Part V – I Came from the Deep South

continued from part IV  –

Mr. Bean, the cat, and I arrived at an armed truce, but I had the upper edge.  I know that in skirmishes between dogs and cats, the cats often lose.  I didn’t wish Mr. Bean harm, but I have thousands of years of instinct in me, and as much as I want to please my person, instinct is powerful.

The woman began supervising the cat and me at all times.  This seemed unnecessary to me.  Why, there were many times when Mr. Bean and I slept near each other, when he wound between my legs, when we walked by each other without comment.  To be fair, there were some times when I’d stalk him, when I hunkered low and keened on him, my eyes glittering black.  I knew I wouldn’t do anything actually, but the woman didn’t know this and she did not approve of my behavior.  She was irritated with me far too often.  I did not deserve this.

The trainer suggested that we adopt a second dog; she said that would likely get my focus off of Mr. Bean.  The woman said no–one dog was enough.  So that was that.

We went to the family reunion of adopted pets and their people at Main Line Animal Rescue.  I recognized the scent of the place before we turned down the lane and I sat up tall in the back seat to look.  When I jumped out of the car, I saw Jenny, a pit bull who was still there.   I overheard someone say that people have the wrong idea about pits and that they are actually one of the most devoted dogs.

Jenny and I greeted each other and I see other dogs I’d peripherally known who were now romping happily with their families.  There were new dogs there, many brought up from the South like me, and others rescued from inner city Philadelphia.

The shelter director saw me, walked over, and stooped down to pet me.  She asked us to walk through the kennels together; she wanted to show the woman something.

We passed the dogs, some with pleading eyes, some turned in on themselves and sad, some barking.  I was so happy not to still be there.  The shelter director stopped before the kennel I had been in, and there was Kentucky, who came up from Alabama with me.  He was the only one who had not been adopted, and he’d been at the rescue for a year.   Pointing to him, the director said, “Kentucky is a sweet fellow and has some remaining neurological defects from having contracted distemper in Alabama and survived it.”  Apparently the rural south is not big on vaccinating, spaying and neutering, and there are millions of homeless dogs, and a lot with preventable diseases.  Main Line Animal Rescue had had Kentucky checked out by University of Pennsylvania Veterinary School, and his neurological defects would not affect his ability to learn but his gait would remain odd, and he had a rounded back.  On occasion he fell over.Screen Shot 2015-06-26 at 4.50.25 PM

Kentucky and I sniffed at each other through the chain link door and he did a little jig, hopping on three legs and spinning in a circle.   The director said, “If you would consider adopting him.  He’s a good dog and he needs a home.  He’s very shy and the shelter is not a good place for him.  The likelihood of him getting adopting is slim.  People don’t typically want a special needs dog.

My person looked at him and grew very still. I watched her and knew what she was thinking.

to be continued

Part I

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Part II – I Came from the Deep South

(continued from the previous post) … There were 50 of us puppies altogether.  We were taken to vans and placed in crates with food and water and towels–soft and clean smelling.  I was in a crate with another puppy, a little black fellow with brown fur over his eyes and a hunched back.  The 50 of us were each given the name of one of the states.  I was Delaware, and I shared my crate with Kentucky.

Our ride was days long, and along the way we were let us out of the vans on leashes to stretch our legs, wander around, and greet our fellow travelers.  I knew almost all of them by scent.  I looked around hopefully for my sister, but she was not among them.

We arrrived at a farm, Main Line Animal Rescue in Chester Springs, PA, where there were many dogs and cats and people.  I and nine other puppies were separated from the rest because we were sick.  The following day, the 40 other well puppies were taken to a shelter in Connecticut for adoption.

Those of us who remained were cared for gently and nursed back to health.  Our new home was a kennel with a dog run attached.  Four of us puppies were together in our kennel, and there were several others in the room.  We puppies played together and slept together in a heap.  People cared for us gently, lovingly.  It was noisy, and I grew accustomed to the noise, but Kentucky often tucked his tail between his legs and cowered.  I’d go over to him and nudge him to let him know everything was fine but he didn’t quite believe it.

People came through the kennel area, looking into the faces of each of us for which dog to adopt.  Each time a person came through, some of the dogs in the kennel barked in greeting or jumped up against the door of their kennels.  Others of us sat and looked intently into the eyes of the person, communicating: me, me, choose me.

In the three months that passed many of the puppies, as well as other dogs in the kennel, were adopted.  I wasn’t, and neither was Kentucky.  We were relatively happy though–we had food and water, a soft place to sleep, people who cared for us kindly.  … to be continued    Part I

Part I – I Came from the Deep South

Most of all, I miss my sister.  She was brindle like me with white blaze dividing her face and ears that headed upward but took a U-turn.  We were one of four puppies born to a tired mother in a shrubby expanse of woodland.  Our mother disappeared one day, and we ventured out, hungry, beyond the flats.

Only my sister and I survived, wandering in the woods and feeding on bugs, drinking from muddy puddles, sleeping entwined to keep warm.  We were so little.

In a clearing in the woods, an old woman stood on the porch of her cabin watching us.  We watched her warily, but she stooped down and extended her hand to us.  We went to her and as she stroked our heads, we closed our eyes.  She put us into the back of her truck and we bumped down the road, careening this way and that.  She handed us over to people to ran a shelter full of barking dogs.  Time passed.

One day the shelter closed; they had run out of money.  They clanged open the doors of the cages, and a hundred dogs were let go.  They wandered off, tentatively, confused, into the Alabama countryside to live, to die.  A woman took another hundred of us to her place where they were hundreds and hundreds of dogs.  We lived with minimal food, never enough water, and squalor and disease.  Many of the dogs died.

One day rescue workers arrived.  They talked fast and in a different, clipped accent than I’d heard before.  They gathered fifty of us puppies, putting leashes around our necks and picking us up, carrying us into waiting vans.  In the confusion, my sister and I were separated.  As a man carried me away, talking to me in a soothing voice, I craned by neck and saw my sister among those who remained.  I whimpered and struggled, trying to get out of the man’s arms and back to my sister, to no avail.  I still remember the look on my sister’s face as she watched me go.  Not one night passes when I do not think of her.Delaware.JPG_medium-younger - Version 2

…TO BE CONTINUED   Part II