not be the best behaved dogs, but they prove themselves, to me at least, to be the most precious.
All dogs can become wonderful family dogs, unless the cruelty shown them by hateful owners was so bestial, that it would take more than a dog's lifetime to erase. There are a precious few, loving, dedicated, skilled individuals who can erase this cruelty, but they are few, and the dogs in need are many, and so these abused dogs will never have a family of their own, but will remain in protected facilities, where they will live out their lives, at least comfortably, and safe from the society that treated them so cruelly.
Here is the story of five dogs, the dogs my daughter, and her husband, have rescued. First came ZOE.
The first dog my daughter rescued was Zoe. Zoe was one of thirteen female puppies, left in a cardboard box, outside the gate of an animal shelter. The shelter was overcrowded, with one hundred and twenty-five dogs, mostly puppies, in residence, when they only had space for sixty-five. But this was a no-kill shelter, and so they coped, quickly sending out a desperate cry for help. Hearing the cry, my daughter went immediately, and found - little Zoe.
And so Zoe came home. At the time, my daughter still had our wonderful family dog, a standard poodle called Beau. Beau was a beautiful dog, a big male apricot poodle, loving, gentle, kind, mischievous, and independent. Beau had heart problems throughout most of his life, and was beginning to slow down. My daughter thought the puppy and the poodle would be good companions. And so they were. Little Zoe thought Beau was her mother and Beau acted the part. Some playing was good, but when Beau needed some down time, he retired to the couch, against which little Zoe jumped and jumped, content to plant kisses on Beaus laughing face.
All too soon Beau's old heart gave out, and the kindest choice was to see him on his way, which my daughter tearfully did. Everyone grieved, as did little Zoe. It was then that Zoe changed.
Zoe 'the wild one' emerged. She made her headquarters under the bed, stole and stored there, all the personal items she could find, needed ones, like my son-in-laws wallet and keys. And heaven help anyone who tried to get their possessions back. Zoe had sharp little teeth and sharp little claws and didn't hesitate to use them.
My daughter, a teacher for special needs children, knew patience. And she used it on Zoe - never losing her calm, throughout all the bites and scratches. Finally she realized that she must take the place of little Zoe's lost mother - Beau.
And so the mothering began. Whenever she was home, my daughter carried little Zoe, who by now was topping thirty pounds, wherever she went. She constantly talked to her, sang to her, rocked her, and petted her. Finally little Zoe, fast turning into big Zoe, began to come around. The dear, sweet, loving dog was back, and formed a tight bond with both Mom, and Dad - especially Dad
Zoe could, in her youth, be a bit lazy, and a bit stubborn. Every day, my daughter would take Zoe, along with her - soon to arrive - older brother and her - soon to arrive - younger sister for a walk. Zoe would walk a short distance and then simply flop down on her side. Drag if you will - Zoe would not get up. Her brother needed his walk and so my daughter would lift up lazy Zoe - now up to 50 pounds, and carry her the rest of the way. The sight seemed to amuse young sister, who decided to add to the circus-like act by walking the rest of the way on her hind legs.
Today Zoe is a mature seven year old, loving, independent, and a bit strong willed. Zoe still has a tendency, only a tendency, to be a bit, shall we say, lazy. She will now go for her walk, but reluctantly, and she will decline to leave the house, at all, if it is raining. Zoe will usually choose to sleep alone, in one of her hidey holes, draped across the bed in the spare room, or occasionally, just occasionally, near, but not quite touching, her favorite person - her dad.
And then came RANGER.
After dear Beau was gone, and Zoe was restored to her normally sweet state, my daughter decided that she would like to adopt another dog. She went to the local A.S.P.C.A. to see the residents. Fortunately, a gentleman, who trained the dogs to make them more adoptable, was present. He asked my daughter a few questions about herself and what type of dog she was looking for, then smiled, and said he had the perfect dog for her. He described a dog called Radar. She said she had not noticed him and the trainer said ' You won't see him. If you are inside, he will go outside, and if you are outside, he will go inside.'
The trainer took my daughter to the play area, and then went to get Radar. Radar was obviously very shy, bordering on terrified, but slowly, very slowly, he came over to my daughter. The trainer smiled. He knew that a bond had been formed that would never be broken. Radar's name was immediately changed to Ranger, as my daughter did not want him to feel he needed ever again to be 'watchful'.
Ranger had been abused - horribly abused. He was afraid of everything, and everybody, except that one person.
When I came down to my daughter's for my summer visit, we went into her bedroom to see Ranger. He was cowering in the corner, behind her rocking chair. And so the routine was established. Enter the room. Pick Ranger up - he was very thin. Place him on the bed; stroke him gently; talk softly to him, even if he cringed, then leave the room.
This routine was repeated as often possible, about every half hour at least. For many weeks, Ranger would not let anyone see him eat. Pick him up. Place him on the bed. Put his food near him. Leave the room, and shut the door. Return in half an hour. The food would be gone, and Ranger would be back in his corner. Nothing much changed that summer, but when I returned at Christmas, love and devotion had done its magic, and Ranger was out of his corner and, for the most part, out of the bedroom.
Ranger, reluctantly tolerated patting, but he remained still - too still. He would never approach He still did not like strangers. But a wonderful incident happened near the end of my visit. One evening when I was sitting on the couch, I felt something touch my hand. I looked up. Ranger, dear Ranger, had left his bed and come to touch my hand.
That was a memory that will remain with me forever.
Today Ranger is a happy dog. He is stately, and handsome. He is still tense around strangers, especially men. He is wary of people carrying sticks, and strangely, cameras. But home with his pack, or with his parents, he is a happy dog. Above all he loves to walk and hike with Mom and Dad, and spend time playing in his large backyard, barking at the deer, hunting for lizards, digging among the bushes and rocks, basking in the sunshine, and enjoying the company of his favorite person in all the whole world - his Mom.
Next to come was LULUBELLE
One late night as daughter and her husband were pulling into the driveway, my son-in-law noticed something under this truck. Initially, he thought it was a young coyote, but on closer inspection saw that it was a puppy. A little coaxing brought out a young speckled dog, probably a cross between a cattle dog and an Australian shepherd.
The unspoken policy was two dogs and no more, but the puppy was held up to the window to see Zoe and Ranger. Some food were brought out to her, and plans were made to pen her for the night and look for her owner the next day. It was decided that she could come in, briefly, just to say hello to Zoe and Ranger. The hello dragged on - accompanied by a few tears - and Lulubelle was 'in.'
Lulubelle is a sleek, racy girl, with lots of southern charm and a bit of a temper to match. She was given her name by an equally charming 'southern' belle who took one look at her and said 'Oh she is definitely a Lulubelle." and so she still is.
At the time of her 'invasion' Lulubelle was probably about four months old - the same age as another stray puppy that my daughter found or I should say 'found my daughter'. This stray puppy was little Junebug, who was to be my dog - as soon as possible. But until then, the house contained Ranger, Zoe, and now two, only too apparently unhouse-broken puppies, and my daughter, who was running a business out of her home. Lucky the husband whose job carried him to another part of the state.
A puddle here, a small mound there, and who was to blame?. Who could tell? I was to visit soon and fly Junebug home with me. Never did I feel more welcome. My services were obviously needed. Ranger, fortunately was above any shenanigans, but Zoe joined in the seemingly endless dawn-to-dusk games, which consisted of racing at top speed, about the house, stopping only long enough to leave 'gifts' for unsuspecting adults. I have my suspicions that Zoe was responsible for some 'overly large' pools and mounds.
Once Junebug left the house, training efforts were concentrated on Lulubelle and she grew into an elegant adult, with jet black velvety ears and jet black eyes, watchful eyes, always on the lookout for imminent danger, real or imagined.
Lulubelle is a restless dog, whose favorite activity is running with her Mom. Of course Lulu is not really running, but the pace does stretch out those long legs, and the joy in those jet-black eyes, encourages her Mom to run even further, and to run even faster.
Next to come home was STEVIE RAY
Because he was a border collie/cross, a rescue organization pulled Stevie Ray, formerly known a Pepe from a no-kill animal shelter. The border collie rescue organization, that took him, quickly returned him, when they found that he had kennel cough - some rescue organization.
Anyway, Stevie was eventually cured of his kennel cough, and put into a foster home. He was a quiet little fellow, probably about a year old at the time. The home had two larger dogs who were permanent residents, so Stevie spent most of his day, lying quietly in his bed, chewing his toys.
For some reason, Stevie, never found a permanent home, and his days appeared to be numbered. Well, you know what happened next. His picture was noticed by my daughter who immediately went to claim him and make him pack member number four.
Stevie is no longer quiet. True to his roots, he is a runner and a herder. Stevie sees It as his duty to herd Lulubelle. Lulubelle does not make a willing 'herdee', so there are many wild chases, with much 'pretend' growling and snarling. Things are never quiet with Stevie in residence. He was, at the time of his arrival, the baby of the family, and so he has remained. He must have his head, if not his whole body on someone's lap, and he must sleep on the bed at night, preferably on Dad's pillow. But Stevie is generous with his affections. If Mom is home, she is the chosen one. If Mom is not available, Dad is the chosen one. When Mom and Dad are away, and I am the sitter of choice, then I am the chosen one.
Stevie is a dear little - a relative term - dog, always cheerful, always ready for a romp, a walk, and better still, a visit to the dog park, with his big brother, Ranger.
And then, along came HANK JUNIOR.
Hank is the newest member of the pack. Last Christmas, my daughter found that her favorite no-kill animal shelter was looking for foster homes for pets, for the holidays. This was to give the shelter workers a bit of a break and to give the pets a taste of home life. She volunteered to take any dog.
And so Hank came for Christmas. Hank was an overweight little rat terrier, the calmest dog I have ever seen. He only showed excitement at mealtime, but the rest of the time was content to sit in anyone's lap or quietly on a bed, if someone would lift him up.
Christmas came and went and, because she could not bear to see Hank return to a small cage, my daughter offered to foster him, until a permanent home could be found. That lasted about an hour, until I got an email from my daughter saying,"Mom, I have failed as a foster parent. We are adopting Hank."
And so Hank, formerly known as Roma, became the fifth member of that lucky pack. Hank is now an enthusiastic part of the family. He holds his own amid his larger brothers and sisters. He giggles and squeaks, and barks his happy little head off. Hank burrows under the covers at night, and spends his days hunting in the back yard, under the watchful eye of big brother Ranger, sleeping away the drowsy hours amid the snores of his brothers and sisters, or curled up in the laundry basket. Hank has now lost two pounds - only two more to go to reach his fighting weight of twelve pounds. Hank's story is just beginning, but will go on for many happy years to come.
That is a happy pack - that pack of five. Their manners may not be the best. They rush the door when company comes, bark loud and long, pull enthusiastically on their leashes, and are a bit unruly at meal time, but those things really aren't important. What is important is that they will always be well-cared for, safe, and loved. No dog asks for more.