2012 July 05
San Bernardino, CA
San Bernardino County, California. Most famous among animals rescuers for having the highest-kill animal "shelters" (NOT!) around. Every day a hundred or more new animals come in, and about that many seem to be killed every night. There are tireless angels of rescue who are there every day, pulling animals from death at the last minute, thanks to offers of $20 here and $15 there to put them in boarding somewhere to give these animals another day or two to be rescued. They faithfully send out emails to hundreds of other rescuers every day, with photos and descriptions of the dogs and sometimes also cats, horses, bunnies, and other animals whose brief period of "help" has ended. These emails are heart-wrenching, because the animals in those photos are beautiful, some young and highly adoptable, some senior and mellow and just as pleasant and well-behaved as can be. Their eyes show that they know the horror that surrounds and awaits them.
We look at these emails, we try to select animals that we think are excellent candidates for people and other rescue organizations we know, and we network them with all our might, just like so many other rescues do. On some occasions when we can, we pull the animals and foster or place them ourselves. But we are the proverbial drop in the bucket. Leave it for another note to describe some solutions we have pondered long and are acting upon. This story is to show you that some animals DO get out of these places, and happily-ever-afters really do happen.
This email came around with "URGENT URGENT PLEASE HELP" all over it in bold red capital letters. A young female german shepherd with her seven puppies was there, and their time was up. No ID chip in her, no signs of any ownership but only the obvious signs that while she had been feeding and tending her puppies devotedly, she herself was starving. We were out of town and couldn't pull her or the pups ourselves, and at the time we had no means of keeping the pups. But the mom? Hmmm, the wheels turned.
One of our most wonderful OWOC volunteers, Dave, came to mind. You'll remember him as the man who adopted Sheba (formerly Cosette) and who has brought her back unbelievably from malnutrition, debilitating lameness, and a form of canine autism, perhap caused by a lifetime of being chained and abused. Sheba is slowing down a bit these days, but she lives happily with Dave and his other young male shepherd Bear. But Bear misses her on walks, and Dave has been thinking that it would be nice to introduce another female who would honor Sheba and be a good friend to bear. Say no more! You guessed it.
Another rescue group from Los Angeles, Wag Tales, was able to pull the mom and her puppies, and in the past week they have succeeded in placing all of the beautiful pups! (YEA!!!) Dave contacted them immediately, drove down from the southern Sierras the next morning with Sheba and Bear, and the match was immediate. "Bali" -- the mom's proud new name -- couldn't have been a better fit to what Dave needed. She respects and defers to elderly Sheba, she is pleasant and happy with Bear and has a great way of de-fusing his inclination to play a bit too enthusiastically. Bear is delighted to have a hiking buddy again and has welcomed the new addition to their family with joy. But Sheba, now that is the sweetest and most unexpected conclusion of all. She rests on her bed in the living area, surrounded by the other dogs, and just beams. It's as if she is enjoying having this new company no end. Maybe it's because she doesn't feel Bear's needing her so much, and that is a relief. I'm no dog psychologist, so I won't venture further analysis, but there's no mistaking that Sheba is very happy to have this nice young lady join their family.
So we learn again, as we've learned over and over and over again. When the call comes, don't be so quick to say "No, we can't, we're not ready, it's not time, we couldn't possibly, ...." Ask why this came, and whether it feels like a good fit. Go and check it out, and see how your hearts speak to each other's. And be prepared for a gift of love from the universe, that only a rescue animal can give.
Thanks again, Dave!
Here are photos of her meeting Dave and Bear and Sheba, then spending a night and day visiting our cabin in the San Gabriel mountains, and finally taking her first hike from Dave's backyard into the southern Sierra Nevada mountains.