Who Rescued Who? - Stories

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2015-01-10Amy McCracken, ED, RALRichmond, VAAngel dogRichmond Animal League

We were given permission to reprint this story from Amy McCracken, Executive Director at beloved Richmond Animal League: Watching Alyssa die was the hardest thing I have ever done. Despite her incredible bravery and the crazy goodness of her family, it was, in a word, hellish. Floppy (stuffed animal) was under her shoulder the entire time. Her doll, Sallerina, close by. So many of my friends had become totally invested in her life, and losing her after all she had been through was devastating. August 2, 2013 I went back to work. For the first time since coming to work for Richmond Animal League, I was alone at the shelter. We had an off-site training that everyone was attending and there was not one of our 300 volunteers lurking about. I was very, very grateful to be there alone. As amazing and loving as everyone had been to me, I did not want to see or talk to anyone. I was just sitting at my desk staring at my computer when I realized that the dogs were going nuts. I have no idea how long they were carrying on. I just knew that something wasn’t right. I went to the door closest to my office and looked in the long skinny glass window to the kennel. There was a huge white dog standing at the door. Just standing there. And the kenneled dogs were so mad. Huge White Dog wasn’t barking at all. He was just standing there at the door. I could not see that he was wearing a collar because he is so fluffy. I was scared of him. I went over to the clinic and asked a coworker to help me put a loose dog back. She came over and saw him and said, “Oh, that’s Cheeseburger! He came in yesterday morning while you were at Alyssa’s funeral. He’s harmless.” She put him back and locked his kennel. I sent an email to the staff to please double check that all animals are secure before leaving the kennel. Five minutes later the dogs were going crazy again. Again, Cheeseburger was out and standing at the door. Again, I put him back. Five minutes later the dogs were going crazy. I have no idea how he unlocked his steel kennel door time and time again. But he did. I finally asked him if he had to go outside for a minute. I put a leash on him and he pulled me right into my office and sat down. Under my chair. And then stared at me as if to say, “Don’t mind me. Get back to work.” And he stayed there the rest of the day. When my co-worker and our kennel director, Pam, came back I asked where Burg came from. He had been pulled from Richmond Animal Care and Control (RACC)—that was all she knew. I called RACC. They said that Burg and another dog had been left behind in a home after his owners were evicted. It was a long time before anyone knew that the dogs were there, and they were in rough shape by the time a neighbor complained and animal control discovered them. Burg had come to RAL while I was at Little A's funeral. I told Cheeseburger that he could stay in my office for the day, but that he was not my kind of dog. I told Alyssa’s mom and dad about him. At first they thought maybe Burg was from Alyssa. It didn't take long to know it. That night, I brought him home just for the night. We talked. I explained to him that even though he seemed to come in at just the right time, and that maybe Little A did bring him to get me through the weekend, he was not my kind of dog. He understood. August 3, 2013 I took him to the neighborhood farmer’s market to find a good home for him. That’s when I realized that little kids love Burg. So much. I wished I had a video camera on my head so that I could have recorded excited little faces charging toward Burg shouting, “So fluffy! So fluffy! So flufffffffffffffffffffffffy!” I told everyone. Look at this dog! He is the perfect dog! He’s quiet! He’s gentle! He’s a thinker! He loves children. He doesn’t bark. He walks great on the leash, and will sleep anywhere. The shelter opens at noon today! He’s available! Come by! He could be all yours today! After the farmer’s market we went to visit Alyssa (Alyssa’s grave – photos unavailable), and to thank her for not letting either of us be alone for the weekend. I called the shelter and asked them to call me if anyone had come looking for Burg—and that I would bring him right over if they had. But no one had, and we ended up back home again. (He really is smart—even if he doesn’t know what side of the door the knob is on). Burg was as sad as I was. I tried to make him feel better. I even found and printed out this picture from the Internet Machine and tried to rewrite his life story for him. Tried to pretend that no one ever left him behind. “Look at you!” I told him. “Look how cute you were when you were a puppy," I lied to him. I loved you then and I love you now! Even though you are not my kind of dog.” I’m not sure he bought it, but I think he loved me for the effort. The next week he spent his days in my office and his nights at my house. We talked a lot about Alyssa. August 10, 2013 It was Saturday again, and I took Burg back to the farmer’s market. Everyone was very happy to see him, but sad that he had not been adopted. I talked him up again. “He is completely housetrained! He sleeps until 10:00 a.m. on the weekends and Wednesdays! He loves to go for a ride in the car! He eats, but he is not concerned with what you are having. He is not a licker. He is a very good listener. He’s a little sad, but coming around. He is very independent, but just when you think he might not love you at all, he walks over and sits on your foot. We open at noon today! We are located right behind the Martin’s near Chesterfield Towne Center! Come over!” And Burg came over and sat right on my foot. And I drove to the Richmond Animal League and adopted him. And good Lord in heaven above was Little A about on the edge of her seat waiting for me to realize that she'd sent Burg, and that we were destined to carry on without her, no matter how impossible it seemed. So much has happened with Burgie since then. He has amazing friends who have helped him heal in all ways. I'm still convinced Burg misses someone. In fact, I think he misses a whole family. He listens to traffic and I wonder if he is waiting for someone to finally come home. He will sit and watch an entire Little League game, and he pays attention to doors opening wherever we are. I can't think about all of that. I just know how incredibly lucky I am that Burg spends time in my living room, and at the shelter with me, and I will never, ever, take him back to the farmer's market and try to find him a home that I think might be better than ours. Thanks for saving me, Burg.

2015-02-04Carrie Renuart (told via phone)Washington, DCMixed Dog

A few days ago we had the pleasure of meeting Carrie Renuart, the Executive Assistant to Mickey Stern at Base Productions (I, Predator, Known Universe, American Paranormal and more). I was pitching our reality TV series to her over the phone. When that part of the conversation was over she asked me if I had a moment so she could tell me her story of adopting Brody, a dog she rescued, almost lost and rescued again. She spoke to me from their DC location (they have offices in DC and Los Angeles) about how Brody really rescued her... Brody was a tiny puppy who Carrie and her boyfriend Jonny happened to see on the sidewalk in front of a PetsMart. A rescue group was promoting the adoption of some dogs and cats who needed homes. The thing about these sidewalk adoptions is that often if you look, you’re hooked. When she picked the little guy up he was so small he fit in the palm of her hand. He nuzzled into her, sealing the deal (clever pup). They named the brown pup Brody. When Carrie and Jonny got their new dog settled in, he seemed listless. They expected a curious little ball of energy, but Brody was interested in napping. Carrie’s sister told them that a puppy shouldn’t be lethargic. They rushed him to the vet who discovered the dog was suffering from heartworm and other serious ailments. Had they waited, Brody would have died. With nurturing and medication their new little dog pulled through. The dog became their family, loyal and happy, spoiled and adored as if he was their child. So when Carrie and her boyfriend began experiencing some troubles in their relationship it affected him deeply. The more they argued the more stressed he became. They discussed splitting up, but who would take the dog? They both loved him deeply. As tensions grew, the dog’s appetite left him and he wallowed in sadness under the kitchen table, listless once again, but this time with heartbreak. Carrie and her boyfriend hated what their problems were doing to their dog. So they sat down together and made a decision. They would stay together for Brody. With a smile in her voice Carrie told me over the phone how the once little guy now weighs about 70 pounds. She and her husband are happily married and have a daughter named Madison, a little sister for their grown up pup. That’s the power of love. The power of DOG! Who rescued who?

2015-02-04Marleen OetzelWilmington, DEDog with a disabilityLNF Dog Rescue

I heard from a fellow rescuer in KY Susan Harris that there was a puppy who had been horribly mauled by the family’s two dogs. They had no money so he laid in agony with no medical care for days. Susan sent a volunteer over to their home and said if they surrendered him to them -- they would get him the medical care he needed. The puppy, whose name was Joseph, turned out to have a broken pelvis and the ligaments in both back legs were destroyed. One of his back legs had to be amputee immediately. Susan did what all rescue people do in a case like that: she put out an urgent call for help from other rescues. I agreed to take Joseph since I had the most experience with the tougher cases. I had rescued several tripods over the years and my veterinarian at the time had an underwater treadmill which I knew he would need if he were to ever learn to walk again. Quite honestly I didn't realize at the time the true gravity of his injures - not that I wouldn't have taken him anyway --- but I did think at the time that he just needed excellent medical care - professional physical therapy and he would easily adapt to be being a tripod and would be adopted. When he was a baby he scooted around which was OK when he was a puppy -- but as he grew up, he ended up weighing over 50 lbs. His remaining back leg with the shredded ligaments could not sustain his weight. His back leg had the strength of a wet spaghetti noodle. He would continue to "scoot" but he started to get sores - like bed sores - from the constant friction. We tried everything, believe me everything, but soon realized he could not go on like this. We fitted him for a custom boot. That was great at first but created a curvature of his spine. We than realized that for the sake of his spine he needed a wheelchair and he needed to be in it full time. We had a custom wheelchair made for him which was thankfully donated by our adopters The Loveland Family. Over 2 years went by and even though Joseph was on our website, even though Channel 6 had come here to LnF Adoption Center to do a special story about him, even though they showed a video of him with Karen Rogers (she is so pretty and nice in real life!) no one ever asked about Joseph. There was not even an email requesting information. Nothing at all. We have a term here in rescue called "lifers" which means dogs who've been rescued but for whatever reason are just never adopted. My husband Jerry and I never take mental possession of our foster dogs. They live with us, we love them, but when their families "find them" they go home. We never keep adoptable dogs. Joseph was different. When over 2 years went by and no one even asked about him we did start to believe in our hearts that he was a "lifer." He would spend the rest of his life with us (which was OK with us since we loved him so much) yet I never bothered taking him off my website. Than one day I came home from shopping and there was an adoption application for Joseph. His first! The family that applied for him was "in rescue" like me only they rescued 2 legged kids! They adopted children with special needs from all over the world. They decided it was time to get the kids a dog but of course being the kind of people they are they knew they had to adopt a dog with special needs, like Joseph. They have a little 5 year old boy named Sammy who was from Bosnia. He has Spina Bifida and like Joseph, Sammy will be in a wheelchair for life. How perfect it was that if two little boys had to spend their lives in wheelchairs they don't have to do it alone. They have each other. I would like to say that it was easy to let Joseph go - it was not! When I told my husband that we received a qualified application for Joseph he looked at me horrified and said "NO! No one can take care of him as well as we do!!" I said "No, this was meant to be. We have to let him go to fulfill his destiny of being the dog of a little boy who is also in a wheelchair." Anyone who knows me well knows that I could not even say "Joseph" for over 6 months without sobbing. I'm much better now, I can talk about -- type about it -- while I'm crying now. Guess I always will, because I miss that little soul scooting around my home. I know I did what was best for Joseph and Sammy. I did my job as a foster mom and let them go when it's their time. We hope that by showing you this amazing “Happy Tail” you’ll consider making an end-of-year monetary gift to LnF Dog Rescue (www.lnfdogs.org). Without help we cannot stay open to be here for the next miracle. If you've already adopted a rescued dog, I'm sure you're so glad you did. If you believe what we do is critical to saving lives - please forward this story to your animal loving friends who could become potential adopters! We currently have 12 wonderful dogs that are still looking for their Happy Ending!

Richmond, VA 23225• 804-232-1300