This blog is courtesy of a guest author. Stacy Hill is our newest board member at the Electric City Pittie Committee. Stacy has jumped in with both feet to get involved with the ECPC this year and we wonder what we ever did without her!
Thank you, Stacy!
SOMETIMES, THE UNIVERSE SPEAKS TO US
I don’t put a lot of personal things on Facebook; I don’t generally accept friend requests from people I don’t actually know; and you’ll have a hard time finding any relationship drama. But one thing you’d learn very quickly after a visit to my profile is that I’m passionate about animals, namely DOGS. Big. Goofy. Dogs. And I’m guilty of using Facebook as a platform for promoting all things canine, whether it’s human interest stories, photos, snoopy cartoons, etc.
In a matter of seconds you’d notice innumerable posts that involve rescue organizations and pets looking for their forever homes. I try to comment on or share as many as possible so that they show up on news feeds and the word spreads. Some of those rescues have far reaching (i.e. nationwide) audiences. I often read through the comments, and see so many people say if only an animal was located in their region they’d scoop it up. And I think (and even on occasion comment on the post), that every shelter in every community has an animal with a similar story looking for a home and if they truly have room and resources to provide for that pet in California, Texas, or New York, why not look right there at home??
I’m well aware that we can’t save them all. I’d have a “Dalmation Plantation” if I could save them all. But I feel lucky here in Montana that the homeless pet population is such that, for the most part, animals don’t seem to be facing inevitable death if not claimed in short periods of time. Rescues, and even most Animal Shelters, provide a safe place where an animal will stay until a new family comes along. Granted, there are always exceptions and circumstances. I know that first hand, having worked for a rescue/shelter where I made some of those life and death decisions. It haunts me to this day. But we don’t often see a dog posted here in Montana urging that if someone doesn’t come forward, that beautiful creature will no longer exist come tomorrow.
Well, in early March, I saw such a post. An announcement for a shelter in California where they were pleading for the lives of 8 dogs who, through no fault of their own, had found themselves on the short list due to overcrowding.
I commented on the photo of Rosalie; something in her eyes grabbed me. The threads under the photos of each of those 8 dogs had people pledging money, love, prayers, shares, hope…. that each would find a savior in time. All of those caring people in their own small way, even though not able to adopt for their own reasons, at least sent out those ribbons that can weave their way into the universe to find a possible rescue or adopter. So I posted that I hope she found the loving home she deserved.
a woman with a pit bull rescue in Wyoming replied… “transport could be arranged.” Word came to me the following day that Rosalie had been moved into the EU (euthanasia unit) of the shelter and her time was up. And with that, I was hooked.
So, my comment led to a conversation which led to a chain of organizations lining up to save just one of those lives. Call it fate, luck, divine intervention, I don’t know. Somehow all of the stars aligned and the wheels turned in a matter of hours to accomplish what a month of Facebook pleas hadn’t yet accomplished.
Shelter rules required that a local rescue had to pull her if I wasn’t going to be there in person. The Montana and Wyoming rescue groups called all of their contacts and found one in California who would try to save her in time. I didn’t know until that evening if we would be in time.
A woman came through, a woman who was away in Minnesota dealing with the death of her father, to make arrangements to get Rosalie out at literally the last second. I did my internet sleuthing and found out her father’s name had been Charles, and decided to rename Rosalie in his honor. And with that, Charlie was saved. She was moved to the vet clinic and spayed the following morning, then moved to a boarding facility until the proper health certificates could be obtained and transport arranged.
Little did I know how trying this next step would be. Turns out volunteers in California aren’t “volunteers.” They expect to be paid, for EVERYTHING. I’ve driven dogs across Montana and halfway across Wyoming in a single day to help them to their new life, but just getting Charlie a couple miles from the Shelter to the Boarding Facility cost $40! So every time my rescue friends started to get something lined up another financial or technical difficulty threw a new wrench. I even looked into airlines, but crates and coordination were a problem, and no airline allows the short-nose pets to fly except United but only during colder months when overheating is less likely. I was just about to buy a ticket myself, fly to California and rent a car for a road trip back.
Then I had a thought… I have an uncle who was a long-haul truck driver, often going to California; he had just recently retired. Surely he’d know someone?! Well this wonderful man, my Uncle Ray, went a step beyond. He decided he’d contact his old boss and see if he could do one more trip, just so that he could pick up Charlie and bring her to me.
The schedule got made and off he went. He’d pick her up on a Thursday and would meet me in Three Forks to deliver her to me the following Monday or Tuesday. He was even so kind as to try not to bond too much with Charlie and have it be an easier transition for her. (Side bar: it was the trip from hell for Ray, juggling several stops, traffic, loads not being ready when there were supposed to be, etc.. He said it was a blessing because it was what he needed to convince him that retirement was the right thing! LOL)
So on a cold April day with snow flurries, California girl Charlie arrived! This is where I should mention that I already have 2 other dogs and 2 cats who I now had to find out if Charlie would be compatible with. I had a friend who works with city animal control help me with the introductions. I didn’t go in to this unprepared.
Jazzmyne is my 8 year old Lab/Great Dane mix that I adopted several years prior, and Jack is my (technically my boyfriend’s) 2-1/2 year old Kelpie who was rescued just over a year earlier. All big dogs and they seemed to do fine. But the cats… Mud & Bog are about 11, declawed, and have never had to worry about a dog that may not like them. Mud is the adventurous one and seems to think he’s a dog anyway, so he came over to meet Charlie. She was on leash, he didn’t hiss, swipe at her or run, but she thought maybe she should taste him and lunged. She didn’t make contact, but it was off putting to Mud and very traumatic for me.
Oh no! After all of this effort, it’s not going to work! I can’t put my cats in a dangerous situation. What was I going to do?! I took Charlie to a boarding kennel that night and cried for a while. I can’t remember if I reached out first or if the Electric City Pittie Committee reached out to me. But they got me a muzzle and a crate that night or the following day so that I could better control the situation. And I waited for their Ace trainer to return from a seminar in a few days to better assess the situation.
I tried to limit Charlie’s interaction with the cats so that I didn’t make the situation worse; she had to be in a muzzle or crate the entire time. A couple times while loose but muzzled, she cornered Mud and pounced him pretty good.
My hero, Jessica with Jessica B Dog Training, came to my house as soon as she was back in town. She spent a little time with Charlie, and literally within 5 minutes it was like I had a different dog. And more importantly, I had the tips, tools, and hopefully the confidence to start addressing the issues. Charlie and I established the relationship we needed and she quickly learned the cats have a place in the household and she was expected to respect that. Mud, months later, has even forgiven her.
Rescuing Charlie, having never met her in person, going on emotion and a little bit lunacy, could have had any number of outcomes. I adopted Jazzmyne sight unseen from a rescue several states away, too. But I’ve never had a new introduction that required so much work. Animals need an adjustment period, both the one you’re bring home and the one(s) that may already be there. They are individuals. That can’t replace ones that have passed. They can’t read our minds or know what we expect from them until we give them time to learn. And to love and trust.
What a whirlwind. But I look at Charlie, and then I see the posts that come across my feed, every day, almost every hour; and my heart aches. She could have died that day. We can’t save them all, but we can save one at a time. And there’s more than one way. Adopt. Foster. Volunteer (at a shelter or transporting or any number of blessings). Donate. Share. Every little bit helps.
I want to thank the rescues and individuals that helped. And I want to thank all the people that shared, and those that donated to Charlie’s rescue (although most pledges weren’t collected). It does make a difference! It encourages rescues to pull these dogs and know that the funds are available for proper vet care, transports, boarding and every day needs. And most important it gives time needed to let destiny find them.
Author: Stacy Hill