2012-08-22 / Columnists
Pets Pets Pets
Different day; different dog. Oh, if rescue work could be so simple! Then, each dog could be rehomed within a day or so. Unfortunately, this tempo is too upbeat because each case can be complex, and various situations overlap.
The right combination of networking, chauffeuring, veterinary investment plus strokes of good luck must all align before a needy dog is settled into “happily ever after”. Even when things do seem to be going well, a rescuer can never be overjoyed too soon because then the jinx factor can still rear its ugly head. Superstition is part of the rescue equation too. Some cases don’t end well despite the best efforts.
Two recent, desperate dogs that surfaced simultaneously are profiled below. Certain details have been held back because dog shuffling is a stealth business. In both cases the dog received help, while the former owner may not be as fortunate: * “Cora” a six year old Shepherd mix survived a horrible ordeal. In July her owner went in for back surgery and suffered serious complications (punctured esophagus), leaving Cora home alone for nine days without food or clean water. Eventually neighbors heard her barking, and the police were called. Nassau SPCA located family members not living in the home that knew about Cora but had neglected to feed her. The SPCA gained access to the house to care for Cora everyday and then tried to obtain a legal surrender so she could be placed in a more responsible home. Because the SPCA was dealing with a dysfunctional family, while not dealing with an estranged husband who was just released from jail for a crime that would make you cringe, the surrender was delayed.
Meanwhile the SPCA took Cora to the vet for an exam, blood work and vaccines. Cora is very friendly, likes other dogs (the SPCA brought an amiable Pit into her home to test her), and showed no food aggression despite starvation. Cora, now back to 71 pounds, is presently at the Last Hope Dog Center. She loves everyone, and her new BFF, a Last Hope Beagle accompanies her on walks. ** “David Rambo”, an old but effervescent Shepherd/ Husky was in a dire housing crisis but not at death’s door as described in an urgent plea. This is what happens when the person asking for help is several steps removed from the scenario, and the person reaching out to those who may help (me) is too tired to verify facts.
I saw a vaguely familiar email address and responded after a volunteer emailed the Last Hope dog coordinator asking if anyone had contacts in the Bronx. She stated: “My friend’s brother is just about homeless. He was caring for an elderly German Shepherd. He took it after his elderly roommate died, and has been trying to care for it. They are living in a friend’s garage. The dog was attacked by a pit bull yesterday. He needs help up there, even if just to get the dog to a shelter and have it put down. He is mentally unable to handle the responsibility and I hate to think of this poor dog suffering.”
This sounded like an emergency so at 2 am, I relayed the request to friends with contacts in NYC. Via MCM Rottie Rescue, the message got a fast response from Andrea, an EMT who lives in Connecticut. Several years ago she had gone to extraordinary measures to trap a dog near a Bronx parkway, so we knew how dedicated and determined she is.
The next plea from the same person said: “the dog was bad, his legs were messed up and he had a hard time walking” so he needed to be out of there ASAP. Andrea offered to assess the situation on her way to work in the South Bronx. The plan was to have her take the dog to Rottie Rescue’s LI vet for euthanasia, if really in a bad way.
I wrongly assumed that a homeless person had taken a dog from another homeless person who had since died. It turned out that the zip code was affluent Riverdale, and that the man had lived as a handyman/caretaker in the woman’s basement for seven years. When she died, he continued to care for her beloved dog that she called “Rambo”, and he renamed “David”. The duo stayed in her house another 18 months until her family sold it. Now they were being forced out of a garage refuge too. A Pit had jumped the fence and attacked Rambo, but he only had a small cut under his jaw. His wobbly back legs were those of a large, arthritic, senior. David Rambo is somewhere between 12 to 15 years old, and totally deaf.
Next call came from the vet’s office because Andrea took Rambo there anyway, when she realized the man had no where to go with the dog, but possible shelter without him. Rambo needed some medical attention (and a bath) because he hadn’t been to a vet in years. He kept kissing her on the way to the clinic. At that point he became our (actually my) responsibility, all because I had forwarded an email. Today’s lesson: Think twice before you forward and press SEND at 2 am.
We boarded him at the vet; then during a Friday monsoon moved Rambo to a secret location. Rambo had a home waiting, if he would get along with a pair of Chihuahua mixes and a Rottie, and if he could negotiate the stairs/ deck steps of a high ranch. The stairs were precarious yet doable; but he “blew it” when he became food possessive around the tiny dogs. He had lived with a cat so this reaction came as a surprise.
Presently Rambo is with a wonderful couple who responded to our placement plea. They are trying to assimilate him into their small pack of big dogs. But the jury is still out; and I won’t dare say anymore, so not to jinx David Rambo’s new home.
For Adoption at the Last Hope Dog Center (631-946-9528), 3300 Beltagh Avenue in Wantagh “Cora” the SPCA seizure Shepherd mix would make a lovely family pet. Little “Susie” from West Virginia is also available. This extremely loving 1 year old Carolina Dog/Hound mix showed up at a cabin in June with a gunshot wound to her leg. The WV vet tried but was unable to save her leg. “Susie” is happy as can be despite her ordeal and amputation.