It just came to me, that name "Calgon". Those who are too young to remember must be informed that Calgon (a bath additive for soaking and softening) used to run a commercial that suggested taking a Calgon bath could transport one from a rough day to a decidedly better one.
So today, when I worked with the animal rescue/transport I realized we were bringing better days to many "Calgon" dogs and cats. Lord, have mercy, believe me, the tears flow in this volunteer effort. I don't now and never will understand vicious treatment of animals (or people).
Coming home from unloading and walking and re-loading dogs for the next leg of the transport my vision blurred and my heart pounded. I was angry and disturbed. Stick with me.
I'll share 4 stories, all from just this week. You keep in mind that these 4 are roughly 1/8 of the total number of stories each week, so 4 x 8 x 52. Some people are right. I should write a book.
OK, first I'll tell you about Jackie. I met Jackie's owner while doing "Donation Dog" for the Forever Home Feline Ranch . In January we were raising money; he came tottering over, cane in one hand, cap on head, etc. We chatted and he revealed he had adopted a wonderful 2 yr old dog that soon would need to be re-homed as he was to move to assisted living. Ah. Well. He gave me his number when I said "I'll try..." Knowing I'd need more info and some time, I called the next week to get the details and a rough idea of when he was moving. He and his wife had decided "...not yet..." OK - Good News. Last Saturday she called me.
He had passed away (86, WWII vet). Jackie needed her new home quickly as the widow could not take care of her. Thanks to the solid efforts of the transport team's coordinator who selects dogs and matches them with loving rescues and welcoming fosters at the other end of the route, Jackie traveled on the transport today. Jackie had a happy (third) beginning.
Realize now, I will sandwich in the stories of Hannah and the dog I call Calgon, then finish with another good story. If you can't stand agony skip to the bottom.
Hannah, a Vizsla mix, needed to be walked and then crated up for the ride. That went well but then we had to move her to another vehicle, tethered rather than crated, so Calgon could go in the available crate. Hannah came out of the crate nicely and she and I fell into a little love-fest with her licking my hands and me getting down to do some tummy rubs. The driver who brought her, Calgon, and others over came to me and revealed her story.
Hannah was the sole/soul survivor of a litter of pups. The person who had possession of them had beat them with a baseball bat and she managed to survive and get to freedom. Her head was a bit mis-shapen but I hadn't noticed until it was pointed out to me. And, frankly, would it have mattered? She had the forgiveness of an angel. She loved me, right there, right then, as if anything before made no difference. Dogs don't hang on to the harm done all the time, not unless there's something that strikes a remembrance or a familiar situation. Hannah received more hugs than ever and was gently put into the front seat of the young man who would drive her to the next stopping point. She was moving on, going foward, happily unaware of the impact her precious acquaintance had made on more than one person.
Looking over to the "walking/exercise" area my eyes fell upon Calgon. I know that's not her real name but I never did catch it so she's the "title" dog. She was being walked by another of the female volunteers because a man had abused her so badly she would not leave the crate if one was around. Her timidity was heartbreaking. Here was a dog who was remembering the evil she experienced just by the mere presence of a male figure. All our wonderful and caring guys had to move away and give her room.
As I watched her sniffing around it was as if I was looking at a walking skeleton. Had her dulled black coat not been stretched around her frame that's exactly what it would have been. She was that thin. Hip bones protruded where strongly muscled flesh will soon be. Ribs were revealed, encased in skin that will soon be rubbed and patted. A shrunken tummy existed in the place that will soon be full of good food and then overrun with good old fashioned belly rubs. Her big head will be raised and her eyes will be filled with hopes before this day ends.
But until now, her life was dismally empty and, if dogs experience this, she was probably regretful. If thinking or reasoning occurs somehow she had to be wondering why she existed. Now she knows. She's here to bring happiness to someone. We're here to help her accomplish that.
Lastly, let me introduce Dimond, a 4 yr old Cocker. A cuter, softer, sweeter doe-eyed pooch you cannot imagine. She arrived with "mom" and "aunt". Aunt was driving, of course, because Mom was already trying to be strong and handle this. I do not know what Dimond was being re-homed but suspect it was age/health related for Mom. Dimond entered my embrace and I talked with the women to comfort them during this exchange and to assure them she's going to be all right. Dimond, like Jackie, had a decent start in life and like every dog or cat who travels on our weekend excursions, will have a wonderful future. The "aunt" shoved a fist full of money into my palm for helping. It goes to save others.
So there are the 4 profiles. Some weeks most of the stories are sad. The fact that all the animals have been given up is overwhelmingly and emotionally draining because we know there will always be more once these are placed in homes. But we look at the positive - not at the chances but at the assurances that they are going to see better days. Taking the deep breaths and speaking the quiet prayers for safe travels and of gratitude start as soon as we meet the pets with whom we've been entrusted each weekend.
And, to those who have mis-treated them or others, or humans, I only can say that I cannot possibly hunt you all down. I'm too busy and you're not worth my time. But God knows you and knows where you are and just when you will see Him. You will face Him and He will remind you what you did. I rest well knowing that.
See you next week, 4-leggers!