A Puerto Rican Pup Whose Luck Changed

Valentina was found wandering the inhospitable streets of Puerto Rico. In an act of unthinkable cruelty, someone had covered her from the neck down in hot tar and set her loose to suffer. But Valentina was lucky; someone spotted her.

GreaterGood.org was born out of a desire to make a real difference—to connect people who want to help with people who are on the front lines in adverse situations. We work with over 150 charity partners worldwide, and operate several of our own on-the-ground programs to ensure your donation has maximum impact. Together, we can make a world of difference for people, pets, and the planet.

When emergency cases like Valentina’s come up, when disaster strikes a community in the U.S. or abroad, when biodiversity hotspots are threatened by development; when shelters are crumbling and schools are in desperate need of supplies, you can rest assured that your donation to Help Where It’s Most Needed is supporting meaningful programs that affect real, positive change.

Puerto Rico Animals pulled Valentina from the streets. With emergency medical funding from GreaterGood.org, they prepared for the agonizing process of removing the tar from her fur and skin. Afterward, she was practically a new puppy! We are thrilled to report that not only has she fully recovered from her ordeal, but she’s also been adopted into a loving forever home.

You can help. Your support makes all our work possible. Double the impact of your year-end donation today. 100% of your gift is tax deductible.

Click here to help dogs like Valentina

 

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The Dog in the Polish Village

ID-10025746 I have no name, but that doesn’t bother me.  What is a name anyway?  I live in the woods near the farmhouse at the edge of the village they call Pierzwin.  The little girl lives in the farmhouse.  She’s small, so small, and toddles when she walks.  She is mine, this I know.  I am hers.  This she knows. The one who doesn’t know is the old woman with whom the girl lives.  The girl must always beg for a scrap of bread for me, which the woman throws far from the farmhouse door, as though this would keep me away from the girl.

When I first saw the little girl playing along the edge of the creek, I knew she was mine to watch over.  She was stooped down looking at a rock, the sun glinting off her flax-colored hair.  I stood downstream, regarding her.  The girl looked up at me and laughed.  I can still hear the sound—like a thin, golden strand twirling up into the air.  I walked to her and nuzzled into the crook of her arm.  She laughed again, breathing sweet breath on me.

Today everything is different.

Yesterday as the day darkened, the little girl played alone in the farmyard.  Snow started, then grew heavy, swirling from every direction.  Instead of going inside, the girl toddled toward the woods.  I watched the farmhouse door to see if the old woman would call for her.  She did not. I followed the girl, a few feet behind her, whining and willing her to turn back.

She meandered to the edge of the creek.  Looking up at the sky, she stuck out her tongue to catch the snowflakes, lost her balance, and slipped down the steep slope toward the water.  I caught the edge of her skirt in my teeth but it did not stop her.  The cloth ripped, the water splashed, and the girl cried.  I leapt to her.  She took hold of my fur, and I pulled us up the slope.

I tried to lead her to the farmhouse, but she turned the other way.  I barked for her to follow me, but she kept her course, away.  I followed.  At the edge of the woods I tried to steer her back, but she sat down, shivering.  I took the arm of her coat gently between my teeth and tugged, but she lay down and cried.  I peered into the darkness.  Was there no one who would come for her?  I thought to run to the farmhouse door and bark, but I couldn’t leave her.  I lay down, circling myself around her small body, willing her shivering to stop.  More snow came.  The girl slept, and so, eventually, did I.

At first light, I heard the calls.  I nosed the girl awake and barked, again and again.  The girl sat up.  I nosed her again: call out, cry out.  She sat mute.  I continued barking.  I sensed the footfalls on the earth before I saw the people.  I ran to the men, then sprinted back and forth between the men and the girl, trying to tell them.  They followed me.  A man scooped the girl into his arms and carried her away.  I stood watching for a few moments then, hanging back, followed.

The old woman ran from the farmhouse door and grasped the girl.  There were so many people, so much noise.  I watched, then retreated.  As I walked into the woods I heard a whistle.  Looking over my shoulder, I saw a man coming toward me.  I thought to dash away, but something in his manner seemed gentle.  I sat down and waited for him to approach.  He extended his hand for me to sniff and touched my head.  “It was you,” he said, “you are the one.  Come.”

I walked a few respectful paces behind him.  We entered the farmyard.  The man said some words to the old woman.  She studied me, then opened the door wide and with a sweep of her hand asked me to enter the farmhouse.  I looked into her eyes for a moment, and then stepped inside to warmth.

 

German shepherd photo by Maggie Smith

A Letter to Miss Tia

by guest blogger Jay Erb*

January 2015
Dear Miss Tia,

I miss you every day, but this month has stirred my thoughts even more as I remember the 14th anniversary of when we met and the one-year anniversary of when we laid you to rest. Miss Tia 2

You were such a pitiful sight when we met. At 26 pounds, your spine and ribs were showing, ear mites kept you scratching and shaking your head, fleas caused patches of missing fur, and you had an umbilical hernia, but you were still a really cute little dog. Your personality was interesting—so friendly yet so scared that you shook. It didn’t take long before I knew I wanted to adopt you. I bet you really felt better once Dr. G took care of your medical issues, and soon you doubled your weight to get to your healthy 50 – 55 pound range. Every year when you went in for your annual checkup, Dr. G and her staff would comment on what a pretty girl you were and how sad you looked when they first met you.

I really miss our daily walks, and not taking walks with you every day has also really hurt my fitness level. For a while, walking at Coventry Woods wasn’t an option for me, as it felt so empty walking the trails without you. You were such a big part of helping to design and build that trail system. Now other dogs can bring their humans for a hike because of the work you helped to do. I am beginning to enjoy those trails again, because I remember the times we worked on and walked those trails together. Then there were the mental health benefits of our walks. Especially when your Grandmom and Granddad got sick and passed on, those walks in the woods with you really helped me. So many people knew you as my walking partner. Our bicycle rides on the Schuylkill River Trail were a lot of fun too.

Miss TiaThe house still seems really empty without you, especially when I get home and you don’t greet me at the door. Going to bed isn’t the same; I miss your little, contented sigh every night when you’d curl up at the foot of the bed and I’d cover you with your blanket. Meals aren’t the same either, without you lying next to my chair in the kitchen. I continue to see hiding places in each room for your treats when we played your favorite “Find It” game.  I know your Mommy really misses you too.

Thank you for enriching my life, and for being Daddy’s little girl.

Love, Dad

*Jay Erb is Chair of the North Coventry Parks & Recreation Commission.

Ollie & Spuds – Chapter 5

© 2014 Carolyn Cott

Chapter 5 – The Morning Sun Sparking Off Her Fur

Spuds sits in the one beam of sunlight slanting in between the tall buildings. Suddenly she feels her paw needs washing, so she does that. There’s a spot on her back that makes her skin twitch, so she attends to that. Then she curls into a tight circle, wraps her tail neatly around her front paws, closes her eyes and doses.

Ollie trots down the sidewalk, turns into the alley, and stops. The ginger-colored cat is there, the morning sun sparking off her fur. She appears to be sleeping, but her ears move toward his direction. Ollie thinks of the other cats he’s seen. The skinny cats with hissing voices that live in another alley. The next door cat at the house, who had perched on the half-wall between the backyards and glared at him, the tip of his stripy tail twitching. Then he remembers-hears his children’s high voices, their clear-bell laughter. He feels their chubby arms around his neck. He closes his eyes and sighs loudly.

Spuds opens her eyes into thin lines and watches the dog, sensing him. There is sorrow and gentleness. She watches him for a moment longer, then makes up her mind. She rises, stretches slowly, and walks to him.

Ollie looks around wildly, seeking an escape route, but by then the cat is in front of him. With her tail held high, she raises her face and blinks at him once, twice, three times, slowly. With his breath held and his ears up in alert, he looks at her, then he drops his ears and almost smiles. Spuds takes another step toward him, curls her back into an arch and rubs against his nose. She purrs and does it again. Ollie takes a tentative slurp of her ear. Spuds shakes off the dog spit, then sits down and gazes at Ollie. Well, she conveys, what shall we do?

Ollie looks toward the back end of the alley where he sleeps and thinks, sleep, but then reconsiders. He hadn’t found anything but a torn-off piece of crusty pretzel last night and was hungry. He looks at Spuds, licks his chops in answer, and they trot out of the alley. Ollie leads them down the street some distance and into an alley. There Ollie sits down beneath a fragrant-smelling dumpster and looks pointedly between the dumpster and Spuds.

Spuds calculates the distance, crouches, and in one fluid motion jumps to the rim of the dumpster and into it. She emerges with the remnants of a chicken thigh between her teeth and deposits it at Ollie’s feet. He chomps into it, and when he’s mostly done he remembers the cat, backs up a pace, and stands guard while Spuds finishes the feast.

She washes her face while Ollie paces. We have to get out of here now. Ollie looks at Spuds. People will be coming soon. Not nice people.

They slip out in the street and run toward the home-alley, pausing only to lap up some dirty water pooled beneath a downspout. Then they dart into the alley just as more and more cars and trucks are rumbling by. Ollie walks to his pile of rags and cardboard, uses his nose to burrow in, circles three times and lies down. With his head resting on his paw he looks at Spuds: come here. Spuds walks toward him, gracefully jumps up beside him, and nestles into the crook of Ollie’s hind leg. As she drifts toward sleep she realizes this is the first time she’s felt something like comfort in a long time. She lifts her head, gives Ollie a lick, then settles into safe sleep.

to be continued….

Chapter 1: https://untoldanimalstories.org/2014/02/15/ollie-spuds-chapter-1/
Chapter 2: https://untoldanimalstories.org/2014/02/21/ollie-spuds-chapter-2/
Chapter 3:  https://untoldanimalstories.org/2014/05/04/ollie-spuds-chapter-3/
Chapter 4: https://untoldanimalstories.org/2014/05/09/ollie-spuds-chapter-4/

Ollie & Spuds – Chapter 4

© 2014 Carolyn Cott

One evening during Spuds and her kittens’ wanderings, they came to a building from which came a chorus of meows and barking. Spuds listened closely. There was a question in each of the sounds, some complaining, but not fear. In a few of the voices she heard glee.

For the next three days she ventured out on her own during the daytime, hiding in the shrubbery and watching that place of meows and barks. People came and went, some bringing animals in—those people were teary with contorted faces. Some brought animals out—those people were happy and chattering to the bewildered-looking cat or dog. Spuds caught sight of one cat in a box with small metal crisscrossed bars. The cat’s feet were splayed out in front of him, bracing against movement, but his gaze was more curious than anything.

A van came and went often, spilling out a large man stuffed into a uniform with many pockets and shiny buttons. His face was always serious. The dogs he brought in on leashes were skinny and mangy and haunted looking. The cats were yowling. Just wait, communicated Spuds silently from her hiding place, just wait: you’ll be fine.

After the third day Spuds gathered her brood over a feast of two freshly caught mice. When the kittens had finished their meal and Spuds had crunched through the remains of bones and tails and toes, after all of them had washed their faces with their paws and were content, she told them her plan. They listened, then slept.

When the moon was still high between the buildings, Spuds nudged the kittens awake. Yawning and stretching, they meandered after her. She settled them down together beneath a bush by the front door of the place of meow and barks, and waited. As the sun rose pink, Spuds licked the face of each of her babies and looked into their eyes, trying to convey a lifetime of love. When each kitten held her gaze and blinked slowly, Spuds moved to the next.

People started coming to the building, sharp, purposeful footfalls clicking on the pavement. Spuds saw the man in the uniform come up the walk. She nudged the littlest kitten out from under the shrub and told her to meow. The kitten did, and the man looked down. Spuds nudged the other kittens, and they followed their sister.

The man looked down and sighed. He scooped up all four of the kittens in his meaty arms and then saw Spuds. He called over his shoulder to a woman coming up the walk. She reached beneath the bush to grab Spuds, but Spuds eluded her grasp. The woman ran after her, but Spuds was faster. Before turning the corner, Spuds looked back toward her babies, watching as the last stubby orange tail disappeared through the door. She had a moment of panic, then darted under a fence and was gone.

Spuds has a hard time getting comfortable at night without the kittens to curl around. She misses her babies terribly. She holds onto a hopeful image: someone taking care of them, giving them warmth and food and water and comfort. With that picture in her mind, she can let go and sleep. But her first thought upon waking is of them: the way the sun shone on their orange fur, their ticked whiskers alternating white and tan to the tips, their small tails, fuzzy and broad at the base and tapering to a point.

She spends nights wandering around, half-heartedly hunting for food, nibbling at some tidbits in the dumpster. Maybe she should have gone in with her kittens, she thinks. She turns that split-second decision over and over in her mind, not clear why she had turned and fled. But it’s too late now.

to be continued….

Chapter 1: https://untoldanimalstories.org/2014/02/15/ollie-spuds-chapter-1/
Chapter 2: https://untoldanimalstories.org/2014/02/21/ollie-spuds-chapter-2/
Chapter 3:  https://untoldanimalstories.org/2014/05/04/ollie-spuds-chapter-3/