For months I have said, “I’m going to take a rescue break. I’m not going to foster anymore dogs.” And for just that long, the universe has said: “No, not yet…”
That’s sort of how this situation went down two weeks ago. I got a call from a friend Julie, who explained she was on her way to help another friend with a stray dog that she had caught.
I have never been more wrong….
Julie brings me this boy, who is pressed so tightly up against the back wall of the crate, that I was expecting the impression of cage bars on him when I reached into the kennel to remove him.
Usually this is the point where I would get bit and draw back a bleeding appendage, but that was too predictable for this boy! Instead when I reached in to pick him up, he promptly barfed up 2 cups of food on my hand and arm. In my mind I was quietly chanting: “I love dogs. I love dogs. It is okay that you just vomited up warm, semi chewed food all over me. I love dogs....”
I carry him into the house, Julie was in charge of carrying the cage full of vomit (small price to pay really…) and we set off to bathe the little prince. Now, my bathroom is small, (It’s honestly the size of a shoebox...) and I’m bent over the tub scrubbing the heck out of this dog watching the fleas and ticks fall off him, when I hear Julie, who is standing behind me say: “Don’t panic. Hold still.” (Never something you want someone to say when standing behind you!) I immediately froze and Julie in the calmest voice ever says: “I think that’s a tick on your back.” Suddenly, I hear the Reluctant Farmer scream from behind the closed bathroom door: “Just hold still! I’ll get it!” She knows her role in this relationship so WELL! Secretly, I think she was worried about Julie’s safety. There is not enough room in this bathroom for me to freak out and do my “bug dance”.
For those of you that have never been privileged enough to witness my “bug dance”, it entails screaming, jumping up and down, the flailing of arms, and occasionally the shedding of clothes. (Think Tom Cruise during the infamous Oprah couch interview, but worse because I am naked. Which is almost as scary as Tom Cruise, but an entirely different blog post…) So now, we have 3 women, 1 dog, and 1 dead tick squeezed into the postage stamp sized lavatory. Crisis averted!
It isn’t long before we realize this little dog had some BIG issues! He isn’t your average “I’m scared and out of my element, but I can be bribed” little dog. He is an all out “I’ve never been around humans, not lived indoors, hunt for my own food” sort of dog.
There were a few things about this dog that set him apart from any other dog I had ever fostered:
1) He tried to escape through any window, door or screen that he came into contact with, and would climb on any surface that might get him a little closer to the escape route.
2) He would be as quiet as a mouse in his crate during the day, but as soon as the lights were off he would scream like he was being killed. (The trainer says this is a sure sign he had been running for a while. He is afraid of the dark because he knows he has the possibility of being something’s pray.)
3) This dog was scared out of his mind of any and all humans.
All of this behavior was enough to make some think euthanasia was the best option for him. But, there would be one thing that would save his life. This dog, as feral as he was, showed no aggression towards people. In the end, I would try to rehab and save this dog, purely on this fact alone. Success? Well, that remains to be seen, but what I do know is that death is permanent and I couldn’t sleep at night if I didn’t give this little guy a chance. There will be more about this boy in the days to come.