Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Save One: A Homeless Pup's Story

Our Annabelle had a tough life before she came to us.

She was seen running the neighborhood for a long time.  A good Samaritan finally caught her and her companion, a pregnant poodle. She was covered in ticks and fleas, her fur was a mess, she had a runny nose, and had probably never tasted real food before. 

She hadn't even celebrated her first birthday.

Fortunately for her and her poodle friend, there are people who love the helpless ones in society, people who care for those who can't care for themselves. They took her in, gave her much needed veterinarian care, and loved her more than she had been loved since she was born.

We met her Friday at the foster mom's home.  I could see from Annabelle's reaction to her, that this sweet lady had really taken care of this puppy.  Annabelle wagged her tail at her and gave her kisses. 

Mrs. P. had packed her a little bag to go home with us, just like a mom would do when she sends her kid off to Grandma's.

Inside her packed bag were Annabelle's leash, supplements, comfort items for her nose and eyes, a pink, soft blanket and specially prepared food of lean ground beef and rice (a gourmet meal for a pup with a sensitive tummy.)  Mrs. P. had written out careful instructions including what she ate, how often to feed her, what she liked, and that she was a good cuddler. I knew from all the instructions and careful packing, Mrs. P. loved her as much as any human mom could. (You have no idea how grateful I am for that.)

The rescue volunteer took our picture with Annabelle on Mrs. P.'s porch. Then Daughter and I loaded her and her specially packed bag in the car and drove her home.

As soon as she was home with us, she found the sofa.  I kept thinking that, after so many months of sleeping only God knows where, it must be nice to have a soft place to land.  She was able to sleep well at Mrs. P.'s home and now ours.

So our life with Annabelle began. I warmed Mrs. P's special gourmet meal for her, followed her instructions, and we all loved her and spoiled her as she deserved.  She had a leftover stuffy nose and the rescue folks thought it just needed more antibiotics or allergy medications.  They asked if we wanted to wait to take her home, but in my heart I knew she was supposed to come home with us on Friday.

On Monday I scheduled a new puppy appointment with our vet.  I wanted him to meet her and check her out and see if he could do something new for her runny nose.  He examined her, treated her with antibiotics and gave her allergy medication. We scheduled a follow-up visit in a week.

Yesterday she was not well.  She screamed when we tried to pick her up, she yelped when we tried to move her.  I knew something was wrong and she was in pain.

We took her back to the vet and, after blood work and other tests, he determined that she had distemper.

Distemper is a horrible disease.  Seizures eventually set in, causing pain and loss of bodily functions. The pain she was experiencing from us holding her was a sign that her brain was sending the wrong signals. What should be a normal, pleasant touch was painful to Annabelle. Any treatment our vet would have given had a slim chance of saving her life.  If she lived, she could have permanent neurological damage, leaving her possibly like a vegetable.

After many tears, Daughter and I said goodbye to Annabelle yesterday afternoon. 

We talked to her and loved her.  We pet her gently so as not to cause her pain.  Our vet allowed us to stay with her as long as we needed.   As she disappeared to the back room in the technician's arms, we said goodbye. We saw her for the last time as the puppy we loved, still with life in her eyes and a sweetness on her face.

So, other than to tell you about my life, why am I sharing this with you?  I can tell you it's not to make you cry or to discourage you from rescuing an animal. No, quite the opposite.

Annabelle's story needs to be told.

Her story is a painful reminder of what is happening to animals in our society.  They need homes.  They need vaccinations early.  Annabelle was vaccinated by the rescue organization.  It was just too late for her. She had most likely contracted the disease before they found her.  She was kept in foster care long enough for most symptoms of illness to show.

Although they didn't save her life, the rescue volunteers were able to make her last days wonderful. We were able to make her death a peaceful one.  Death from distemper is violent and painful.  I can't imagine what Annabelle would have suffered if she'd been left on the streets.

After a lot of crying, I have to tell you that anger pushes through all my tears.  Annabelle's hope for survival should have begun the day she was born. Instead, she was tossed to the streets like garbage, left to starve, covered in parasites, and fighting for life.

I'm angry that people dump dogs and cats on the street.  I'm angry that they are euthanized because of sickness, or worse- because no one wants them.  What does this say about us?

But I am also grateful for those who give these creatures a chance, the rescue organizations, the Mrs. P.'s and the children in the world who let their hearts lead them to these wonderful animals. As painful as it is for all of them to say goodbye to a sweet puppy, like our Annabelle, their courage and compassion make a huge difference in a small, precious life.

Please don't let Annabelle's story discourage you from saving one of those lives.  Let it inspire you to save just one.

Or at least to try.

"Never, never be afraid to do what's right, especially if the well-being of a person or animal is at stake. Society's punishments are small compared to the wounds we inflict on our soul when we look the other way."

— Martin Luther King Jr.    


Candy said...

Oh, I am tearing up as I read Annabelle's story. As I do, my own rescue "puppy" (who is ten years old now), nudges me with his nose, as if sensing my distress.

You showed Annabelle love when she needed it most. Such a wonderful gift.

If I could encourage every person reading this to please, PLEASE consider a rescue puppy as opposed to one from a breeder. Rescue dogs are wonderful for singles and families alike.

Melanie @ This Ain't New York said...

Yes, Candy.

You are so right.

We all need to rescue a puppy before buying from a breeder or pet store. They need us to save them. Thanks for saving the one who is nudging his nose at you!

Carpool Queen said...

Oh, Melanie!!! I'm so very sorry that your time with Annabelle was cut short. Truly, truly sorry.

Amy said...

Our Maggie is a rescue dog and it was the best decision of our life. When we went back to pick her up we saw a very old black lab at the pound that will probably live his last days in a cage. Looking back I wished we would have taken him too. Thanks for the post.

Jeanie said...

My heart is broken...

Roxanne said...

Our three kitties were from the litter of a stray that was rescued by one of my students. I'm glad that we have our little kitties and that my student's family took in a pregnant stray. . .and I'm SO sorry for the loss of Annabelle so soon.

fuzzytop said...

So sorry to read this.... You must all be heartbroken. It is so hard to lose a furry friend, even if you only had her for a few short days.


Susanne said...

Oh Melanie. I'm so sorry. I don't even know what else to comment. My heart is sad such a little pup had such a rough, short life.

Lori Lynn said...

Mel, I am so sorry. I love that you tried to do a great thing, and did.
Our Hank was a rescue. So much of the fun over the years came from "guessing" where he learned habits and behaviors. Where does one learn to run from the toaster pop?
Rescue, rescue, rescue. is a great site!

cindy said...

Oh! Melanie your Annabelle is such a sad/happy moment. Sad for you and your daughter to go through and yet I'm sure Annabelle was happy in finding a home. Being a scrapbooker my first thought was...I would see about getting a copy of that picture taken on Mrs. P porch.