2012 December 23
Kernville, California USA
Sheba (aka "Cosette" when we first rescued her) was no ordinary dog, no ordinary rescue. When we pulled her from the San Pedro shelter in June 2011, she was by all rescuers' accounts a dog with the least potential for recovery to a normal, happy, functioning life. The staff at the shelter begged us to rescue other more adoptable dogs and let them just put this one out of her misery. We promised to send other rescuers to them for the others. We saw a deep longing in this severely lame, autistic, malnourished older female yellow shepherd covered with scars and ticks, and we could not turn our backs on her. She had been found chained on concrete in a back yard of a poor section of the city. She had clearly been the object of considerable abuse, including sodomy. She wanted no one anywhere near her back side, and one of her rear legs stuck straight out to the side and seemed to be almost useless to her. (Photos and that part of her story are in our original article about "Cosette.")
Once she knew I meant her no harm, she let me touch her hindquarters. And she smiled when I carried her out into the sunshine and grass that first day. That did it for me. Underneath that scruffy, dirty coat and bony body, she had the face of an angel and eyes that were ancient. Her silence and reserve were not offensive or disappointing. They spoke of dignity and a will to survive and move beyond the past, a gentleness that made her wary but still able to trust and forgive, with no inclination to punish or be aggressive. When I lifted her beside me into the right front seat of my car, her face glowed with joy and expectation. I had no idea what we would do with her, but I knew we needed to try to give her a life.
We carried her to our home, which involved negotiating a very steep walking path. She loved her new diet of raw food (mostly chicken with some raw milk, eggs, and the flax-based supplement Missing link). She was able to walk pretty well within just a few days. But to find a good permanent home for her was going to be a huge challenge. One of On Wings Of Care's stalwart volunteers and directors, Dave, came to visit her. Dave was dad to a wonderful long-haired rescue shepherd named "Bear" and two rescue cats, but we didn't seriously consider that he could adopt Cosette, as she seemed too much for him to take on. But Cosette felt differently. When he lay down next to her and began massaging her, her body and eyes and heart just melted for him. I assured him that he needn't consider adopting her, we totally understood why she would be just too much for him, and we left it at that. But as he was leaving, he said "Well, maybe she could just hang out with Bear and me for a while to recover, you know, until we find a good adopter?" My heart jumped. YES! You bet she could! I loaded him up with fresh frozen ground chicken and other good food for her, and he and Bear took her up to their home in the southern Sierra foothills.