I spent all day trying to rescue a German Shepherd in a gassing shelter down south. I spent hours on the phone, leaving messages for rescues, transporters, vets, volunteers that pull dogs. I sent out email after email, I really wanted that dog.
Finally, after hours of not hearing from anyone a shelter worker called me, and basically tried everything he could think of to talk me out of adopting this dog. I told him I’d call him back, and later I checked my email and a volunteer in the area had contacted me about the pup.
“If there is any blood in the stool at all they put the dog down as soon as possible, I’m sure they just didn’t want to tell you,”
This is what I hate about being in the rescue business. One, you can hardly ever get a straight answer out of anyone. Two (and this is the bigger one) there will always be that dog or cat, who no matter how many phone calls you make, or how many emails you send, or how much money you raise, will just miss the mark on being rescued.
One of the first things people who have been in the business will tell you, is that you can’t save them all.
I’d like to add to that.
“You can’t save them all, but you really fucking want too,”
Because no matter how ugly, dumb, crippled or old a dog is you still want to save them. You don’t want to think about how their last days involved laying on a wet concrete floor terrified and confused, before being dragged out of their kennels and shoved into a box to be pumped with carbon dioxide.
You don’t want to think they suffered or died for no good reason.
So I did the only logical thing I possibly could do. The thing I always do when one of my rescues dies, or when I’ve read the latest animal abuse cases.
I sat on my bathroom floor in the dark and cried my eyes out.
Later on, a friend of mine, Trina called and we talked for a bit. She told me how the other day, when she was walking towards her car downtown after dark, she really wished she’d had my dog Uma with her to deter the three men who were following her.
Uma is my 65 pound personal protection dog, a pure bred German Shepherd who I purchased in early August.
She then started talking about Uma, mentioning things I’d never really thought about.
I had told her earlier in the conversation that, when a good friend of mine had come over earlier in the week, Uma had been surprisingly excited and not-at-all suspicious.
So she made a comment about how, the last time Bunny had come over while our friendship was slowly breaking down, Uma had sat on the couch unmoving barking and growling for a good half an hour before calming.
“I think she just acts however she thinks you want to act,” Trina mentioned, more offhandedly then anything else.
Which got me seriously thinking about Uma. Uma and I bonded immediately on meeting, unlike my other dog Teah, who will bond with anyone if they’ll pat her head.
She follows me everywhere, and usually knows where I’m headed before I do. I realized how quickly I’d forgotten the cardinal rule with dogs taught to me by Kevin Lanouette, a Schutzund trainer and dog handler.
“You must always act the same around your dog, they are very selfish creatures. They don’t think about how your unhappy at work or how you got in a fight with your wife. They immediately think they’ve done something to upset you. It’s all about them,”
No wonder while I’m sitting on the bathroom floor crying, I can hear Uma on the other side of the door crying as well.
So I guess it’s time to get up, dust myself off and get myself back into a better state of mind.
I can worry about other dogs tomorrow.
But right now, I have to take care of my wonderful, safe, loving friend.
It’s time for both of us to stop crying.